Worser | by Travis Dahlke

     Give it a dollar, put a dollar in its bowl, Winona says and she limps away to find better things to take pictures of. Others from our tour are putting themselves into the cherubs of walruses that have had their faces removed to house ours. Liberty is drifting as if on rotten blocks. Her crown stops right near my shoulder level. Picture the glitter on its cape burning in February’s awful bleach. That silver thing who had posed with his fist beneath its chin has gone missing. The queen from Frozen and cowboy from Toy Story now sway on its cobblestones. They’re trying to start over and repopulate. But there are rules, Todd, about doing it in Airbee & b’s. You’re a guest, you are not some wild western pioneer. Many of us were conceived in hotels.

     Hurry up and take the picture. A Tennessean from the tour rips open a granola bar, cracked ACDC logo stretching across his bosoms. He had told me reptile facts, earlier on the bus. Liberty is waiting for something. I can see my terror swirl in the oily lenses of her sunglasses. The kind your 5th-grade bus driver wore when she looked at you in the mirror and told you to siddown! The first pocket comes up empty, save for a foil shell that was once ripe with flavored gum. Zesty Cobalt. Maybe Spiced Arctic Winterchill.

     In the second is the lint touch of old money that has been heated by a GE and folded in the birthday cards of a hundred teenagers. Feels like a five. What if it’s a twenty? I’m pretty sure that’s all I brought. Lord, thank you, Liberty has turned to pose in a picture with two cut off jorts speaking to each other in Alaskan. I’m struggling to remember the difference between how a five feels and how a twenty feels. A rattlesnake can live for three years without its body.

     Winona is tilting her phone against the sun so it splays out in flares. She warned me if I showed the characters anything larger than a ten they’d think it was for drugs. I pull out a fiver, yes. Liberty is back at my side and we are both looking out at the landmark. Here you go. As I let her steal the bill away I can smell her eyes; shallots, Sprite and the gelatin of Advil. Creases search up from her chin. Not paint. I’d like to join Winona but they’re closing in. Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen prompts a male tourist to take out his phone and she grazes a fresh manicure on his shoulder like a spider trying to drag a chicken bone. They hurry off behind the porta-potties.

     Picture, picture the statue of liberty says, voice the hinge of that one cabinet you’re always terrified to open. Woody’s collar is wet. I can see the veins in peach bronzer. Who are you, what do you need? Conton? Shoke? She repeats it back to me. Picture this place when it was new. Can you? The tour is leaving and I think they would abandon me here. Elsa is moaning curses upon a warm and comforting shit-breeze. She’s taking what she wants to be the surrogate from some bald man from Pennsylvania. His family throws feed at the seals. I cannot provide them enough money. Howdy, stay with us there are snakes in my boot.


Travis has had stories in Structo, Sporklet, formercactus, Bridge Eight Press and The Longleaf Review among other places. He has a novella about Christmas trees available from Otherwhere Publishing.

Twitter: @hammockreview

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