The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories
new pair.
    —Oh no, Paulino. More boots? There’s no room for more in the closet. Where am I gonna put my shoes and dresses?
    —Don’t you worry, my love. We’ll make sure there’s a secret drawer so you can stow away all your footwear and costumes. We’ll make it just like on those pot-smuggling trucks.
    In the meantime, Old Man Paulino, free of his lady’s demands, showed up all tired and tanned at the small Botas Roca shop. Since the Old Man was a distinguished citizen of San Pedrosburgo, he was attended to by a clerk who was a walking encyclopedia on norteño style boots.
    —Don Paulino, what brings you here?
    —Oh, why are you so simple? I came to get some boots, dummy.
    —I just received a shipment of contraband. All new, Don Paulino, all new.
    —Bring them all out. I wanna see them all, even the exotic ones.
    —Look how beautiful this is: blue-whale loin, and certified authentic. Let me know what caliber you want. Or these, just look at this authentic Nosferatu zeal. Try them on. I also have some Komodo dragon ones. See how gorgeous they are.
    —You’re silly, boy. Those look like wrestler boots.
    —I’m gonna show you the river dolphin ones.
    —Stop, stop. I’m looking for a pair of Cowboy Bible boots.
    —Oh, Don Paulino. You’ve lost it, you’re off-key. They don’t make those anymore. They’re off the market because they hurt the ozone layer.
    —I told you, Paulino. But you just keep forgetting. There are no Cowboy Bible-skin boots left in this world.
    —You’re so right, my love. These two stones were meant for the same bird: I could neither get the boots I wanted nor find any that would bring me comfort.
    —Paulino, don’t be so stoic. Use any of the boots in the closet. That’s what they’re there for.
    —No, my love. Those shall remain unworn.
    —Then why did you buy them?
    —Oh, my dear wife. The value of certain boots is precisely in keeping them intact, just like that. As soon as I put them on, I would take away all their charm.
    —Hey, Paulino, if they don’t make those boots in factories anymore, what about having them handmade?
    —That’s exactly what I was asking about, a homemade version. The problem is the leather. It’s very scarce. They say The Cowboy Bible is in danger of extinction.
    —What if you ordered them from McAllen?
    —They don’t have it in Texas either. It’s a very tough leather. I’m fucked.
    —Don’t cry. Just give up, Paulino.
    —Give up? Not me. I’m a meaner cabrón than I am good-looking. I’m gonna get my Cowboy Bible boots even if I have to sell my soul to the devil.
    —Oh Paulino. You’ve lost it. Again? How many times have you sold your soul to the devil?
    —I know. But it doesn’t count drunk. This time I’m gonna make the offer sober. Those other times don’t count, they don’t.
    Such coveted boots, they finally showed up. But on somebody’s else’s feet.
    It was spread all over San Pedro, the federal capital, by word of mouth. It’s rumored a foreign man was seen wearing boots that, if not Cowboy Bible boots, sure looked like them.
    It was only then that Old Man Paulino, ready to deal, stepped unsteadily up to the guy and told him the boots had inspired a corrido.
    —Indulge me, buddy, and tell me something. The leather on those boots—is it original Cowboy Bible?
    —Yeah, they’re no fakes.
    — Original original?
    —ISO quality.
    —Where’d you pick them up?
    —El Infierno.
    —El Infierno shoe store.
    —What size are those?
    —Seven and three eighths.
    —Look, I’m a seven and then some. Let me ride ’em?
    —What the hell, Don Paulino. Absolutely.
    —Oh my.
    —What, Don Paulino?
    —I’m stuck, I can’t get them on. What screw did you tighten, boy? They just need to be a pinch bigger to fit me to a T.
    —I see. They’re just not new new. They’ve molded to my feet.
    —That can be undone. A little swim and they’ll sweeten to mine.
    —Ah, Don Paulino. You’ve lost it. You

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