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Big E by Wilson Koewing

Big E was always good at baseball. Coach pitch. Machine pitch. Little league. JV. Varsity. He excelled. But when graduation came no scholarship materialized, so he stopped playing. That ruined baseball for him.

Big E met his high school sweetheart as a junior. Their relationship contained magic. A young and unstoppable love. Until she met one of Big E’s buddies, and they liked each other, too. When Big E found out he carried on like nothing happened. That ruined love for him.

Big E loved action movies as a kid. Van Damme. Schwarzenegger. Stallone. After graduation, he decided against college and joined the Army. They sent him overseas. He didn’t see it as bad as some, but he saw it. After four years he came home. That ruined action movies for him.

Big E moved back in with his parents and watched Netflix. He became obsessed with cooking shows. Top chef. Chef’s Table. He secured a job at a fancy steakhouse. Started on salads but worked his way up to fry then grill. Eighteen months in, his pressure was through the roof. He couldn’t sleep from the sound of the printer. He’d started drinking. So, he quit. That ruined cooking for him.

Big E couldn’t sleep or quit drinking, so he got a job as a bartender at a late-night spot in the city. He rented a place nearby. When his shift ended, he went to spots that stayed open later. He slept days. He had trysts with lonely women. Eventually he got tired of watching the lives of others spin in motion across the bar while his stayed still. He was an alcoholic. And alcohol was everywhere. So, he quit and moved back in with his parents. That ruined bars for him.

Big E’s time living with his parents stretched to years. He kept drinking. He was old enough the neighborhood kids whispered. He became obsessed with watching outdoor sports, so he moved to Canon City, Colorado and became a whitewater rafting guide. He’d never felt such adrenaline. But the other guides were younger, partied nonstop and fucked each other and broke each other’s hearts. Big E partied plenty but had no sex. No one was interested, plus he was celibate, he’d say. Maybe asexual. All he knew was he didn’t follow his dick around like when he was younger. It made him feel old, so he quit. That ruined whitewater rafting for him.

Big E moved down to Crestone; a tiny town tucked on the Colorado side of the Sangre de Christos. He rented a trailer. The only job he could get was stocking groceries. He didn’t anticipate how lonely winter would prove. Everyone left. Weather from the north bled down and stopped at the Sangre De Christos and dumped snow. He ran out of booze sometimes and the heat barely kept him warm. That ruined winters for him.

Big E staved off the boredom watching Ancient Aliens and went down YouTube rabbit holes. He discovered the area around Crestone had Alien history. Through the folks who ran The UFO Watchtower (a roadside attraction a few miles down Highway 17) he met other Alien enthusiasts. He sat with them for hours as they showed off their collections of photographs and memorabilia. He listened to their close encounter stories, but he couldn’t buy into them. He realized they were simply lonely people seeking community and connection, dreams derailed somewhere along the way. When he realized he was no different, he left Crestone. That ruined aliens for him.

Big E was pushing 50. On a whim he moved to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The apartment he rented, sight unseen, was isolated, and the nighttime darkness was thick and profound. He got a job bartending. The clientele was desert scum. The only thing he liked were the hot spring fed bathhouses. As the months rolled by Big E started buying revolvers. He’d shoot them at bottles of booze and sometimes at the roadrunners. Once he had four identical revolvers, he started putting a single bullet in one and placing them all in a canvas grocery bag and taking them into the bathhouse. Once submerged he’d fish into the bag, choose a gun, put it to his temple and pull the trigger. He kept adding revolvers until there were ten in the bag. After a month, he was still alive, so he sold the revolvers. That ruined guns for him.

Big E bought a clunker and drove west. Parts of Arizona had mountains and snow. He’d never thought that. He drove to Death Valley and stood in the heat and said, God Damn. He drove to L.A. and got stuck on the freeway for hours. He went out to the beach and saw the weightlifters. There they were, just like in the movies. He drove the curvy road along the coast. He drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. He saw vineyards as far as the eye could see. He saw Portland then Seattle and the Space Needle and then Vancouver. Then he kept driving north. Eventually he reached Alaska. He’d seen nothing like it, and he fell in love. That ruined the lower 48 for him.

Big E settled in Homer. He got a job on a fishing boat. He rented a small apartment with a fireplace, a view of the mountains and the ocean. He adopted a hound. He cut down on his drinking. The people were friendly. He was able to forget all the things that had happened before. After nearly 50 years, he was at peace. And nothing could ruin that.

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