Meg Elison

When Ernest Hemingway shot himself, Hunter S. Thompson went to his house and ceremonially stole the antlers from above the dead man’s door. When Thompson died a free prince, another writer paid him a visit and made a switch. Hemingway’s antlers for another set he had found at a thrift store somewhere.I never found out the other writer’s name. I overheard him talking about it in a bar, trying to impress a woman he was talking to. He had just gotten back from Colorado. He had a carry-on suitcase and the elk antlers in a canvas bag. He was convinced the antlers had some kind of magic, absorbed from one genius and then another, and they would help him become as great as Thompson and Hemingway had been.“Like a crown,” he said. “Sometimes inherited but more commonly stolen. Whoever wins wears the crown.” He drained a seven and seven and got up to go to the bathroom. Rolling her eyes, the woman he had failed to impress peeled herself out of the vinyl booth where she had been trapped and walked straight out the door.It was one of those moments where everything narrows in perfect clarity and you see your choices lined up. One shot, one target.I laid down a ten dollar bill next to my empty glass and stood up. I walked to the table staring straight ahead, picked up the canvas bag as though it belonged to me, and went fast, out into the night. Portland was misty but not raining, and the MAX train pulled up as though I’d whistled for it.Those antlers have been with me ever since. I don’t know if there’s any power in them, but I do know they’ll stay with me until they’re stolen again.I’ll leave the door unlocked.
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