How They Do It in West Texas

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ODESSA, IN WEST TEXAS, feels like the remote edge of something in the way you might imagine Vladivostok: far from anywhere, exotic, but not the kind of exotic that attracts tourists. It’s an oil town, mainly. Buildings are tacky, functional. The land is flat, dry, barren, with a local culture to match: the big deal in Odessa is, famously, high school football. West Odessa, bleaker still, is the scrubby outskirts where they put the “adult” stuff that Odessa doesn’t want.

So. West Odessa. April. Early Saturday afternoon. The parking lot of the A&R Adult Bookstore, a windowless concrete rectangle on a dusty strip of nothing-much: auto body shops, storage units, little outfits in some part of the oil business, with a lot of space between. No neighbors to annoy, or horses to frighten. A couple of hours earlier I’ve dropped my friend Cowboy off here; now I’m back, waiting in my rental car. Cowboy’s still inside, long past the time he was supposed to come out. (Re Cowboy and me, for now, just this: he lives in West Texas; I don’t. He’s attracted to places like the A&R; I’m not.)

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