The Rider

The rider is not always male, though usually (times being what they are) that is how people think of him. Mad Max wandering through the wasteland, looking for trouble, or Tank Girl, ibid. Or hollow-eyed drifters moving through the scrub towns of America in the 40s and 50s. Angular, long-limbed gunslingers moving across the plains. Nameless samurai flipping yarrow stalks at the crossroads. Knights errant: Bradamante, Gawain, Quixote. Or further back, and gods errant: Minerva begging hospitality, YHVH casually sitting down for a cup of tea in Abram’s fly-blown tent.

The rider comes to test a community. From the outside, she has no ties, no alliances, no family or history. She is anonymous in her singularity. She is always sharply political—power structures thrum in her bones like the threat of rain. She is always attractive in her freedom, dangerous and seductive in her power. Cynosure of party divisions and the slowly descending point of a tornado. The rider is quick to make friends. Hospitality is seldom seen, but repaid with a loyalty almost suicidal in its purity. She is beaten, stabbed, shot, robbed, strangled and constant. Money comes swirling in her wake, and success.

The rider is forever outcast. Society needs but cannot sustain his constant scrutiny. Shot of a silhouette against the sunset; song of farmers working in the fields. The Op leaves Poisonville for the coast; Jesus doffs his comforting humanity and ascends to heaven, his face a mask of radiant terror. Life resumes its slow decline.