Water buffalo guts spattered and strung over boulders and scrub trees, splatted in one especially grotesque pile at the rocky bottom of the cliff. Doug, the cart driver (he chose an American name to ease the tourist’s anxiety over pronouncing Phuc) was drunk, and the steep zig-zagging mountain trail steeply zigged and zagged, and that’s about it: Kate, the American, and her husband, Richard, leapt clear and took these photos hung on First Friday when the galleries offer wine, crackers, cheese, and a plastic tray of fruit. Even in black and white, the intestines glisten like oozy scarves draped over the rounded belly and sloping back, one horn dangling by a few tendons. And there’s that one of Doug, his toothless face unmistakably laughing—“We’d asked him for a refund if he wasn’t going to be able to take us deep into Virachey National Park,” Kate explained and explains again and again over the course of the evening. A water buffalo climbs a mountain, slips on scree at the edge of the path, twists against a yoke, and then takes to air, hurtling 154 feet. I want to know who butchered the body, who chopped up the steaks. I want to ask, “What happened to the meat?”
Copyright © 2014 Tod Marshall
Used with the permission of Canarium Books.