Tom Mix

by John Crowley

Imaginary Oklahoma is an ongoing project in which some of today’s most important and influential writers combine with artists to provide a fictional take on this place we call home. Through a wide variety of voices, styles, and literary devices, these works prove that Oklahoma is much more than a place, it’s an idea.


1968, and we are going to the Museum of Tom Mix. It is in a place called Dewey. “Dewy” is what my father calls my sister. A dewy girl. She lowers her eyes to not see him looking at her. I have my guns on, I buckle them on every morning when I put on my jeans. They have ivory handles with rearing horses carved on them that look like Tony, Tom Mix’s horse. My father’s name is Tony too. There is a horse on the hood of the car, and my father said we follow that horse wherever it goes. I watched for the horse to turn right or left, to see if the car went that way, and every time it did. But I am older now and I get it. Tony was a trick pony. My mother says that my father is a one-trick pony. Tony can think and talk almost like a person (Tony the horse). The Museum of Tom Mix is Tom Mix, but Tom Mix is much larger than you would think, taller than the statue of Paul Bunyan in that other town. We go around to the back of his left boot, which has a heel as high as I am, with a door in it. We go in one by one. There is a stairway up to the top of Tom Mix, and it is dark at the top. Tony is there, halfway up; then above Tony is the other Tony, after Tony died, and above him another. Far, far up are Tom Mix’s narrowed eyes, letting in the light. We are standing together, I love them all, and we wait to see who will start to climb.


John Crowley is the author of a dozen novels, including Little, Big and The Aegypt Cycle. He lives in northwestern Massachusetts and teaches creative writing at Yale.