Things keep happening outside my screen. In 1993 the Michigan Militia guy I work with in Electronics at Walmart tries to recruit me—unsuccessfully. The video he showed me does not convince. He moves to jewelry. My shoplifting is not discovered, or not directly. I quit before I’m fired. He’s still there, I hear: a manager. I haven’t thought of him in years. That year I played Alien vs Predator obsessively on the Atari Jaguar, a platform now hunted nearly to extinction like the jaguar, Macho B, the last confirmed wild jaguar in America. That’s not a great comparison. Macho B was killed in 2009 by—to put it kindly—idiocy by Arizona Game and Fish. Maybe hubris is the better word, as the cover-up after his death revealed: he’d been lured and trapped intentionally, on the wrong side of the border, a victim of the struggle over the many multi-million-dollar grants that would come with study for the border fence that George W. Bush had recently approved. Like in the film the work they did was officially unapproved, clandestine, and deniable. The players were expendable, disavowed, and fired. Prosecuted, actually. One was convicted. The other was not. At least they were not hunted down and shot. Or not yet.
The border fence may be the end of the jaguar in America, but you can still buy the Atari for $149 on eBay. The game will set you back $45. If you don’t mind poaching illegally you can run it on an emulator.
Ander Monson is the author of six books of nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, most recently Letter to a Future Lover (Graywolf). He directs the MFA program at the University of Arizona and edits the magazine DIAGRAM, the New Michigan Press, Essay Daily, and March Fadness. These essays are part of a book he’s working on about the 1987 action movie Predator.