Another episode of “Home on the Range”

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by abilene, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT...Part One.



    I’m standing bewildered under the bright, florescent supermarket lights like a white tail buck caught in the blue beams of halogen headlights. I’m trying to decide which brand of baloney to buy, but the names on the packages are unfamiliar. I hardly notice when a woman and a young boy come up to stand a few feet to one side. Moments pass before a small voice asks, “Are you from Texas?”

    I smile and say, “I sure am partner.”

    “Where’s your horse?”

    The mother sighs and says, “I hope you don’t mind, he’s never seen a real cowboy before.” Her accent is a southern, summer night, heavy with honeysuckle and magnolia. I feel like an extra in “Gone With The Wind.”

    “Well, bring him on out to the rodeo and he’ll see plenty of them.”

    “Can we Mom? Please...”

    “We’ll see.” She looks me in the eye and says, “Thank you for your kindness.”

    The forty-piece orchestra’s rendition of “Mommas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys,” is side-tracked by the ring of Boogers spurs, as he strolls bowlegged down the polished, shiny tiles of the aisle with a loaf of Sunbeam sandwich bread in one hand and a squeeze bottle of French’s mustard in the other.

    “Here comes another one!”

    I hear myself say, “Naw, that’s just Booger, he’s a bull rider.”

    “Wow!” The kid has a look of amazement on his face as his mother smiles goodbye and pulls him off in the opposite direction.

    “Can’t leave you alone for a minute. What’d she want, your autograph?” Ever since a girl in Los Cruces, New Mexico said I looked like a movie star; Booger has taken every opportunity to needle me about it. I pick up a pack of all beef baloney.

    “She didn’t say, the kid mistook you for a cowboy, but I told him you were a bull rider.”

    “Grab a bag of ice, I’ll get the cold drinks.”


    Outside in the oyster shell parking lot, the sun has suddenly become too brilliant to face without a pair of polarized Ray Bans. The white Coup De Ville has blended it’s self into the bed of seashells like a flounder on the bottom of a sandy, shallow bay. Momentarily dazzled, I stumble into the side of the Cadillac and fumble along a fin till I find a chrome door handle.

    I pull at the handle and the dark refuge of the interior opens up for me. I duck down and crawl inside the capsule to sink into the soft, leather seat with a sigh. Booger cranks up the sabre-toothed kitten and she purrs to life, her breath an artificial, artic breeze blowing from her louvered vents. Through the tinted glass, I watch the sparkling parking lot slide past till it’s behind us and we merge onto Business U.S. 90 East.

    The fairgrounds are out on the edge of town, just before the fields and farms begin. It’s a buffer between the city and the country. It’s as country as cow chips, with its barns and livestock, along with all the canning, cooking, quilting, and other country contests. The folks from the city show up in droves wearing hats, boots and neckerchiefs, clutching turkey legs and paper cones of sweet, colored cotton candy. It’s a place of wonderful odors and excited people. To me, it’s just one long holiday. It’s always the Fourth of July and I love it.



    The guy at the back gate waves us through with little more than a glace. After dropping off the cooler of cokes and sandwiches at the rodeo office, we cruise over to the corrals to feed the stock.

    Booger starts breaking open bales of alfalfa and scattering sections of it in the pen of roping calves. I start with the broncs and work my way toward the bulls while Booger feeds the steers. By 10 AM our shirts are wet with sweat and stuck to our backs. We crawl back into the Cadillac and head for the cooler of cokes.

    By now, cowboys are beginning to show up and crowd around the bulletin board to see what the rodeo secretary drew for them in the first go-around. I got a big red roan called Powder River and Booger ends up with a big, black bull called Tar Baby.

    Dick brings his list of the stock to be used in tonight’s performance and we head back to the pens. Booger works a gate down the alley, while I work another. Dick does the cutting with a buggy whip. When he lets one get by him, he calls out “keeper” if it’s one that will be used tonight. The keepers are kept in different pens so they will be easy to run into the chutes come show time. By the time we finish with the sorting, it’s lunchtime.

    We turn towards town and the Best Western motel with its restaurant. It’s crowded with the rodeo cowboy community. Most of them we know. The towns may change, but these faces don’t. It’s a regular mix of the smaller rough stock riders, with their tall-heeled riding boots and the taller calf ropers and the larger steer wrestlers, wearing low-heeled Justin ropers. There’s the usual sprinkling of shapely barrel chasers, with long, silky-haired tresses to match their horses manes.

    The big dining room is dominated by large cowboy hats and shiny, silver trophy buckles. Waitresses bustle about with trays loaded down with platters of chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes covered with cream gravy and tall, sweaty glasses of iced tea with lemon wedges perched on the rims. The murmur of voices blends with the sound of dinnerware clicking against salad bowls and side dishes and the cooks calling out pick-up orders through the kitchen’s long, serving window.

    Melvin and Mitch wave us over to their table and we thread our way through the dining room. The Garrett’s are the bull rider’s best friends. They don’t much like being called clowns; they prefer to be referred to as bullfighters. Melvin is fleet of foot like the rabbit and his brother Mitch is the barrel man, like the tortoise with his protective shell.

    Dick says, “Just goes to show if you leave the barn door open, there’s no telling what’s liable to come in.” The Garrett brothers laugh because Dick is the guy who signs their paychecks. They know enough to stay on the good side of the boss. Everyone orders “Today’s Lunch Special.”



    The chicken fried steak and a smashed potato with gravy comes with green beans and a dinner roll as big as a large turnip. Desert is peach cobber. After the meal, Dick mentions that Melvin has drawn Speedy Gonzales in the first go around of the bull riding.

    He say’s, ”I didn’t tell you before, because I didn’t want to spoil your appetite.”

    Melvin’s face turns almost as white as grease paint and he says, “Ah, the money bull.”

    Dick says, “Yeah, if you can ride him. He hasn’t been ridden yet and I don’t expect he’ll let you be the first.”

    Melvin looks at Dick and says, “I’ll bet you one hundred dollars I can ride him.”

    Dick smiles and says, “Eight seconds on the back of Speedy Gonzales is like a lifetime.”

    Melvin grins and says, “There never was a horse that couldn’t be rode.”

    Dick says, “There never was a cowboy that couldn’t be throwed. But this ain’t no horse we’re talking about.”

    Melvin says, “Bet?”

    Dick says, “Alright,” and picks up the check. The rest of us contribute to the tip. Dick heads back to the rodeo office in the Cadillac and Booger and me walk over to our motel room. After a shower, we watch reruns of Gunsmoke on TV.



    Booger say’s, “There’s no way Melvin can stay on Speedy Gonzales.”

    “Nope.” I say.

    In the early evening, we don freshly starched cowboy clothes and head for the arena. Booger and me load the bare back horses in the chutes while the Grand Entry’s going on.

    It’s easy to get hooked on the dusty, summer night arenas, surrounded by bright, stadium lights with the sounds of the livestock and the crowds of people. The horses snort nervously and one or two kick the sliding gates behind them so hard it sounds like gunshots, while the bare back riders get their riggings set and cinched down.

    We place our hats over our hearts with a rodeo flourish, when the High School band plays the Star spangled Banner that yet waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Then it’s rodeo time. The smooth voice of the rodeo announcer informs the stands of people munching popcorn of the events that are under way. “Walter Campbell, the son of a Tulia, Texas rancher will be coming out of chute number one on a horse fondly known as the Widow Maker.”

    Yeah right, cowboys are about as fond as Widow maker as a scorpion is of a black widow. Some horses are hard to ride and when you do get it done, it still doesn’t put you in the money. The small, black gelding throws every dirty trick in the book at Walt.

    He takes a run out of the gate before breaking it off in a sideways lunge that turns into a twisting, ducking and dodging dance in a cloud of dust. Walt’s all over him like a drunk monkey on a football on a Friday night. Not exactly pretty, but he manages to mark a sixty-eight score on a horse everybody hates. Not enough to be in the money but more than some could have done. I reckon that’s better than getting your head stuck in the dirt like a fence post in a posthole. The rest of the bare back riding goes by smooth as clockwork, no hold-ups, delays or injuries to man or animal or any other thing that upsets crowds or makes them restless.

    The next event is steer wrestling. The doggers chase steers around, jumping off their horse onto the steer’s head, bringing it to a stop and twisting it’s neck till it flops over on it’s side. Then comes the team roping. The “header” ropes the horns and the “heeler” ropes the hind legs and they stretch the steer out till it flops on its side.

    We call Saddle bronc riding the classic event because that’s where it all started. Breaking a wild horse to carry a cowboy on it’s back through the long day over rough country wasn’t something every cowboy looked forward to or could even do. Them that did were known as bronc riders.

    Trying to stay in the saddle on the hurricane deck of a mustang isn’t as easy as it looks, although the better the rider is, the easier he makes it look.

    Powder River is a big red roan from Montana, he carries a lot of weight and that slows a horse down. Course all those big muscles also makes for a strength you won’t find in a smaller animal. The big gelding is gentle as a plow horse and stands still in the chute while I pull the bucking halter over his big, long head and buckle it up. I set my bronc saddle high on his withers and cinch it down tight. Booger holds his head straight while I pull the braided sisal, bucking rein back and get a good grip on it six inches behind the forks. Then I straddle the chute and ease my seat down into the saddle. Powder River has one ear and one eye on me as I ease my feet into the narrow bronc stirrups.

    The adrenaline is flowing ninety to nothing now and my heartbeat is accelerating like a nascar coming off the high wall of a curve. My breathing quickens, so I breathe deeper. The butterflies are having a field day in my stomach while the muscles in my legs are tingling with a nervous anticipation that makes them quiver. I pull my hat down tight to the top of my ears.

    I hear Clem McSpadden say over the loudspeakers, “Watch these horses folks, these are the kind of ornery critters that made the west a whole lot wilder than it had to be. Imagine having to top one of these off every morning before breakfast.”

    When I nod my head, the gate swings open and Powder River comes off the ground like a space bound skyrocket.

    It’s a pretty picture of a jump so high, I feel like I’m sitting on top of the world. When we come back down to earth, it’s pitching to and fro and bucking up and down like it’s out of control. I keep my eye on the horse’s head but at each jump it goes down out of sight and all I can see over the dashboard of the saddle is blue sky. The people in the stands become a kaleidoscope of colors as they jump to their feet, cheering.

    At every jump, Powder River blows my feet back to the cantle of the saddle, raking my spurs down his sides, ringing the dull rowels all the way. It takes all the effort I can muster to force my feet forward to the horse’s neck before his front hooves jars the ground. Each jump gets harder and harder and with each jump, I try harder and harder. Both of us are grunting with the exertion each jump takes. It becomes a war of willing our muscles to go beyond what’s normally expected of them. It’s man against a larger and stronger beast and everything else becomes as nothing. It’s just the horse and me now. There’s no arena, no crowd, no cheers; there remains only the struggle. It seems to go on forever.

    I know it’s over when Bo Hollis crowds his big pick-up horse against my leg and reaches over to take the rein away from me. He takes a wrap around his saddle horn with it and pulls Powder River to a stop. I grab the cantle behind Bo and slide off across the back of his horse to the other side away from Powder River and drop down to the ground.

    Bo grins down at me and says, “Good ride Hoss!” I limp the long way back to the chutes. The judges give me a seventy-five; it might be good enough for some day money.

    After the calf roping and the barrel racing, it’s time for the bull riding. Melvin asks me to keep the bull off him in case Speedy Gonzales bucks him off. Then he offers me fifty dollars if I keep Speedy from spinning. Speedy is a small bull and that makes him quick. As soon as the gates open, he always goes right into a left spin. He whirls around like a propeller; slinging cowboys off like snot off a finger. I should have known better, but I accept.

    I stand just in front of the chute as Booger pulls Melvin’s bull rope tight enough to suit him. Even through his make up, I can see Melvin’s about as nervous as a tom turkey the day before Thanksgiving. Speedy has also got a reputation for sticking a horn in a bull rider’s hip pocket.

    But it doesn’t come to that. As soon as the gate’s flung open, I jump in Speedy’s face and instead of spinning, he follows me, trying to horn in on my business. He bucks all the way, which keeps him from even getting close to my hip pocket, but it’s just straight away bucking without the spinning. Melvin gets him rode and scores a seventy-eight. Dick is so mad, he could eat a bowl of horseshoe nails for breakfast and threatens to fire me but he doesn’t do it.



    Not because he has to pay Melvin the hundred dollars, but because, “You could have ruined that bull from ever spinning again.”

    Boogers too charged up to laugh about it. I pull on his bull rope and he takes a bubble around his wrist with the tail and tucks the end of it under his belt. When he nods his head and the gate comes open, Tar Baby lunges through it like a runaway freight, before exploding into two different directions.

    The bull with the big horns goes one way and Booger with the big hat goes the other. The bull rider does a belly flop that makes me wince and the bull puts the rest of the cowboys on the fence. Back behind the chutes, Melvin slips me fifty dollars.
     
  2. Gator

    Gator New Member

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    1,116
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    Ludowici GA
    Now that is good… LOL
     

  3. SSG Johnson

    SSG Johnson New Member

    Messages:
    638
    State:
    Saint Robert Missouri
    Nice story what a pleasure to read thanks.
     
  4. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    Jackie, I'm sure glad you started posting your stories. Always good to read your stuff. Thanks. :thumbsup:

    Hope your still working on the book.
     
  5. ohiocattracker

    ohiocattracker New Member

    Messages:
    215
    State:
    Cincinnati Ohio
    I agree with Dano glad you post them,i enjoy reading the stories there always great.
     
  6. spoonfish

    spoonfish New Member

    Messages:
    3,780
    State:
    Warsaw, Mo.
    Great story. I can't wait for part 2. Keep them comeing !
     
  7. fish

    fish Active Member

    Messages:
    1,573
    State:
    ChattanoogaTenn
    Whew, man I am wore out now. I feel like I just hit the dirt. :p That was a great story buddy, thanks again and keep em coming my friend. :)
     
  8. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    Thanks guys, glad you liked it.
     
  9. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    Got any more :D
     
  10. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    Several BOC brothers have asked about my novel and I would like to report that for all practical purposes, it is finally finished. However, I am going over it again to sort of round-off the rough edges and fill in any blanks I can find, so I am still working on it. Thanks for asking.

    As for getting it published, only time will tell. I probably have about as much chance of winning the lottery as I do of seeing "THE LONESOME WIND" on the self in a bookstore. I read where only three out of ten that start writing a novel ever finish it. I can see why, lol. Actually, I hate to see it end.

    At the same time, I am working on a collection of short stories for a possible book or incorporating them into a novel based on the "HOME ON THE RANGE" series.

    I have hopes that my novel will get some attention at the Annual Abilene Writers Guild writing contest. The winners will be announced on the 22nd of this month. They also had their yearly, three day writers and publishers seminar where they recognised twenty-five writers from this area that were published this year. One of them was Elmer Kelton from San Angelo. He wrote "The Good Old Boys," among many other westerns. Tommy Lee Jones, played the lead in the screen play. I had planned to attend and perhaps make some "contacts" but recent surgery kept me from it.

    If nothing else, I may publish it myself as e-book. At least then, any friends that might be interested could at least read it. If not for you guys and gals, I wouldn't have been encouraged to write a novel in the first place. I'd like to say to each and every one of you, "Thanks."

    This is my one page sysnopsis of "THE LONESOME WIND."



    After the death of his father, 17-year-old Elijah Hawkins is left to make his own way on the Texas frontier. The Civil War has split the nation and drained the southern states of men and resources. The line of frontier forts is abandoned; the Overland Mail closed down. The Comanche and Kiowa are raiding more than ever.

    A small band of Rangers takes Eli under their wings and sweeps him into a whirlwind of life, love, death and the dangers associated with each. The ride takes Eli from the Cross Timbers to the rugged Palo Duro and the endless Llano Estacado, a trip between heaven and hell. Along the way he experiences deep friendships and emotions. He learns compassion, love and passionate hatred.

    Once a white child captive, the redheaded Kiowa outcast Red Hawk is a demon, straight from the devil, bent on death and destruction. His outrages have every Ranger itching to draw a bead on him in the buckhorn sights of a Henry repeating rifle.

    The men Eli rides into danger with are well-drawn, colorful characters with backgrounds that led to the lives they lead. Ride the prairie with Captain Big Bill Bartlett, the unforgettable Uncle Billy, Pace Walker, Buckshot Roberts, Charlie Callahan, Daniel Crockett, Davy Bones and Sam Houston Flores. Listen to the lonesome wind sigh through the honey mesquite. But hold on to your hats, you’re in for the ride of your life.
     
  11. jholl949

    jholl949 New Member

    Messages:
    836
    State:
    Mannford. Oklah
    Jackie, Put me on the list for either or BOTH of your books, either way they're published. I'm looking forward to reading the ENTIRE series!! Great writing!!
     
  12. oldprowler

    oldprowler New Member

    Messages:
    321
    State:
    Mannford, Oklahoma
    You can put my name right under Mike's.
     
  13. Dano

    Dano New Member

    Messages:
    13,712
    State:
    Texas
    abilene, I would also like to read your book.
     
  14. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    Thanks to everyone! Working on part 2 of "I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT..." Hope to have it finished soon.
     
  15. abilene

    abilene New Member

    Messages:
    188
    State:
    abilene, tx
    Hey guys, thought I'd throw something at you to see what you think. This is the first page of "THE LONESOME WIND."

    Winter lies cold on the shoulder; cloaking the country in a dismal shroud. A crow calls from the bare branches of a blackjack in a corner of the cornfield. He is the watcher. Others look for leavings beneath the rustle and rattle of brittle leaves on lifeless stalks. There’s a chill in the fitful wind and the furrows are frosted by flurries of tiny crystals, more like ice than snow. The smell of wood smoke is heavy in the thin air. Pa’s lying out there but he’s past caring about the cold.

    We buried him on the hill just outside Fort Taylorsville. Now he sleeps deep beneath an ancient live oak. I wish he could rest beside Ma back in Virginia, but I reckon if wishes were wings we’d all fly.
     
  16. Dano

    Dano New Member

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    13,712
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    Texas
    That is a good start. Now I want more. LOL.
     
  17. FS Driver

    FS Driver New Member

    Messages:
    2,323
    State:
    swansea,illinoi
    great beginning abilene,
    i would like to be on the list too .
    hope you have a better chance than the odds you posted i feel like you do as the stories you type haven't failed to leave me wanting more .

    whats your author identity? or is that a secret? just asking.
     
  18. bud1110

    bud1110 New Member

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    1,096
    State:
    East Texas
    Very well written Abilene,


    You Sir, have lots of talent, that's for sure..
     
  19. Phil Washburn

    Phil Washburn New Member

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    7,680
    State:
    Shawnee OK
    put me on that list jackie
     
  20. ohiocattracker

    ohiocattracker New Member

    Messages:
    215
    State:
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Like Dano said i was wanting more.