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The Old Cowpoke

Cowpoke

“Now, I wan’ ya to lissen to me. I ain’t gonna have no time oncet we leave to be doin’ no ‘splanin’. Iffen ya think ya horse is goin’ over a cliff, don’ worry none. Ain’t no horse goin’ to kill it’s own self. ‘Course, it might stumble but ya nevah know when so no sense worryin’ ‘bout it. Last yer we lost a dude for that. He thunk his horse was goin’ over so he jumps off. Well, he was still goin’ forward las’ time we seen ‘em. Right off the cliff. The horse he done stopped short a the edge. No, ain’t no horse goin’ off except maybe Old Bullet. He’s kinda suicidal. Iffen he does, well heck, wave your hat and go on down in a blaze a glory.”

The dudes all looked at each other. Is this guy for real? Is this part of the package here? This guy looks a lot like Jack Palance in those Billy Crystal movies, but not as good looking or as friendly. This guy was downright ugly. No one asked. Everyone prayed, even the atheists. They figured that if there was ever a time to come to Jesus this was it.

Inside of a mile lots of butts were sore. Some were rubbed raw. The women were doing fine since they had ready made cushioning. No one complained about it though. The only one to complain to was this ugly cowpoke leading them. He didn’t strike anyone as being one to accept complaints very well. He struck everyone as the type to give you something worse to complain about. The very worse thing was that they were paying him. Paying him and deathly afraid. How does that work? How smart were they?

He finally stopped for lunch. “Vittles”, he said. For real, he said vittles. It was beans and jerky. Not that stuff you buy at the convenience store or at a bar when you’re drunk and toss back up when you drive home.. This was real beef jerky. Well, it was jerky. The dude group assumed it was beef but with this guy it could be prairie dog and the odds were that it was.

“Ah, this is the life. A man, a horse, and wide open spaces. Wish I’d a bin borned 150 yer ago. What a life. Roundin’ up cattle, fightin Indians, wenchin’ and a drinkin’. You folks have it too soft, ya know? Well, you’ll learn a bit of the rough side this week. Heck, give ya somethin’ else to talk about in yer fancy Dan bars with ya fancy Dan friends.”

They rode on through the afternoon. They rode through a dust storm; they rode through a rain squall. The rain cleaned the dust off. Then the dust became mud and they wore it. Everyone was miserable. Everyone was trying to remember how this stupid idea got into their heads. The women were thinking about how stupid they were if this is the best vacation idea a man could think up. Must have been drunk at the time. That’s the only rational explanation for doing anything this irrational- marrying them and being here.

“OK, this here be as far as we go today. Gather some wood for a fire and unroll your blankets. Oh, and guys? This here pistol be real, not no make believe. Don’t none of ya be botherin’ the womenfolk.”

“Hey, that’s too much, that’s just too damn much, This ‘womenfolk’ here is my wife. Her and I-”

“You gots somethin’ wrong with ya ears, boy? I said none a ya. Did I make some sort a exception fer you? Iffen ya think that, you is crazy as a cow in a patch of loco weed. Speakin’ of which, I don’ go fer none of thet either. I’s a light sleeper too.”

The guys were sitting off to one side. They were muttering.

“We should kill this guy. I have a bad feeling about him”, one of them said.

“No kidding? You have a bad feeling about a guy who is obviously insane? We can’t kill him. That’s ridiculous”, another replied.

“We probably couldn’t. This guy sure as Hell didn’t get to be as old as he is with that personality by being easy to kill”, said a third guy.

The first guy then commented, “The girls would probably warn him. They’d probably help him. Notice they didn’t complain about him telling us to stay away from them.”

“I didn’t notice your wife saying anything, that’s for sure.”

“None of them did!”

“He wasn’t talking to us. He was talking to you, threatening you to be honest about it. Your wife just smiled. You got problems there, bub.” This from the second guy, who was the first guy’s brother.

“Well, uh, well, if we aren’t going to kill him or do anything else we might as well get to sleep.”

“Yea, and remember- he sleeps light.”

“Yea.”

“Yea.”


The next morning they heard movement in the predawn. They ignored it at first, thinking the old cowpoke was guarding them. No one and no thing was going to sneak up on him. Soon they began to smell something very bad.

“Hey, it smells bad here. It was okay last night. It smells like shit burning.”

“How would you know what shit burning smelled like?”

“I don’t but if shit was burning I think this is what it would smell like.”

The all got up and moved towards the fire where the old cowpoke had coffee brewing. The closer they got the worse the smell.

“Say, old-timer, it smells like shit burning. I know it isn’t but-”

“It is shit burnin’. In the olden days they didn’t always have wood to burn. So, they used buffaler shit for cooking and heatin’.”

“Yea, well, this ain’t, I mean, isn’t the old days and they ain’,aren’t any buffalo around so what’s up with that?”

“Well, I likes to make thing as real as I can and this here shit is ass close as it gets. Coulda used my own shit as I usually do but I needed a bigger fire. Pour some coffee while I saddle the womenfolks’ horse’s. Ya can saddle ya own, I reckon. Be careful-”

One of the men picked up the pot by the handle and set it down again quickly. He tried not to scream and not to cry. He refused to look at his hand.

“Be careful not to pick the pot up with no gloves on. It’ll take the hide offa ya. I guess ya know that now.”

“He need first-aid. You have anything for burns?”

“Nope.”


The day was one miserable thing after another. It climaxed when they got to a stream. The old cowpoke told them to hold the horse’s heads up. If not, they’d start to drink and wonder downstream.

“Horse’s are stupid. Don’t let them make you stupid too.”

Sure enough one of the horse’s started drifting downstream. One of the men was riding it.

“Well, I guess he don’t listen too well. I’d a thought it would be one a the womenfolk, them being weaker an’ all. Well, it ain’t like he’s gonna go over a falls. Ain’t one a them nears here. Don’t look like rain so I reckon he’s safe from a flash flood. Them are excitin’ although a bit hard on ya. I guess the horse will get tired a bein’ in the river and come out. Hope it’s on this here side.”


When they camped that night the guys had no appetite for shit-cooked food. They went off a way and went to sleep. When the guys woke up the next morning the first thing they noticed was that the old cowpoke was gone. So were the girls. There was a note pinned to one of the saddles.

“Took the womenfolk on down to San Lucas. They didn’t seem to want you to go with them. Sorry, dudes.”

 

(A new story fromAppalachia)

Joe Bob Becomes A Hero

Appalachia

Joe Bob stopped in at Marvin’s Fast Stop for a hot dog when he saw the gun. He should have drawn his gun and then confronted the robber. He didn’t and that led to his being a hero. The robber heard Joe Bob yell for him to drop his gun. The robber also saw Joe Bob hadn’t drawn his. He said to the Deputy, “Well, I reckon not. I have my gun aimed at you and your gun is still holstered.”

Joe Bob saw that right away. He felt stupid for the moment. Then he noticed the robber had a water pistol, not a real gun. He told him, “Now, there’s no need for anyone to get hurt here. Just put that there gun down and let me arrest ya.”

The robber shot Joe Bob in the face with pepper spray. He turned to Marvin and told him to hand over the cash or he’d get the same. Marvin wasn’t going to argue that. As the robber was grabbing the cash Joe Bob was stumbling around feeling like he’d been sat ablaze. While he stumbled he also knocked the pepper-spray gun out of the robber’s hand. Marvin then knocked the robber out with a baseball bat. The robber went down and wasn’t getting back up any too soon.

“Joe Bob, that was the bravest thing I ever saw. You didn’t have no way a knowin’ that weren’t a real gun. Good Lord, you took a pretty big risk.” Joe Bob wasn’t really listening. He was trying to figure out a way to put the fire out. He knew he hadn’t done anything except get sprayed but he was in no shape to argue with Marvin. He did think to tell Marvin to call 911 and get some backup here while he tried to keep from throwing up.

“Joe Bob, you knocked the gun outta his hand and I cold-cocked him a good one. Why you still hoppin’ ‘round like that. Ya look a little silly now.”

“Oh my God, I can’t see! I’m blind and feel like I’m on fire! The robber-”

“Now, Joe Bob, there ain’t no need to be using the Lord’s name in vain. You been to Sunday school. You keep that up and you are going to burn in Hell. Jus’ ask the Reverend Black. You jus’ ask ‘im. The robber ain’t goin’ nowhere any time soon except to the jail.”

More Deputies arrived along with the Sheriff. All he heard was a deputy had been shot. He was a little put out to find out it was pepper spray. He felt guilty for feeling that way but it was the way he felt. They got the robber to the jail. One of the new deputies was reading the guy his rights.

“You have the right to an attorney; if you don’t have one, or, can’t afford one one shall-”

“Of course I can’t afford an attorney. Why do ya think I rob places for?”

“Ah, ha! You’re confessin’ to robbin’ the store! This is easy!”

The sheriff grabbed the deputy and pulled him out of the room. “You dumbass! You hadn’t read him his rights yer. Not all of them. That confession don’t count. Dumbass.”

The DA, Paulie Williams, charged him with armed robbery and assault on a police officer. Squire Davis was appointed to defend the guy. He and Paulie met for lunch. Paulie figured Squire would try to talk him down to attempted robbery and simple assault.

“Squire, I know you want me to go with attempted robbery and simple assault but I ain’t going to. The Sheriff is mighty pissed about Joe Bob getting pepper-sprayed. He is all hot to have this guy do some real time. I got an election comin’ up and I don’t need the Sheriff bad-mouthing me.”

“I hear you. The guy really got clobbered by Marvin. They had to sent over to County Hospital. That took awhile and the guy felt like he had four heads. He’s gong to be a long time coming all the way back- if he does. Instead of Attempted robbery, how about simple assault on Marvin. Marvin did get the better of him.”

“Yea, he really laid that guy out. He seemed okay for a while before he started throwing himself around. They day it was kind of scary. Okay, simple assault on the robbery. But, he has to go down on Joe Bob- er, I mean he has to go do some time for that.”

“Okay, I can talk him into that, I think. Minimum time?”

“Okay. Let’s hope Judge Hill goes along with it. He’s up for re-election too.”

“Then I’d say we need to get the Sheriff to go along with it.”

The Sheriff wanted no part of the deal. The term, “Rot in Hell”, came up.

Paulie and Squire had another meeting. Paulie told Squire ,“The Sheriff is holding my feet to the fire on this one. He figures the guy has to do some hard time for the assault on Joe Bob. He don’t care all that much about the robbery.”

“Okay. I’m planning to ask Melvin about the ‘armed’ part of the robbery. Seems like after Joe Bob got sprayed it was pretty obvious the guy only had a water pistol. That isn’t too much ‘armed’ around these parts.”

“Oh, I see your putting on your ‘good ole boy’ act. Okay, I’ll go with attempted robbery. Best I can do.”

“Now, I know the jury will be all up in arms over the assault charge. They are good law abiding people. They also like Joe bob even if they think he’s cursed or spooked or -”

The Sheriff refused to budge on the assault charge. “I don’t care how much a fool Squire makes Joe Bob out ta be, I ain’t havin’ one a my deputies whacked around.”

After the trial Joe Bob was treated better for a while. Bobby Tasco finally had enough and told him, “Now, Joe Bob, ya listen to me. I’m an old man and I know a few things. Ya keep on struttin’ around like t ya been and someone like Teech Boom is gonna test ya. Believe that.”

Teech Boom was the local bully. Not everyone was afraid of him bit Joe Bob was in the group that was. He talked it over with his wife, Janie. She listened to him. She knew he had a reputation for being something of a klutz. After listening to him she told him, “Joe Bob, honey, Ya had your moment in the sun. Now it’s time to sit in the shade a bit. In other words, leave ff the strutting and go back to be just plain old Joe Bob.”






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