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Church & Community July 11, 2017  RSS feed

The old cowboy spins a tail

By Mac Shadix

Editors note: During the slow days of summer the Buffalo Press is going to rerun the previously published stories from the old cowboy series. Today we have the conclusion of the first story.

“Why did they call him Tommy D. grandpa.”

Cause there was two Toms in the outfit. Tom Moore was a real top hand and next in line to be foreman. Tommy D was a pretty slack hand. He couldn’t throw much of a loop, and he rode a horse like he was slicked down with butter. So we called him D, like in a school house grade. He never knew why, and no one ever told him cause he was kind of a foreigner and mean. He liked beans in his chili. I think he was from Oklahoma. He didn’t have real good sense and would likely have fought or shot anyone who told him why he was called that. He didn’ last long in our outfit. He went off in the war and never did come back. Got killed in Nam, they said. I went with him to sign up, but they wouldn’t take me because of my leg.

“Why did they call you Slim? Were you skinny back then?”

Girl, I never was skinny in my life. I stayed on the good side of the cook and usually had a biscuit and a piece of jerky in my pocket or some ginger snaps. Old Bill could make some good ginger snaps. Them hearders usually gave each other goofy nicknames. Now you going to keep interrupting or do you want to hear the rest of the story?

“Sorry grandpa.”

Tommy D got a loop on that dead steers neck and wrapped it on his saddle horn and peeled that ole steer right out of that cactus patch. Soon as it was off me I started trying to crawl out of the cactus patch and as soon as he was off my legs I started feeling them cactus thorns. Seemed like I had picked up thousands of them and they sure did sting.

It turned out that both my legs were broke, and there was no way I could sit a horse. Tommy D went out and caught my horse and made sort of a bed out of the saddle blanket and my slicker and we proceeded to pick cactus thorns out of me. Of course he had to pick them out of my backside and he bitch…er griped about it a lot. Threatened me if I ever told it in camp but I recon I didn’t want anyone else to know about it as bad as he did. He managed to set my left leg, but he couldn’t do nothing with this one and that is why I limp to this day. It was pretty clear that I needed a doctor and a springboard ride out of there but the nearest doctor was in Sand Springs and that was a two day ride each way if everything went good and you had good horses. I knew that with Tommy D things never went good and his horse wasn’t none to good either. Pretty green and easy spooked.

Tommy D dug a hole in the ground and lined it with part of his slicker and fetched two canteens of water which pretty much filled it up. Then he refilled the canteens and planned to leave me one of them. He sliced up some of that old steer and cooked it over a fire and left me enough to last for several days. I had a couple of ginger snaps and a piece of jerky in my pocket and that would be enough to last until he got back we hoped.

He took both horses because he could make better time that way and left me there with the water, beef, my hat, saddle, boots, pistol and gunbelt with six rounds in it on a bed of a horse blanket and a slicker.

When he left he said. “Leave the girls alone till I get back, Slim.”

Pretty soon I started getting feverish and pretty sick. I was swelling up all over from the broken legs and cactus thorns but I swear my neck and shoulder were bothering me worse than any of the rest. I couldn’t sleep at all the first night and then slept nearly all the next day. The weather was pretty good and it wasn’t too cold, not freezing. I got to worrying if Tommy D would be able to find his way back and that kept me awake most of the next night. Until that Catamount started screaming that is. Then that is what kept me awake the rest of the night.

“What is a Catamount grandpa”?

A mountain lion, dear. A cougar.

“Oh my! Weren’t you afraid of them grandpa”?

Well, yes, of course sugar. Especially after we found old Bob half eaten by one over on the Yucca Flats. Don’t think it killed him, he was real old, but it still was pretty nasty.

“Dad. You are going to give Josie nightmares with all these grisly tales.”

Ok then dear. I will just be quite.

“But mammaaa. I have to know how it ends. He was in a hella of a mess.”

“See dad. That is just what I mean. Josie! You know better than to talk like that.

You know that he lived through it, or he wouldn’t be here to tell the story.”

“Please Mammaa… just let him tell how this one turns out. I will be careful about my words. I promissseee.”

“Ok then, dad I really like your stories too, but please keep Josie in mind when you are chosing them.”

Well then…Josie would you get me a drink of water. Just remembering that desert is awful dry work.

“Sure grandpa. Want ice?”

No ice. Thanks Josie.

To be concluded next week.

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