Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fall of the Cowboy


Fall of the Cowboy by Frederic Sackrider Remington

The gun glinted in the noon day sun, and its barrel was aimed directly at me.

"I thought I could trust you," he said.

I stared back while my knees melted in a puddle at my feet and my heart rat-tat-tatted down the street. Why did I think I could two-time a cowboy? Okay, I came across a lot of cow pokes at the Red Dog Saloon and it used to be I wasn't interested. But lately I'd been feeling lonely, ever since Mr. Brinkley died, or as I liked to call him, Mr. Sugar Daddy. Once he was gone, my female needs went crazy on me. Maybe it was grief, I don't know. But I overextended myself, flirting and hanging onto every trail-worn stranger who wandered in the saloon. That was how I met both Bart and Rusty and on the same night.

I'd been careful not to let one know about the other, but they must have gotten together and compared notes. Because soon I had two angry cowboys facing each off on the main street on a sunny day in February, Valentine's Day to be exact, their hands fixed over their holsters, fingers trembling and flexing.

"You been cavortin' with ma woman?" Bart's face flushed red under his grizzled beard. His voice rang out, baritone and nasty.

"She's my woman." Rusty sounded like screeching train wheels. Even so, he mouthed the words slowly, weighing them down with gravity. 

Snowflakes fluttered from the sky making one think of children at play rather than a shoot-out. But it went on.

"I seen her first."

"Did not. I done seen her first. First thing we walked in the Red Dog on Thursday I seen her hanging on the bar, throwing 'em back." 

Okay. I've been known to drink a bit when I'm lonesome. It helps me loosen up to meet people; ergo, my cowboy problem. Their  angry tones worried me.  I worked my way further back in the crowd, stooping to keep from view.

"Yeah, we had fun that night. You and me. As I recall, neither of us played her no mind once she said howdy."

"I went to see her after. Woman winked at me as I went to leave, slipped me her room number, a note right there in my palm,  'Room 3 above the bar.' She said I was the only man she wanted." Rusty blushed.

"I went to see her, too. And she told me I was the only man she wanted."

Swinging around on their heels with such a jostle their spurs jangled, guns now drawn, the cowboys searched the crowd. Bart spotted me first which brings us around to where you came in.

"I thought I could trust you," he said.

I was scared. But I didn't intend to let them know it. "Lots of men thought they could trust me, Cowboy."

I guess he didn't expect that answer. Lowering his gun, he shot a glance to Rusty.

"You both thought you could trust me...and you could. I certainly didn't do anything to hurt either of you. I was simply a friend to you both." I blew each a kiss.

They were speechless.  

"Come on, boys...friends."

Rusty broke down first. "Ah, sure, Miss Jo. I'll be your friend."

He rushed over crying and slobbering, giving me a big hug. Bart was quick to follow. 
 
Buried in cowboy muscle, I managed a muffled thank you and backed away. Smiling, I watched the boys return to their poker, then I sidled up to the bar. A handsome stranger sat there, drooped over his whiskey. I hate to see sad cowboys. 

I tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned, I winked, and slipped him a note.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski




3 comments:

  1. So this is how the Wild West ended... I'd expected as much, but couldn't wrap myself around it. Another legend dies at the feet of Eros...

    ;)

    Good one, Jo!

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  2. Hmmmm! How the Wild West was won- by a a woman who knows her ways! "My female needs went crazy on me." Loved that line especially! :)

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  3. Men ready to riddle one another with bullets and a few simple words from a female and they're blubbering and hugging! How easily we can be swayed. Great write, Jo.

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