Rental Child

“Finish up Johnny.  The men are here.  They don’t like to wait.”

“What men?” asked five-year-old Johnny.

“The men from the child rental place.  They’ve come to take you back.”

“They’re going to take me away?” Johnny asked, his eyes growing wide.

“Of course!  Goodness, you didn’t think we were going to keep you, did you?  Silly boy.”  Joan grinned at him.  “Now hurry up.  They’re very busy men and they don’t like to be kept waiting.”

“But I thought … ”  His voice quavered and the brown eyes filled with tears.

Joan sighed a little.  “So did I — once.  But that was before Bill and I realized how much work you really were.  New clothes, school, food, doctors when you’re sick.  My word.  Who would have ever thought one little boy could be so expensive.  And the time you take up!”  She rolled her eyes.  “We’re not as young as we once were you know — and you’re really not a very good child.”  She shook her head in wonderment.  “It’s a good thing we went for the option-to-own agreement.  Otherwise we might have been stuck with you the way the Smiths are stuck with little Joey.”

“But you’re my parents!” Johnny shrieked.  “You can’t send me away.  You borned me!”

“Borned you?  Whoever gave you that silly idea?  Probably that Joey kid.”  She shuddered.

“But I came out of your stomach.  Miss Jones said so at school!”

She laughed and ruffled his hair.  “You are a funny child!  That’s one of the things I might miss about you.  But children coming out of women’s stomachs…!  Well, that’s simply ridiculous.  As foolish as believing in a stork.  No, we picked you out at the child rental store like everyone else.  Now hurry up and finish your soup and try to be calm about it.  You don’t want them to have to put you in a sack do you?”  She waved out the window.  “You can come in now!  He’s almost ready.”

When she finally had him settled down and asleep, Johnny’s mother stood over him smiling.  She really thought she made a wonderful mother.  Children were so much fun, she thought.  The way they believed the most outlandish things.

And to think her friends had warned her that she’d find staying at home boring.

The trouble with bulls

Over the years while out hiking or camping with friends we have encountered cattle numerous times. Inevitably, if there is a bull with them, people’s eyes grow round and they get all nervous. Watch out for that bull, they say. It might charge.

After all, charging is what bulls do best. We all know that, right?

Wrong.

I would like to go on the record and state that unless you’re in a bullfighting ring in Spain, facing a bull specially trained to try and gore people, you have very little to fear from bulls. Half-wild cows with small calves, yes, but bulls no. And yes, I am somewhat knowledgeable on the subject.

(As I mentioned before in a previous blog, I grew up on a ranch in the Arizona desert. Date Creek Ranch, about 75 miles west and somewhat north of Phoenix.)

I am well aware that bulls can look pretty intimidating. On the ranch we ran various Brahma crossbreeds, the kind with the hump of muscle over the shoulders. They were big walking slabs of muscle. But it was lazy muscle. They were definitely not afraid of us gnats buzzing around us, but they had no special interest in chasing us. Chasing would mean effort and those big guys are lazy, I’m telling you.

The cows and calves feared the scary two-legged creatures who moved among them. The bulls mostly ignored them. Their preferred tactic when confronted by an annoying human on a horse was to simply walk into the middle of a big patch of mesquite or catclaw brush and just stand there, hoping we’d go away.

The only time a bull was truly scary was when two of them got in a fight. Weighing in at a couple thousand pounds each and standing about six foot tall at the shoulder,  it was best to get out of the way when they went at it. A person could get crushed pretty easily – and completely accidentally – by one.

Not only was it dangerous when they were fighting, but if the fight happened in the corrals it could be dangerous when the fight ended as well. This was because the loser of the fight usually decided he wanted to be somewhere else as soon as he gave up. Little things like fences and gates were only minor impediments when that happened.

I saw one who wanted to leave the corral who simply tried to jump over the fence, which was about seven foot high. He didn’t quite make it, but he got about half way. When he came down the fence turned into so many matchsticks. I remember another time when one decided to go under this big metal and wood gate. He got a horn under the edge, lifted it up about a foot and forced the rest of his body after it. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a gate afterwards.

As the ranch’s designated regular visitor to the emergency room, I did manage to get in the way of a bull fight once.

Our corrals were set up so that there were several pens that all opened up onto a long, narrow ‘alley,’ like a cow hallway. The gates to these pens were designed to be the same length as the alley was wide, so that it was possible to either open the gate half way, in which case any cows pushed down the alley had no choice but to go into the opened pen, or the gate could be opened completely, swinging back against the side of the alley.

Two of these big old Brahma bulls starting fighting in the alley one time, just a few feet down the alley from where I cowered inside the pen, holding onto my gate. No problem. I was reasonably safe from them there.

The problem was that Dad wanted them out of the alley and in the pen where I was and started yelling at me to that effect. They were coming my way pretty fast, horns locked, a couple tons of snorting testosterone. All I had to do was swing the gate out into the alley while running around the end of it so I could get behind it, on the other side of it from the bulls.

Except that I wasn’t quite fast enough. I was making my way around the end of the gate – right as it was coming up to the opposite side of the alley – when the bulls arrived. They ran into the gate and the gate hit me square in the chest, pinning me against the side of the alley.

Fortunately, being about 10 or so and still fairly rubbery, I wasn’t injured beyond bruising and the loss of some air from my lungs.

But my point is that bulls aren’t the fearsome creatures we’ve been led to believe. They’re fierce looking, but they’re only really interested in eating and cows. So don’t get too worked up when you see one ‘in the wild.’

Just try not to look too much like a cow.

(Near) Death in the Daintree

There’s this rain forest in Australia called the Daintree and I nearly died there at the hands of a madman.

Perhaps I should explain.

Twenty years ago this summer I quit my teaching job and took off to see Australia. I flew to Cairns (pronounced “cans”) in northeastern Australia with a few grand in the bank and plans to hopefully spend six months there through a combination of scrounging whatever (illegal) work I could and absolutely pinching every penny I had to death. I was traveling alone because all my friends were either busy being responsible, hardworking adults, or were broke-ass deadbeats.

I spent a couple days in Cairns and decided it would be fun to go north to Cooktown. I could have hitched but I was still a little freaked out at being that far away all alone so I opted for the next cheapest option, ride sharing. Gas (or petrol, as they call it for some odd reason) is bloody expensive in Oz, so people do a lot of ride sharing when they have a long trip to go on. It works like this: Tom wants to go to Cooktown and he has a car. But the petrol is going to cost him an arm and a leg. So he puts up a note on the board in one of the local backpackers (they’re like hostels; you share a room with a bunch of other people and save a lot of money) offering a ride in exchange for sharing the gas expense. Eric wants to go to Cooktown but is too cheap for a bus, so he calls Tom. Tom picks him up. They drive to Cairns. End of story.

Unless Tom is a madman.

I knew the day was going to be interesting when we’d been driving for a few minutes and he casually said, “I think we’ll take the short cut through the rain forest, eh mate?” (Try to imagine all dialog in this post with an Australian accent. It will make the experience more immersive.)

Now, what I should have said was, “There’s no such thing as a short cut through a freakin’ rain forest, you damned idiot! The words ‘short cut’ and ‘rain forest’ don’t even go together!”

Instead I double checked our ride. Maybe I just imagined we were riding in a Toyota station wagon. Maybe we were really in a Landcruiser. No, it was a station wagon. Maybe Tom was pulling my leg. The Australians have been known to “wind up” Americans for fun. No, he seemed serious. I should have gotten out of the car right then. But for some dumb reason I stayed cool and offered a noncommittal response.

The Daintree Rain Forest is, as the name implies, a rain forest. Complete with lots of rain, mud and general jungle conditions. It is also home to numerous salt water crocodiles, which are generally considered to be the most vicious predator on the face of the planet. You see, your friendly neighborhood shark isn’t a huge fan of human meat, being filled with preservatives and such, and is only interested in hunting when he’s hungry. Crocs, on the other hand, can’t eat you fresh. They want to eat you after you’ve been rotting for a week or so, because you’re lots more tender then. So he hunts when he’s not hungry, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  And salt water crocs, of all the members of the croc family, seem to consider humans as great entrees.

But wait, you’re thinking. Eric called them salt water crocs. He’s going through the rain forest. That’s fresh water. Good. You’re paying attention. The problem with your reasoning is Mr. Salt Water Croc has no problems with swimming miles and miles up fresh water rivers, finding a nice little pond in the middle of nowhere and waiting for some fool to come along and, I don’t know, wash the mud off him in the pond. He can run 35 miles per hour in short bursts and leap clean out of the water if he wants.

Enough about the crocs. I’m setting you up. For the record, I did not almost get eaten by one. I just find them truly terrifying creatures and wanted to spread my fear to you, in case you ever think about getting one at the pet store.

So there I was in a Corolla station wagon, driving into the rain forest with a madman. It was, of course, muddy, and raining. Because it’s a rain forest. Every mile or so we passed another sign saying something like: Danger! Four wheel drives only! This means you, you idiot!

I pointed out the first couple signs but Tom just laughed them off in true Australian madman style. “That’s just to scare the tourists. We’ll be right, mate!”

We did see other vehicles, all of them looking like something you’d see on a National Geographic expedition. Their occupants all pointed and stared. My uneasiness grew.

Tom’s approach to the bad stretches of road, of which there were many, was to wind the little motor up and charge headlong into the morass. While laughing wildly, perhaps even maniacally. We slid sideways as often as forward. There was much crashing through rivers and flying up steep hills. There were many opportunities to consider fiery death while we were sliding towards a wicked drop off on the side of the road. I remember eyeing my backpack in the back seat and thinking, If he slows down enough, I’m grabbing that and jumping out. I’ll walk back to town.

Finally came the hill he just couldn’t make it up. Ruefully, he said, “I reckon we’ll have to turn back.”

Best thing I heard all day. I started thinking I was going to live after all.

Then it happened. We came to a stretch with deep ruts carved into it. Somehow, we’d made it across the first time, but now our luck ran out. The wheels dropped down into the ruts and we were going nowhere. Tom suggested I push and when I got out, the mud was so slick I immediately fell down. It was like someone spread oil over ice. I’m not kidding.

I skidded around back to push and then forgot everything I ever knew about getting a vehicle out of mud. (Growing up on a ranch, I know a bit about this subject.) I positioned myself behind the drive wheel. Which meant that when Tom stomped the gas, mud sprayed me head to toe. Literally.

Tom laughed so hard I thought he’d have a stroke. He suggested I clean off if I wanted to ride in his car anymore. There was a river nearby – big surprise, in a rain forest – and a decent-sized pool. However, due to the aforementioned crocs, I was a little apprehensive so I pretty much cleaned off by the following method: Dash up to the water’s edge. Splash on a couple handfuls. Dash back. Watch for crocs. Repeat. All of which Tom found equally funny.

I got back in the car. It rained some more. I was feeling pretty glum. Tom was downright chipper. I concluded he was insane.

“How the hell are we getting out of here?”

“Something will come up.”

Lunatic.

Finally this giant expedition vehicle came along. Eight wheels. Gear lashed all over the top. About ten tourists sitting in it. It stops. The driver rolls down his window. I’m thinking, Great. This guy can pull us out no problem. We’re saved.

“You boys have food?” Yeah. “Because you’re going to need it. Looks like you’re going to be here for a while.” (All the while the tourists are snapping pictures of us like crazy. Look, Martha. Here’s our pictures of those dumbasses in a Corolla stuck in the rain forest! Wonder if they’re dead.)

Then the rat bastard rolled up his window and drove away. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to feed his smug ass to the crocs.

Well, to cut this all short, someone finally did tow us out. By the time we got back on the highway the car was completely covered in mud. There was no visibility through any of the windows, except for the windshield where Tom’s one working wiper worked only poorly. Freed of the restraints of bad roads and mud, Tom proceeded to drive at approximately the speed of sound through mountain roads, careening into the opposite lane half the time, practically blind because of the mud. I only thought we were going to die in the rain forest. On the highway I was sure of it.

Long after dark we rolled into Cooktown. Sitting in a pub, Eric guzzling beers in an attempt to soothe his nerves, and Tom says, “My car before this was also a Corolla wagon.”

“Oh, yeah?” I reply. “What happened to it?”

“I rolled it.”

Big surprise there.

Noises in the night

It seems to me that snoring is probably responsible for a lot more homicides than are credited to it.

Some years back I was staying at a hotel in Chicago for a writer’s conference. Due to the poshness of the digs and my general penury, I was sharing a double room with five other people. It seemed like a good idea, until a certain ugly trait emerged in the darkness, completely transforming what had been an otherwise perfectly nice, normal guy.

This person, who shall remain nameless, was rendered all the more dangerous because he was an arrhythmic snorer. I can adjust my sleep to handle almost any disruption, usually by finding some sort of pattern in it. But when there is no pattern or rhythm…

At three-thirty in the morning I lay on the floor listening to him whistle, snuffle, gurgle and – I think – choke. Perhaps he was dying.

I might have even wished for him to do so. I might have dreamed I was holding a pillow over his head until the sounds stopped.

I confess that the small hours do not arouse great compassion within me.

Snorers are one of the painful side effects of traveling the hostel circuit, as I was wont to do in my youth. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a hostel is basically a cross between a commune and a stripped-down Bed and Breakfast. For a meager fee, one gets the opportunity to sleep crammed into what amounts to a tight closet with however many people the owners can get by the fire department. Amenities vary wildly, from clean sheets, a pool on the premises and breakfast included, to filthy, beer-sticky floors and beds guaranteed to give you a swayback.

But the snorers are always a constant.

Like some sort of international secret brotherhood they insinuate themselves everywhere. No place is safe from them. They could be anyone. No one is to be completely trusted.

Confronted by a snorer, most hostelers will content themselves with mute suffering. Not me. I always felt it was my duty to respond. I believe in quick, decisive action. A good shake. A poke in the ribs. Public shame. They work wonders.

Sadly, there are times when direct action is not possible.

Once, in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to share a room with a true champion of the Sheer Volume category of snorers. The hostel was a converted hospital of some sort and the room we were in probably held sixty or seventy beds. I’d been out with friends, drinking perhaps a bit more than I should have. The room was peaceful when I passed out. An hour later the windows were shaking. It was unbelievable. I kid you not, it was so loud you would have had to shout to be heard over him.

The place turned into an insane asylum. People up and down the room were shouting, moaning, pleading with him to shut up, go away, swallow his pillow. Had I not been chained to my bed by the bonds of alcohol, I would have been at his throat in moments. I remember reaching towards his bed with clawed fingers, hating that he was so far away. If only I had a very long stick.

I consoled myself with the thought that in the morning he would be made to answer for his crimes. (Did I mention I am not compassionate in the wee hours?)

But in the morning he was nowhere to be seen. Probably he knew from experience what awaited him had he stayed around. Maybe he was a ghost, doomed to forever haunt the place where he snored himself and a roomful of unfortunate souls to death. In the light of day I have since felt sympathy for him, cursed to be forever cut off from the camaraderie of his fellow travelers, always outcast on the hostel circuit.

Of course, actions against snorers don’t always turn out as one plans. One time in New Orleans I was having these bad dreams where this cow was dying. It was making this awful noise. I couldn’t stand it. I kept kicking it and hitting it with a stick, trying to kill it, to make it stop.

I awakened to discover that this woman in the next bunk over – she was on the bottom, I was on the top – was snoring. So I leaned down and poked her.

Unfortunately, she was not the culprit, which I realized when she groggily asked me what the hell my problem was and the noise continued unabated. It was coming from the guy in the bunk beyond her. Fortunately, she was pretty calm about my mistake and passed my prodding on.

Claudia – then my girlfriend, now my wife – was sleeping in the bunk below me. Since she, like most of the rest of the room, was now awake, she got up to use the bathroom.

Leaning down as I had must have shifted something vital.

No sooner had Claudia shut the bathroom door, then my bed collapsed down on top of hers.

The woman I’d wrongly accused giggled for some time.

I wish to end this by saying for the record that I think snorers ought to be confined somewhere after dark. Like werewolves on the full moon. They should at least be marked with some kind of brand on the forehead so we know who they are and can be wary of sharing hotel rooms, marrying, or going camping with them.

As to the rumors spread by my wife that I sometimes snore, I categorically deny them and state with the utmost sincerity that her words are complete fabrication, probably designed to cover her own snoring.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of a secret international brotherhood.

PS No snorers were harmed in the writing of this piece.

Quyloc has his revenge

I knew the drive was going to be bad. Twelve hours. No one to spell me at the wheel because Claudia, my wife, was flying to Switzerland to see her parents at the same time. Two kids, a cranky old cat, two guinea pigs and a hamster. Along with a pile of gear and bikes hanging off the back.

 But I didn’t think it would be that bad.

 If you missed my earlier post about our 16-year-old cat named Quyloc (named after a main character in my fantasy series, The Devastation Wars), the drive in question was from Tucson to Salida, Colorado. From where we live now to where we used to live.

 I had gone and gotten Quyloc some kitty meds on account of his hatred for riding in the car and his ability to yowl non-stop far beyond the twelve hours of the trip. (When he was younger we did the drive without kitty meds. Once. I just remember being hunched over the steering wheel, ear plugs shoved in my ears, the CD player going at top volume, driving faster and faster. I still don’t know how we survived it.”

 However, due to his advanced age, the vet was uncomfortable with giving him the good drugs. The kind that knock him out cold for about twelve hours. Oh, he still doesn’t go down without a fight, even on those. He’ll wake up every couple of hours and give the yowling a good go. But he can’t fight it for long and we can live with the inconvenience.

 Which is why this time he did the drive on Xanax, which I had no idea could even be prescribed for cats.

 About seven in the morning Daniel, my younger son, and I got the first Xanax down his throat and I only got bitten once, but not too deep. He went loopy right away. It looked good.

 It wasn’t.

 I saw my first storm clouds when he wobbled over to his food dish and – despite the fact that he eats very little any more – gobbled down a good-sized portion of tuna fish and the rest of his dry cat food. That’s it, I told Daniel. He’s riding in the pet carrier. Something is sure to come out one end or the other.

 We made it about three miles before he let go. In the Walmart of a parking lot I used up most of the napkins I had in the glove box getting the kitty poo out of the carrier and off of him. (He even had some on his nose. According to Daniel, he went to sniff his business and then stumbled drunkenly into it.)

 Okay. Maybe that was it. At least he didn’t barf, which is his real specialty. (Sometimes, when he’s eaten too much and things just don’t seem right, I’ll put him outside as a preemptive measure. However, he is exceedingly good at resisting the upheaval until I let him back inside, sometimes hours later. He is an evil, evil cat.)

 We got about twenty miles down the freeway before he messed again. The smell was bad. The mess was worse. There went the rest of my napkins. Strangers whizzed by, happily going somewhere fast. None of them were riding the poo train. I began to hate them.

 We made it to Benson and I bought paper towels and baby wipes. I was so busy battling the cat’s bowel movements that I didn’t have much thought to give to the fact that the Xanax had made him loopy, but didn’t seem to be slowing the yowling much.

 The next abrupt stop beside the freeway was for a much looser version of the previous two. Now we had to actually dump water on him and try to rinse off his hindquarters as much as we could. Quyloc was starting to get pretty pissed by then. The indignities he was being made to suffer. Explaining to him that he would like being in Colorado with us better than a kennel for two months made no difference. We should simply never have made plans that inconvenienced him in any way.

 About noon we had no choice but to give him another dose of Xanax. The vet said we could give him three a day and I was beginning to curse at the other cars for crimes such as having stupid license plates.

 At last we had some relief. After that he often went as much as twenty minutes at a stretch without yowling indignantly. The afternoon wasn’t so bad.

 But he wasn’t done.

 Around six o’clock, still four hours to go, and the meds started wearing off. I could see that he didn’t like the effect they were having on him so I was reluctant to give him the third dose. Somehow we made it the rest of the way to Salida, although the trip took thirteen hours instead of the usual twelve.

 Finally, I thought. We’re here. Now I get a break.

 But Quyloc wasn’t done. Just because we were out of the car didn’t mean he was any happier. He proceeded to roam the house and yowl some more.

 By midnight I was thinking, he’s an old cat. He has to go to sleep soon. By two a.m. I was going crazy. When would the nightmare end? I finally put him in the front porch, but that didn’t work. He just yowled louder and two doors between us wasn’t enough to block out the sound.

 By five I gave up, let him back in and surrendered the house to him. I went and caught a couple of fitful hours on the couch in the garage.

I am not looking forward to the drive back.

 P.S. I am happy to report that Quyloc was back to normal the next day. I would like everyone to know that despite my humorous tone in this post I know the whole ordeal was extremely unpleasant for Quyloc and we will never give him Xanax again.

A ranch in the desert

I grew up on a ranch in the Arizona desert, west and somewhat north of Phoenix by a couple of hours (at least it was a couple hours when I was a kid; Phoenix is considerably closer now).

Date Creek Ranch could best be described as rustic. That is, if rustic is defined as: rusty, worn out, cracked and somewhat held together with baling wire and earnest hopes. Otherwise, it wasn’t.

I’m not kidding here. Everything on the place was ancient and only worked when it felt like it. Every vehicle had its tricks that a person had to know to get from Point A to Point B. The old Ford tractor? No brakes and the battery didn’t work. You wanted to stop? Drop the bucket. You wanted to stop on a hill? Good luck. Accidentally pop the clutch and kill the engine five minutes after Dad dropped you off miles from the house? Walk.

We had a truck that was so old, and had been repaired so many times, that I think the only original part remaining was the cab. Even the bed had been replaced. One time while I was driving it the battery bounced out and fell on the road.

The buildings were in just as bad a shape. The shop and the barn had both apparently been built on a weekend by drunk cowboys. The house? The whole building was completely termite-riddled. Piles of sawdust appeared as if by magic on the kitchen floor every day. Once I was trying to nail molding along the edge of a piece of paneling in the living room wall but it just wouldn’t hold. When I peeked under the paneling I saw why: the studs underneath were almost completely gone, more like 1x1s than 2x4s. To this day I have no idea why the roof didn’t just collapse on all of us. Naturally the roof leaked.

The horses, at least the ones we kids were stuck with, were the same way. Beauty was a good example. The name fit because she was black, but she sure was no beauty. She reportedly had chowed down on loco weed one time in the past so the local lore was you could still ride her, but if you got her too hot, she’d go mad and who knows what she’d do then. (Probably not true, I know. But I sure enough believed it.) Riding her was like riding a dead log. She didn’t respond to anything.

But at least she was nicer than Lady, who was anything but. Lady was so old she’d turned pure white, except for the small brown spots speckling her. I guess even horses get liver spots. Lady was cranky and mean. The good thing about her was she’d never bolt on you. Nothing scared her. A lot of horses you get off and let go of the reins, they might get a mind to leave. Not Lady. She was tired and she wasn’t going anywhere she didn’t have to.

She didn’t have any patience though. If you were little, like I was when I was starting out, getting on a horse was a struggle. I had to put my knee in the stirrup, grab the saddle strings , and pull myself laboriously upwards. Lady didn’t like that for some reason. If I spent more than a couple seconds at it, she’d twist her head back around and bite me. No kidding. Rotten horse.

More than once I’d be standing by her, maybe adjusting something on the saddle, not paying any attention, and she’d just lift her front foot and put it right on mine. Then she’d lean on it, give a sigh and just kind of stand there, enjoying herself. Being little, as I mentioned before, there wasn’t much I could do but flail at her shoulder ineffectually and scream until she got tired of the game and let me go.

On long rides in the heat it was easy to sort of doze off in the saddle and kind of lose track of my surroundings. Not on Lady, though. She’d wait until we were walking by a cactus or we were near a barbed wire fence and out of nowhere she’d just kind of sidestep and run me right into it. I’m telling you, this was pure malice on her part. My brother and sister will attest to it too.

One time a friend came out to visit. I must have been about seven. He got  on Lady and the darned horse plain old refused to move for him. Being somewhat of a complete idiot back then (a condition I still haven’t fully gotten over) I ran up behind her and whacked her on the butt with a stick.

She returned the favor, giving me both hooves in the stomach. I woke up on the couch some time later. And I never did that again.

Then there was Misty, Lady’s offspring. Misty got ruined when she was young by a cowboy working for us who used a spade bit on her. A spade bit is a nasty piece of work that cuts a horse’s mouth if you yank on it much. The end result was she had what’s known as a hard mouth, almost impossible to turn. If you really wanted her to turn, you had to reach way down and grab the reins near the bit and pull hard. Sometimes even that didn’t work. Sometimes she’d just turn her head to the side but still keep running straight ahead.

Misty liked to run and she could run fast. The problem was that stopping was just as hard as turning: pretty much impossible for a little kid. One time we came down the hill, running hard for the corral between the barn and the shop. She was happy to go. Going that way meant the saddle was coming off and she could get the annoying gnat off her back. I realized my mistake about fifty yards from the corral and I started hauling on the reins with both hands, leaning back, pulling with everything I had.

Didn’t work. The corral got closer and closer. It was looking bad.

Fortunately, she did stop. The full, four-footed skid, right before the gate.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready and I wasn’t hanging onto anything. I just kind of rose up in the air, bounced some very tender parts off the saddle horn a couple times, then folded up and fell in the dirt. Where I lay for a while.

Oh, the good old days…