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Ballad of Cowboy Bill (standard:westerns, 819 words)
Author: Beck FentonAdded: Jul 09 2004Views/Reads: 2911/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
A tired cowboy and his loyal horse go home after a busy day. Finding gold and surprising rustlers are some of the adventures Bill remembers as he heads to the ranch. There is a surprise twist as he arrives late for supper.

Ballad of Cowboy Bill Beck Fenton 816 words 

Bill trudged down the road, his once shiny black boots kicking up puff
balls of dust. The setting sun washed the countryside with an eerie 
rose-lavender tint that went unnoticed by the tired cowboy. Still so 
far from home. Rumblings in his stomach reminded him how long it had 
been since his last square meal. 

Stopping in the middle of the road, Bill dropped his horse Lucky's
reins, and searched his jeans diligently for some tidbit to see him 
through 'til he reached the ranch. His side pockets yielded only gold 
nuggets and an old arrowhead he'd picked up for luck. Nothing in his 
hip pockets at all, but in his shirt pocket he found a half stick of 
gum. Carefully peeling away the tinfoil, stuck to the gum like a layer 
of skin, Bill decided it was a good substitute for chow. Putting it 
into his mouth Bill grimaced. It broke into tiny pieces and instead of 
chewing a gummy mash, Bill found himself concentrating on trying to get 
the stale pieces to stick together. Satisfied that he had something to 
occupy his attention, Bill picked up the reins once more and hopped on 
his patient horse. New energy surged through them both, and for a while 
they galloped down the homeward trail. But the false energy of stale 
gum didn't last long, and soon Bill got off Lucky and walked again, 
dragging his stubborn companion along. 

Running off those rustlers had taken a lot out of them, but the boss's
cattle were safe now. Bill couldn't count the number of dead men he had 
left behind, but he knew they were all bad men. Closely watching the 
dusty trail, Bill slowly realized how dark it was getting. Glancing up 
at the last red cloud in the sky, he heaved a sigh and tried to hurry, 
but his feet just didn't want to go any faster. 

At the ranch all the cowpokes would be gathered around the table, as
rough and hearty as the food they were about to eat. The cook, whom 
everyone called Maw, would have already insisted on clean hands and 
faces and made them take off their hats before digging in. His place 
would be set for him, but he wouldn't be there. A sigh and a tear 
escaped from Bill, and he glanced at Lucky, to see if his horse had 
noticed the signs of his unmanly emotions. Lucky, good friend that he 
was, stared up at the sky, as if to say, "I don't see you doing 

The gum in Bill's mouth seemed to lose all it's flavor, and Bill stopped
to spit it out, aiming for a bug-bitten daisy growing pitifully at the 
edge of the trail. It danced a jiggle as it was hit squarely with the 
discarded wad of gum, and it's head bowed down as Bill followed his 
first hit with a big glob of spit. Little ants raced around, trying to 
figure out how God had turned their dinner table into a bathtub. Bill 
squinted and smiled. It was good to be big and powerful so far from 
home. Home. The thought hit Bill and he sighed. Home. Looking again at 
the sky he noticed the graying beginning to settle down around him. 
Fireflies had already begun to dance in the meadows and he tried to 
hurry along the road. Bill grinned as his hand hit his pocket with the 
gold, and he picked up his pace, listening to the jingle of wealth. 

There. Ahead of him he could see the light of the ranch like a gigantic
firefly. He heard his fellow cowpokes calling his name and he hollered, 
"I'm coming!" 

The last leg of the journey seemed to fly as Bill ran, Lucky jumping and
bumping behind him. Reaching the porch steps, Bill stopped abruptly, 
looking up into the boss's stern face. Bill took his hat off and 
dropped the reins. 

The boss narrowed his steely blue eyes and peered down at his youngest

"You're late son." 

Bill gulped and swallowed. Digging in his pocket for the gold, he held
up the rocks and mustered a grin. 

"Yeah. But I found us a fortune in gold and I fought off a pack of
low-down cattle rustlers, and I found a real arrowhead, and..." 

"Come on, Bill. Time for supper. Let's get you washed up. Your Mom's
kept your food warm for you," Dad reached out to the little boy and put 
his hand on his son's shoulder. "Eat first. Then you can tell us all 
how you saved our cattle. Pick up Lucky and bring him in. Lean him in 
the corner for now." 

As the five-year old hopped over the door sill he heard his Maw call
out, "Welcome home, Pard-nuh." 

Bill knew everything was all right in his little corner of the world. 


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