1996, A Phone call
from an English friend living in North Carolina USA married to one
of those southern belle types with one of the greatest accents I had
ever heard, had moved with his job with the Volvo Corporation from
Wyoming to North Carolina.
Hi John, how do you feel about coming out to help me haul my horses
from Wyoming to North Carolina?
I’ll pay your air fare and all expenses and give ya a coupla
hundred bucks walkin’ around money. And you’ll get to eat Lisa’s
cooking while we get the Dodge Camper ready.
Errr let me think about it ...Yep ok.
A couple of weeks later I’m at Mike an Lisa’s, laying under a 1984
Dodge six berth camper, trying to get a tow hitch fitted. Grazed
knuckles and a huge lump on my head ( don’t try to sit up under one
of them, later we loaded food, Beer, coffee, propane and water,
Fixed the flat spare, loaded some more beer. Went to the house and
ate a huge Mexican home cooked meal.
Drank some beer, checked the map and went to bed.
Next morning before the Greensboro rush hour found us headed west.
Out thru the great smokey mountains, and interstate I.40. We made a
stop for a late breakfast in a rest area, just outside Winston
Salem. As I cooked bacon and eggs, Mike did the dishes. We made it
to Nashville late that day. We stopped by the grand old opry, that
was really disappointing just another of those American grab your
money deals, We overnited in the huge parking lot till 3am when
there came tap, tap, tap. on the door. I was the nearest so I opened
the door to find a uniformed guard telling me we couldn’t stay in
the parking lot. He was one of those I’m in a uniform and you must
do as I say. I tried to talk to him, but realized it was a waste of
time when mike hollered. Tell him to go fuck himself, or tow us out.
I grinned at the security guard, and shut the door, I could hear him
talking to the other side of the door. I went back to sleep. We left
at 7.30am after cooking breakfast. Never did see the guard again.We
stopped for a while on the famous music row, I went in the Ernest
Tubb record store, and got a couple of cd’s there was a lifesize
leanne Rymes cardboard cut out. Mike took my picture with my arm
around her, It looks real cool kinda hard to see its not real.We
then went too the old Ryman Auditorium the birth place of the grand
ole Opry. I got my picture took again on the steps, then we went in
and took the $12 tour, well worth it I coulda’ spent the day there
all those pictures of the stars Had a hard time naming some of them.
The place had a kinda aura to it almost like being in a church.
We hit the road again and made it into Arkansas and pulled into a
trailor park where a friend of mine lives. Hes pure redneck, and a
great guy. I had met him in New Braunfels Texas years before on the
Guadalupe river I was on vacation with my new wife and we hired a
couple of truck inner tubes and floated down the river with a crowd
of others, We watched some crazy bastards jumping off the 50foot
cliffs. Jimmy was the one holding a bottle of Jim Beam on the way
down and we were the nearest when he hit the water. He swam toward
us and hung on the tube, Sheeit knocked my nuts up in my throat, he
squeeked. He liked my accent and we’ve remained friends. for years.
We would send cassette tapes to each other. Mainly coz Jimmy
couldn’t read and write so good. He saw us comin’ and stood outside
his double wide trailor waving a bottle of Jim Beam with a colt 45
auto stuck in the waist band of his Hawaiian shorts.
He took a gulp of air and picked me up in a bearhug and squeezed the
shit outta me about the time I thought I was gonna pass out he
dropped me. Mike was a smart fella he said hi from the camper.
Where the hell did Monday and Tuesday go?
We hit the road with mike driving I was nursing the worse hangover
I’d ever had. I slept all the way to Oklahoma. Mikewoke me as we
stopped In the parking lot of the Cowboy hall of fame. The hangover
had eased, so I spent the rest of the afternoon taking in the hall
of fame theres some real good stuff in there but all in all When I
left I felt a ;little disappointed What can I say I just expected
more from it. Mike said the same.
Next stop Amarillo I love this town. If you know where to go you can
find the real west the real cowboys, none of your dancehall cowboys,
no dudes, or Wannabees, just your regular working cowboy.
. Theres a bar just across from the sale barn and auction hall. Its
called the quarter horse bar. After the cattle auction finishe its
full of the real thing, They don’t talk about country music,
Or the latest style of hat, they don’t wear expensive designer
tagged coats or jeans. just plain old wranglers the talk is all
cattle and feed prices. But these are the leather faced white
shirted dirty left breast pocket, sweaty hatted real thing, When
they take their hats off to a lady its for real, and you can see the
mark of a real cowboy. The pure white forehead from wearing a hat
all day This is the world I was privileged to be a part of for a
We pulled into the parking lot at the Amarillo Covention halls for
the wrca rodeo For those who don’t know that’s the Working Ranch
Cowboys Association If you never been to one and you like Rodeo or
just the cowboy thang, It beats all that pro rodeo organized high
priced bullshit hands down. Its wild and wooly. The team that won
that year, was the Nail ranch out of Breckenridge Texas one of the
team was a cowboy friend I’d worked with one, the famous Benny
I had arranged to meet my old boss Clyde Shepherd from the C-C ranch
out at Nara Visa Clydes Gone now You should a seen the funeral a sea
of blue jeans white shirts and black hats he was a very famous
cowboy. I watched that old man ropin steers and draggin em to the
branding fire Just soooo slick. I caught up with him in one of the
halls holding the vendor stalls Y’know the spurs and bits and
saddlery and other doo dads.I snuck up on him and goosed him, he
jumped like he always did it was just one of those things I’d always
done. It was the way he always jumped It always cracked me up. He
said the same thing w’all godammit pony, that’s what hes called me
since we first met. he tags everyone with a nickname as soon as he
meets them. Oh I had a small pony tail at that time ( yeah I know)
I had arranged with Clyde to look around for a stock trailor to haul
the horses with. He’d found one out at a place called Joshua Texas,
about 75miles away. But we couldn’t pick it up for three days as the
guy was putting a brake and wheel bearing job on it all for $1600
all in. So the plan was to stay at Clyde’s with his wife Priss
(nickname) she was always fussin around the house.
We stayed and of course Clyde put us to work ( unpaid of course) and
he worked us as hard as he did his wetbacks up at 4am sit and drink
coffe till 5.30 go out check oil and water on the pick ups
(everyday) he did this himself everyday even when there was no
help.And work till dark.
I’m gonna digress for a bit and tell you a funny story about Clyde.
He had three trucks on the place a 1979 GMC stepside, converted to
run on LPG (propane) called ole greeny
The ranch had recently bought a 1990 Ford crew cab longbed he hated
to use it coz it was near new and he didn’t want to wear it out or
put a dent in it (duhhh) Oh by the way Clyde hated to waste anything
he was the kinda guy that would straiten out old rusty nails rather
than open a pack of new ones. Bear in mind the ranch paid for all
that kinda stuff. Carefull might be a way to describe him, tight
would be another.
A 1964 Chevy longbed. Called ole red it used to be red, but the
paint had faded but what was left had turned a flat kinda dark pink
You could not say to Clyde Pink it was always faded red and he would
thro a hissy if you said pink
It was winter time and Clyde had no help on the place he was out
most days feeding and it was wearing him kinda thin. One day a
wetback called Ramon, was walking thru and stopped at the house to
ask for work. Well Clyde took him on and let him feed, in ole greeny
while he bolted another feeder to the Ford being real careful not to
put a scratch on it. Things went along real fine till one day he
gets a call from Bobby Caseado over at Red Rock Ranch, about 40
miles north. Would Clyde haul over the bucket from a front loader
tractor than he’d loaned a few months back. Sometimes, “loan” meant
for a long time till they asked for it back. Sure said Clyde, so he
and Ramon manhandled it onto the back of old red. Now old red was
Clydes own truck and hed owned it since new, he loved that truck,
and like I said don’t call it pink, you also couldn’t tell him it
was old and wore out.
The engine smoked, the radiator leaked and had little pointed sticks
wedged into the leaks, it used water and oil daily, the tires were
down to the cord in places. And the brakes had a mind of their own.
The windscreen was cracked. But the body was straight with hardly
any dents. So he puts Ramon in the Drivers seat, as he wouldn’t
trust him to drive the newish? Ford. Now listen he tells him don’t
run the lights cos it’ll blow a fuse don’t slam the doors, Oh yeah,
ya may have ta pump the brakes a couple a three . Ramon looks at
Clyde and nods Si Senor Clyde theeese truck she minds me of my home.
Never mind that bullshit just drive her carefull like. says Clyde
So off they go Clyde leading the parade. Fifteen minutes later there
up on the Highwell Road headed north, Oh I forgot to mention only
the passenger window rolled down,and its up in the 90s, and the
sweats rollin off of Ramon. They hit the cattle guard at the
Culberson ranch, and take the cutoff north to the red rock their
runnin’ along for the best part of 45minutes, the road kinda turns
back here and runs along the north end of the C-C Clyde’s place. So
Clyde’s lookin’ outta his window checkin’ the cattle in his pasture
while he drives. The way I heard it he spots an old bull that ain’t
supposed to be there. He hits the brakes hard to get out and use his
binoculars. KEEERASH Ramon runs into the back of him. Clyde’s Fuming
mad he gets out and runs back to old red, steams hissin’ outta the
hood. Waters all over, and the tailgate of the Newish? Ford is
smashed to hell and gone. Ramon is tryin to get outta the Chevy but
the doors jammed and the sweats runnin offa him he climbs across all
the junk and gets out the passenger side while Clyde hollers at him
over the hood. Now this is how it went, ramon in a strong Mexican
Goddammit Ramon didn’t you see me slow down?
Si senor Clyde I see you Slow down!!
Didn’t you see my brake lights?
Si senor Clyde I see your brake lights!!
Well godammit ya shoulda had time to stop?
Si senor Clyde, I had the time for the stop, but no time for the
Ok so where was I? Oh yeah so we work our tails off till we get the
phone call from Bob Marrs the guy with the trailor telling us to
come get it.
I ain’t never worked so hard, or so long, in all my life, said Mike
as we pulled outta Clyde’s and headed back to Amarrilo then on to
Oh Clyde’s a great guy but Cheap, and if he gets free labour, he
figures he’d best get his money worth.
We stopped off in Amarrilo and said goodbye to some other friends of
mine, as we’d be leaving Joshua and heading north to Wyoming thru
New mexico and Colorado.
So were rolling along I.40 going back east the way we’d come, to the
turn off for Joshua, Mikes drivin’ as he’d slept most of the day
while I was visitin’ with my friends in Amarillo. The wind was
straight outta the North and it kept mike busy as the camper was
wandering and he needed to keep correcting it.
Hey Mike ya wanna bacon sandwich I asked.
Yeah came the reply.
I got up and lit the stove in the galley and put some bacon in the
pan.I got out the bread from the fridge and started to butter it. Id
hung a black trash sack on the rear door of the camper for trash and
it was pretty full.I tossed the bacon packaging in the sack and it
fell on the floor I stepped back to pick it up and jam it in the
sack, we need to empty the trash I called to mike
Huh? He asked
We need to…. I looked thru the rear door window to see two cop cars
right behind us, Hey Mike we got the cops on our tail ya might wanna
slow down As I finished speaking right on cue they put the sirens
Mike panicked and hit the brakes, me and the frying pan full of
bacon and hot grease did as the laws of physic’s demanded we
traveled forward real fast, The fryin pan hit Mike in the back of
his head and landed in his lap., I hit the dashboard, As mike tried
his damndest to get rid of the pan, he kinda stood up and mashed the
gas pedal, again the laws of physics demanded that I travel in the
opposite direction. I hit the rear door of the camper dead center
and it burst open. I managed to get a hold of the door handle, and
hung on for dear life, as the contents of the trash sack commenced
to empty all over me. I managed to get a look backwards in time to
see the trash sack hit the windshield of the cop car, which swerved
and skidded into the bar ditch along side the road My life passed In
front of my eyes as the road whizzed by under me. about this time
mike figured he ought to stop and hit the brakes,
Laws of phsics time. My feet were still in the camper and I slid on
my ass back in the camper on the slick tiled floor and ended up
wedged between the drivers seat and the passenger seat, it knocked
the shit outta me but I heard a screech of brakes and some one
outside yellin get outta the truck now!!!! Move!!! Move!!! get outta
The drivers door flew open and a hand grabbed mike and pulled him
out … get on the floor!!! get down!!! hands behind your back !!!do
it do it now. !!!! at the same time the rear door of the camper flew
open and a cop with his gun pointed straight at me starts hollerin
Get outta the truck now!!! Move it!!! I managed to unwedge myself
and stood up Get yer hands up screams the cop, turn around, hands on
yer head, back out, do it, do it now !!!!!! I get to the door and a
hand grabs me and jerks me out, I land in a crash on the road.
Another cop car arrives doing a u turn across the central
reservation.Tthey get out, and throw me face downon the road. One of
the bastards then kneel on my fucking head, while the others force
my arms up my back, and put handcuffs on me, they roll me over and
start hollerin questions at me they grab my arms and sit me up.
One cops says to the other go back a piece and see what drugs you
??????????????????????????????????????????? I thought
Ok boy on yer feet I struggle up one cop helps me. What else ya got
on ya? Have you got any sharp objects in your pockets? as he starts
to pat me down
What the fuck ??????? I ask I aint got no drugs. I start to say. I
hear Mike at the front of the camper stuttering away you’ve got it
all wrong he saying.
For the next five minutes I try to explain the situation but I can
see this cop wasn’t buying it. The other cop arrives back It was
trash in the bag he says theres no drugs as far as I can see. That’s
what i’m tryin to tell ya I say.s I keep saying.I explain what was
happening its only when cop no 2 starts grinning I feel im getting
Mikes now walked Around by me handcuffed as well.
Cop number three arrives back, with a black sack full of trash, Its
just trash he says, there aint no drugs he says to the other cops
with a dumb look on his face.
That’s what Im tryin to tell ya I say. Another cop come out with the
frying pan. It looks like their telling the truth there’s grease
every where. Now there’s four cops killing themselves with laugher
as they take the handcuffs off Mikes rubbing his hands over his hair
which is covered in bacon grease hes got a huge red fat scald on his
right cheek and ear that’s gotta be the first bacon bust I ever done
says cop number two.
I wonder what all the drivers passin by thought of the scene a
camper with all doors open a cop car in the ditch trash strewn down
the highway and four cops taking handcuffs offa the criminals. All
killin themselves with laughter.