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.

Heymuthafuckerhaveasnortyalittleshithowthefuckareyaibinwaitinonyagothebbqlithowlongyastayinfer. 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.

Noon. Wednesday,

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 while.

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 Peacock.

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 accent

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 pumpy pumpy!!!!!!!!!

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 Joshua.

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 on.

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 truck

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 can find

??????????????????????????????????????????? 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 somewhere

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.




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