"What'd you do, Kansas, catch you a mountain lion? I ain't seen
so many cuts and scratches on one hombre since the ladies closed up that house down the street."
"Heck no, Doc, just the meanest, orneryest mule that ever come in offin
"You don't mean the ole devil, Cactus, do you?"
"Yep, that's him, all right. I'll get him back though, just as soon as
I can think of something. Can't think too good with cactus stickers in me. Got any ideas, Doc?"
"Now you already know, Kansas, I told you before, I took a oath when they
give me this here black doctor bag. I swore I would do no harm to a body."
"Well, yeah, I know Doc, an' I hate to ask, I really do, but this here
would be helping me. You swore to help a body, didn' you? You know I'm just a poor, skinny, old man. Not as peppy
as I use to be. I shore could use some help. He's not like a human body anyways, he's jest a mean, ole
"Aw, quit yer belly aching, Kansas. Get cross the road and get yourself
a drink. Calm yourself down before your heart gives plum out. I've done all I can for the scratches, and
I think I got all the cactus stickers out."
"Well, thanks Doc. Guess I will get myself a drink. What with all your
sqeezin' and pullin' I could use one. See ya later."
"Hiya, Kansas! Whatcha been up to? Whoo hee! You look like you tried to
dance the two-step with a mountain lion! and he wanted to lead!"
"Hiya, Missouri. Figgured everbody'd heard by now. The jokes on me, all
right. You ain't heard? Ok, then, I'll tell you, but I'm only telling it one time boys, if you want to hear,
better listen now. Gimme a glass, Jack, will you? Thanks. I'm a gonna take a seat over here, iffin I'm a
gonna tell a story.
Shucks! dat burn! Jack, ya got a piller or some such thing I can sit on?
Dat burn cactus stickers!"
"Sure, Kansas, here you are."
"Well sir, them old boys out at the ranch fixed up a mule race with the
boys out at the Crazy-U. They was betting on Lightin', you know him? Fastest, best, mule in the country.
They voted me in to ride him. I didn't mind though, I figgerd Lightnin' would beat any old flea bitten nag the
crazy-u had. He would too! Iffin he could of run. There's the rub, boys.
The boss decided to take ole Lightin' over to visit his lady friend. We
didn' find out about it til that morning. Dag nabbit! Old Lightin' could have waited one more day
to go visiting! Couldn't he? You agree?"
"Sure, Kansas, he could, but he didn't. What did you race? You have more
good runners out there? What about the black?"
"Yeah, could have used the black, should of used the black, would have
used the black, ceptin' he was laid up with a thorn. Them ole boys was unreasonable 'bout postponing
the dang race. One week! That's all we asked, one week! Would they listen? No. Crabby, cranky, dirty, lice-covered
louts! Accused me of being afraid! Me! Ain't never turned down a good race in my life, no reason to
start now. Jack! Bring me another glass, iffen you don't mind. Dang cactus stickers smart!"
"OK, Kansas, get on with it, you are the slowest story teller I ever
did hear. Dat blame! We been here dang near a hour, you ain't told nothing yet. I swear, you beat my ole lady
in talking and saying nothing."
"Hold on to your hat, Missouri! Yer tongues getting mighty sharp there.
I'm telling the story, not your ole lady. Jack! Another glass, if you please. Yep, they thought I was afraid
of going against one of them nags. Humph! Well, boys, the only other fast mule on the place was Cactus."
"The devil you say?! Not that onery ole jack. Nobody in their right
mind would try to ride him!"
"Well, Missouri, I can honestly admit, right at the time, I was not in
my right mind. Those ole boys from the Crazy-U had got my back up. I was so mad right then, I would have
run myself against their nag. Kinda wish now, that I had. Durn cactus smarts.
Well, the boys brought Cactus out, and saddled him. He stood there pretty
as you please. He let them get him all tacked out. I thought, he has changed his mind, he's gonna let me
ride him. I was feelin' better about him, and was about to make friends with the onery ole mule. I got aboard
him and we walked over to the startin' line. The Crazy-U boys were ready. They had the ugliest nag you ever did
see. Pitiful, boys. That's what I told them. Pitiful.
Those ole boys are serious racers. No humor to 'em. Boys like that scare
me. No body cracked a laugh or even a smile. Dat Burn! They was scary.
Well, boys, we was sitting there ready to go, somebody said, Ready!
Then somebody shot a gun. We lit out of there like the devil his self was chasing us. I was hanging on best I
could, and letting Cactus do the running. That mule ran straight down the road, side by side with Crazy-U.
When we got to the turn about tree, Crazy-U turned around to head on back, but the ole devil, he just kept
on going. Weren't nothing I could do to make him turn. He had it in his head to head for the tall cactus. That
is one stubbord mule. I tried to slow him down, intending to jump off, and take my chances, but he'd have
none of it.
He was determined to put me in the cactus, and would not be talked out
of it. I tried, dad blame, I tried for three miles to talk him into letting me off. Stubborn, that's the only
word for him.
Well, boys, we got to the tall cactus, and that ole mule commenced to walk
through it. Slow or fast, he didn't mind which. I tried to draw my legs up and wrap them around the nags
neck, but that wasn't allowed either. He would commence to buck and roll, so I'd have to hang on to his
neck, then my legs would go back to their natural state. It was painful, boys. I couldn't hang on any more, and
the ole devil, Cactus, threw me off, just as he was planning to. I was flying through the air and
trying to draw myself up into a little bittie bird, hoping and praying to fly clean over that tall cactus.
As you can see, it didn't happen. That's the story, boys. What do you think?"