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Tall Cactus

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Tall Cactus
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Tall Cactus

"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 the  desert."
 
"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  mule."
 
"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."
 
"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 wanta 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."
 
"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 wern't  allowed either.
 
He commenced 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 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?"