"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
"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
"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?"