Before I go any further into my story I want to tell you about Jonestown itself. A lot of the shenanigans happened around the center of town, where you had the saloon, hotel, jail, City Hall (a little bitty tower), horse stall, barbershop, post office, general store, a "parlor" and other provisions, and then a little yonder down a ways you had people's homes where the grass was greener and the air was cleaner. Standing in the center of all these homes was the school house and the church, all white and wooden. A little further yonder by the end were all the farms and stuff like that.
Folks were awful quiet and didn't seem to mind much. It didn't bother me at first, only most of the folks out there acted kinda slow, like they didn't catch much no matter how bad things got. Like rabbits. Like sheep. It was mighty funny, like if you lit a match under folks it would take them ten minutes to catch on and say "Ouch".
So there I was, standing around with the key to the city in my hands, catching my breath after singing "Campfire" and getting ready to roll into some Jim dandy yodeling when I saw the rodeo heading straight into town like a dad-blasted bat out of hell.
"Well, I'll be -" Mayor Frehley pushed his cowboy hat back of his head. "Well, I swear if I wasn't a dreamin' that's my cousin comin' a few weeks earlier than he was supposed to. I'll if I'm wrong may the Lord blast my ass to the next canyon!"
Unfortunately, he wasn't near wrong. Clouds of dust were flying every which way and wagons with bright colored paint saying, "DOCTOR TARR-NATIONAL'S RODEO, RIDING AND ROPING DAREDEVILS UNLIMITED".
"I'd like to sing another song-"
"Later, Walker, that's my cousin's show comin' in front and center", Sheriff Frehley beamed.
"Zyxxx?" Mumblin' Pete frowned.
"Well, thanks for the honor folks but I best be moseying' along", I smiled with my teeth and edged towards the lip of the stage to jump off. A very strong hand clutched my arm with a steely grip.
"Nonsense, Mr. Walker, you're going to show us all that fancy riding' you been jawin' about so much", Mayor Randall grinned with his teeth clenched. I could have punched him in his fat gray ass.
The wagons circled a spell and then finally stopped behind the crowd. A few of the horses had feed bags strapped around their maws and the rest popped some smelly chips out their big, round behinds. It smelled stronger than Samson pushing down the marble pillars of Babylon!
The man who rode the lead wagon looked mighty fancy, wearing a cowboy outfit equal parts white, red and gold. He looked like a lighthouse three hundred miles away from the nearest beach. Flashy. He had a big, droopy moustache with a pair of bushy eyebrows to match. He was white as snow, like if Santa Claus turned in his sleigh for a circus wagon.
"Cousin Elroy Frehley, I have arrived!" he yelled happily.
"Why, Doctor Augustus Tarr", Sheriff Frehley yelled back, "You're six weeks short of Sunday from having your show roll in".
"Yes, well, something came up, heh heh!" He tittered nervously.
I stood there like a dope holding on to that worthless key while Frehley climbed down the stage. Tarr climbed off his coach, too, even though the other rodeo hands stayed still at their wagons.
"Stand by, son", Randall spoke into my ear. "You're needed!"
I turned to see him smile as he also climbed off the stage. The band started up playing again and the folks went back to their dancing like nothing ever happened. I dropped the key and jumped off the stage, Pete waiting by the side for me.
"Well, ain't that peculiar!" I barked over the music to my pal. We walked through the crowd but not without catching a few gals stealing admiring looks at yours truly over their boyfriend's shoulders. Shucks. Who can blame them?
"Shit. I wonder if it's too late to catch up with that cattle drive? I never should'a skedaddled from them. What was I thinking about?" I cussed to Pete. His eyes were jumping around from me to the women and back to me nervously.
It didn't take a high-stepping professor to figure out the boys were sinking a few more at Sailor Jerry's so we tried to make a detour around the place, but it was no use. Randall stood not far from the entrance and caught us sneaking by.
"Over here, Walker! Have a few with us boys!" He laughed. "Don't be shy, kiddo!"
"Dad blast it if that Mayor don't grin like a rattlesnake!" I mumbled to Pete.
"Fdn gysaio iudiudi ik!" He agreed.
I reluctantly stepped up to the saloon doors.
"Hold it", Mayor Randall placed a finger on Mumblin' Pete's chest. "This is just between us boys. No need to come in, son".
"Pete goes wherever I go, Mayor. Giddyap, Pete!"
"Fdn johsn kirt fhr!"
"There he is! Crash Walker! Our newest resident!" Sheriff Frehley rose from their table. Doctor Augustus Tarr spun around to get a better look at me.
"So that's him, eh?"
We approached the table as Mayor Randall snapped his fingers at Sailor Jerry. "Three more rounds for us, Cap'n!"
"Aye aye!" Sailor Jerry set three more shot glasses up and filled them.
"Crash Walker, huh?" Augustus Tarr squinted an eye at me, appraising me. I felt like a broken toy and this Santa Claus-looking hombre was going to throw me off his damn sled.
"Just gave him the key to the city, yasss!" Mayor Randall harrumphed.
"Hmmmmm, well you're awfully god blessed in the looks, you got something for the ladies but how long can you keep that ass on a bucking bronco?"
"Well, he told me so hisself that he kin last twenty seconds on a powerful bull, the most powerful, meanest ass bull you kin throw at him. Can you imagine that?" Frehley burped, a cloud of hot whiskey wafting towards our noses.
Tarr's eyes expanded real huge over this story. "Twenty seconds? No bullshit? Where did you ride, kid?"
"Argentina, Dr. Tarr. I rode with the Pampas", I lied like a backwoods asshole. "Never did nothing Stateside".
"Is that a fact? Hmmmm....those South American bulls are pretty ornery. If you're as badass as you say you are, with those storybook looks of yours I could make a fortune. Hmmmm..." he buzzed some more.
"When do you plan on setting up the show?" Frehley asked before he hit up another shot.
"As soon as we settle in we can get a show set up, hmmm....in a few days. You don't have any pressing business to take care of, do you, Mr. Walker?"
"Good!" He banged his fist on the table. "This calls for a toast. More drinks, innkeeper!"
"Fgdro ghvfi hjt riv!!!" Mumblin' Pete protested.
"What the devil's he kickin' about?" Tarr squinted his eyes.
"Why, that's just old Pete", I jabbed my thumb at him. "He kinda wants to be in the show, too".
"Naw, got no use for him. It's you I want!"
"Ghit dpou bgifrt hksdbeot!!!" Pete spat a big brown slash of tobacco juice angrily in a spittoon and then angrily kicked the damn thing across the room. He was pee-oh'ed!
For the next few days Pete and I bummed around outside the outskirts shooting at shit and combing Clyde's hide and sneaking peeks to see if the boys from the cattle drive were coming back my way at all. No such luck. I was stuck here and there was no way out.
You could hear the band from miles away playing their asses off. Folks were already stealing seats at the rodeo and yelling and whooping and carrying on making all sorts of noises from the distance. You could even smell all the barbecue and grub smoking its way from town. It was right seductive like some pretty gal.
I skipped the rodeo getting set up for a few days, but not without noticing that there was a crew of about six to seven fellas putting everything up. I think some of them doubled as riders and ropers. They sure were tough lookin' like they ate nails and horseshoes for breakfast. No doubt these were the boys I was competing with in the show.
Bulls and calves were mowing in the background, followed by the smell of their frightened dung. It was a sagebrush rhapsody, a symphony of sounds and smells.
"You wanna know why those cattle are kickin' and shittin' so much, Pete? Because when they smell that barbecue they smell family and they know it's their turn next". I took a last slug from my canteen. "Come on, let's get this shit over with".
I was walking to my death. I knew it like the beasts knew it.
We rode slowly and quietly into town, as close to the rodeo as possible. Frehley caught us riding and waved us down.
"There you are, Walker! Where have you been? We've ben searching high and low for you boys. Well, get off your horse so we can saddle you up for the show".
I hopped off Clyde who looked as nervous as I did. "Go ahead, Pete, take Clyde to the stalls and meet me back here".
"Ghsfsx iutir ccjui".
I walked closer and closer towards the chute where I'd get dropped on the bull for riding. As I did the drums were pounding louder and louder, the horns blaring like Joshua tearing down Jericho, the crowd in the stands cheering louder and louder. A lot of the gals screamed my name. That got my courage up a mite.
One of the rodeo hands helped me up in the chute. His eyes were dark black pools, his arms big thick cables of muscle. his teeth gritted.
"Twenty seconds, huh? Put these gloves on, you're gonna need 'em".
I slid on some thin leather gloves and hopped on the bull. The bull was already kicking and snorting and pissing and jumping inside the chute. As soon as I hopped on the bull I noticed that the there were sharp metal spikes sticking out down the back of the beast from the head down to the back. The spikes were so sharp that if I were to fall on the beast itself I would be impaled and instantly killed.
The legs of the bull had leather straps festooned with barbed wire around them, so if he were to kick me I would surely be torn open by those garters.
"Say, bo, this isn't Western rodeo", I looked up at the brute.
"That's right. Welcome to Tarr Nation", he grunted with his toothpick almost falling out of his mouth.
Like an echo ringing out from Hell I heard a voice sounding not unlike Dr. Tarr roaring, "Ladies and Gentlemen, preeesenting the Daredevil Stranger they call Miiister Crashhh Walker!!!!"
"Yaaaayyyyy!" everyone cheered.
The noise made the bull go loco, muy pronto.
They lifted up the chute and I held on to the bull by the thinnest rope I have ever held in my life. It was like run-down twine lowering down into thread. The bull bucked like crazy and I almost lost my grip on that last buckle.
It kicked and my ass felt every sharp jump in bull's backside. It didn't help that the sun caught me in the eyes and I was blinded by the light, my vision only focused on the spikes sticking out of the bull's head.
He buckled and kicked like a wild drunk, so I punched him in the ears a few times. It was then I knew why my vision was completely blinded. The ground was filled with shards and shards of broken glass, the sun hitting the broken glass and reflecting the light in my eyes!
The bull stomped on the broken glass and caught a few shards in its hooves, blood splashing all over the place. I caught some of the blood all over me, staining my clothes. I held on but the rope just got thinner and thinner, finally breaking off in my hands.
I had no choice but to wrap my arms around the bull's neck, the spikes cutting into my flesh. The crowd cheered like crazy, thinking the whole thing was an act. Bull-shit it was an act! Wait til I get my scarred hands on Tarr's neck. I'll have him guzzling the bull's blood by the time I'm through with him.
Finally a spike cut into me real deep and I yelped and let go of the bull, thrown off a few feet away. It could have been a hundred miles away for all I knew. The crowd roared. I tried to pick myself up and got my hands caught in some broken glass, blood pouring out of my gashed open hands. I screamed in pain.
I stayed down on the ground and prayed for my life. As I looked up I saw a big, creepy clown looking down at me. He had a red wig with the hair sticking out and pointing all over the place. His face was a powdered mess of pale white with a big, long nose and a wide, twisted smile made of greasepaint smeared across his face.
"Do you want me to chase away that darn bull, Cowboy? Maybe I will and maybe I won't", he whispered.
He then did something I'll never forget for the rest of my life. He took a large, bright red handkerchief and quickly tied it around my chest and then ran off laughing.
The bull saw me with the loud red thing on me and charged right at me, horns and wire and metal spikes coming my way while I set on a bed of broken glass bleeding.
I waited for that horned bastard to get closer and closer to me until I made my move. The kind any red-blooded American boy would make.
I painfully drew my six shooter out of the holster, glass sticking out of my wrists, and shot the horned motherfucker in the face. He collapsed right at my feet in a bloody heap.
The barbed wire garters dug into his balls and chest, the spikes in his head stuck into his back. The glassy ground turned into a pool of blood, mostly the bull's. The beast kicked a couple of times, piss and shit flowing out and mingling with the blood. The audience cheered ecstatically.
A few of those rodeo thugs came racing out and helped me up. A few made a bigger fuss over that stupid bull than they did me, like maybe he was their boyfriend or something. I looked around and noticed the clown was gone, long gone.
Dr. Tarr came out and screamed at me over the noise of the crowd.
"YOU DARN BASTARD! YOU KILLED MY BEST BULL!!!!" His face was red. Almost as red as my blood.
"I told you I came from Argentina". My face and clothes were smeared with blood.
"JUST WHAT IN HELL DO YOU CALL THAT KIND OF RODEO RIDING???"
"Frontier bullfighting", I smiled. The rodeo thugs pushed me away angrily.
"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS, SONNY BOY, YOU HEAR??? YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS!!!' Now his face turned purple instead of red.
"Fuck you, Tarr", I lifted my pistol hand and pointed my piece in his face. "Fess up. Who the hell was that Rodeo Clown?"
Be sure to get a copy of the complete novel "Wranglers' Canyon" in eBook form to be released in July 2015 by Book Baby. Don't miss it!