The following is my response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo’s TUFF Contest prompt “ranch romance”. This one is in keeping with the rodeo theme. Go to Carrot Ranch for more on the rodeo and to read the winning TUFF stories. Join in the weekly contests.
She cut him off as soon as he started to introduce himself.
“I’m no buckle bunny.”
“I didn’t think you were.” His face flushed.
“Don’t even bother. I don’t talk to bull riders.”
They sat in silence. In the chute the next rider lowered himself onto his bull’s back, readied himself, signaled, and was out of the gate.
He snuck a sidelong glance at the woman. She was right; this bull was slow and methodical. “Why don’t you talk to bull riders?”
“Couple of reasons. One, conflict of interest. I have a bull that’s hell bent on hurting cowboys. He’s real good at his job.”
He raised his eyebrows. She continued.
“Second, bull riders are stupid. Hell bent on getting hurt. No sense in getting to know someone who will end up dead or broken.”
“What if a rider’s real good at his job?”
“My bull follows his nature. I have higher hopes for a man. I’m not interested in overgrown boys needing to prove something on the back of a dumb animal.”
They watched three more riders get thrown.
“Where’s your bull?”
“Last up… your ride.”
“Huh. Well, I better go get ready for my ride.”
The announcer had plenty to say about this high scoring rider and bull. This was the match the crowd had been waiting for.
They continued to wait. The barrel man distracted them with slapstick comedy and acrobatics. Finally the bull charged out of the gate, bucking and spinning despite being rider-less. The man who was supposed to have ridden him was back with the dumbstruck owner. “He’s something! Would’ve been quite a ride.”
“Now will you talk to me?”
“Come with me to the pens. I want to introduce you to Ranch Romance.”