Ranch Yarns

11.jpgThis collection of ranch yarns might only make sense over at Carrot Ranch, if anywhere, but have been corralled here. I have rearranged this page so that it reads from the bottom up. To read Carrot Ranch history and happenings (since March ’17) or to like and comment on this page, scroll way down to the bottom. 

#101

So They Say

“Aussie!”

“G’day Pal. Where’s Kid?”

“Hmmph. I ain’t too sure. Still tentin’ I reckon. Complained last week about yeller tents and then takes off fer the woods totin’ one.”

“Look here, Pal, a note. It says, ‘See ya later Pal. Shorty says I am to appear in the woods.’ Seems Kid has misread the prompt again.”

“ ’Pears so Aussie. Dang!”

“What’s wrong, Pal? Kid does just fine in the woods.”

“Normally, yeah, but who knows what these ranch hands is gonna put inta the woods with this prompt. Why, they even say there’s a Bigfoot out and about.”

**********

“Oh, I hope Kid doesn’t come across Bigfoot!”

“Me too, Aussie, poor Bigfoot doesn’t deserve that. Hey, do you feel like we’re bein’ watched or somethin’?”

“Yes, I do, Pal. Why, who is that peering from the woods there? Kid!”

“Aussie! Pal! I’ve reappeared.”

“We kin see that. Where ya bin?”

“I been appearin’ in woods all over. Went west. It was wild. Saw fossils an’ artsy facts an’ muse-icians.”

“You call that campin’?”

“Call it vacationin’. Guess who I spied peerin’ from the woods when I was tentin’?”

“Bigfoot?!”

“Frannie Hooe. Least they say it was her.”

“Phooey!”

#100

Too Tense

“Yellow?!”
“Hello?”
“Huh? Oh, hey Pal. Jeez… Yellow tents… ”
“You seem a might tense, Kid. Maybe a might yeller too. Just go where the prompt leads, don’t be afraid.”
“I ain’t afraid, Pal, in fact I prefer ta sleep out under the stars, no tent at all.”
“Don’t Kid, ‘cause I’m afraid I’ll have ta listen ta yer complainin’ ‘bout skeeter bites.”
“Hmmph. Pal, why is Shorty’s tent yeller?”
“It ain’t yeller. It’s transparent.”
“I see.”
“Yep. The midnight oil she burns makes it ‘pear yeller. Claims it’s like sunshine.”
“I prefer moonshine.”
“Jist go ta yer tent Kid.”

#99

Good Measure

“What’s in that case, Kid?”

“Hee hee, wouldn’tcha like ta know?”

“Yep, that’s why I asked ya. So?”

“Guess.”

“Bacon?”

“Ha! No. What’re ya wishin’ fer it ta be, Pal?”

“I dunno, I jist wondered is all.”

“Are ya worried ‘bout the contents, Pal?”

“Knowin’ you, yeah, a little.”

“Well Pal, I’ll tell ya, some say what’s in here is a treasure. The key ta yer success even.”

“My success? Kid, what in tarnation is in that case?”

“Ah, Pal, you’ve failed in yer quest ta guess. Ow! Okay, Pal. There’s 98 Ranch Yarns in here. An’ now 99!”

#98

Any Who

“Hoo-wee, Pal, Shorty’s give us a tough one.”

“How’s that?”

“Fannie Hooe.”

“Fannie who?”

“Fannie Hooe. How’m I ta write ‘bout this Fannie?”

“Yer writin’ ‘bout yer fanny?”

“Hooe! Fannie Hooe!”

“Jeez, Kid, yer practic’ly yodelin’. Is it a hootenanny yer writin’ ‘bout?”

“No! Fannie Hooe. An historical figure up there in Copper Country, so they say.”

“An’ I figger yer hysterical, Kid. Jist spin a story.”

“Any clues ‘bout Fannie Hooe?”

“Well, if’n they named a lake after her she musta made quite an impression.”

“I hear tell she brought smoked bacon ta Copper Country.”

“Ya don’t say.”

###97

Write On Buckaroo Nation

“Aussie!”

“Kid, why’re you sketchin’? That was last week.”

“Thought I’d sketch the Ranch. For perspective. Look, not a fence in sight.”

“I see it that way too Kid. Free range.”

“That’s right, free range! Where ever the prompts lead! No boundaries!”

“While I appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm Kid, there’re always boundaries.”

“What d’ya mean, Aussie?”

“You’re free to range about, explore and express yourself, but within the bounds of societal norms.”

“Oh. Maybe we oughtta fence out the new normal.”

“No Kid, let’s see what comes and goes as we all range freely.”

“Good ideas Aussie! Good ideas.”

###96

Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

“En guarde, Pal!”

“Put that dang thing away Kid.”

“Foiled again. But Shorty says we’re to fence.”

“We’re ta mend fences Kid.”

“Oh. Didn’t know we had a problem Pal.”

“We’re fixin’ fences ‘round the Ranch.”

“What’s that fence there do, keep the garden from strayin’?”

“Keeps critters out.”

“What about that fence? That keep critters out?”

“No, that one keeps the cattle in, keeps ‘em from strayin’.”

“Oh. Like if they reckon they’s greener pastures on the other side a the fence.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like they’s two sides, in and out.”

“Yep.”

“Seems like that could give offense.”

###95

Buttonholed

“Buttons ain’t nuthin, without the buttonhole, Kid. Even less without needle an’ thread. Without those, buttons are useless discs, mere baubles. Their usefulness and purpose are dependent on the passage and tension provided by the buttonhole.”

“What’s wrong with baubles? Some folks use buttons as decoration, jewelry even.”

“Same folks keep their pants up with the yin and yang of button and buttonhole.”

“Huh. Ya know, Pal, some a yer yang is startin’ ta hang. So much yin ya cain’t keep it in. Thinkin’ yer buttons are strainin’ in their role.”

“Yeah, these buttons have become heroic, never buckling.”

###94

Odd Rancher Out

“Why’re ya askin’ me what the ranch looks like, Kid?”

“I wanna sketch the ranch. Ain’tcha been here yer whole life? Who else should I ask?”

“Ya could ask anyone includin’ yerself, Kid. We all see it. How ya see it is how it is.”

“Huh. Reckon we all see it kinda the same. On account of it bein’ so ironic.”

“I think ya mean iconic.”

“Yeah. It’s a hoot though, ain’t it Pal? Folks from aroun’ the world can come here an’ be a buckaroo, git their old west on. Be literary oddests.”

“Artists, Kid.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

###93

Don’t Take Yer Guns Ta Town, by A. Kidd

The scene an old west town, façaded building lined dusty street, wooden sidewalks, horses tied up outside the saloon where cider flows like whiskey which flows like water. Trouble simmering like the shimmering high noon sun. An over-eager wannabe steps out of the saloon to face the notorious Nemmy Cyss. Who would draw fastest? Whose aim would be true?

“No! Kid, what are you doin’? Yer not s’posed ta be drawin’ sixguns!”

“Well, Pal, I know it seems sketchy but Shorty said ta draw an’ so I figgered…”

“No, read agin, Kid, yer ta sketch. With words.”

“Oh. Shoot.”

###92

In Line, Outta Tune

“This ranch is yer ranch, this ranch is my ranch, from the cookhouse griddle, ta the windswept prairie!”

“Jeez Pal, yer outta tune.”

“Wrong again, Kid, I’m in tune, in tune with this here ranch. Don’t it jist produce an’ provide! Yep, Shorty sure works fer us.”

“Works fer us? Ain’t Shorty boss?”

“Hardest workin’ boss a ranch hand could ever work for, Kid.”

“Yer right, Pal.”

“All we have ta do is play with words, an’ we don’t even Have ta do that.

“I shovel shit.”

“An’ yer full of it. Now git ta work an’ go play.”

###91

Reality Check

“Pal, buy me a beer.”

“Cain’t Kid, spent ma beer money on the Go Fund Me fer Cynthia Drake.”

“Same here, Pal.”

“That’s good, Kid, ‘cause them folks up there really need ta dry out.”

“Whyn’t they jist come shelter here at the Ranch?”

“Ah, Kid, the Ranch is a wonderful shelterin’ place, but yer always fergittin’ ‘bout the virtual elements of it.”

“Here ya go agin, Pal, havin’ ta remind me we’s fictional characters. But I really wanna help.”

“I’m sure the Drakes ‘preciate you givin’ up yer beer money, Kid.”

“I’m thirsty.”

“Could be worse.”

“Dang right.”

###90

Hi Noon at the Bouquet Corral 

“Pal! Where’s Shorty at?”

“Whoa, Kid, what’s wrong?”

“The ranch hands! They’s all off in the upper meadows an’ in the woods sniffin’ flowers an’ makin’ daisy chains.”

“So?”

“So?! They should be makin’ hay, not pickin’ flowers! We gotta be makin’ hay; sowin’ an’ reapin’. Git ready fer winter. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, whyn’t you relax, go sniff some flowers yerself?”

“Cain’t, no time, gotta replenish the carrot bin, git hay inta the barn. Winter’s comin’. Where’s Shorty?”

“Kid, go back ta the meadow. Shorty’s there gatherin’ flowers.”

“What?”

“Fuel fer the soul, Kid. Important work, time well spent.”

###89

For our Bearded Buckaroo Bards

“Men listen? They ain’t great listeners Pal.”

“Not like you.”

“Huh?”

“Shorty said ‘man glisten’ Kid.”

“What’s that?”

“Could be glitter in a beard or jist bein’ okay with glitter in a beard.”

“Huh. Well, is it okay? Ain’t ranchin’ cowboy types s’posed ta be rough an’ tough? Buckaroo Nation women are all warriors. Are all the men here good looking?”

“That’s Lake Woebegone. Here men look good if they know when ta hold ‘em an’ know when ta fold ‘em, know that it ain’t weak ta turn the other cheek.”

“An’ if their cheeks are glittered, they’re golden.”

###88

Rancha Mythica

Drumbeats and dancing feet reverberate like thunder across the lands of Buckaroo Nation.

The usual low, homey campfire is now a blazing bonfire. Flames leap wildly, lashing the night sky. Wild women are illuminated in flashes, scars revealed in the dancing light.

Old stories are told in new ways. Sad stories are told. Yet laughter rings out strong and true. Songs of life rise up like sparks from their fire, sung to old tunes that resonate like a smooth round rock.

The women warriors rise. The women warriors raise one another up. The women warriors of Buckaroo Nation write.

###87

Putting It Out There

“Hey Kid. Set a spell.”

“Thanks, Shorty, I’d ruther stand.”

“Ok. Whatcha been up to?”

“Been workin’ on ma brand.”

“You do listen! An author’s brand!”

“More like a tattoo; didn’t have the mettle fer a actual brand.”

“Uh huh… what’s it say?”

“Picture of a book, says, ‘Read mine’.”

“Kin I see it?”

“I’d ruther you not.”

“Kid, branding and marketing are about exposure, how you show yerself to yer reading audience. Come on, let’s see yer tattoo.”

“It’s on my rump.”

“Oh. Cheeky. Not the kinda exposure I meant Kid. S‘pectin’ a large followin’?”

“Kinda hopin’ not.”

###86

Crumbles & Grumbles

“Kid there ain’t no cookies.”

“But Shorty had her cake an’ ate it too, an’ now she’s on about cookies. I could sure hep her with cookies.”

“No, ya cain’t, Kid, they ain’t real cookies. Shorty’s talkin’ GDPR.”

“God damn pryin’ raccoons? Jist say it, Pal.”

“No! Not raccoons.”

“Oh. ‘Cause they kin be trouble.”

“Shorty has ta tend ta General Data Protection Regulations.”

“Oh. Huh? Protection? The ranch is safe as kin be. Fictional lives matter here.”

“Good thing, ‘cause real life kin be pretty ridiculous.”

“Yeah, cain’t make that shit up. It’s unbelievable.”

“Yep. Good luck, Shorty.”

#85

Flourishing

“Carrot Ranch, Pal, it’s pretty big.”

“Yep, gits bigger ever day, seems.”

“It’s set up good fer cattle an’ hosses, plenty a range.”

“Yep. Shorty knows how ta take care a such.”

“But they’s also wilderness fer forest bathing; big skies fer dreamin’; plenty a space and cover fer unicorns, longhorns, an’ all manner a birds. They’s even fishin’ holes an’ bat caves.”

“Yep. Shorty’s got quite a spread.”

“An’ she welcomes ever’one.”

“Ever’one what kin behave.”

“Big di-verse spread like this, must be pretty valuable.”

“Kid, this place is priceless.”

“I sure value it, Pal.”

“Me too, Kid.”

*****

“Yep, I sure admire what Shorty’s done here. Got herself a fine spread.”

“Thing is Kid, land don’t really ever belong ta anyone.”

“You sayin’ this ain’t Shorty’s ranch?”

“I ain’t sayin’ that. But Shorty belongs ta the ranch as much as the ranch belongs ta Shorty. If ya live on a place ya got a responsibility to it, gotta take care of it if’n ya ‘xpect it ta take care a you.”

“Well, Shorty sure ‘nough takes care a the ranch an’ all the critters an’ folks that come through.”

“Yep. Shorty an’ the ranch are gonna flourish.”

#84

Raising Crane

“So many egrets.”

“Regrets? What do you have ta regret, Pal?”

“No, Kid, egrets, they’s a bunch a cattle egrets roamin’ the ranch.”

“Oh. Thought they was cranes.”

“No, egrets is more like herons.”

“Yeah, they’s here on the ranch. Cranes.”

“We do git sandhill cranes here, Kid, but cranes an’ herons an’ egrets is diff’rent.”

“Well, what’s the diff’rence then, Pal?”

“Fer one, cranes fly with their necks straight out not tucked in.”

“Seems a bold move, Pal, stickin’ their necks out an’ all.”

“Yep. Bold an’ beautiful.”

“Let’s raise cranes! At Carrot Ranch!”

“Shorty sure won’t mind.”

###83

Served

 “Dang, look it thet long line at Shorty’s chuck wagon.”

“Yep, she’s in a bloomin’ good mood Kid. Spring’s got ‘er cookin’ outdoors again an’ she’s fried up a mess a bacon fer ever’one.”

“Yeehaw! ‘Bout time! Let’s go. Oh, yeah, Pal, ya kin smell the bacon even back here at the end a the line. I cain’t wait.”

“Ya’ll have ta wait Kid, wait yer turn.”

“I know Pal.”

“Otherwise ya’d be outta line.”

“I ain’t gittin’ outta this line… gittin’ there, Pal… Shorty! Shorty? Why’d ya serve me a carrot?”

“Sorry, Kid, outta bacon, but carrots aplenty.”

###82

Thar Blows

 “What’re ya doin’, Kid?”

“What’s it look like?”

“Goin’fishin’. But with that outfit? Ocean rod? Trollin’ reel?”

“Go big or go home, Pal.”

“I think yer flounderin’ Kid. Yer way overrigged fer the stock pond or the stream. Ya know thar ain’t a bass hole on the ranch.”

“I’m thinkin’ big, Pal. Gonna bait up right here in the paddock.”

“Hmmph. Yer hookin’ yer leader to a kite?”

“Yep. Let the line out… look at ‘er go… higher…. I’ve caught the wind, Pal! Look at that kite soarin’ over the ranch!”

“Kid, this is relaxin’.”

“Yep. Catch. An’ release.”

###81

Raw Lit response 4-25-18

“Somethin’ ‘bout this ain’t ringin’ true, Pal.”

“What’re ya talkin’ ‘bout Kid? Ever one knows Shorty’s wild ‘bout rocks.”

“That’s true. But “budget”? How’n heck kin Shorty have a budget ta send rocks? Why that place is so far off they’s still in the Snow Age, jist dreamin’ of the Stone Age. Do they even have money up there? Ain’t they still usin’ Pony Express fer mail? Who’s gonna pay fer the ponies’ chiropractic treatments fer their rock haulin’ backs? Who’s gonna pay, Pal?”

“Shush, Kid, listen. Yer echoing off thet rock wall yonder.”

Paypal….Paypal…Paypal….

“I hear it Pal!”

###80

Cookin’ With Mum    (4-23-18)

“Kid, ya don’t belong here, wrong post.”

“I sure as shit belong here, Pal, it’s still the ranch. An’ I smelled coffee.”

“Hmmph. Don’t you have chores ta be doin’?”

“Cain’t work on an empty stomik, Pal. I’m thinkin’ Shorty might need hep cookin’ over here.”

“Yer as much hep in a kitchen as a coon in a corncrib. Git.”

“But, I was hopin’…”

“Kid…”

“..fer some bacon.”

“I’m gonna give ya a side a somethin’ Kid, and it ain’t gonna be bacon. Now git.”

“Maybe if Shorty fixed ya some bacon you wouldn’t be so dang ornery.”

“Hmmph.”

###79

Hero’s Journey

“Pal, yer back.”

“Yep. Why’s it so quiet roun’ here?”

“Guess ever one’s still off huggin’ trees.”

“Even Shorty?”

“Heard like, if she kin git her forest shoveled out.”

“Jeez. If any one kin shovel out a forest it’s Shorty. She’s a Titan.”

“I’ll say. Did ya happen ta catch her interview at Literary Titan? She done the Ranch real proud.”

“Yep, sure did.”

“Whatdya think Shorty’s inner hero is?”

“I reckon Shorty’s a buckaroo through and through. True ta herself and ta the Carrot Ranch Community. Boldly going where her inner prompts lead.”

“Heroic leader of Buckaroo Nation!”

###78

Turned Around

“Ever go off inta the woods, Pal?”

“Course.”

“Ever git lost?”

“Jist turned around.”

“Were ya scared?”

“Naw. It don’t matter not knowin’ ‘zactly where ya are, long as ya know where ya ain’t. Ain’t no place I’d ruther be ‘an in the woods.”

“‘Parently the Japanese developed goin’ inta the woods in the eighties.”

“De-veloped woods walkin’?”

“It’s called forest bathing. We oughta lead a group inta the woods, Pal.”

“I bathe alone.”

“S’posed ta make ya happier.”

“Hmmph.”

“More connected. Hey, where ya goin’?”

“Cain’t hear ya Kid, bad connection.”

“Where ya headed?!”

“Inta the woods. Alone.”

###77

Perspective

“Whatcha lookin’ fer Pal?”

“My dang glasses. Have you seen ’em?”

“Did you look by yer bunk?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, look agin, they’re probably somewhere near.”

“All right I’ll go back and look in the bunkhouse.”

“Not there? Huh. Ya had ‘em at breakfast.”

“I’ll go back an’ check.”

“Not there?”

“No!”

“‘Member you was readin’ the label on the grain bag.”

“Jeez, back ta the barn then.”

“Pal, yer beginnin’ ta look tuckered. Did ya find yer glasses in the barn?”

“Do you see them on my face?”

“Did ya think ta look on yer head?”

“Dang you, Kid!”

###76

Equal Knocks

“Where ya been, Kid?”

“Jest made the perfect vegie-tarian Easter dinner.”

“Eggplant?”

“Nope. Bacon and brussel sprouts.”

“Kid, bacon ain’t vegie-tarian.”

“Whoa, Pal, thought we’d all agreed this was a culturally inclusive place. Don’t tell me how ta be a vegie-tarian. My people like ta include bacon.”

“Hmmph.”

“Well, what’ve you been up to? Got yer fingers in ever’one’s pot I s’pose.”

“Na. I been stayin’ outta the way. Ridin’ fence mostly, lookin’ out fer signs a spring.”

“Lookin’ fer greener pastures, Pal?”

“Don’t go pointin’ any fingers, Kid. No, there’s plenty a range here at the ranch.”

“Alleluia.”

###75

Shovelin’

“Shit.”
“Kid, now what are you cussin’ about? This use ta be a fairly family friendly ranch.”
“Yep, it did. An’ spreadin’ shit use ta be a simple chore requirin’ simple technology, jist a manure fork. If they computerize that chore I might be made redundant.”
“Kid, ya certainly ain’t super, but neither are ya superfluous. What in heck are ya on about anyway?”
“Read Pal! Now they’s all on about usin’ them dang computers ta spread shit. I happen ta like that chore.”
“Kid, they’s talkin’ ‘bout spreadsheets. Yer dream of gittin’ a shit shovelin’ badge lives on.”

###74

Badgered

“Kid, I kin hear yer dang harrumphin’ halfway ta the corral.”
“I ain’t goin’ ta the corral, not via no dang Face Book.”
“Well, don’t then, use the contact form. Look, Kid, I bunk with ya, so I kin smell ya don’t like change, but this here’s good. The Ranch is growin’, Kid, Shorty’s dreams are growin’. Ain’t that some change ya kin pocket?”
“Well, if’n it helps Shorty. T’ain’t much of a chore, really.”
“Many ranch hands make light work. Maybe ya kin even git a badge.”
“Git deputized? I ain’t inta badges.”
“Ya sure do badger me.”

###73

And Eat it Too

“Shorty sure takes the cake.”
“Yep. Carrot cake.”
“Shorty’s a first responder! She kin really take the reins. Heck, she kin braid her own reins. That wrangler built a ranch, ran a rodeo, an’ published a book all while workin’ on her own books. An’, she sure kin cook. Is there nuthin’ Shorty cain’t do?”
“Jeez, that’s a tough one, but I already know the answer. She cain’t be anything but kind.”
“Got that right Kid, she ain’t never.”
‘Yep. That gal’s got broad shoulders and a big heart.”
“Got that right Kid. Why, Shorty’s heart’s as big as…. “
###
“Pal, ya left another sentence unfinished.”
“Yep. Readers kin submit the end of that sentence here as a reply. If they do, an undisclosed amount of money will be donated to Carrot Ranch through that fancy patron button up there in the upper left hand corner.”
“Like last week.”
“Yep. Aussie got an A fer effort fer her subtle submarine subtext.”
“It’s hard for Aussie ta be anything but decent. Don’t unnerstan’ her hangin’ out with you.”
“It’s a wonder.”
“From down under. So you want folks ta finish that sentence?”
“Yep. Shorty’s heart is as big as_____________ .”

###72

When the Party’s Over

“Hmmph. Shorty an’ her dang celebratin’. With balloons? Ain’t seen this much latex since-

“Come on, Pal. It was a party.”

“Sure, an’ look who’s aroun’ ta clean up. You an’ me Kid, that’s who. Latex skeeves me out. An’ it’s litter, bad fer the critters.”

“Pal, yer fergittin’ we’re fictional. Wanna happy ending? Ok, these balloons are made from corn. They’ll bio degrade, feed the soil.”

“Corn, ay?”

“Yep.”

“Could be a problem.”

“Jeez, Pal. How now?”

“Remember Ernie? At Wanda’s still?”

“Oh. Well, reuse, recycle, repurpose. Distill ends well.”

“It’s kinda corny, but I’ll drink to it.”

***

###71

Pal Says

Think his name was Ernie, they called him Ornery. Once had a woman, a whiskey maker. He loves her still. Her name was Wanda and that’s what she did. She wandered away when she found her Will. She and Will got a goat ‘cause she wanted a kid, left ol’ Ornery, but he loves her still.

Wanda and Will, hear they’re livin’ clean. Ol’ Ornery’s up in the hills, livin’ by the rushing still stream. Under the pines he parses corn, he thinks of Wanda, but doesn’t mourn, ‘cause he loves her still. Talks to the ravens, ravin’ drunk.

###70

99 Wort Ballons

“Pal, we oughtta have speech balloons.”

“Yer jist sayin’ that ‘cause you an’ you know who are so het up about quotation marks.”

“Says you. Jist sayin’ speech balloons’d be pretty cool.”

“That could lead ta thought balloons. Ya want people readin’ yer thoughts?”

“Wouldn’t be too much of an imposition.”

“Kid, if we spoke an’ thought with those devices, well, we’d be cartoons!”

“What are we now?”

“Characters.”

“Not caricatures?”

“Well, mebbe… but that’s where I draw the line!”

“Keep drawin’, Pal, mebbe ya can make a cartoon.”

“Druther speak a thousand words.”

“99 at a time Pal.”

###69

Second March On

“Kid, guess what happened on the ranch one year ago today?”

“Ya stepped in somethin’?”

“Nope. D. Avery submitted her first ever flash fiction response.”

“Oh. So she stepped in somethin’.”

“Kid…”

“Then we showed up couple months later, right Pal?”

“Actually we were here ahead a her.”

“How kin that be? I mean I git that Shorty, Aussie, Still Waters an’ the rest of ‘em were here, but us?”

“Yep, we were here all along. Jest didn’t know it yet.”

“Huh. Guess I don’t git this writin’ thing.”

“Neither does D. Avery, but she ain’t tucked tail yet.”

***

“Speakin’ a tales, there’s a bunch a new folks writin’ ‘round the ranch.”

“Do tell.”

“Yep, reckon they come fer the prompt an’ stay for the chomp.”

“S’pose so.”

“Yep. They read, write, an’ repeat.”

“Kid, yer readin’ off the posters.”

“Yep.”

“Folks likely come by fer the same reasons we’re here.”

“Ya mean they don’t wanna real job either?”

“No! They jest wanna exchange stories by the campfire.”

“Hang out by the chuck wagon, eat up Shorty’s vittles.”

“All the raw carrots a buckaroo could want.”

“It’s all good, all right. All we want for is bacon.”

“Shush, Kid.”

###68

Horn of a Dilemma

“Jeez, Pal. Do ya know what she wants this week?! Ain’t right fer a place that goes on about diversity an’ all. Shorty’s been on the road, musta got brainwashed.”

“Kid, jist calm yersef.”

“Wunder what color?”

“Kid, they can be any color you want.”

“Yeah, right. They’ll be all the same, all regulated. Why ain’tcha bothered, Pal? Oh, did Shorty give ya epaulets, make ya feel impotent?”

“That’s important, and- WHAT?”

“Uniforms, Shorty says uniforms now at Buckaroo Nation. Seems a might imperialistic ta me.”

“Kid, we’re to get unicorns, not uniforms.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s weird.”

“Jest ride.”

### Jest Quest

“Uni-corns?”

“Yep.”

“A-maizing. I dunno, Pal. I don’t know much ‘bout uni-corns.”

“Break it down Kid. Ya know hosses?”

“Ain’t my first time at the rodeo.”

“An’ ya know longhorns?”

“Well, sure, we’ve had our share a longhorns at the ranch.”

“So jest round up a bronc with one long horn.”

“Thinkin’ we’re gonna have ta ride a long ways fer this ‘un.”

“Yep. Ta antiquity.”

“Next ta Barbuda?”

“No, into olden times, maybe even magical times.”

“Think I’ll jest hang back this time.”

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Um, jest read ya gotta be a Virginian ta catch a uni-corn.”

###67

Any Other Name

 “How long ya been here on the ranch Pal?”

“My whole life.”

“Ever leave?”

“Well, I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name

It felt good to be out of the rain

In the desert you can remember your name

‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain.”

“That was kinda weird Pal, and stealing song lyrics too.”

“Yep, but that’s where I went, Kid. It was a lonesome place an’ I was all alone an’ never felt lonely.”

“Gotta point, Pal?”

“Not sure, Kid. ‘Cept ta say there’s flowers in the desert.”

###66

“Hey Pal, what’s black and white and read all over?”

“Jeez… what, Kid?”

“Flash fiction by the ranch hands!”

“Har, har Kid, but I don’t think all this flashin’ is so funny. It’s gittin’ outta hand. D’ya see what they’re about this week? It ain’t right.”

“Black and white, yer favorite colors, Pal. Pal, what kinda humor does an ornery ole ranch hand have?”

“Kid….”

“Nun!”

“Kid, I’m serious, they shouldn’t be puttin’ nuns in monster trucks.”

“It was un-convent-tional, Pal, but good fun.”

“It’s outta hand.”

Why’re ya worried?”

“Because flash fiction is habit forming.”

“Oh brother.”

“Sister.”

###65

Dividends

“What’re you doin’?”

“Gonna check the books, make sure the ranch’s in the black.”

“Y’ain’t qualified nor authorized, Pal!”

“It’s gotta take some green ta maintain all these green pastures, Kid. I worry.”

“Reckon Shorty figgers it’ll kinda pay for itself.”

“Been all aroun’ this ranch an’ I ain’t seen a money tree yet Kid.”

“There’s a bookstore. An’ Amazon sales. Jeez, Pal.”

“Yeah, yer right. An’ let’s tell folks about the “slot machine” up in the left hand corner, gives great returns on investments.”

“Don’t lie, or you’ll pay, Pal.”

“White lie, Kid. It does give great returns.”

###64

Buckaroo Nation

“Well, Kid?”

“Well, what Pal?”

“The well. Shorty said the well’s gotta be replenished. So let’s go, let’s git ta work.”

“Ah, there was somethin’ fishy ‘bout all that. Anyway what I heard Shorty say is we’re s’posed to play.”

“Kid, yer a ranch hand, ya gotta work.”

“Nope. I am ta be like the deer ‘an the antelope ‘an play.”

“I’m about played out with yer foolishness, Kid.”

“Hey Pal?”

“Now whut?”

“Ya ever play cowboys ‘an Indians as a kid?”

“Why?”

“I’m confused about bein’ part of a tribe a buckaroos.”

“It’s all good, Kid. Buckaroo Nation.”

###63

Pal & Kid on Twitter

Got any friends, Kid?

Had a dog once.

Ya gotta tweeter more.

Don’t like bein’ stalked, Pal.

It’s ‘followed’.

Sounds creepy ta me.

‘An ya gotta follow folks yerself.

Be the creep? Na.

Kid, how’d ya ever meet anyone?

Who do I need ta meet?

Yer a heap a fun, ain’tcha?

Cider helps.

#twitterflash

Kid, string some bacon roun yer neck, mebbe coyotes’ll follow ya.

That’s cold Pal.

S’posed ta be cold, ‘member?

S’posta see cold, not be cold. Anyway, Pal, yer too het up ‘bout followers.

What are we doin’ out here?

Dunno. Feels like fishin’.

From which end a the line?

#twitterflash

Ain’t likin this Pal.

Yer jealous a my followin’.

Ain’t followin no further, too scary. Cain’t see nuthin’. I’m headin back ta the ranch.

Jeez Kid.

Weren’tcha never told not ta tweet ta strange birds?

Yer the strange bird ya chicken.

Hey I smell hashtags n bacon.

***

Shorty?

Where you two been?

Nowhere.

Shorty, what’s a hashtag?

Why?

No reason.

Did you-?

Mebbe.

Pal made me, Shorty. I wanted ta head back ta muck the stable. Genius, here, had ta click on some hearts.

Thought it was like a 1-armed bandit.

Sure. Pays in bitchcoin.

Pays in kind.

###62

Dimensional Kid

“Ain’t seen ya lately, Kid.”

“Couldn’t find my dang boots last week.”

“Yer still edgy over it?”

“Don’t push me, Pal, I’m right close to the edge.”

“I’m sure somethin’ll surface this week.”

“Jest it, I’m confused. A certain someone says an edge is a line segment where two surfaces meet.”

“That sounds sharp, Kid. That straight talk?”

“I dunno, you do the math. See, I been ponderin’ on edges bein’ places, gotten to in round about ways; times or spaces of transition, betwixt and between. Whatdaya think?”

“Ta me it’s neither here nor there.”

“Exactly! A becoming place.”

 ###61

 Double Trouble

“Shorty sent ya ta town?”

“Yep, said she needed ink.”

“Hope she also told ya not to talk ta strangers, ta stay on the trail, ta not take magic beans nor wooden nickels in trade.”

“Fairytale funny, Pal. I’m smarter than ya think.”

“Ya went ta the General Store I hope.”

“Well, I was headed there but there was this guy on the corner.”

“Uh-oh.”

“Who had some good deals on ink cartridges. Only slightly damaged. From fallin’ off his cousin’s wagon.”

“What’d he look like?”

“Dunno. He stayed in the shadows. Spoke with an accent. Offered good deals.”

###

“Kid, that was Nanjo! Tell me ya didn’t git ink from Nanjo.”

“I didn’t git ink from Nanjo. Got this.”

“A bucket? You bought ink by the bucketful?”

“No, Pal. They’s squids in there.”

“You got squid, Kid?”

“Yeah. Feller said we’d never run outta ink if we had us some squid. Squirts ink if ya scare ‘em.”

“I’m gonna scare the ink outta you, Kid.”

“Squid. Jeez Pal, yer color’s changin’. Like a squid.”

“We cain’t be keepin’ squid on the ranch!”

“Pal, who’s Amari? Guy said, call Amari ta git rid of squid.”

“That’s calamari, Kid.”

“Squid.”

###59

Wonderland

“Kid ya kin sure shovel it. Barn looks good.”

“Yep, shovelin’ manure’s a winter chore I got talent for.”

“Kid, ever think about goin’ on vacation, mebbe travel?”

“Uh-uh. Leave the ranch? There’s lots goin’ on here. This is the place ta be.”

“Hmmph. Ain’t snow an’ cold Down Under.”

“Still thinkin’ ‘bout trippin’ down there?”

“Nah, best keep an eye on ya here at the ranch. B‘sides, thet snow sure is purty.”

“Yep.”

“Kid?”

“Yep?”

“Where’d all the shit from the barn go, anyway?”

“Ph.D.”

“Huh?”

“Piled higher an’ deeper.”

“But where?”

“Spring’s comin’. All will be revealed.”

###58

Elemental Problem

“Hey Kid.”

“Hey Pal. Got a copper?”

“Ya mean sheriff?”

“No, copper.”

“Ya mean like a penny?”

“No, ah, heck Pal, I may have ta cop out on this round-up. I don’t know nuthin’ about copper or copper country.”

“Gonna cop a plea of ignorance, Kid?”

“Yep. Anyway, the hosses’ve left some gems for me ta shovel. They’s all shut up in the barn what with all the snow.”

“That’ll test yer mettle.”

“Yeah, I’ve shoveled so much shit I should git a medal.”

“So whyn’t ya try shoveling some regarding the shiny orange metal?”

“We’ll see.”

“Cu later.”

###57

Stock In Trade

“Seriously, Pal, don’tcha think that D. Avery’s usin’ us?”

“S’pose, but what d’ya want? I mean we’re ranch hands and rodeo bums. We got a steady gig here.”

“Yeah, but still. Puttin’ words in our mouths…”

“Kid, she’s more afraid a you than you are a her.”

“Ya think?”

“Sure. I mean she has us do the talkin’, but that jest means she’s chicken.”

“Heard she used to use chickens in the same way. It ain’t right.”

“Lighten up Kid. Like I say, what else would ya be doin’?”

“This is a good gig, Pal.”

“Happy New Year, Kid.”

###56

Taking Stock

“Here we are, Kid. 2018. Hard ta believe we didn’t even exist this time last year.”

“Yep. Never thought I’d be thought up on a writin’ ranch. But ain’tcha worried we might a become stock characters, Pal?”

“Ain’t that a good thing? On a ranch an’ all?”

“Prob’ly. Pal, do you have a W.I.P.?”

“Ya mean like a bullwhip? I s’pose I do, or I could, what with bein’ a stock character an’ all.”

“No, a W.I.P., a work in progress.”

“Seems like that’s somethin’ could whup ya, Kid.”

“Yep. We got it purty good. Written’s easier ‘an writin’.”

###55

Broken Dreams

“Kid! Found ya. Ya weren’t in the bunkhouse.”
“Cain’tcha see I’m lyin’ out here in my sleepin’ bag enjoyin’ the stars? Jeez, Pal.”
“Really?”
“Really. An’ mebbe I’m even wishin’ on a star.”
“Kid, ya cain’t jest be wishin’ an’ dreamin’. Ya gotta git up an’do! I swear ya ain’t never gonna amount ta nuthin’, jest layin’ aroun’ wishin’ at stars. Git up Kid. Make yer dream happen!”
“I had done achieved it, Pal, till jest now.”
“What?”
“Yep. I had wished ta lay out here enjoyin’ the stars in peace an’ quiet. Now I’m wishin’ ya’d go away.”

###54

Shorty’s Blues?

“Pal, ya ever hear about Shorty bein’ a country singin’ star?”

“Nope.”

“Think it’s true?”

“Dunno. Don’tcha have ta qualify? Like ya gotta have ‘sperienced yer truck breakin’ down, yer dog dyin’, deferred dreams, an’ general pain an’ heart ache an’ such as life hands ya.”

“Oh. Well Shorty’s got a beautiful blue-skied ranch, the best rodeo on the bloggin’ circuit, an dreams abloomin’ like cactus.”

“An’ us! She’s got a fine bunch a ranch hands.”

“Yep. Reckon she ain’t got the right name for singin’ stardom anyway. “Shorty” ’s kinda runna the mill.”

“Spins a good yarn though.”

“Yep.”

###53

Helleborus niger

“Hey, Kid, I see yer saddlin’ up.”

“Yep, Shorty’s got us on another roundup.”

“What direction ya headin’?”

“Don’t rightly know, Pal. Headin’ for the border, not sure which one.”

“I reckon you’ll head north. Don’t fergit ta git white flowers.”

“That dang Shorty. White flowers. In winter. Bloomin’ hell.”

“That’s it Kid! Hellebores. Christmas Rose.”

“Oh, yeah, Pal. Blooms in winter.”

“See, Kid. The darkest day is past. Ya’ve rode through a seasonal borderland. There’ll be snow an’ cold yet, but there’s always somethin’ bloomin’, somethin’ ta be picked.”

“Thanks, Pal. Feelin’ lighter already.”

“Yer hoss’ll ‘preciate that.”

###52

Matters of Fact

“Those flashes are killer.”

“Yep. Thrillin’.”

“Chillin’.”

“Yep.”

“Pal, should we be afraid of those writers?”

“No, Kid, I don’t think so.”

“Should we be afraid for them?”

“No, they’re all write.”

“Some a what they wrote was disturbin’ ta me.”

“They jist went where the prompt led, Kid. It’s jist fiction is all it is.”

“Yer scared too Pal.”

“There’s a chill in the air is all. Kid, it’s jist fiction, relax.”

“Uh huh. Fiction. Or alternative facts?”

“Fact is Kid, it’s late. Shut yer pie-hole an’ sleep.”

“I’m scared Pal.”

“Of these flashes?”

“Jist the facts.”

 ###51

 Only At Carrot Ranch

“What’s up Kid? Looks like yer all tied up.”

“Jist shush, an’ hep me get untangled.”

“What’re you doin’?”

“Tryin’ out some fancy knots.”

“Not so fancy. Not even knots, Kid. Why are ya tryin’ out these buckaroo skills?”

“Shorty said-“

“Did ya follow the thread of Shorty’s prompt, Kid? Pick up yer own lines ta braid yer own story. Shorty’ll git ‘em all wove together after.”

“Go where the prompt leads?”

“Yep, but let it lead ya ta a familiar place Kid, a place ya know. Hey, where ya headed?”

“Cook house, gonna git ta know some bacon.”

###50

Still Buckin’ Around

“Ya seen the bull ridin’ results?”

“Sure have Kid. I tell ya, ever’ single bull rider can stand tall.”

“Well, they have ta stand, Pal, their butts are still too sore ta sit.”

“Jeez, Kid.”

“Hey Pal, is it true these contestants had ta write their entries with a bull pen?”

“Could be, they was some rules, all right, like it had ta be fiction, no facts.”

“Makes sense, Pal. Rodeo writing should be spur-ious.”

“Hey Kid, didya git that scratch from bull ridin’?”

“Nope, from the other ranch sport.”

“What’s that?”

“Fencin’. I actually scratched myself again fencin’, same spot.”

“Guess that’s a barbed re-mark.”

“Jeez, Pal. I’d jist like to remark on a fine contest with so many strong riders.”

“Yep, congratulations to all who rode.”

“Yeehaw!”

###49

Viva la Diva

 “Told ya Pal.”

“Told me what?”

“All the world’s a stage.”

“Yep, s’ppose so. Hey, do you dance, Kid?”

“Jist the can’t-can’t. I hope Shorty ain’t plannin’ some sorta ballet here at Carrot Ranch.”

“Naw, her dancin’ lessons are of the 99 word variety.”

“Gotta tell ya, Shorty’s a tough act ta follow. Such strong performances every week.”

“Yep, Shorty’s writin’s a gift.”

“Pal, ta say that diminishes the fact that Shorty’s sharpened her skills an’ honed her craft through perseverance an’ hard work.”

“Kid, I meant Shorty’s writin’s a gift ta all us.”

“Oh. Now I’m readin’ ya.”

###48

Highly Sought 

“Hey, Shorty, where’s Aussie at?”

“Aussie’s out standing in her field.”

“I know she’s outstanding in her field, Shorty, she’s a helluva educative wrangler. But where is she?”

“Out standing in her field.”

“I know… she’s highly sought after.”

“Oh, she’s highly sot after a couple a ciders, but jist now she’s out standing. In her field.”

“Dang, Shorty, I know all ready. Whyn’t you jes’ tell me where Aussie’s at?”

“Easy, Kid, I am tryin’ to tell ya that she is standing. Out in her field yonder.”

“Oh. Well shouldn’t we hep her in? ‘Afore she gits pasture-ized?”

###47

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

“Hey Kid, ya ever twitter flashed?”

“Kinda personal Pal, askin’ if’n I ever flashed my twitters.”

“No, Kid, ya ever tweeted?”

“Ever’one tweets, Pal, but some of us try’n be discreet about it.”

“No, Kid, I mean like all that hashtag business.”

“What’re ya sayin’, Pal? Did ya slip a tweet an’ acciden’ly leave a hashtag? No wunder ya sit tall in the saddle.”

“Jeez Kid. I mean Twitter, ya know that so-shall media thing that folks ‘r doin’. An’ now some a the hands been writin’ flash on it, even D. Avery. Where she at?”

“She-at, she’s dumbfounded.”

“Hey, Kid, be nice. Anyhow, I don’t find her soo dumb.”

“Pal, she’s jist not sure what ta say ‘bout all this.”

“Well ya’d think she’d thank the judges fer their great idea fer a contest and fer their time an’ all sortin’ through all them fine entries.”

“Yeah, ya’d think she’d thank ‘em, an’ take her hat off ta ever’one that tooted.”

“Tweeted, Kid, tweeted.”

“Right. #thanks ever’one. Yer very tweet.”

###46

With a Little Hep

“Hey, Pal, you oughtta join my self-heppin’-advocatin’-together group; S.H.A.T.”

“Ain’t bein’ no part a yer SHAT group. What the shat you on about anyway?”

“What Shorty said. Self-hep.”

“Shorty said self-care, so I reckon it’s S.C.A.T., an’ I’m hopin’ ya do.”

“Testy… You need a stage coach.”

“Stagecoach?!”

“Yeah, stage coach. Ta hep ya git through all yer rough stages in life. Talk ya through the prickly patches.”

“I swear, Kid, sometimes I’d like ta put you on a stage, send ya back where ever ya come from.”

“All the world’s a stage, Pal, ya oughtta try’n play nice.”

###45

Five A Day

“Why ya grimacin’ Kid?”

“I’m smilin’. They say smilin’ can change yer mindset. But I tell ya, Pal, I’m strugglin’ with Shorty’s 5 a day prompt.”

“So keep smilin’. Five times a day.”

“Hmm. Five laughs a day would be good an’ good for ya.”

“Seriously! Contagious giggles, love those, almost as much as a real good belly laugh.”

“Gotta be in the right company fer those. How ‘bout laughin’ aloud at yerself fer doin’ somethin’ stupid, or even fer doin’ somethin’ right?”

“Yeah. I also like the ‘Ha!’ of revelation and recognition.”

“Five laughs a day then. Ha!”

###44

Thanksgiving

“Whatcha got there, Kid?”

“Vittles.”

“Lemme guess. Got yerself a mess a bacon.”

“Nope, I got carrots.”

“An’ yer gonna roast ‘em, wrapped in bacon.”

“Nope. Jes’ carrots.”

“Oh, boy, here we go. Let’s hear it then.”

“What?”

“The whinin’ an’ lamentin’ about the dearth of bacon here at the ranch.”

“Dearth?”

“Dearth, Kid, lack, scarcity.”

“Well, Pal, there is no scarcity. D’ Earth provides. Look at these beautiful carrots I pulled from d’ earth. Here, I’m giving you some.”

“Uh, thanks.”

“Yep, I’m givin’ thanks. I’m thankful fer ever’one at the ranch, an’ fer Shorty’s raw carrots.”

###43

The Porch Between

“Kid, why you got them tools and that mesh screenin’?”

“Feelin’ like doin’ somethin’ nice for Shorty, gonna screen in the front porch where ever’one sets ‘n tells stories.”

“Why?”

“Ta keep mosquitos ‘n such from botherin’ us.”

“Ya could, an’ this bein’ fiction an’ all you might even do a real fine job.”

“Yep.”

“But Kid, this bein’ fiction an’ all, we can jes’ say we ain’t got skeeters.”

“That a fact?”

“Yep. ‘Cause this’s fictional.”

“Like alternate facts?”

“Yep.”

“So no skeeters.”

“And an unimpeded view from Shorty’s porch.”

“Things look good from here.”

“That’s a fact.”

###42

 What’s Cookin’?

“Kid, why’re you rippin’ through Shorty’s chuck wagon?”

I’m heppin’. Shorty’s been on about food an’ recipes. Wanna see what can be cooked up here at Carrot Ranch.”

“Well?”

“Here’s some piecrust… an’ some berries… Remember those prompts? Jeez, there’s plenty a carrots, carrots all over the place. Keep findin’ cider too, empty bottles anyways…”

“Ya’d think there’d be longhorn steaks. Sayin’.”

“Ya’d think there’d be bacon, that’s what I been sayin’.”

“Kid, the wranglers’ve cooked up mighty fine stories even if they don’t bring home much bacon.”

“Yep. Comforting, hearty, delectable stories. An’ ever’thin’s better with bacon. Sayin’.”

###41

Get It Write

“Kid, what are you doin’?”

“Settin’ up croquet wickets.”

“Croquet? Why?”

“Well, we got lots a folks comin’ by the ranch these days, an I reckon they’ll be lookin’ fer somethin’ ta do, what with the rodeo packin’ up.”

“Croquet?”

“Yeah, croquet. A good, relaxin’ activity. Fer the folks comin’ by the ranch.”

“Did ya git bucked, Kid, bump yer head?”

“Shorty mentioned somethin’ ‘bout croquet on the ranch.”

“She mentioned crochet, but-”

“Oh yeah, yer right Pal. Crochet and crafting. Well, that’s fine. We can all set on the porch and stitch.”

“Think you dropped a stitch, Kid.”

###40

Tuff Stuff     FFR#8

 Free write:

wow, wicked cool amazing fine piece ofprompt that Charli holy cow patty but some tuff task ahead omg

9 words:

Kid run off, tail betwixt legs, fumbling for excuses.

59 words:

“Kid, git yer sorry ass back here and saddle up. You’ll percolate this here idea an’ you’ll git somethin’ on paper, gol nabbit.”

“Gol nabbit? Really, Pal?”

“Shush Kid, that’s a stall tactic.”

“Yeah, I gotta clean out the stalls, they’s full o’ shit.”

“So’re you. Shorty’d ruther you muck yer writin’ than muck the stalls.”

“Aw, muck, ok.”

Word Orders (99 words):

“Ya know we’re outta order don’tcha Kid?”

“Whatcha mean, Shorty?”

“I mean, after the free write there’s s’posed to be a 99 word flash, then the 59 word flash, an’ then the 9 word flash, an’-”

“-An’ then what? How low can ya go?”

“Not goin’ low, jist boilin’ down, distillin’, if ya will. An’ then let that concentrate bubble up inta 599 words.”

“Yer a regular mathemagician. S’pose yer gonna tell me it’s all gonna foment inta some sorta elixir too. Feelin’ lost with this un, Shorty.”

“Ride Kid. Jist give the horse its head and hang on.”

599 words:

Nobody’d heard of the Kid, didn’t know where the Kid even came from, or how the Kid ended up in the mythical west on a mystical word ranch. Sometimes things happen. Just like that.

And let it be known, lest you think the Kid is a legend in her own mind, this story doesn’t belong just to The Kid, but also to a kid, some kids, any kid, even to you kids. See, the ranch is for all, a community.

“I thought it was commutative. You know, ‘cause folks come and go.”

“I think yer thinkin’ about commuting, Kid. Commutative’s a math word.”

“Well, Shorty’s put a lot of math to us lately, ain’t she?”, grumbled the Kid.

“This ain’t our usual bit, Kid, so keep yer pie-hole shut.”

The Kid did get quiet then, just like that, which isn’t at all like what usually happens, but perhaps the stifled chatter will allow a story to unfold.

You see the Kid was hanging around the ranch one day, when came the call in the form of a clanging triangle, summoning the hands to the chuck wagon. Always glad to have carrots yet hoping for bacon, the Kid rushed to see what Shorty had cooked up, wondering if she might ever consider roasting carrots wrapped in bacon.

“Quit yer salivatin’, Kid, cain’t ya see Shorty ain’t got no food cookin’?”

“Hasn’t got any.”

“Ain’t got any what?”

“Food cooking.”

“That’s what I said. Don’t go transformin’ yer hyperbolic mythical western dialect on me now, Kid.”

“I had a run-in with a hyper bullock b’fore.”

“Shush, Kid.”

Shorty lay down her triangle and looked squarely at the hands circled around her.

“Hee hee, more math snuck in there.”

“Kid, I’m tellin’ ya, shush up.”

“Prob’ly gonna serve pi. Ouch! All right, Pal, I’ll stop.”

Shorty addressed the ranch hands. “Ranch Hands”, she said, “There’s a bunch a stray stories out in them thar hills.”

“We know, Shorty”, the hands responded. “We been there b’fore, rounded up navels, pie crusts, dawn, spells, even longhorns.”

“This’s bigger.” And with that, a few hands quietly slipped away. Which is okay, we are not to judge them, not here. The Kid did not slip away, but, truth be told, when Shorty said ‘this’s bigger’, the Kid heard ‘elixir’ which she assumed meant cider.

“There’s a bandit out there, been…”

Kid didn’t hear the rest, the Kid was focused on “bandit” and immediately was off in her head remembering raccoons, missing most everything that Shorty said, tuning in just at the last. “An’ so, someone to take down Nanjo is what I need.”

Now, as you may or may not know, the Kid had been looking for an excuse to round up nuisance raccoons and so assured Shorty that she would be happy to ride out, even with a banjo on her knee.

“If you say so Boss, must be fer this whole twang thing, pluck yeah. Come on, Pal, saddle up.”

“No, Kid”, Shorty said. “Ya gotta ride this one alone. We think Nanjo is hidin’ out in Choco Carmel Canyon. It’s deep and steep and riddled with caves. Be careful Kid.”

Well, to make a long story short, that is to fit the word limit without too much revision, Nanjo was not caught, and no raccoons were harmed in the writing of this story. But also know that the Kid rode off and rode back, transformed. After a brief ritualistic self flagellation in the Cave of Doubt the Kid trusted in her imagination and let that old horse have its head. Just like that.

###39

Posse-bull Spam

“Come on Pal, saddle up. We’re formin’ a posse.”

“That might be posse-ble, Kid. Why, what’s goin’ on?”

“You know Nanjo?”

“No know.”

“No, Nanjo.”

“What’s a Nanjo?”

“An unsavory character, known for bad spellin’ an’ smelly vagrance. Thinkin’ he’s holed up in a gilch aroun’ here. I don’t trust this character, I’m gonna kill ‘im.”

“Ya cain’t jest head off an’ kill another character.”

“With this event challenge I can, an’ there’s this whole western theme, an’ I’m an American with the write to bear arms.”

“I don’t like it, Kid. Let’s arm bears instead. Let them have at Nanjo.”

“Hmm… we could set CJ’s raccoons after him.”

###38

Night Musings    FFR#7

“Would you stop that infernal pacin’ an’ jist git some shuteye!”

“I don’t like this Pal, it ain’t right. This here is a nice safe community, ever’one says so. Folks gotta feel safe here. No, this ain’t right.”

“Jeez, Kid! Yer mutterin’ an’ pacin’ is keepin’ me from my much needed rest. What in the blazes are you on about now?”

“Murder!”

“Murder?”

“Murder.”

“I already regret this, but Kid, what’re you talkin’ about?”

“This latest rodeo event, that’s what.”

“Twitterflash?”

“No.”

“The bull ride?”

“No, #7… murder.”

“Kid, it’s just fiction.”

“Fictional lives matter.”

“Kid, there’s seriously gonna be a murder if’n you don’t shush up.”

“G’night Pal.”

###37 

9x11x2           FFR#6

“Kid, they’s lots goin’ on, why’re you clownin’ aroun’?”

“Ain’t clownin’, I’m gonna seriously help the bull riders.

Gotta be ready to distract an’ divert them bulls.

An’ Shorty’s pickup rider, she’ll make sure ever’one’s safe.”

“Kid, ya might wanna reconsider this, rodeo clownin’s dangerous.”

“Doin’ it fer the Ranch, fer the bull riders.”

“Kid, yer too green fer clownin’ in the arena.

Though seems you might’ve jumped in a barrel before.

An’ why’re we still talkin’ in nine word sentences?

CJ git ya hooked on that twitterature flash bullshift?”

“I can stop anytime, but CJ’s event’s still open.”

“Kid, we don’t seem finished at 11 x 9.”

“We ain’t gotta be, ‘cause Irene’s challenge’s a double.

Folks got through the 26th to enter her event.”

“Yep, Irene’s until the 26th, and CJ’s the 29th.

It’d behoove ya ta stay out’ve the arena, Kid.

Unless you want a BOTS for the scar challenge.”

“Don’t worry Pal, stop tryin’ to steer me astray.

The riders’ll feel more confident with a clown nearby.

You think it’s my first time at a rodeo?”

“Uh, Kid, I know it’s yer first ever rodeo.”

“Yep, an’ so far it’s my absolute favorite rodeo!”

###36

11 x 9  FFR#5

“What are you doin’, straddlin’ that roped up barrel?”

“Ain’t no barrel Pal, it’s a wild buckin’ bull.”

“Ain’t so sure yer barrel ain’t been tapped, Kid.”

“Mebbe, an’ why’re we speakin’ in 9 word sentences?”

“Aw, it’s CJ, she gits weird ideas about flash.”

“Been a bit tapped herself since the ‘coon invasions.”

“Yep. These so-called writers is really jest sleep deprivits.”

“You jist made up a noun for sleep-deprived people.”

“Yep, an’ you ain’t said much about that barrel.”

“Bull ridin’s comin’ soon to a ranch near you.”

“Fun jest doesn’t slow down with this here rodeo.”

###35

 Inscription         FFR#4

“Hey, Shorty. What’s up? Besides the rodeo, I mean.”

“I been busy, what with rodeoin’, ranchin’, wranglin’ an’ ropin’, an’ ridin’ herd on some other projects.”

“So what brings ya by?”

“Kid’s been kinda scarce. Ya know anythin’ Pal?”

“Yep.”

“Well?”

“Kid’s been hangin’ out back East agin. Got some sort a rodeo goin’ on there by the sounds a things. Or did the Kid call it a three-ring circus? Either way they’s been a bunch a jugglin’ goin’ on and balancin’ acts an’ such. Kid claims to be workin’ at tamin’ wild uns, kid-whisperin’ even.”

“School?”

“Yep.”

“The Kid’s workin’ with kids, yer talkin’ ‘bout?”

“Yep. Math.

“Go figger.

“Kid says they’s some real fine stock, full a potential, but some’s jest plain scared and confused.”

“ ‘Bout math?”

“Life. Scary present, uncertain future. An’ some’s already scarred by their pasts, carryin’ buckets full a loss an’ grief. Kids ain’t goin’ over the river an’ through the woods to granma’s anymore. Granma’s raisin’ ‘em.”

“That’s a tough equation, Pal.”

“Yep. But scars don’t have ta equal disability. Kid’s hopin’ these school kids’ll someday know their scars as an inscription that tells a story of healin’ an’ resilience.”

###34

Septolet     FFR#3

“Hey Pal, listen ta this, it’s about all the activity and challenge of the rodeo:

hard riding

flying spurs

fast furious

pitching bucking

breathless whirlwind

scrambling buckaroos

riding hard

It’s a septolet.”

“Ain’t that for bull fights, ya know, the guy with the cape? Septolet!”

“Hey, Pal yer ignorance is showin’. Try’n show some class, there’s visitors aroun’ these days.”

“Jeez Kid. You cain’t be funny an’ ya cain’t take a joke. I hope this poetry thing don’t make everone all serious and cantankerous like you.

Serious Kid

Boo hoo

Who you

Busy busy

Another day

A septolet

Lighten up

There’s my septolet, Kid.”

“That’s not funny, Pal. Yer s’posed to play nice here. That’s the charm of Carrot Ranch.”

“Jest tryin’ to prompt you out of bind, Kid. Yer all bound up, I know yer still thinkin’ about makin’ Pardner laugh.”

“Pardner? Yer my pardner.”

“No, Le Pard. And his pardners.”

“No, I ain’t thinkin’ ‘bout that. I don’t want to be funny, so Ha!”

Bull. Kid

cain’t write

no more

needs grimoire

break spell

oh hell

another septolet.”

 “Pal, you are an insult to a beautiful poetic form. This is a serious challenge and a dang cool prompt.”

“I know Kid, I was jest funnin’ with ya. Jules done herself proud with this one. Hope she don’t mind our messin’.”

###33

200 Shy   FFR#2

“Hey, Pal, what’s funny?”

“I ain’t laughin’, Kid.”

“I know. But what’s funny?”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously, what’s funny? ‘Cause the more I think on it, nuthin’ seems funny. ”

“Jest consider yer audience.”

“British.”

“That’s easy. They laugh at men dressed up as dowdy women.”

“Really? Why?”

“Kid, I don’t wanna know.”

“What else?”

“They’ll laugh at innuendo, if ya know what I mean.”

“Uh, no, what do ya mean?”

“You know, talk about, you know, but don’t actually say anything, you know?”

“No, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Jeez, this humor challenge is no laughing matter.”

###32

Rodeo Contest # 1

“Hey Pal. Aussie and Shorty sure are busy, huh?”

“Yep.”

“Gittin’ everthin’ figgered out though, that’s good.”

“Yep.”

“Pal, did ya ever imagine when you were six that you were gonna be a ranch hand?”

“Kid, I ain’t so sure I ever was six.”

“That’s a shame. Six is when ya think about bein’ an becomin’. Practicin’ an tryin’ things out, growin’ yer own future self, like.”

“Maybe I am six, and have been forever. I cain’t imagine imaginin’ anything better than me here.”

“Does it feel right?”

“I imagine it does.”

“Well then, you’re right where you are.”

indv-events-ff-rodeo19.png

###31

Well Maybe

 “You enterin’ any a the contests, Kid?”

“Nope, gonna jest enjoy the spectacle.”

“But ain’tcha jest itchin’ to git in the saddle?”

“Well, yeah. But I done told you, I’m busy. Jest gonna watch.”

“You know Kid, seems like yer pretty good about doin’ what ya say you’ll do. But it also seems like ya ain’t very good about not doin’ what ya say ya ain’t gonna do.”

“Ain’t ridin’ this one.”

“Uh huh. Then let’s go harvest us a drink.”

“Ain’t drinkin’.”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, maybe jest one.”

“Jest one, Kid, while we check out the rodeo events.”

###30

Bullshift Kid

“Kid!”

“Dang straight.”

“Shorty heard you were back.”

“Shorty herds words. Course I’m back. Wouldn’t miss the rodeo for nuthin’.”

“Well, come on. Let’s saddle up, Kid, do some ropin’ an’ wranglin’.”

“Cain’t. Busy.”

“But-”

“But I got too much to do now I’m back. I gotta corral the bulls and check the chute for the Buckin’ Bull Go-Roun’.”

“Aw, come on, Kid, that’s a ways away.”

“An’ I gotta help harvest carrots, make sure theys harvested for the rodeo crowd. You go on without me.”

“Nah. Reckon I’ll have ta look after you.”

“Write on, Pal, write on.”

###29

“Shorty!”

“Got a letter from the Kid.”

“Read it.”

“Says:

Dear Ranch Hands, I’ve missed yawl and the ranch. Wanna be wranglin’; ridin’, ropin’ an’ corrallin’ words with ever’ one. See, I thought I needed to make time fer makin’ bacon, but I’m figgerin’ somethin’ out. The only way to beat a tide is to not try an’ swim against it. There’s always gonna be strays an’ loose ends in all our lives. Where better than the ranch to learn how to lasso that? Besides, there’s a rodeo! I’ll be catchin’ a train back west soon’s I can. Kid’”

###28

 Missing Kid

“Hey Aussie.”

“G’day. Yer writin’ me in again… Kid still away?”

“Yep. Kid got pulled away and I’m adrift. Used ta mulling things over with the Kid.”

“Well I’m currently busy. Maybe you should talk with Still Waters.”

“Still Waters? That some sorta Tonto-type sidekick character?”

“She’s no sidekick. Still Waters, the other wonder from down under, she drives her own buckboard, if ya know what I mean. She runs deep.”

“Sure does. I remember her from times past.”

“Or you could go see Anecdotist.”

“The analytical undertow scares me.”

“Chicken. Get out from underneath your malaise. Go write!”

###27

Right Proud

 “Dang, the Kid is missing out on all the excitement.”

“Who ya talkin’ to?”

“Oh, hey Aussie. Talkin’ ta myself. Been doin’ that since the Kid went back east. Did ya see all a Shorty’s doin’s?”

“I sure did! I am so pleased for Shorty.”

“Yep, Shorty’s done herself right proud.”

“I expect there’ll be a crowd ridin’ through, checkin’ out the ranch, gettin’ ready for the rodeo.”

“Reckon so, Aussie. It’s gonna be somethin’. I’m jest worried ‘bout there bein’ enough carrots to go around.”

“Sometimes you’re as green as the Kid. There’s always carrots, carrots for all.”

###26

Dang Busy

“Shorty?”

“Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”

“That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”

“Yeah, right.”

“So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”

“Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”

“Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”

“Yep.”

“Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”

“Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”

“A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”

“Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”

“Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”

“Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”

“Well you sure dreamed it up.”

“Yep.”

###25

Back East

“Shorty, is it true?”

“Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”

“What? The Kid seemed happy here.”

“The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”

“Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”

“Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”

“Was it the food, Shorty?”

“Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”

“Oh. That takes time.”

“Yep.”

###24

Yeehaw!

“Kid, thought you was s’posed ta be off makin’ bacon or some such thing. “

“Cain’t I set a spell?”

“Course. Anyone’s welcome ta set a spell at Carrot Ranch. Well, Kid, if ya ain’t wanderin’, ya must be wonderin’.”

“Yep. Kinda excited ‘bout Shorty’s rodeo. Gonna be fun, Pal.”

“Sure is. I can see it too, Kid. Riders bringin’ their wild, buckin’ prompts to a lathered walkin’ gait.”

“Ropin’ competitions, gittin’ words all wrapped up into a story in record time.”

“Maybe barrel races…steer wrestlin’. Might be rodeo clowns.”

“For the bull ridin’!”

“Hang onta yer hats folks.”

###23

Opine Range

“Whatcha thinkin’, Kid?”

“Nothin’. It’s a pretty open ranch, though, ain’t it?”

“Yep. Fairly free range. Why ya askin’?”

“Shorty left a note. She’s gone to town agin, says here she’s gone to pick up some broads.”

“Huh. You uncomfortable with that, Kid?”

“Well, yeah, no, but… What?”

“Kid, put it in context. Shorty ain’t the greatest speller, ya know. She ain’t likely pickin’ up broads, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Most likely she’s  gittin’ boards at the lumberyard.”

“Shain’t a ferry?”

“Jist same ol’ Shorty. Gatherin’ materials to build up the ranch.”

“Nothin’ wrong with that.”

###22

Ranch Hideout

“Thought you’d disappeared, Kid.”

“Did disappear.”

“But here ya are.”

“So I ain’t somewheres else… gone! Far as folks back east are concerned, I done disappeared. If here, not there.”

“There ya go agin.”

“No, here I go. I’m here, so cain’t be there.”

“Well, it’s neither here nor there to me. Ya ready to ride?”

“Yawl go on without me.”

“Yer not tryin’ to escape yer wranglin’ are ya?”

“Wranglin’ is my escape. But they’s lookin’ fer me back east. Jist know if I ain’t aroun’ here, I’m there.”

“You’ll ride.”

“Maybe. But they’s ridin’ me.”

“So escape.”

###21

Still Water

“Lose somethin’ Kid?”
“Jest reflectin’ at this reflectin’ pool.”
“Kid, I swear, you are greener than frog spit. This ain’t no reflectin’ pool. It’s just a stock pond.”
“I can see myself, so it’s a reflectin’ pool. Look, you’ll see yerself too.”
“Oh yeah… hey Kid, it’s deep.”
“Yep. Shorty oughta call her place Reflection Ranch. People can come here an’, you know…”
“Reflect?”
“Yeah.”
“I reckon they already do. Been some mighty deep conversations goin’ on.”
“Yep, they ain’t been shallow. I’ve had some a my thoughts provoked ‘round here.”
“In a good way?”
“In the best way.”

###20

Purrfecting

“Where you headed?”

“Goin’ to round ‘em all up. Get ‘em corralled. Maybe herd ‘em right off the ranch.”

“Oh, Jeez, what are you on about?”

“Cats! Cats are over runnin’ the ranch. I swear there’s more of them than us.”

“Yep, they’s lots, real diverse, all colors and stripes. I like havin’ ‘em around.”

“Well Shorty says to round ‘em up. Let’s go.”

“No, Shorty says we should pick ‘em up. Not round ‘em up. Just pick one up.”

“Which one?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Which color?”

“Just pick one up.”

“Ok.”

“Well?”

“Shh. Listen to this beautiful cat purring.”

###19

Trouble Down Under

“Hey Kid, what’s up?”

“Hey. Yunno, I been havin’ a lot of trouble with this berry thing. Cain’t find much of anything nowheres.”

“Didja ask around at all?”

“Naw, but I did bump into Aussie.”

“Yeah?”

“Is a dingo berry somethin’ that dingoes eat? You know those coyote like dogs down there where she’s from?”

“That what Aussie said?”

“She mentioned dingo berries. I was afraid to ask.”

“Afraid of Aussie?”

“Well, she’s so smart an’ all.”

“Oh, she’s smart all right. Sassy too, I’m thinkin’, talkin’ dingo berries in mixed company.”

“Jeez, it’s just a berry.”

“Where’s Aussie?!”

###18

Plum Crazy

“Is Shorty plum crazy? What’s she want us gathering buffalo chips for? That what she uses fer charcoal?”

“No, Kid, she wants berries. So let’s go git some buffalo berries.”

“Hmph, buffalo berries. Shorty makin’ pies agin? I reckon with buffalo berries it’ll be like a cow pie.”

“They’re not chips.”

“Hey, while we’re at it, let’s git some horse muffins too.”

“Kid, will you ever stop fiddlin’ around?”

“Heck no. Shorty wants music too, so I’ll jest keep on fiddlin’, thank you berry much.”

“I hope Shorty is plannin’ on fermentin’ some of these berries.”

“Yep, wine not?”

###17

Free Range

“What’sa matter Kid?”

“Look at Shorty’s new sign over the gate. Use’ta jest say Carrot Ranch. Now it also says ‘literary community’.”

“Yeah?”

“Well? Is it a ranch or a literary community?”

“Cain’t it be both Kid?”

“I jest wanna ride the range, wrangle some words now an’ agin.”

“But ya generally begin an’ end here at the ranch. Where they’s other wranglers; an’ readers… you know, a community.”

“I ain’t the communal type. I’m free range.”

“Ah, Kid, come on in outta the cold. There’s bacon cookin’.”

“This community has bacon?!”

“And raw carrots.”

“For me?”

“For all.”

###16

Sound Track

“I love it here.”

“What do love about it, Kid?”

“Well, until you showed up jest now, flappin’ yer pie-hole, I was jest lovin’ the sounds. Listen… Hear that? Far off ya can already hear the clopping footsteps of some rider bringin’ one in. Soon ya’ll be hearin’ the easy lowing of the new herd in the corral. And from up by the bunkhouse friendly laughin’ and talkin’. And, ya hear that? Best sound of all. Bangin’ pots and pans, ringin’ out with the promise of vittles. Shorty’s fixin’ to cook. Cookin’ up somethin’ special.”

“I hear that!”

###15

Ganderin’ on the Veranda

“What ya been up to Kid, ain’t seen ya ‘round.”

“Been readin’. But I ain’t left the ranch. This is a bigger spread than I knew, lots to see.”

“Find anything innerestin’?”

“Yep, plenty. Ya know, Shorty is one bold buckaroo and an honest hombre.”

“Kid, Shorty cain’t be an hombre. Hombre means man.”

“Well, I ain’t so affluent as you in my Portageez.”

“That’s Spanish, Kid.”

“Oh. Huh. Hey, what’s for dinner anyway?”

“Shorty’s cookin’ up sumpin’ special for ya. Enchiladas.”

“Oh yay. I love Portageez food.”

“That’s Spanish, Kid.”

“Oh. Well maybe the Portageez enchilada has bacon.”

###14

Mother Lode

“Shorty’s got rocks in her head.”

“Yep, it’s become purty obvious. Goin’ on an on ‘bout rocks all the time. Rocks in her head, alright, and in her pockets, in her saddlebags. She’s always gatherin’, seems like.”

“Our tumbleweed’s become a rock tumbler.”

“That phrase weren’t too smooth, Kid.”

“Well, I’m in a hurry, itchin’ to do some minin’ of my own. There’s 24 carrot gold in these here hills.”

“Jest remember, Kid, glitter ain’t always gold. Me, I’m jest gonna ride under the crystalline sky, enjoy a gem of a day.”

“That’s minin’ too.”

“Yep, Kid, it is.”

###13

Carrot Pie

“Shorty in the cookhouse?”

“Nope, at her chuck wagon.”

“Oh-oh.”

“No, she ain’t goin’ anywhere, just cookin’ at the ol’ wagon. She does love the great outdoors.”

“Well I’ve got the flour she asked for. And butter. What the heck she up to now?”

“Wants to make pies. Specifically, piecrust.”

“Oh-oh. That can be tricky.”

“Yep.”

“Why is she so het up on piecrust?”

“Well, we always wrangle words to fill Shorty’s safe, sturdy corral. This week she just wants us to bring some tasty pie filling to the chuck wagon.”

“Sounds homey. Raw filling ok?”

“Yep. Raw’s ok.”

###12

Chicken Scratch

“Aw, fricassee! I ain’t never seen chickens ‘round the ranch before. We gonna have to herd them too?”

“If Shorty says.”

“Chicken’d go nice with carrots.”

“I doubt the chickens end up in the pot. She already thinks they’s ladies in petticoats for gosh sakes.”

“Hmmph.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me none if Shorty got ‘em to scratch out 99 words in the dirt for her. They’d scratch out some egg-citing tales, alright.”

“Bah, what stories do chickens have?”

“Some speak of the coop, some the road.”

“Shorty says she’s done crisscrossin’ roads for awhile.”

“Yep. That chicken has landed.”

“Unexpectedly.”

###11

Red Handed

“Kid, what are you doin in there?”

“Nothin’ “

“Well if yer doin’ nothin’, git out. I gotta go.”

“I’m busy.”

“What are you doin?”

“Nothin’.”

“Yer doin somethin’.”

“It ain’t nothin’. Now go away, I’d like some privacy.”

“Oh… You know, Kid, it’s ok, everyone does it.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Even you?”

“Yup, since I was knee high to a grasshopper.”

“Did ya worry about someone catchin ya at it?”

“Used to, but now I jist do it when ever and where ever I like. Ta heck with ‘em if they don’t like it.”

“So… you write too.”

“Yep.”

###

“So yer sayin’ everyone does this?”

“Yep.”

“Shorty?”

“Gosh, yes. Can’t help herself. Even likes to do it with friends. Does it real heartfelt.”

“What about CJ?”

“CJ will do it when no one is lookin’ and even when they are.”

“Does Aussie do it?”

“Oh, yeah. You can learn a lot from Aussie. Really gets down under. Does it real meaningful like.”

“Is there a wrong way to do it?”

“No, Kid, that’s the beauty of it. It’s all good. Just do what feels right for you.”

“What will people think, I mean…”

“Ah, Kid, just write already.”

 

###10

What the Blazes?

“Hey Shorty. That’s a fine fire you got there. Cookin’ somethin’ up? Bacon sure would be nice.”

“No, ain’t cookin’.”

“Oh… Cold?”

“No, I ain’t cold.”

“Oh… Scarin’ away coyotes?”

“No, ain’t seen any sign of coyotes.”

“Shorty, why’n heck you got this here fire blazin’ away if you ain’t cookin’, ain’t cold, and ain’t worried about coyotes?”

“Let’s just say this fire is for anyone who is hungry, or cold, or worried about coyotes. A welcome to set a spell. Share stories.”

“A beckoning beacon.”

“Exactly.”

“Still, some bacon would be nice.”

“Here, have a carrot.”

“Raw?”

“Raw.”

###9

De Fence

“Sorry Shorty, I thought it was apple juice. I didn’t get into the fray, just steerin’ the Kid here to the bunkhouse.”

“That’s quite a shiner. What happened, Kid?”

“I showed ‘em, that’s what happened. I said, ‘Shorty ain’t ‘fraid of nothin’ ‘ and I mighta punctuated my meanin’ with a left hook.”

“Your left hook was more of a question mark, Kid, but that was quite the exclamation point you took to the eye. Shorty, I thought the Kid knew they said frayed, not ‘fraid.”

“Oh, it’ll be alright. Kid, sometimes we’re all afraid and frayed.”

“Yeah?”

“ ’Fraid so.”

###8

Transmission to Transition              

“Kid, you gotta grin a mile long on that face a yours.”

“ ‘Less I’m dreamin’, Shorty’s back!”

“Yep, I saw. She brought us flowers from the prairie, by gosh.”

“She’s been on walkabout.”

“Walkabout? You been talkin’ with Aussie?”

“Well, it has been kind of a vision quest for Shorty, ain’t it?”

“I reckon so. She’s been runnin’ down a dream alright.”

“Well now what?”

“There’s work involved in a dream coming true, Kid.”

“I know. What can we do to help?”

“Shorty will keep us posted. In the mean time, dream along.”

“Dreamin’ big as a prairie sky!”

 ###7

One Fine Dawn at The Ranch            

“I miss Shorty’s cookin’.”

“Well, Shorty’s busy. You’ll just have to make do.”

“I guess. And I ‘spose things are goin’ along pretty good. That was a first rate round up last week.”

“Yeah, it was Kid. There’re some mighty fine wranglers around here.”

“Shorty’s talkin’ to the bank?”

“Somethin’ like that. She’s gonna make the ranch even better, better for all of us.”

“Will we have our own brand?”

“Somethin’ like that Kid. It’s gonna be quite a spread.”

“But who’s gonna pay, Pal?”

“Was that a hint?”

“Somethin’ like that.”

“Drink yer milk.”

“I miss Shorty’s cookin’.”

 ###6

Up and At ‘Em!                                      

 “Come on Kid, up and at ‘em.”

“Uhhnn. Where’s Shorty at anyway? I heard she mighta went into town.”

“You heard, you heard. Ever heard of herdin’ cattle?”

“Shorty’s in town, probly playin’ cards, havin’ fun.”

“Hush. Shorty’s busy. And she might be gambling, but it’s a serious game she’s playin’.”

“Anyway, I heard Shorty’s at the rodeo.”

“Well you heard right. She is, and it ain’t her first time neither. This one’s big.”

“With Shorty away, what can we do?”

“We’ll do what we do.”

“Yee haw! Time to play with words.”

“That’s it Kid. Round ‘em up.”

 ###5

Branding Time        

“Shorty’s boss? I thought Shorty was in charge of the chuckwagon.”

“Shorty’s trail boss too. She knows roundup like no other. She’s the ridin’est, ropin’est wrangler out here on the range.”

“I hear she wants to grow the ranch, expand the brand.”

“Yup.”

“In a setting like this, we characters oughtta rob a bank, hold up a train. Git money for the Ranch.“

“Now Kid, Shorty don’t need that kinda trouble. Snap outta character and just hit the paypal button.”

“Yeah, I will. ‘Cause I like the content at this here ranch.”

“Don’t you mean contentment?”

“Yeah, that too.”

 ###4

Shorty’s Close Shave

“Tell it agin, Shorty.”

“Yeah, tell it agin. Were they rustlers?”

“No, way I heard it, it weren’t rustlers, it was a dude, thinkin’ this was a dude ranch. But Shorty, she ain’t no greenhorn, she saw through, ran ‘em off the ranch.”

“Yeah, Shorty she recognized mechanical bull. Pulled the plug on it.”

“Yee ha! ‘Cause what’s next, astro-turf on the range? That ain’t welcoming.”

“Well, now if ya’ll would pipe down, maybe Shorty could tell it again.

“Yeah. Shorty?”

“I told enough already. Be authentic. Be yourselves. And when you wrangle, don’t get tangled in your rope.”

###3

 Where’s the Beef?                  

“Fifty musta’ made her cantankerous.”

Shorty just smiled. Even as they whined and complained they were checking cinches, adjusting stirrups. Getting ready.

“We’re not all country western singin’ cowgirls!”

“A short piece on longhorns! I’d rather a tall-tale than a longhorn.”

“Are there even any left?”

Shorty finally spoke. “There’re longhorns out there for you to wrangle and round up. Bring one back to the ranch on the hoof; raw, if you will.”

More grumbling but they were already mounted and ranging out. Shorty never used a stick, and knew that the carrot was simply a job raw done.

 ###2

 Wrangling                        

“Whoa there, Kid.”

“Guess I’m anxious to git ‘em to the Ranch.”

“You’ll git ‘em all there in good shape. Just watch for strays.”

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Shorty was busy at her chuckwagon. Shorty, who was of great stature, preferred the wagon to the cookhouse, liked to have her wheels ready to roll.

Shorty congratulated and cajoled the hands as they rode in from near and distant ranges. She noted the herd amassing in the corral, some branded, some a bit wild and unpredictable.

Hungry for Shorty’s nourishing comfort food, the hands milled around the chuckwagon.

“Carrots!”

###

Grub Stake

“Hey, Pal. Aussie was wonderin’ how to git the stakes up for the ranch.”

“That’s right, Kid.”

“Hey, Pal, what if we had like a contest, where you pay to play. But no judging. Anyone that wrangles is a winner.”

“And if you just come by to read you can pay too?”

“Yeah, I reckon’ anyone could pay. Unless they can’t. Or already did.”

“They probably already did.”

“Did you ante up?”

“I gave some.”

“Some is good, Pal.”

“Kid, my name ain’t Pal.”

“I know.”

“So stop calling me Pal. Or else.”

“What? You’ll make me pay, Pal?”

###1

Oasis            

The sky, sun-blistered blue, was punctuated by patient buzzards. Heat soaked, every rock and bit of sage shimmered, illusory to their uncertain eyes. So when they spotted it they stared, blinking and unsteady, wondering if it were real. They stumbled on.

Sounds of laughter and conversation drew them on. Finally they reeled through the gates. “Please”, they croaked. “We’re parched. Please, give us some words.”

In a flash the ranch hands refreshed them with words, cool and crisp. They gulped thirstily.

“Whoa, now. There’s plenty. Just take 99 at a time.”

“Wha- ?”

“I’m Shorty. Welcome to Carrot Ranch.”

 

3 thoughts on “Ranch Yarns

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