Cowboy Writer

By Mark Henderson

Some of you might think that writing for a living is, well…actually, I haven’t a clue what you think about being a writer. I am an author, and I do like to write. Interestingly enough, I also like to eat. So does my son, Matt. So does my feral kitty, Kitty.

Occasionally, writing buys the vittles; more often though, I resort to my many cool skills that don’t have a thing to do with writing, other than providing a rich tapestry upon which to draw material. One such cool skill is ranch-handin’.

Texas Longhorn

A couple weeks back, I had just finished a two-month technical writing project worth a good chunk of change, but it didn’t pay out until a month AFTER final deliverable. Therefore, I was forced once again to use my road change collection in order for Matt, Kitty, and I to eat. Zeroed out on food, money, and purt’near fuel, the phone rang, and—thank you God!–I went back to ranch-handin’…again.

That particular day, it was running about 40 degrees F and drizzle-raining—typical East Texas winter. Well, I was out there all day in the slop and cold, repairing fence and chasin’ ornery bovines, and thanking God every minute!

On the upside, even though all alone, I was cultivating my Jack Palance persona of a grizzled cowboy breathin’ steam in my sheep wool-lined Levis jacket and cowboy hat with a little mud, blood, and East Texas “snow” dripping off the brim, gloves torn up by barbed wire and brush, and beard dribbled with a little of all of the above. However, this persona was proven a facade when–as I was hunkered down straining to pull twine out from under a round bale at the end of a long, cold, solitary day–I felt a warm nose and hot breath down the back of my neck.

Now, without belaboring my very surprised thoughts of what the source of this warmth might have been focused on, I imagined a T-Rex, or a Bigfoot, or a rogue Texas bear, or some other insidious miscreant meaning me no little harm. So, I reacted like any grizzled Texas cowboy would: By squealing like a schoolgirl, shooting up that bale of hay until I ran out of footing, launching myself a good eight or nine feet into the air, boots wailing as if I was trying out for a part in “E.T.” (the movie) without a bicycle. From this vantage point of relative, albeit temporary, safety, I was able to turn my head to glimpse the commotion (which sounded like a thundering herd) I’d just narrowly escaped. Much to my surprise, I saw my hat suspended in the air spinning above the boot-prints from whence I’d launched in bit of a hurry, two ponies hell-bent for another county, and about 30 or so Longhorns stampeding in every direction.

Well, whatever it was that snuck up on me and nuzzled me in the neck was gone, thank God, and then I plop-landed in some soft poop-mud avoiding any further damage to me, personally.

I retrieved my hat that had taken a bit of a beating in all the commotion and mayhem and stampeding around. I knocked off the hay-mud-poop chunkage, bent out the hoof-print, and put it back on. However, it just didn’t feel the same. I don’t ever remember Jack Palance or John Wayne or Clint Eastwood squealing like a schoolgirl. But then again, I don’t ever remember a Bigfoot sneaking up and blowing a warm kiss down the back of one of their necks on a cold, lonely day, either. I’m just glad nobody had a video camera.
©Mark Henderson, 2013

To read more hilarious musings (while you’re resting by the fireplace) of writer-runner Mark Henderson, check out his one-of-a-kind running humor book, Running, And Other Bad Habits!  It won’t make you run any faster, smarter, or prettier, but it will make you laugh all the way to the nearest Port-O-Let!