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Wreck on the Highway

from the fountain pen of Will Thorpe

Baxter Black! Did somebody mention Baxter Black! Well as it just so happens I have made the acquaintance of that rhyming fellow known as Baxter Black, the Poet Lariat of Western Horseman Magazine. It was about 12 years ago. Me, Baxter Black, and world famous Peruvian horse trainer Don Pedro were a sittin on the front porch of Brighton Feed and Saddlery. That's in Brighton, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain State.

Every year Brighton Feed and Saddlery has their annual new, used, as is, and beat up saddle sale. This takes place in a tent on the prairie a next to the store which from on a clear day you can see Kansas 125 miles away. This gala event draws cowboys from near and far, more pickemuptrucks, more city slickers, more lies and more Coors beer than you can imagine. Now we was a sittin there signing autographs, me with my Red Parker Duofold Junior with the stub nib, Don Pedro with his Cross, and Baxter was a using a Sharpie! Mostly though me and Baxter was trying to outdo each other over who paid less for their genuine secondhand Hawaiian shirt bought from Teresita's Boutique.

Well all of a sudden up comes this Dude seeking Baxter's autograph! I'm telling you I was having trouble keeping my eyeballs from rolling on the porch. This Dude was a draggin a new tooled black leather saddle, bridle, bit, with enough hand worked silver ornamentation to make a hundred of those filet eyedrooper Waterman pens. Now the best part is that this Dude was wearing a black pure beaver $500 cowboy hat, a white silk shirt with black pearl snaps and smiley pockets, black Wranglers stuck into 18 inch tall top black and white Buckaroo boots, genuine silver Mexican spurs with little jing a bobs that sounded like the bells of Christmas with each step he took, and a belt buckle the size of a 1957 Chevy hubcap! Now this particular belt buckle had jewels the size of a dime embedded all over it and right square in the front was this 18KT gold buckin horse (probably made from melted down nibs). Wow! Whoo Hoooo!

Immediately Baxter leaps to his feet and as he scribbles his mark across a photo says " I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy." The Dude kind a smiles and says, "I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy too." Then both of them cut loose singing "We see by our outfits that we are both cowboys." Now at this point my ears are a hurtin, the dogs are howlin, and the cat with no tail has jumped into the back of Joe Bobs 1941 blue Dodge pickemuptruck with the wooden bed and black fenders. I can suffer no more of this so I jump up and holler "I'm gonna get myself an outfit and be a cowboy too!" Then out of the corner of my squinty trail wise eye I spy it, right there in that smiley pocket, a starring me in the face, that big white star sitting on top of 3 pounds of puree black vegetable residue, a Montblanc 149 fountain pen.

So I say, "I see by your outfit that you are a fountain pen man." The Dude looks at my Red Parker Duofold Junior with the stub nib, kind of smiles and says, "I see by your outfit that you are a fountain pen man too." Where upon he unholsters that 149 and proceeds to autograph his name right across the front of my 1937 R.T. Frazier saddle catalog, in the most vivid red ink I've ever seen. I was a gonna mention something about the value of my now useless antique catalog but didn't cause I was shocked by the sight of that right oblique Flex nib, I'm thinking it's a Mottishaw custom job. The Dude holds the 149 up and says, "it matches my shirt." Oh No! A triple C (Color Coordinated Cowboy), I keep looking for the Rexall brand cause I know this boy is straight off the stool from the nearest drug store.

I notice that Don Pedro has quietly put on his sunglasses hoping that no one will actually associate him with this tasteless rendition of Prairie Home Companion!

Then this Dude says ever so casually, "I've bought me a saddle, do you suppose there is some way I can try it out?" Now I'm about to lecture this fellow on proper saddle fitting techniques when I notice Baxter's' eyeballs. They were a dartin back and forth from me to somewhere around the corner like a little ping pong ball. His mouth was all puckered up and his head was a jerking back and forth like a tick was biting his ear. It occurred to me that Baxter was tryin to tell me something. I sort of leaned to the left to see what it was Baxter was so all fired interested in. Then I spied it, then I gazed upon it, I took the entire situation in at one glance. There tied up to the back of a pickemuptruck was a mule. Not just any mule. The granddaddy of all mules. Big, maybe 17 hands (68 inches tall at the back), ugly gray with little pig eyes, lower lip sticking out like a mud flap, ears the size of swim fins, feet that looked like dinner plates, tail clamped between his legs, a hide that looked like a well used ink blotter, and an attitude that said "go ahead, make my day!" Believe its name was "Killer."

Yes sir boys and girls I could in a flash see it comin and knew what was about to take place right there at the annual Brighton Feed and Saddlery Used Saddle Sale. Before anybody could say Yippee Ti Yi Yo Baxter, me and Don Pedro had that bridle and saddle on Killer. Don Pedro gave that cinch a jerk that made Killers tongue stick out. Baxter handed the reins to the Dude and said "Go ahead, take her for a spin." The Dude said "Don't mind if I do." As the Dude stuck that 18 inch tall top Buckaroo boot in the custom stirrup and swung up into that tooled black leather saddle Don Pedro and I backed away real fast, so far away and so fast that we collided with the side of Joe Bobs 1941 blue Dodge pickemuptruck. This plumb startled the cat without a tail who leaped through what used to be the truck back window and landed right squarely on ol Joe Bob who was taking a little siesta.

Joe Bob came alive when that cat dug into his back. The screaming and a hissing and a cussin and a horn blowing sounded like the Fourth of July. Well that was a to much for Killer. He knew he was about to get ate by a blue 1941 Dodge pickemuptruck so he just EXPLODED!!! Yep, he put that head down and just leaped about four feet into thin air, he was a twisting, a buckin, a jumpin, a sky walking (repeat after me, real low, shake, rattle and roll), a snorting and a hee hawing to beat all get out. I seen the Dude just kind of smile and slam those genuine silver Mexican spurs, with little jing a bobs that sounded like the bells of Christmas with each step he took, into the sides of ol Killer. Aaaand they're offff!

The race was on. Killer blew out of there faster than a loose tumbleweed, leaped right over the cattle guard and hit the pavement on a dead run. He turned South on North Main and it was downtown Brighton here we come! We piled into the back of Joe Bobs 1941 Dodge and gave chase. Following us was several big Ford four door dually's, a GMC half ton, a couple of Chevy's, several high dollar vehicles and a blue Volkswagon beetle! Mufflers roaring, air horns blowing, thigh slapping cowboys screaming "Get along little doggie, ride em cowboy, yee haw." Now the closer we got the more scared ol Killer got and the faster he went.

He blew by Val's Café and started to round the curve heading into downtown Brighton. Baxter mentioned that he was real impressed with the riding ability of the Dude by saying "Will you look at that som of a buck ride!" Yep it came to me then, the belt buckle, I thought it looked kind of familiar, it was a National Finals Rodeo Championship Bronc Busting Trophy Buckle! I thought maybe to save everybody some embarrassment I'd just keep this little knowd fact to myself for awhile. Then I heard it.

Oh My Lord. It's getting closer, it's coming around the bend on Cabbage Avenue, it's heading our way. Pull up Joe Bob, rein in! Too late, as I gazed over the top of the truck I could see the glint of hundreds of headlights, pony tails flying, gold teeth glinting in the sun, shiny black leather jackets, chains and chrome, the rumble and the roar of hundreds of big Harley Davidson motorcycles. The Rocky Mountain Riders coming around the bend on their annual high speed non-stop run to Deadwood, South Dakota. There's trouble on the trail ahead pardner.

Stop Joe Bob Stop! Joe Bob stops, he puts the brake pedal to the floor and we stop, right there in front of Angelos All U Can Eat Chile Bar. Unfortunately all those good ol boys behind us weren't as quick on the brakes and we proceeded to bash some bumpers, break headlights, smash grills, bust radiators, blow some tires and just generally shorten that convoy measurably. Now the view from the Rocky Mountain Riders whiskey shot eyeball perspective must have been something. Killer being chased by a whole remuda of high dollar pickemuptrucks. I saw them bike riders stand straight up in the saddle and smash brakes to the ground. Folks we had Harleys everywhere. On their sides, in the ditches, upside down, wheels a turning, riders a groaning, smoke, dust, gold teeth scattered all around, one bike in Angelos bar. It indeed was a WRECK ON THE HIGHWAY.

Now these two simultaneous catastrophes were just too much for Killer, he gave it up. He locked up all four legs, planted those dinner size hoofs in that 110 degree asphalt and ceased to have any forward locomotion, except for the Dude. With what I thought was a smile on his face the Dude sailed ever so gracefully right over top of ol Killers swim fin ears and landed flat on the highway, face down, right on that white silk shirt with black pearl snaps and color coordinated Montblonc 149 fountain pen. Yep, there were a sparks coming from that belt buckle as he plowed up the pavement. He stopped about 10 feet from the lead biker. So the biker who looked a lot like a 285 pound Robo Cop in black leather and chrome, wearing a WW II army helmet, stomps over, flips up the wrap around mirrored sunglasses and says, "are you hurt you crazy no good som of a buck?'

The Dude rolls over, and having his priorities straight, reaches up and feels that his Montblanc 149 fountain pen is flattened like a cow pie, with about 2 quarts of red ink spreading across his shirt, and lets out a monumental groan. The biker seeing that big vivid red ooze says "Oh my Lord you're hurt bad boy!' The Dude just kind of smiles, hops up and says, "That's OK, I've been hurt before." Where upon the biker faints dead away right there in front of Angelos All U Can Eat Chile Bar. Baxter jumps up and says "Hey Dude, you rode the mule down here so you got to ride him back!"

It was at this time that I said to Don Pedro "Say, would you mind if I wear the sunglasses awhile?"

And to this day boys and girls that spot on the highway in front of Angelos All U Can Eat Chile Bar is famous for the wreck on the highway, look for monument number 4810 in the shape of a snow-capped mountain.

Keep your cinch tight and don't squat on your spurs Buckaroos and Buckarettes.

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