I always start to bed at 10:15, which means brushing teeth, showering, and thinking for a while! She, my close relative, is already in there, reading exciting books about new recipes or working on crosswords. It is one of the nice times; no one wants me, no one wants to know what I'm doing and it only takes about five minutes to think! It was exactly 10:15 and the weather was iffy, so I was gone!
The phone rang, and she answered. "It's for you, Bill."
I figured cows out and on the highway and maybe clear to Tulsa! That starts the blood pumping and the fight-or-flight gland overacting! So I started pulling on the pants and running at the same time to answer the landline! I said hello and was surprised to hear Beth Oliver say she was calling for George and he needed help! I said I'd be there, and she said to come to the first gate to their place and turn east. I said I'd like to know why and she hung up!
Well, that was weird, but I was now on the mission, boots on and looking for a coat. I yelled I was going to the Oliver place, and she said something, so I ran and found the pickup and took off. I was at our entry gate when I thought about the call. What in the world was the problem? I am not gifted in medicine or strength, so what am I needed for? I cruised the fourteen miles very quickly and was glad not to meet Pete, our local highway patrolman.
The road was very light through the short grass from the gate. I was careful and found it really difficult to manage to follow. Finally, I came over a rise and saw lights on an overturned vehicle and knew the what! I could see lots of people and then the upside-down covered truck. Looked like a bakery wagon had hit a washed-out hole and flipped over.
Beth was at my door and ready to say everyone was OK, no one was injured, but something was really crazy about this scene! The cattle were milling around the outskirts of the wreckage and I could see George as I got both feet on the ground, and he was really mad! He was a terrifying figure at 6 feet, 4 inches, and about 250 pounds of solid muscle, glaring at a couple of dirty and bedraggled-looking guys. The one was skinny, and the other one hefty, and both were scared!
George was ready to kill both of them, barehanded and now! I walked carefully into his space and smiled. Now was not the time for anything else from me! I knew one swat would put me out of order, and maybe I was sort of gonna cool the whole incident off! That sounds mixed up because I was! I said hello to George and we met eyes, and he relaxed somewhat. We stepped back and faced the outside ring of light, and he took a deep breath. He took his hat off and rubbed his face and finally said hello.
We talked a minute, nice evening and not too cool and I was sweating! Then it poured out that the two fellers had come into the place from the neighboring place on the east, grabbed two of the calves a couple of days old, and had them in the old beat-up bakery van. A fast ride back the way they came was in progress when they hit the washout, turning calves into their laps and bruising many pounds of flesh!
A neighbor feeding hay after work heard the noise of the vehicle and then the crash and remembered to call George after he got through feeding, two hours later. Beth just knew George was gonna kill someone, and so she called me because I am a sweet talker! Well, anyway, I did quiet George down enough to call Pete and save the rustlers!
That was the whole story, and I am here to say George is a powerful lot of man to face when he is angry!
The lights in the kitchen were on, and the pickups told me the boys had been notified to come see about their old man! She called both of them, and they were walking out as I got there. No telling what they thought or if they even knew where the Oliver place was, but she was on the ball rescuing me!
Lessons learned were interesting. Some folks are gonna do stupid things, and some men will resort to violence before they think. Stealing things worked hard for will rile a red-blooded trusting man! Old west law said they could be hung for rustling! The most a feller can count on now is a fine and a short time in custody.
I took a little longer to think this time when preparing my nightly ritual. It was a long time from when the last light was off until I closed my mind and relaxed. I let myself stew over the deal for a while and thought of our own cattle off by themselves but finally slept!
The fishing seems fairly good, so take a break in the warm January weather and wet a hook! I am going to fish this evening!
Remember the Alamo and keep classified material in the safe!
Bill is the pen name of the Gravette area author of this weekly column. Opinions expressed are those of the author.