It’s Platform

Several writers have told me that what I’m trying to accomplish is called building a platform, not gallows.

I brought this up to Murgalump, but she’s unapologetic. She said that in my case gallows is the correct word.

I’m kinda sorry I committed to her costly retainer fees. She seems distant and unapproachable. I’m only to meet her on the first Wednesday of the month, Senior Day at Safeway. I push her cart, and she lets me pay for her groceries as part of her maintenance cost. However, she’s an agent, and I understand her need to spend most of her time with her published client, nine-year-old Freida Somethingorother who colors unicorns in comic books.

Rubbing elbows with the literati is nice.

Don’t Overheat the Mule

Roy hit the babe lottery. It wasn’t unusual for girls to call for him when he was out on a date. I was his secretary, answered the phone and took notes. I loved it since it was the only time girls talked to me.
I took lots of notes when he fell for a beautiful ranch girl and accepted an invitation to spend a weekend on a round-up. He had a friend among the cowboys who advised him to select the mule as his mount after the ranch hands cut out their personal horses.
He had a choice between the mule and a magnificent chestnut quarterhorse. Should he trust his friend or was he being set up as a tenderfoot? He would trust.
Grabbing a bridle, he approached the mule who turned away. Roy tried to push the animal into position, but at 18 hands, about 6 feet at the withers, and four hooves on the ground, it wasn’t happening. Roy went this way and that way but the mule kept turning, singing his Rocky Mountain Canary hee-haws as if he were laughing.
When one of the hands called out, “Hey, Roy. Don’t overheat the mule,” Roy knew he’d been had.
He saddled the chestnut and rode off in the company of Seldom Spoke Findlay.
They rode all morning before Seldom Spoke stopped, pointed to a landscape of ravines, brush, and pinion pines. “Round up everything in there and push ’em back to the ranch.”
“OK. Where will you be?”
Seldom Spoke pointed to the west, turned in that direction, spit a slug of tobacco juice that almost cleared his boot, and left.
Roy began his roundup.

Later we found out that the chestnut was blind in his right eye. Without another horse to follow, he would always circle left as he worked up and down the breaks and around the brush.
Roy was in the drop-off area the cowboys used for visiting riders. They knew they’d have to come back later and lead him out. It was the price they paid for their entertainment.

The day was long spent as weary ranch hands, sweat beads trailing clean lines down dusty faces, began arriving, herding their bunches into holding pens.
Each arrival watered his horse but left it saddled. They had yet to draw straws to see who was to get Roy.
Mile-high Fitz’s shadow was twice as long as his real altitude when he said, “I think I see something.”
The cowboys clambered to the top rail of the corral and perched like buzzards.
Yes. They could make it out a little. A horse and rider … and something else.

Ironically it was Seldom Spoke who told the bunkhouse boy to get the cook. “Cletus ain’t never seen nothing like this.”
The entire ranch population turned out to see Roy approaching in half-mile circles. Like the coils of a Slinky pushed sideways, each circle came closer to the ranch. He was herding a one-legged kangaroo. It was a perfect match. The marsupial leaped with his right leg pushing him left. The chestnut followed.

When they got close enough for the horse to lock in his bearings, he worked the kangaroo right on in.

For some reason, no one ever mentioned this particular roundup again. That’s a shame too. It’s certainly a western tale befitting Roy’s unique qualities. This one ending with Roy held in some admiration by slack-jawed cowboys as he entered a corral with a one-eyed horse, a one-legged kangaroo, and a laughing, under-heated mule.

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