!I wrapped the leather strap around my wrist until it was good and tight. My hat was pulled down as far as it would go and I adjusted my chaps. I was known for my hat always being on my head at the end of my rides, something I was proud of.
It was 1937 and I was leading in points for the all around cowboy award with only two more events to go before the end of the season.
Barring any unforeseen accidents, I was a shoo in to beat Mike Scanlon who had won the title three years running. I looked forward to getting the silver buckle, silver studded saddle and bridle as well as the nice check that was waiting for the winner. Saying nothing about a chance of crawling in the sack with that little rodeo queen from Austin who was sitting in the crowd today.
It was Austin Texas and it was hot. Austin is a rodeo town, a breeding ground for the rodeo, not just for animals, but for the men who ride them as well. I am an outsider, from Wisconsin and nobody from Wisconsin had won this title. I am going to be the first.
I wiggled my seat around on the back of the big two thousand pound Corrientes bull named Casper, squeezing his sides with my legs to let him know I am taking over today. The bull rolled his eyes back and looked up at me the best he could in the tight chute as if to say, “I’m ready for you. Everyone else thought they could stay on me for eight seconds but nobody has lasted more than two and you won’t be any different.”
What Casper didn’t know was that I had been studying him all season. Oh, he is one tough son of a bitch alright, but I noticed that every time he shot out of the chute, he turned to the right and dropped his head and gave one helluva twist then he would surprise everybody and turn back to the left; but I would be ready for it today; it didn’t take much to outsmart a dumb ol’ bull. Eight seconds to fame. It doesn’t sound like much time but when you are on the back of a beast like this, it feels like an eternity.
I looked up and scanned the area in front of me. The little rodeo queen from Austin was sitting in the front row off to the left of the chute and next to her was former President Teddy Roosevelt and the famous Chief Quantah Parker, both big rodeo fans. I also noticed the three rodeo clowns standing behind the barrels in the middle of the arena chatting with one another. I looked down one last time and checked my wrap and smiled at Hap Schultz, my team roping partner and header, who was standing on the railing next to me.
“Give ‘em hell Max. It’s been one helluva season. One these damn Texans will never forget.”
I didn’t say anything, but turned toward the front of the chute and nodded to the boy at the gate. He slipped the latch and ol’ Casper burst out like someone had just put a hot poker up his ass. I was leaning to the right, anticipating his first move when he surprised the ever lovin’ crap outta me by turning left. He dropped his head digging his nose in the dirt and twisted his massive body, bringing his hindquarters nearly up to his nose.
Before I knew it I was flying off his back with my right wrist still securely wrapped around the leather strap that surrounded his girth.
My feet hit the ground like they were shot from a cannon. My hat flew off my head for the first time that season but that was the least of my worries as I felt my wrist snap. I was bouncing along with Casper, my feet touching the ground every time his hindquarters landed and lifting off every time he kicked up. I kept pumping my legs running as fast as I could, trying to keep up with him and keep myself from falling. If I fell, he would drag me around the arena and I would end up shredded like a head of lettuce.
Then Casper lived up to his reputation of being one mean son of a bitch as he slammed me up against the wall right in front of the little rodeo queen from Austin. Not once, but three times, breaking my ribs and busting my nose. It was as if he knew I had my eyes on that gal and he was letting her and me know that I wasn’t that tough cowboy I thought I was. Where in the hell are those damn rodeo clowns, I thought as Casper slammed me one more time for good measure. I felt my left eye swell up and close.
The last thing I remember was my wrap finally loosening up and me high flying it in the air over the arena and looking down at the astonished look on the face of that little rodeo queen from Austin and me wondering if I ever would end up in the sack with her.