Non-fiction, 700 words
by amy elizabeth
Selling saddles and tack the last few days brought many different characters to my ranch, and one fella especially stood out from all the rest. Most came with a specific agenda, but there was one thing they all had in common, finding a bargain.
My plan was to give them just that, by throwing in free extras to close the deal. Extras meaning, bridles that had seen better days or saddle bags that were old and worn out. Generally tack that was leaning more towards junk than anything else. But, you know the ol’ saying…. “One man’s garbage…” so I figured any still useable tack was handy to a horseman in a pinch, especially if it’s free. But there was plenty of worthless tack too, headstalls with missing pieces, no hardware, or bad leather. That quickly was deemed unsalable and was pitched in a trash pile in the corner of the sale barn.
An ol’ cowboy who looked like he’d also seen better days was my first customer. He was probably the only one I really remember, not only for what he bought, but the fact that he showed up at the ranch near 9pm. That was already odd.
By some miracle his beat up old pick-up held together long enough to carry him across town to my sale. But I wasn’t resting easy wondering if tonight, in my driveway, was going to be it’s final resting place. His decrepit side door screeched in agony as the old man labored in his exit. And there he stood, the picture of yesteryear’s cow punchin’ good ol’ boy. His traditional cowboy duds were frayed and faded from the sun. His wranglers had that grimy shinny look in all the right places labeling him 100% cowboy authentic. I didn’t need to look any further to know he’d be wearing spurs, but I did… and he was.
One half of his face was hidden by a large brimmed sweat stained cowboy hat, the other behind a long bushy silver beard. His gray hair rested on his shoulders… in unsightly strands of chaos.
Most folks wouldn’t have taken kindly to his appearance, but I’m not most folks, and I liked him. I saw a living cowboy storybook, pages and pages of unwritten stories were tucked under that fellas hat, and the best kind too… real.
I left him alone as he rummaged through the sale tack. He was a man of few words, and his face was unreadable. Whatever it was he hoped to find was certainly a mystery, but it didn’t matter. I really wasn’t expecting much buying from this vintage ol’ hand anyway.
It was now close to 10pm and the cowboy said he’d be back in a little while. Again… odd. But I agreed, even though he hadn’t shown much interest in anything but an old rawhide bull whip which belonged to me – and labeled not for sale.
I was surprised when he actually did come back, more than awhile later… with an ice cream cone in his hand. His truck had miraculously made another trip without blowing up, and he didn’t seem to have a care in the world, especially about time. So once again I opened up the sale barn for the cowboy. And where here does he go? Straight to the pile of useless tack deemed for the trash.
He’s busy picking out spurs with no rowels, and dry-rot leather items worth absolutely nothing, at least in my opinion. I didn’t know what to do and there really wasn’t anything to say at this point either. I decided my junk was obviously worth something to him and would just accept whatever he offered.
He picked a few things from the pile, set them aside and said, “How much?”
Before I could sort my thoughts and answer, the cowboy and his clunky spurs headed straight for a Porter Rope Saddle across the way, best one I had. He pulled it off the saddle rack and handed me cash, full asking price.
He tipped his hat, gave me that cowboy way kind’a nod, picked up his free items in question… and he was gone.