by Paul D
A story of the old west.
|“Please Granda, not another western story,” Jori pleaded.
“I promised your mother I would tell you a story every night before bedtime.”
“How about a sci-fi adventure?” Lori questioned.
“Oh, posh, sci-fi is just western writ large.”
“What's that mean?” the twins asked in unison.
“It means that science fiction is actually a western in space.”
“No way, Granda,” Lori protested.
“They both have good guys and bad guys.”
Jori laughed. “That's true of most stories.”
“The good guys wear white and the bad guys black.”
“Oh, Granda, that is so lame.” Lori laughed.
“Okay, enough of defending westerns. I will tell you the story of The Laughing Cow.”
* * *
“Jack always wore black. Even his tongue was black, but it's likely because of the black licorice he was always chewing on. See, a traditional cowboy always has a chaw in his mouth, but tobacco is bad for you – even in stories.”
“So is candy, Granda,” the twins said in unison.
“Shush, I'm telling the story, and you still need to be in bed on time – lest you turn into pumpkins.”
“Jill always wore white. Even her tongue was white, probably from the white chocolate she savored so much, but after punching cows all day, her clothes were more like one shade less than black.
"Now, The Laughing Cow was a saloon that served milk and other kid friendly drinks.”
“That's a funny name,” Jori exclaimed.
“Quiet, the story will never get done,” Lori complained.
“Now, the patrons in the saloon were always egging on one another in various contests. One of their favorites was spittooning.”
“What's that?” asked Lori.
“Spitting into a container from various distances.”
“Oh, yuck, I don't think mama would like you telling us that in a story,” Jori complained.
“Oops, sorry, I forgot about your mama's delicate nature. Anyway, another favorite activity was racing. They would have horse races--”
“In the saloon?” Jori screeched.
Granda laughed. “Certainty not – that was for outside as were foot races, turtle races, and even snail races.”
Lori giggled. “Snail races? Gross.”
“Tell us about a foot race,” Jori pleaded.
“Jack loved to brag about how he was so fleet of foot that he could even out run a horse. Everyone thought that was truly funny. Jill said, 'I don't even need a horse to beat you.'
“Jack laughed at her words. 'What are you willing to bet?'
“'If I win, you leave town and never come back. If you win, I'll be the one to leave.'
“Jack spat in his hand and shook hers and said, 'Done and done'.”
Jori and Lori both sat forward from their squatting position on the floor. Granda always told his stories with different voices as well as making sounds to match the action. They were truly held now by his mesmerizing voice.
“Jill said, 'I want to make this race memorable: one that people through the ages will tell their children.'
“Jack laughed. 'I just want to knock your socks off. Who cares what others say?'
“Jill put her hands on her hips and stomped her feet. 'I care, so this is what we are going to do.'
“When she finished her explanation, Jack said, 'You've got to be kidding.'
“'What are you a scaredy cat?'
“Now, Jack turned red in the face and shouted, 'Dem's fightin' words. Get your bucket of water, and let's get it on'.”
Jori and Lori giggled. “Are they going to throw water on each other?” Lori asked.
“Shh," Jori said, “Let Granda continue.”
“They left The Laughing Cow, each holding a full to the brim wooden bucket of water. The sheriff called for quiet and explained the rules.
“'Listen up all you varmits. Anyone who interferes with this race will be tossed in jail and put on a diet of roaches and worms for a month'.”
“Eww, that is so gross,” Jori said, making a yucky face.
“'Jack and Jill will each carry their buckets of water and run as fast as possible to the hill at the edge of town. They will continue up the hill and back down, returning to the saloon. In the event of a tie, whoever has the most water left in their bucket will be the winner. Runners, take your mark.'
“Now the sheriff drew his big gun; it was so big that sometimes he used it for a cane. He pointed into the air and shouted, 'Bang.' There was a town ordinance that prohibited the discharge of firearms in the town limits.”
Jori and Lori burst out laughing.
“Jack and Jill took off running with the water in their buckets, sloshing up and down; they were both getting soaking wet. Neither one could get more than a step from the other. 'I'll beat you when we start up the hill,' Jill said.
“'Ha,' Jack said, 'not in a million years. I am going to leave you in my dust.'
“'If you taken a bath this month, you wouldn't leave so much dust,' Jill snapped.”
Lori giggled. “You are so funny, Granda.”
“Jack turned red; Jill's words were too close to the truth; a real cowboy eschewed baths on principal, except for on special occasions.”
“What does chewed baths mean?” Jori asked.
“The word is 'eschewed.' It means he hated taking baths. Jack and Jill finally reached the hill. Now, this was no itty bitty hill; nope, it was tall, and they both huffed and puffed--”
“Granda, huffing and puffing belongs to that other story,” Jori protested.
“They both struggled in that run up the hill, which became more of a slow walk; neither one of them had any breath left to say anything. By the time they reached the top of the hill, they were panting for air, and neither one was ahead yet. Jack puffed out, 'L – last o – one back is a rotten egg, too.'
“Jack took a step, tripped, and landed on the crown of his black hat. He sat there and looked in disbelief at his destroyed prized possession. 'Oh no, not my hat!'
“A cowboy's hat was almost as important as their horse, and while Jack sat and cried over his hat, Jill ran down the hill and arrived at the saloon first.
“Jack left town and never came back, but Jill's wish came true, and even today everyone knows the true story of Jack and Jill, going up that hill.”
Jori and Lori laughed and clapped their hands. “Tell it again, tell it again, Granda,” they pleaded.
“It's bed time. I'll tell another western story tomorrow.”
They both groaned. “Please, Granda, anything but another western,” they both shouted.
Author's note: when my children were small, I would often tell them stories. I didn't read them, but I did act them out, and they were always fun; this was not one of them.