In Honor of July 25th - National Day of the Cowboy
Three of Three – Johnny
Usual Disclaimers Apply
Rated: NC17 for Language and Adult Content
~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~
I don't know why I act the way I do
Like I ain't got a single thing to lose
Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy
I guess that's just the cowboy in me
I got a life that most would love to have
But sometimes I still wake up fightin' mad
At where this road I'm heading down might lead
I guess that's just the cowboy in me
The urge to run, the restlessness
The heart of stone I sometimes get
The things I've done for foolish pride
The me that's never satisfied
The face that's in the mirror when I don't like what I see
I guess that's just the cowboy in me
Girl I know there's times you must have thought
There ain't a line you've drawn I haven't crossed
But you set your mind to see this love on through
I guess that's just the cowboy in you
We ride and never worry about the fall
I guess that's just the cowboy in us all
Nod to Tim McGraw’s “The Cowboy in Me” Lyrics
YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39TDrahPr3I
~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~
Johnny listened with relevance to the tune a lonesome cowboy was singing low as the cowboy strummed his guitar in the Painted Lady saloon in Green River. Johnny was alone as he drank a measure of tequila, enjoying the slow burning sensation. The tune and the words were haunting him as they hit home. “The urge to run, the restlessness, the heart of stone I sometimes get, the things I've done for foolish pride, the me that's never satisfied, the face that's in the mirror when I don't like what I see, I guess that's just the cowboy in me.” He was captivity by the words and sat back to reflect the song’s full meaning and how it echoed his very thoughts.
How many times since his arrival in Morro Coyo six months ago did Johnny wonder why he stayed?
How many times had he thought about the road he had followed when it was time to pony up and show his hand to Day Pardee who had been trying to bulldoze his ol’ man off of his land? Well, shit it was their land now. Murdoch’s and Scott’s...and mine too.
Was he meant to be a rancher, a cowboy for the remainder of his life? Was this his destiny?
Did he like what his new life had to offer? The punchin’ of cows, the endless miles of fixin’ fences, the back breakin’ movin’ bales of hay instead of roamin’ from town to town lookin’ for the best deal?
Hell at least when he was a gunslinger people knew his name and got out of his way. Now he just blended in with the crowd of good, decent, hard-working citizens getting by, taking each day as it came.
Did he like himself more as Johnny Madrid or Johnny Lancer? Which one would win out in his own internal struggle? The urge to run? His restlessness? Would he ever figure out how to be satisfied with his new life? Could he settled down and be just a cowboy? A land owner? A brother? A son? He just didn’t have any answers.
“Dios!,” he said out loud, he knew better than to drink alone, especially when melancholy hit him but Scott was off on a business trip to Sacramento. While Johnny and Murdoch had traded yet another heated exchange of insults and loud differences of opinions over something so stupid, so damn trivial as where to stack the hay bales in the barn. “Who cares?” Seems lately that no matter what Johnny did, nothing ever quite made Murdoch satisfied by his efforts. He would do what seemed right to him as partial owner and partner in the vast ranch. And the ol’ man would chew his ass out over not “consultin’ with him first.”
“Shit!” he never consulted before with anyone in his life and he had warned Murdoch back in the beginning that “I never was much good at takin’ orders.” Hell hadn’t he taken a bullet proving that point to his ol’ man, to Scott, to the hands and to himself? Johnny had been pretty much of a loner most of his young life. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, how he wanted and with who he wanted or was it whom (where the hell was Scott when he needed help with “proper” English?) and not beholding or answering to anybody but his face in the mirror. This was his creed; it suited him just fine, ever since he took up his first six-shooter at ten years of age, thank-you very much.
So why did he let Murdoch get under his skin so badly? Why did he even give a shit what that ol’ man thought about him? Hadn’t he already told him to “think what ya like” about him?
After their last loud shouting match, where Teresa and Maria stayed put in the kitchen, as a few things were thrown to the floor by both Murdoch and Johnny in their pissed off state of mind over who was the bigger of the two squabbling dogs. Johnny stopped when he saw Murdoch turn green as he held that damn mast ship in his hands. He carefully set it back down, as he checked his temper and stomped out the French doors to mount his faithful Barranca, riding away like the wind under the ol’ man’s precious arch. Dust be damned if it filtered into the hacienda. He turned Barranca towards Green River, figuring that Murdoch or Teresa or Cip would track him down during their planned trip into Morro Coyo, forcing him to ride back home with them. He would go home if and when he was damn good and ready. Nothing would make him do otherwise.
And he was no way near ready to go home, he was pissed and planned on staying that way for the foreseeable future. Damn Murdoch Lancer to hell with his “tune calling! Johnny wasn’t any runny snot-nose; sniffling, little brat who needed to run home to papa every time something didn’t work out for the ol’ man to fix it. Hell the ol’ man was as far as Johnny was concerned, what needed fixin’.
Seeking and preferring solitude from family and local acquaintances he figured Green River was the best choice for him to go drown his sorrows in a bottle of tequila. Maybe he would escort one of the girls upstairs to get some physical relief, take the rough edges off his current state of mind. Shit, maybe he’d take two of them this time; make a party out of it.
But here he sat; listening to the singer’s bittersweet song, he asked him to sing it again and again until he knew the words by heart and if pressed could probably pick it out on a guitar. Fortunately it was a small crowd at the Painted Lady, being early for a Friday afternoon to start any heavy-duty drinking. It would be several hours before the Painted Lady’s patrons grew in number and the place started jumping with excitement and more spirited dancin’ tunes from the little band that came in every Friday and Saturday nights. So far for now the small group of patrons minded their own business, giving Johnny Lancer his space, not wanting to crowd him and get his hot temper flaring.
Johnny poured tequila shots for the cowboy and himself as he listened to the cowboy’s doleful tune. Johnny found the song’s melody, perfect to match his pensive mood. The cowboy seemed to understand that his small audience of one needed a comrade, a friend who didn’t ask any inquisitive questions, just drank the poured liquor and played that damn cowboy song.
Annie joined Johnny, standing behind his chair, rubbing his temples while her plump breasts were pushed snug against his back as she tried soothing whatever savage beast was plaguing the young Lancer. The singing cowboy introduced himself as Lom Smith continued picking at this guitar, singing his song. Annie tried shaking Johnny out of his state of mind, but he was satisfied with where he was and wasn’t planning on giving up his somber mood anytime soon.
Eventually Lom had sung and played the song enough times to need a break from it. He put his guitar down and was surprised when Johnny picked it up. He began playing the song; first time through he was just about perfect with plucking out the right notes and chords. The second pass he nailed it flawlessly. Johnny voice was rich, and carried the tune in a pleasing, soft manner. Bar patrons held off dealing any more cards, they stopped trying to wrap their arms around the scantily dressed saloon girls handing them drinks and they stopped drinking their booze of choice to listen as Johnny sang.
Johnny was so engrossed with his guitar strumming he didn’t notice that Sheriff Val Crawford had wandered into the Painted Lady. Val had spied Barranca tied up out front and came in to investigate what his amigo was doing in the Painted Lady so earlier on a Friday. The Sheriff leaned his back against the bar, placing both his elbows to rest on the bar as he hitched one boot on the brass railing. He watched Johnny play that mesmerizing tune on the battered guitar, listening to the tone and inflection in his voice. He recognized that Johnny was hurting inside and on his way to a bad night, gearing up to spiral out of control if someone didn’t stop him from going any further down that slippery slope towards hell.
Annie and Lom both clapped loudly at his performance, as Johnny looked up from his blue funk at them, really noticing them for the first time. He seemed self-conscious, as the song’s lyrics held special significance to his current situation, “I don't know why I act the way I do, like I ain't got a single thing to lose, Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.”
“Those words are pretty powerful, ain’t they?” Johnny said as he poured another drink and tossed it back, slamming the empty shot glass to the table top.
Annie put a concerned hand on his shoulder, “Come on Johnny, cheer up. I know something that will put a big old smile back on that handsome face of yours if you want to follow me upstairs, sweetie. I’ve got a genuine guaranteed cure for what’s ailing you, let’s go upstairs and I’ll show you my private etchings.”
“Howdy, Johnny,” croaked Val as he watched Annie try stirring the young man from his doldrums. Having known Johnny for a good many years, more than most, Val knew when Johnny wasn’t feeling like his regular self. This sure was one of those times.
“Hey, Val, how long ya been over there?”
“Long enough amigo ta know when somethin’ ain’t right with ya.” He pulled out a chair and sat down. “Want more company…nevermind, I’m already down. Now ya want ta tell me what’s goin’ on? I’ve seen low before but boy, ya look like ya hit that while back and diggin’ down deeper for more and comin’ up empty-handed.”
“Nothin’s wrong, Val. Back off will ya?” he pouted, not pleased that he had never been successful with keeping anything from Val. It was like Val was a bloodhound stuck on Johnny tighter than warts on a frog. Johnny never did like not having the element of surprise in his bag of tricks to go to when he needed to, old amigo or not, he didn’t like not having the upper hand with Val.
“Really, Johnny? Don’t think I’ll back off none, ya never do with me. How come ya here on a Friday afternoon, lookin’ like ya lost ya best friend? Ya and ya pa at cross purposes? I’m guessin’ that smart brother of yours must not be around ta have stopped ya two from bein’ such logger heads, again. What’s this make three times this month so far and countin’?”
“Yeah, Val something like that and ya right, Scott’s away until next week,” sighed Johnny. “It’s just ain’t nothin’ I do lately is good enough for my ol’ man. Ya heard the song, it’s like that, “I got a life that most would love to have, but sometimes I still wake up fightin' mad, at where this road I'm heading down might lead.”
“Don’t tell me Johnny Lancer that ya ain’t ever good enough for ya Pa, or your brother or anybody else for that matter! When are ya goin’ stop bein’ so damn pig-headed and stop soundin’ like hot air comin’ out the hind quarters of a jackass? The way I see it, ya can either get up out that chair and take Miss Annie upstairs ta burn off some of that pent-up mad ya got goin’ or ya git ya sorry carcass back on that horse of yours and go on home! Work it out with ya Pa. Amigo, I don’t want ta have ta knock some sense into that thick skull of yours and throw ya ass into my jail for good measure, so don’t ya make me do it! Just ta prevent ya from tearin’ up the town later on if ya keep snortin’ down that catus juice like it was Miss Teresa’s homemade lemonade.”
Johnny stared hard at Val for a few minutes before shifting to look at Annie as he weighed his options. He finally grinned his most devilish smile possible at Val, “Thanks amigo, but I’ll skip the visit ta ya hoosegow, last time I was there the place stunk to high heavens. Ya other visitors gassed me ta tears and ya gave me a busted up cot. Not ta mention, your coffee sucks. Ya got any objections if I do both of your other ideas? For an ol’ man they ain’t half bad.”
“Hell Johnny, whatever it takes to make ya understand that ya got lots of folks around who only want the best for ya. And for ya ta stop bein’ so damn hard on yourself. Ya got no reason at t’all ta act like ya plum lost ya best friend and ya ain’t ever goin’ ta have another one. One of these days, your Pa and ya just might see around ta the other’s side and figure out just how much ya match the other person. Shit, maybe I should lock the pair of ya in my calaboose and leave ya two alone until ya manage ta figure that out.”
“Now Val, don’t go all loco on me! Me and my ol’ man we’re workin’ in it, just takin’ some time ta figured out who’s leadin’ and who’s followin’, that’s all. Miss Annie, did ya offer ta show me your…uhhh….private etchings? Offer still available?” He held out the crooked of his arm for her to slipped her hand inside, then he tipped his hat to Lom and Val. “Lom, nice meetin’ ya. Stick around and play something lively for ol’ Val, cheer him up some. Amigo, I’ll see ya around!”
Val watched Johnny climbed the well beaten path to the top of the stairs, where he could hear him tell Annie, “Let’s go ride and never worry about the fall, Annie. I guess that's just the cowboy in us all.”
Val grinned relieved that Johnny was on the right track back to adjusting and accepting his new lot in life. Sometimes his amigo just needed an swift kick in the pants to remind him that others were relying on the cowboy in him to win out over his former gunslinging days he had before getting his new chance in life. Val figured that ‘tween him, the boy’s daddy and his brother, the cowboy would be the final victor in the battle for Johnny’s soul. He was plannin’ on makin’ damn sure that Johnny wasn’t goin’ blow this opportunity. And Johnny didn’t need to worry about the fall, he had Scott and Murdoch and him to watch his back for him.
Patti H. – July 25, 2009
Reader’s Notes: National Day of the American Cowboy
The National Day of the American Cowboy Resolution, passed by the United States Senate in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, proclaimed the 4th Saturday of July as a celebratory day to commemorate our cowboy and Western heritage, as well as to honor working cowboys and ranchers, Western musicians and artists, cowboy poets, and all the others who continue to contribute to our cowboy and Western culture.
Our sole purpose in drafting and promoting the National Day of the American Cowboy resolution is to encourage recognition of and appreciation for the American cowboy. By sharing information about the campaign, celebrations, and ceremonies, we hope to ensure that the National Day of the American Cowboy achieves the highest possible level of public involvement and awareness, and is finally passed in perpetuity (the resolution has to be reintroduced each year until it is officially designated a national day of observance by the President).
National Day of the Cowboy Resolution 2009
(Original Signature of Member)
2ND SESSION H. RES. 322
Expressing support for the designation of July 25, 2009 as ‘‘National Day of the Cowboy’’.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Ms. GIFFORDS submitted the following resolution which will be referred to the Committee on
Whereas pioneering men and women known as cowboys helped establish the American West;
Whereas the cowboy embodies honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, respect, a strong work ethic, courage and patriotism;
Whereas the cowboy spirit exemplifies strength of character, sound family values and good common sense;
Whereas the cowboy archetype transends ethnicity, gender, geographic boundaries, and poitical affiliation;
Whereas the cowboy is an excellent steward of the land and its creatures;
Whereas the cowboy lives off the land and works to protect and enhance the environment;
Whereas cowboy traditions have been part of the American culture for generations;
Whereas the cowboy continues to be an important part of the economy, through the work of approximately 727,000 ranchers in all 50 States, and contributes to the well being of nearly every county in the Nation;
Whereas annual attendance at professional and working ranch rodeo events exceeds 27,000,000 fans, and the rodeo is the 7th most watched sport in the Nation;
Whereas membership and participation in rodeo and other organizations that promote and encompass the livelihood of the cowboy spans race, gender, and generations;
Whereas the cowboy is a central figure in literature, film, and music, and occupies a central place in the public imagination;
Whereas the cowboy is an American icon; and
Whereas the ongoing contributions made by cowboys and cowgirls to their communities should be recognized and encouraged: Now, therefore, be it
1. Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) expresses support for the designation of a ‘‘National Day of the Cowboy’’; and
(2) encourages the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.