After finishing the coke at the food tent Rich walked to the grandstands to watch a rodeo.
He leaned against the fence, exposed to the sun in order to witness the action close up. Everyone else sat in the shade of the roof hanging over the grandstands.
Some of the animals were quite manageable before being confined to the chute. They needed to be prodded by the rodeo hands to excite them for a good show. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, much like professional wrestling.
Directly behind Rich were bleachers where no one sat because of the sun. He noticed a man with the other rodeo hands sitting on the top rail of the fence looking at him. The man moved to the bleachers behind Rich. He wore a gray cowboy hat, a red bandanna, a western shirt, blue jeans, and western boots. He was perhaps twenty-one, thinly built, and a light complexion. Rich looked back at him and he smiled politely. He removed his hat to wipe the sweat from his brow.
“Sure is a hot one,” he said with a friendly Texas drawl.
“Sure is,” Rich said and turned back to the rodeo.
“Didn’t think ya’ll had weather this hot up here,” he said.
“It’s pretty much like this all summer long,” Rich said.
“Whew! This humidity is somethin’ else,” he said.
“I’m not from around here. I s’pose you could tell that,” he said chuckling.
“You do sound different,” Rich said.
“I’m from Texas – Lubbock. You from here?”
“Why dontcha come on back here and let’s sit and spit fer a while,” he said slapping the bleacher seat by his side.
Rich was suspicious. It seemed he was trying to push a friendship on him. Rich smiled and thought, he’s merely the friendly sort and sat with him, but at a comfortable distance.
“Yer actin’ like a spooked horse,” he said.
“No, no not me,” Rich said.
“Oh I know, me being out of state and all, but, hey, let’s do a couple of things together, play some games and go on some rides. I got money that’s a burnin’ a hole in my pocket. I see ya already got a couple of canes.”
Rich smiled, too nervous to say anything. He wondered how he got into this situation and more importantly, how to get out of it.
He scooted closer to Rich and began telling him how the bull riders time the leaps of the bulls and how they maintain balance. “If ya want ta meet some of the boys, I can take ya back after the show.”
“That’s okay,” Rich said. “I really don’t like the rodeo. I just wanted something to do until my friends meet me.”
“Where they gonna meetcha?” He said.
“They’re supposed to meet me here,” Rich said hoping that might make him go away.
“What time?” he asked.
“Whew! Buddy,” he said, “it looks like you’ve done been stood up. It’s one thirty.”
“What do you know. Well, I’ll have to catch up with them later,” Rich said and continued watching the rodeo with feigned interest. His mind was reeling with all sorts of strategies to remove himself from this situation. “What do you do in the rodeo?”
“I make sure everything gets set up and torn down. I’m a foreman,” he said.
“Say, ya wouldn’t want a job when we tear down? It’s a good way to pick up few bucks and if ya work out, we set up in a couple of days down near Dayton, maybe ya can come along.”
“You’re kidding me,” Rich feigned interest. “You mean, I could maybe get a job with the rodeo?”
He put his hand on Rich’s shoulder. “That’ll be a hoot! You and me could be partners and I could show you the rodeo business.”
Rich smiled broadly. “I got to take a leak. I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” Rich grabbed his thigh and squeezed. “That all right with you, partner?”
“Sure you take care of business. I’ll just soak up some sun. You ain’t old enough to drink are ya?” He said.
“What the hey, maybe a little later we can go back to my camper. If ya go down to Dayton with me maybe we can have a beer or two and maybe a little hooch,” he winked. “But anyway, I got a couple of cold cokes. How would that be?”
“Sounds great. I could use something to drink as soon as I drain the old radiator,” Rich said in his most assured voice.
“Drain the radiator,” he said. “That’s a good one. I always say perk up the posies.”
“Back in a flash,” Rich said and winked.
He winked and smiled.
“Remember if ya shake more than twice yer …,” he said with a seductive smile.
“I know. I know,” Rich said.
Rich walked toward the restrooms, out the gate, and into the crowded midways. He watched the cowboy from the administration office, where a sheriff’s deputy was stationed.
The cowboy grew impatient and sauntered into the restroom looking for Rich. He stepped out and combed through the grandstands.