Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No More Bull - Chapter One

Pauly Rodriquez heard the thonk over the roar of the backhoe. Pauly knew his thonks. This one sounded like a king-sized ball peen bouncing off a large tin drum. He remembered the one when that sonofabitch Roger Pearson’s head hit the curb outside the White Swan Bar. Pauly had been charged with manslaughter. He had gotten off because he hadn’t started the fight, but still remembered that sound.

But this thonk was different, more metallic, and the concussion shook his parked truck.

“What the hell?”

He leaped from his big red 4X4 and ran to look in the hole before Harry could shut the hoe down. Fine yellow dust poofed as Harry set the bucket on the dry rocky ground.

“Sonofabitch” Pauly grumbled. “Damnit Harry, I’m already a week behind on this house, concrete will be here tomorrow, and now you’ve hit something.”

“Well it’s not like I’m out here looking for something to hit,” Harry Bower fired back. “What the hell could it be? There’s nothin’ out here but cows and coyotes!”

Until the previous year the four-thousand-acre place, near La Veta in Southern Colorado had been a cattle ranch. When Oscar Nasher died ten years ago his family leased the property to various cowmen for summer pasture. Two years ago a Colorado Springs developer had bought the land and split it up into what he called ranchettes.

Pauly stared in the hole. “Damned if I know what it is.”

At the bottom of the hole a hunk of rusty metal peeked through the loose clay soil. Pauly handed Harry a shovel. “Here, jump down there and get some dirt off. Let’s see what we got. Maybe we can yank it out and keep on going.”

“Shit.” Harry looked at his brand new boots. “The reason I bought this damned backhoe was so I wouldn’t have to shovel. If I scratch up these new boots Wanda will kill me.”

But he spit out his wad of tobacco, jumped down in the hole and started scraping dirt away from the rusted metal. “Good news. It’s not a water or gas pipe, thank God.” He kept on shoveling. “It’s starting to look like the top of a stock trailer.” Harry crawled out of the hole and onto his backhoe. Soon he uncovered the side of a sixteen foot stock trailer down to the fender.

“If I can get a chain around the hitch maybe you can lift it out of there,” Pauly said. “It’s worth a try.”
Harry reset his hoe and tried to expose the hitch. He swung the bucket to within two feet of the front of the trailer. On the second scoop the now familiar thonk repeated. It didn’t sound quite like the first, but it was definitely metal. And the hole was too shallow for it to be the hitch. Shutting the backhoe down Harry started to get off.

“I’ll get it,” Pauly said. “What the hell could it be now?” Sliding down on the back side of the hole, Pauly worked his way forward using the shovel as support. As he stepped on the flat top of the fender he looked inside the trailer. It had not filled with dirt.

“Jesus, there’s a bunch of bones and horns in here. Man I hope these critters were dead before this trailer got buried.”

Harry slid down beside him. “Hell, those look like Longhorns, like the ones that Tonka Morgan fella runs over there on the other side of Walsenburg. Those things are worth some money. Man, this is getting weird.”

They looked at each other. Pauly couldn’t tell whether Harry shrugged or shivered. “Let’s go see what you hit up front.”

They climbed in front of the trailer and started clearing dirt. With a few scoops they could see a strip of rounded metal two inches in diameter.

“Damn, this here’s the tailgate of a pickup,” Pauly said. “God, Harry, I’m not digging any further. What if there’s bones in there too?”

1 comment:

Donnell said...

John, as someone who has read your work, and has been astounded by your amazing voice, all I can say is I can't wait. Great blog and beautiful artwork. Well done to all who assisted you!