Monday, June 13, 2011

Chapter Three and my inner curmudgeon

Howdy, all. I will be adding a second post each week so that you can get twice the bull for your buck. Sometimes the post will come from my inner curmudgeon. For instance, this week I’ll give my take on road rage and how it can be stopped. No, no firearms involved. My curmudgeon has moved beyond brute force.

Next week I’ll be writing about how the character Dr. Gil Tailor came about. I found him at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

For now here is Chapter Three of No More Bull for your perusal.  I’d love your comments.

Chapter Three

            Gil wasn’t aware of his drive back to the Spanish Peaks Veterinary Clinic.  He kept replaying the scene at Rough Mountain. Was Roscoe in that truck? How did it get there? Was this his fault somehow? Why had he abandoned his search for Roscoe and spent two years drunk? Why the hell did he think he could be a veterinarian? Hell, he couldn’t even take care of his friends.

The jolt when he bumped across the cattle guard into the veterinary clinic parking lot brought him back. He didn’t get out of the truck right away. He knew what he ought to do. He ought to stay out of it and let Jarmillo sort out what happened to Roscoe.  That’s what he ought to do.

“Shit, shit shit.” He rubbed his temples and rolled his neck. Trouble was, he was never very good at ought-to’s.

In the office Janey Ryan, Dr. Bramlett’s veterinary assistant, sat behind the counter with a phone to her ear.  “Yes, sir, if you can bring her over tomorrow morning, Dr. Tailor will take a look at her.” 

Gil appreciated the professional way she handled the call.  Every veterinary clinic needed someone like her, but seldom found them.  Raised on a ranch with two years of business school, she appeared smart, knowledgeable, hard-working and willing to learn.

Janey did everything - answered the phone, maintained the schedule, ordered the drugs, gave vaccinations, assisted the veterinarian, made sure patients were fed and stalls mucked.

 “Will nine o’clock be all right?” she asked the client while looking at Gil to get his okay. 

Gill nodded and picked up the folder on top of the “Today” tray.  It contained registration papers, breeding charts and the medical history for Three Box Ruby Red, a registered Quarter Horse mare. 

Gil was familiar with the bloodlines of two of the stallions she had been bred to.  They were well known in racing circles.  No question, she was a pampered and valuable animal. Something good to know when making decisions and recommendations to an owner.

Janey hung up the phone.  “Grueling day at Rough Mountain?”

He gruffly replied, “Yeah, personal business.”

“O-o-o-kay.”  Janey’s blue eyes cooled a couple degrees. Pointing to the folder in his hand she said, “That’s next. Robinson’s Ruby.   Has a bruised hoof, I think.  Corn, maybe.  I don’t think it will be anything serious. Want some help?”

“Please,” Gil said, feeling bad about snapping at her.  “First time around a strange horse it helps to have someone hold them.”

“I’ll put a ‘I’m-in-the-barn’ message on the phone and be right with you.”

Gil headed for the barn, fretting over the way he’d treated Janey. He vowed to do better.  He didn’t think he could change his disposition, but he could change his behavior.  There wasn’t anything he could do right now but be a veterinarian. He needed to do that as well as he could.  At the barn he jumped and grabbed the header over the door, hanging by his arms to stretch his tense back and shoulders.  It felt good.

He didn’t hear Janey come up behind him until she said, “You Tarzan, me Jane.”

He slunk to the ground and muttered, “Stretchin’ my back.”

“Uh huh,” she said.

Without acknowledging her teasing, Gil moved to Ruby’s stall.  She was a stunning sorrel with flaxen mane and tail.  The mare nuzzled Janey as she put the lead rope on.

“Been around her before?” Gil asked.

“She’s one of my favorites,” said Janey.  “I’d love one of her foals, but I’m not likely to get into that tax bracket anytime soon.”

“She’s a beauty.” Gil noticed the limp as Janey led her outside for better light.

Janey explained, “The Robinsons paid somewhere around fifty-thousand dollars for her as a yearling.  They ran her as a three-year-old at Ruidoso and then started breeding her.  Every colt she’s had has been a dandy.  Of course they’ve put nothing but top studs on her.  I’ve heard they’ve been offered up to two-hundred thousand for her, but turned it down.”

Gil ran a hand over the mare’s back and patted her rump. “I’d better take good care of you, lady.  You’re high dollar horse flesh.”

He bent over, raising her left front hoof, propping it on his bent knee.  An abscessed bruise emerged as he gently flicked little clods of dirt with the hoof pick.  Over the next half hour he drained the abscess and gave her a tetanus shot.  When done he put a protective boot over the hoof.

“She’ll be more comfortable with this on,” he told Janey, “and it will keep the abscess clean while it heals. I’d recommend she stay here a couple days so we can keep an eye on that hoof and make sure it heals properly.  Will that be a problem?”

“I don’t think so,” Janey said.  “The Robinsons have never questioned our treatment and seem ready to pay what’s necessary.” 

“If it’s okay with them, let’s do it.”

Janey took Ruby back to her stall. Gil went by his pickup to get some horse candy before walking over to the corral.  His little donkey, George, trotted over, looking for her treat.

“Have you met George?” he asked Janey as she moved beside him.

“Not formally.”  She pointed to his horse that stood cautiously watching them, “They both kept a real close eye on me when Ruby arrived last evening.”

“George and Sue are pretty good watch dogs.”

“Did you say George?”  She had to bend low to look at the little donkey’s undercarriage. “Being a highly trained veterinary assistant I can’t help but notice there are some very specific male parts missing from this donkey.”  She reached through the fence to rub George between the ears.  “May I assume that whoever named her may have been a little gender ignorant?”

Gil handed the donkey a treat.  “It’s a long story. We got her up in Cripple Creek.”  He hung his head and kicked some dirt. “My wife, Bobbie, and I were on a Sunday drive.  We hadn’t been to Cripple Creek, so we thought we’d take a look.  They have a small donkey herd running loose as kind of a tourist attraction.  I guess they’ve been there for years.  Among them was this little Sicilian jenny with a brand new baby.  The mama got hit by a car.  We came upon the scene right after it happened.  I tried but couldn’t save the mama.  The local police showed up, called someone and got permission to euthanize.”

Gil paused as he recalled how he had taken his rifle out of his truck and put the poor jenny down.  He could still see the look on Bobbie’s face.  He felt a tear start to form.  He looked away so Janey wouldn’t notice. 

“Huh,” he cleared his throat.

Janey stopped petting George and looked at him, her eyebrows arched as if wondering what he was thinking.  Gil had no desire to explain about his wife knowing any explanation would inevitably lead to how she died. That was a place he didn’t want to go with Janey

He went on with his George story. “That little critter was standing off a ways, all ears and legs, looking very alone.  Whenever anyone tried to approach, she’d run off - then creep back when we weren’t watching.  A guy came with a tractor and loaded the mother’s carcass into a dump truck.  As it drove away the baby followed.  It broke Bobbie’s heart to watch that little thing traipsing after that truck. She insisted we do something.  To make a long story shorter, we ended up with George.”

Handing the donkey another biscuit, he remembered hauling her to Brush.  All three of them in the front seat of his pickup.  “She’s kind of my sounding board.”

Janey was rubbing George’s ears.  “You talk to your donkey?”

“Yeah,” Gil admitted.

“Does she talk back?”

“In her own way. You’re a good listener, aren’t you George?” 

Janey continued with the ears. George seemed to like it. “That still doesn’t explain why you named her George?” 

 “I didn’t really have anything to do with that. It seems Cripple Creek has a tradition of naming baby donkeys after prominent town’s people.  A lady named Georgeanna runs the city tourist information center.  I’m told everyone in town calls her George. They named the donkey after her.  We kept it.”

He leaned on the top rail, looking down as he kicked the dirt around with the toe of his boot.  He smoothed his mustache with his knuckle and said, “So that’s my story.”

Janey smiled.  “So that’s why she’s George.  And your gelding is Sue?”

“It’s really Tsunami.  He was a PRCA bareback bronc.  It’s another long rescue story involving Bobbie. I’ve got this strange name thing going.  I seem to be destined to associate with people and critters with gender bending names.  I have a jenny named George, a gelding named Sue, my wife was called Bobbie and I was called Jill until I was out of junior high.”

“Jill?” Janey asked. 

“Well, my given name is Gillette.  As kids will do, my classmates made up teasing nicknames.  Gillette was shortened to Jill and the fight was on.  It took me a few years and several bloody noses before my classmates started calling me Gil.”

She reached up and ran a finger down his nose. “Is that why your nose is flat now?”

The sudden contact startled Gil. “No, that has a lot to do with a horse wreck and a fence post.”

“Well it looks good with your big mustache.”

Embarrassed, Gil didn’t know what to say.

Before he could form a reply, Janey said, “It looks even better when you blush.” She turned and started to the office.

Gil felt a moment of guilt as he realized he liked the flirting. But he didn’t have much time to enjoy the moment, the phone was ringing.

1 comment:

Jim Brownlee said...

Shit, shit, shit!! You had to throw in Cripple Creek, familiar names, and God knows what else, and then, ruthlessly, thoughtlessly, cut me off! Help! I can't breathe!