|Windy Gus and Crabby Pete|
|by Michael L. Charters|
|Now Windy Gus were a Texas man
With eyes as black as coal.
He had a head of curlin' hair,
And a simple, gentle soul.
|He come from down Laredo way.
No one is sure jest where.
He 'peared one day in early May,
Atop a dragged out mare.
|The boys and me we looked with
At that wonder to behold.
He wadn't tall, he wadn't short,
And his face was worn and old.
|He slowly came up through the
And tipped his hat at us,
Then jumped down off his horse right quick,
And said, "The name is Gus."
|"I'm lookin' fer a friend
They call him Crabby Pete.
I reck'n he's 'bout the best cowman
You'd ever like to meet."
|"I ain't seen him in many
But he could rightly rope and ride.
I guess he were pret' near the tops
At most anythin' he tried."
|"We shore spent a lot of
time down there
Jest bustin' through the brush,
Then on the sudden one fine day,
He plumb took off in a rush."
|"He didn't like to set hisself
In one place fer all too long.
Ya'd think that he were doin' fine,
Then he'd jest be gone."
|"I don't know where he got
I don't know where he went.
I 'spect he found somewheres to work
To satisfy his rent."
|"Well, by and by the years
And I jest forgot about old Pete.
I had a place to work and sleep,
And I had a place to eat."
|"Then one snowy day here
comes this gray,
With a cowpoke from up 'round here,
Who spins us a tale of a man named Pete,
And it were Crabby Pete it's clear."
|"He said Pete come up north
to get a job,
When his work in Texas quit.
And when his grubsteak disappeared,
He 'bout had a fit."
|"The story that come down
Were that Pete was dang near through,
And I pondered how I could help him out,
And find a life that's new."
|Gus straightened up and scratched
And shuffled in the dust,
And when he took his Stetson off,
His hair was all a'mussed.
|"I hear'd tell of a spread
called the Bar KK,
Hit's down near San Antone.
They're lookin' for some men, they say,
That boss he's all alone."
|"The cowpokes jest up and
left one day,
Is the story that I hear'd.
The cook was out to get 'em,
And death was what they feared."
|"The food there was so bad,
They couldn't do their chores.
And when the chuck bell went to ring,
It were like goin' to the wars."
|We stood there in that dusty
And shared a smoke or two.
No one went to speak real quick,
And the silence jest kinda grew.
|We din't want to speak right out
And scare him off the place,
So I fixed a look of puzzlement
Acrost my worried face.
|Gus kept on with his story,
While we all looked around,
And besides the words that he bespoke,
You couldn't hear a sound.
|"Now that cook's fired, and
a new one hired,
And I aim to sign on soon.
So I'll be headin' back that way
Towards the end of June."
|He plucked a piece of old dried
And put it in his mouth.
"It ain't that I don't like it here,
But I'd be better off down south."
|"I thought I'd try to find
As a pal he were tried and true.
I guess I'm gettin' kinda tired
Of friends that only moo."
|"I s'posed that he might
jest go back
Down the Guadalupe way,
To push some cows and ride the range,
And mebbe make some pay."
|"He's a right old cheat,
that Crabby Pete,
And he might'a caused a fuss.
He's shore been in some scraps like me,
And he's been known to cuss."
|"I wonder if you've saw
Or if'n you've heard a tale.
Might be he's around somewheres.
Might be he's in jail."
|Gus pulled a wanted poster
From outa his saddle bag.
It showed a man jest sittin' there
Up on a scrawny nag.
|"This here's old,"
Gus said with a grin,
"No one wants him anyhow.
He used to be a handsome scamp;
He might look diff'rent now."
|We offered Gus a place to sleep,
And a bare spot to set his roll.
Then we tied his mare with a real good knot
To that old wood hitchin' pole.
|"I shore could use some
chuck," he said,
"That trail was mighty dry.
I felt so doggone dragged out there
I thought I's bound to die."
|"Yes, I'm hungrier than
a corn-fed snake,"
He declared with a rimpled smile.
"I've eaten much of nothin'
For nigh on twenty mile."
|We looked each other up and down,
No one spoke out a word.
It were a techy situation, so
We made like we hadn't heard.
|It wadn't that we didn't care,
We'd a'liked to feed him up.
There jest was somethin' that we knew,
And 'sides, we'd already had our sup.
|"Come on now boys, I'm grumblin'
You gotta help me out.
I cain't make it till tomorrow,
And there's no saloon heres about."
|"The cook's not here,"
someon' finally said,
"He skedaddled right 'round four.
But we got some leavin's here somewheres.
There really tain't much more."
|Gus ate a plate of beans, then
Some cold coffee went down fast.
A piece of beef, and biscuits too.
Seems he had to make it last.
|He downed a bunch of white skunk
All gravied up real fine,
Then he grinned and burped, and said right out,
"That's the way I like to dine."
|"I shorely do appreciate
The way you filled me up.
But mebbe you could put a drop
Of redeye in this here cup."
|Well, late that night the fire
And the boys was sleeping sound.
The stars was out, the wind was down,
And there was coyotes all around.
|Suddenly old Gus jumps up and
"I plumb feel mighty queer.
My belly's all a'tumble,
Is there a backhouse near?"
|Now Gus was gone fer quite some
But finally he came back.
And he was walkin' sorta slowly
Along that dusty track.
|He sank down on his old bedroll
And gave up a groan or two.
"That chuck ya offered treated me
Jest like a horntoad stew."
|"Mebbe you're used to it
But how do ya eat sech food?
I guess I shouln't go to fussin' none,
And I don't like bein' rude."
|"But your sallie must be
a real greenhorn
To serve up sech a plate.
And eatin' grub that acts like that...
It's just a'temptin' fate."
|Gus went to the backhouse once't
Then we got to beddin' down.
He laid there while the moon came up,
His face a wrinkled frown.
|Ever' now and then we'd hear
Besides a coyote's cry,
Rumblin' from beneath his roll
In that night so still and dry.
|Well, by morning we'd moved off
And he was most all alone.
When he peeked his head out in th' air,
Even the birds had flown.
|"How 'bout some grub,"
he heard a call,
And it were a voice he'd heard before.
It were the very same old Crabby Pete
That he'd been a'lookin' for.
|He had an old white apron on,
And was holdin' a coffee pot,
And from the steam risin' in th' air,
Gus could tell that it was hot.
there peerin' down at Gus
With a grin that split his face,
And Gus looked right back up at him
With a sour incensed grimace.
|"Don't tell me you're the
cook," Gus said,
"After that rough night I had.
I've ate some chuck that din't agree,
But that was pretty bad."
Pete settled down beside him,
|"The boys tole me that you
To drag me to the Bar KK.
But they don't want to see me there,
Not since they fired me that day."
|"I'd cowpunched there fer
When our cook went off and died.
He were shore an ace-high beanmaster,
And the boys jest broke and cried."
|"They needed someone mighty
Someone who could cook,
So the bossman lopes on up to me,
And throws me a cookin' book."
|"Well, I'd never wrangled
a pot or pan,
But I said I'd give a try.
It truly didn't work out well,
And those boys was fit to tie."
|"They took to eatin' out
on the range
Instead of comin' back.
They'd stay off there for days on end,
Sleeping on their tack."
|"You see, my cookin' jest
And it made most ever'body ill.
So them cowpokes plain scooted off,
And even took the grill."
|"Now it's true that the
food was perty bad,
And might make ya take a pill.
But I done learnt a thing or two,
And now we eat our fill."
|Pete stood up and poured a cup
Of coffee thick as mud.
He dropped a biscuit in my hand.
It landed with a thud.
|"I cain't go back down that
So how 'bout stayin' here?
I'll give ya all the grub you need.
Hit ain't a bad career."
Backhouse - privy
|© 2010 M. Charters, Sierra Madre, CA.|