“What do we need to do in order for you to spill your guts?” Soda asked me.
“Nothing.” I said getting annoyed, “I’m not gonna tell any of ya’ll not matter what. Okay, so just lay off.”
“We need to know Kat.” Steve said trying not to hiss.
“Why?” I asked holding back a growl.
“To make sure he’s a good guy.” Two-bit said, “We don’t want you ending up with another guy like that Keith bastard.”
I sighed, “What’s it gonna take to get you guys off my back about this?” I asked coming to the end of my strings.
“Tell us who he is.” Steve said.
“Definitely not doing that.” I said.
“Beat Steve-o here in a rodeo.” Soda offered.
“Which competition?” I asked.
“Bare back bronco riddin’.” Steve told me.
“You know I could kick your sorry hide any day a the week.” I challenged.
“One’s this weekend.”He told me, “Just ‘fore school starts again, you win we stop harassin’ ya’. I win-
“I spill my guts.” I finished, “Deal.”
We shook hands.
It was official, I was gonna ride bare back on a bucking bronco against Steve, whoever had the best time wins. The only problem was, while my brothers really liked it that I too took interest in rodeos, Junior was sent to hospital for a few months after a bare back bronco ride.
The thing was, he wasn’t all that experienced of a rider. All my brothers say I’m the best of the bunch. Hell, I even had my own down at my grandparent’s farm in Alabama. ‘Course I never cared for my grandmother. That’s my daddy’s ma, he grew up real high quality like. Mama was in foster care, ’cause her old man was a drunk and stuff.
For they died, my daddy gave me my own gypsy, pure bread too. Her name’s Pepsi. She’s real sweet too. Black with white hair and one white spot on her right hip, and there’s a black ‘P’ shaped mark in it. So I call her Pepsi. But some of my cousin’s from down there call her Princess. She’s my horse, both my daddy and my grandpa gave her to me.
My grandpa even said when I’m 18 he’ll send her out to me so I’ll have her all to myself. I love my grandpa, but I hate my grandma. And the grandparent’s on my mama’s side, forget about it.
I figured if I didn’t tell my brothers what I was gonna do I wouldn’t get in trouble for it. Like that old sayin’ goes, what they don’t know wont hurt me.
Funny how a frays can turn like that.
I hopped out of the car, Pepperoni drove me, told him I was meetin’ the guys here ’cause Steve was in an event. It was true enough.
I met up with them near the concession.
“You know if your brothers find out about this, you’re dead right?” Steve said teasing me as I put my chaps on, “Why don’t you just tell us who he is now.”
I buckled my belt and looked him dead in the eye, “Why don’t you back off and get on your horse Steve. Or are you just so used to being ridden you can’t ride?”
The guys laughed and Evie went red.
“I’m in this ’til the end, don’t try and be a good friend and talk me outta it either.” I told him, “We all know I ride a hell of a lot better than all of ya’ll put together.”
“Now you’re just bein’ cocky.” He told me.
“Takes one to know one.” I retorted puttin’ my hat on.
I always felt a lot like my mama when I was all suited up in my gloves, chaps, and hat. Mainly ’cause these were hers. Regulation dark brown chaps over hand me down blue jeans, white t-shirt and red plaid button down unbuttoned, black gloves with open fingers and the back of the hand, but completely covered the palms and helped the grip. And a black cowboy hat, nothin’ special.
But everyone who was in my mama’s generation had to look twice when I came in here in this at first. I look so much like her, and everyone expects me to be just like her too.
We went over to side and leaned on the fence watching all them on the horse. It was a broken quarter horse, nice tan colour. But it threw a pretty big guy off his back quicker than a cheetah in running shoes.
Three more guys went up, thrown around like a baseball, then Steve was called up. Evie tried talkin’ him out of it, but he kissed her and told her couldn’t.
I knew she just really cared about the guy.
So far me and Steve had to beat five point six seconds. I knew Steve could get to about seven or so.
The bell rang and the horse was out, Steve made a lot of noise, but he stayed on top for a good seven and a half seconds. Evie ran to meet him.
“TomKat Johnes.” The announcer called.
I put out the cigaret I was smoking and made my way over.
“Hey now little girl, this here horse is rough. Don’t you think it’s a little big for you?” One of the rodeo jockies said to me.
I climbed up the fence and secured my rigging.
“Look mac,” I said to the guy, “I’ve been ’round horses a while, and while I know they got me out weighed by a good tone, that ain’t gonna stop me from riddin’. Now why don’t you shut up. You never seen me ride before.”
He put his hands up in a surrender. I climbed over and took a beep breath as I sat down. His back was warm still. He was anxious to get me off, I could feel it. I took a couple breaths to calm myself as his increased. I slipped my toes in the foot holds and held on to the rigging. I took one last breath.
“Let ’em out.” I said.
The opened the gate and he took off.
“Yeee Haa!” I shrieked and giggled as he bucked.
This was easy. I’d been on broken horses before, I knew just how to move to stay on. I was really havin’ fun. But before I knew it, the buzzer rang, ten seconds was over.
One of the rodeo clowns came by and I hopped over as the others calmed it down.
“Girl, you sure are a real good rider.” He told me as I climbed back over the fence.
“Tell me somethin’ I don’t know, boy.” I told him and went back to the pen to get my rig.
The kid that told me it was a rough horse handed me the rig and said, “I was wrong girl. You ride okay.”
I grinned at him, “You dig okay.”
And with that I held onto my hat as I walked back over to the guys.
“You win.” Steve said annoyed.
“How you stay on a horse like that?” Christine asked me holding hands with Pony.
I shrugged, “It’s a broken horse. I’d been on a few before. I know how it moves.”
“Horse don’t look broken to me.” Sally said, “He was movin’ just fine.”
I rolled my eyes, “Broken.” I told her, “A way of describing a horse that hasn’t been broken in yet.”
“Like a new pair of shoes.” She said.
I nodded, “Green broken are the good horses.” I told her, “They’re your trustees.”
“Like you and that gypsy of yours.” Soda told me.
I grinned, “Got that right.”
“Too bad this isn’t an awarded rodeo.” Lilly said, “You’d a come in first.”
I shrugged, “They’ll always be someone better than you out there.” I told her.
“TomKat Elizabeth LaDane Johnes!” Someone yelled.
I swallowed hard and turned around to see Moddog standing there with some woman I’ve never see before.
“What’s up?” I asked knowing I could weasel my way out of this if I needed to.
“Wasn’t it made clear that no one in our house was going to ride a bronco?” He seethed.
I thought for a second, “You know I wasn’t even there when that rule was put in place.”
He glared, “What if the same thing that happened to Junior happened to you?” He asked.
I rolled my eyes, “Mad, everyone knows I’m the best rider in the family, right up there next to mama and daddy.”
“That’s not the point.” He said.
“You’re avoiding the point.” I told him.
“What’s the point then?” He asked.
“I ain’t Junior.” I told him, “I ain’t you, or Buddy, or Jaguar, or Pepperoni, or ma, or daddy, or anyone. And I’m exhausted of you guys thinkin’ that I’m gonna do what you guys did. I can take car a myself, Maddog. And I’m tired of you guys thinkin’ I can’t.”
“We want you to be s-
“In a box my entire life?” I asked.
“With all the scares you have, it must be some box.” He retorted.
“I get a scar you guys act like I’m gonna die.” I told him.
“You’re reckless.” He told.
“And you guys weren’t?” I demanded, “Just ’cause ma and Daddy aren’t here anymore don’t mean you have any right to take away my freedom. And I’mma do whatever I want with it.”
“I’m tellin’ Junior.” He said.
I looked him dead in the eye, “Are you seriously going to play that card?” I asked him, “You’re twenty-one Maddog! What the hell do you think you’re gonna do by tellin’ Junior?”
“He’s your lawful guardian.” he told me.
“And he’s a hell of a lot better of one than you.” I told him and started walking away.
“You’re grounded!” He shouted.
“You said it yourself Maddog!” I yelled, “You aren’t my guardian!”
I had some of it settled. I didn’t need to tell the guys who I liked. But I did need to answer at dinner why I was riddin’ bare back on a bronco in the rodeo. I knew Junior’d understand. It was his favorite event.
It was just one of those things I guess.