Moira and Clive, British tourists, had taken in the Arkansas attractions of Eureka Springs, the Chuck Wagon races in Clinton, the sale barn in Green Forest, and now found themselves in Fort Smith for the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association Trail Drive.
They stationed themselves along Rogers Avenue and watched as a group of jolly cowboys came pushing 20 head of rented longhorn cattle along the parade route.
Clive was excited. He was a western movie buff. “By Jove, dear,” he beamed, “it’s just like Rawhide!”
He was photographing it with his digital Minolta Maxxum 7 when it became obvious some of the beasts were exhibiting unruly behavior. Amidst a chorus of mooing, bawling and cursing, the river of cattle split. Three head including a big steer, a cow and a paint yearlin’ bull, turned at Third Street and struck out across Hanging Judge Courtyard.
All Hector broke loose. Or as Clive said, “Good gracious, Moira! This is better than the bloody Pamplona!”
Two cowboys thundered after the renegades, shakin’ out their loops in hot pursuit. A large crowd of onlookers raced after the ruckus, snapping photos and filming the action for America’s Funniest Videos.
The three cattle crashed through a construction zone ignoring the traffic light, the pedestrian crossing and the warning signs. Cattle, horses, cowboys and tourists followed, jumping cement barriers, danger signs and potholes, flashes popping and videos whirring.
Our two cowboys trapped them in the corner of a chain-linked parking lot. Within 10 minutes their faithful teamster had backed a trailer in the corner and loaded up the cattle … all except the bull. He had evaded them.
The chase began again, now joined by the Park Ranger on his 4-wheeler.
“He’s down in the draw along the river,” he shouted as he raced by. “I’ll run him out for ya’ll!”
Well, he did — back through the construction, Hangin’ Judge Park and the mass of tourists, amidst cheering and cameras flashing.
“It’s the wild west!” exclaimed Clive. “Back ’ome they’ll never believe this.”
For a long five minutes our cowboys lost track of the bull until a straggler said, “Come look.” The whole mass of humanity crowded along the ridge overlooking the Poteau River. Halfway across, swimming like a Navajo rug in a Speedo, they could see the back and the head of the red and white spotted longhorn bull making his way to Oklahoma.
Cowboy Earl took off his hat and shook his head. Then he heard one of the tourists with what he thought was a British accent say, “I say, ol’ chap, that was a smashing good show. When is the next performance?”
Baxter Black is a self-described cowboy poet, ex-veterinarian and sorry team roper. He can be contacted at 1-800-654-2550 or by e-mail at:email@example.com