I didn’t wait much longer,
across the road from Iambe’s.
I’d been tastin’ a cold beer for hours,
so that, and the sudden storm clouds,
were the reasons I gave myself for leaving,
but spooked is what my Grandma
would’ve called it.
Plain old spooked.
I turned the truck around
and headed back into town,
and Jake’s Place.
Pulled up just before the rain.
The place was near empty.
I walked to the end of the bar
and a stool by the poker machine.
‘What can I get ya sweetie?’
‘Think I got one a those’
She smiled like she almost meant it.
My eyes followed as she walked,
but only out of habit.
My mind was back at Iambe’s.
I reached for the bottle
already frosting as she sat it on the bar.
‘Jake been around today?’
‘No darlin, said he had some business out at Iambe’s.
Left early this mornin’.’
‘You a friend a his?’
I wasn’t looking for conversation
but I didn’t mind listening to her voice.
It wrapped warm arms
around you from behind
and hid it’s breath in your neck.
The thought of her bed
entered a corner of my mind.
‘Ya’ll look alike, ya know that?’
‘What? I’m sorry, I was…’
‘You and Jake. You got the same eyes’
‘Can’t say I’ve noticed. Can I get another beer’?’
‘A mans eyes on a boys face’
‘Beer, please?’, I repeated
‘Relax sweetie, we got plenty’
... ... ...
Two days and a nasty hangover later,
she woke me asking if I was hungry.
As I slowly and vaguely
remembered where I was, the smell
of bacon tempted me to full consciousness.
I’d passed hungry long ago.
I reached for a beer I’d left
sitting in the window and looked down
onto the street below.
‘Jake’s here, least his truck’s out front’
‘So why don’t ya put down that beer
and go talk to him. Maybe that’ll stop ya
talking in your sleep.’
Jake was sitting at a table in the corner
by the window, when Jackson came down the
stairs looking like shredded tire.
Jake could only shake his head and laugh.
"My bartender take good care of you?"
"I wish I could remember," Jackson hoarsely countered.
Kate walked to the table with coffee and laughed playfully.
"Good thing I learned a long time ago not to take
anything a hung over cowboy says personally."
She pushed Jackson's sun burnt, bleached hat down
over his eyes and asked Jake if he wanted anymore
bacon or eggs, then headed back to the kitchen.
Both men watched her swish and sway away.
"Damn she wears those jeans as tight as
my seat covers," Jackson admired.
"Eat your breakfast kid, we got places to be
and work to do. "
Jake sat and stared out the window as Jackson
finished his eggs. Both men had much on their
minds but true to nature, neither were talking.
They seemed an odd pairing of sidekicks to some,
Jackson being several years younger than Jake.
Both grew up in the same town. Jake had seen Jackson in
many of the same pool halls and cattle calls through the
years, for whatever reason, he was just always around.
But it wasn't until they ended up on the same rodeo circuit
that they became padres. They got drunk together one night
after both got their egos and backends bruised by a bronc,
and from then on it just seemed they shadowed one another.
After breakfast they headed out in Jake's truck.
Before leaving town, Travis had told him about some
horses that a mutual friend had for sale. Jake wanted to
take a look at them. They rode out to the ranch in silence,
each caught up in their thoughts. Ever since Konrad had
came back to town with that damned death certificate,
it was like a storm squall of change had blown in.
Both Travis and Konrad took off in their own personal
dust clouds, leaving Jake and his sisters waiting to see
what would wash up in their wakes. Jake wondered what
was bothering the kid. Jackson had been like a skittish colt
ever since he showed up at Iambes and heard the news.
He made a mental note to ask Kate what she
might know when he got back to the bar.
Cowboys have a tendency to talk too much when
washing down the dust with a few too many brew,
maybe she could shed some light on Jackson's lament.
After all, she knew the reasons behind the bleed of bruises,
the black and blues that can only be seen when a cowboy
takes his boots off.
[This message has been edited by Janet Marie (02-17-2003 09:35 PM).]