Joe's Dream 

Jarrod S. Davis

© Copyright 1999 by Jarrod S. Davis


Photo of a cowboy riding a bucking horse.

The glimmering sun slowly ended it's long trek over the blue, August sky of an east Kansas small town. Fourteen year old Joe Whesit unsaddled his sandy brown quarter horse, Wrangler, absent mindedly. He laid the hand-made leather saddle very carefully and lovingly onto a shelf in the tack room of his stable, then picked up a grooming brush that had been laid beside it. He ran the brush over Wrangler's neck as the telephone rang. Joe quickly ran inside to answer it. "Dad?" he asked as he picked up the phone.

"Sorry, Joe, it's just me," came the reply.

"Oh, hi Rock," replied Joe, an air of disappointment in his voice.

"Yeah, I love you, too. Whatcha' been doing, kid?"

"Not much, Rock, not much. Why? You want to do something?"

"Well, I thought I'd come pick you up and we can go to town and catch a movie or something. I hear they've got this new sci-fi thing out. The effects are supposed to be great. You game?"

Joe looked at his watch. 7:15. "Sorry, Rock," came his reply, "but I can't make it tonight. Maybe tomorrow."

"Well, alright, I reckon that'd be okay. Shoot, the matinee be'd cheaper, anyway. I'll talk to ya' then, 'kay?"

"Alright, Rock. See ya'," said Joe as he was hanging up the phone. Peter "Rock" McKulty was Joe's best, and sometimes, he thought, only, friend. Even though Rock was two years older than he, Joe still stood a few inches taller.

"He should have called an hour ago. Why didn't he call?" Joe asked to no one in particular. Just then an old, beat up, yellow, flat bed Ford pulled up the driveway to Joe's house. "Dad!" Joe yelled as he raced out the door.

"Hey, partner! How's it going? Same ole' same ole'? Still riding that beat up Wrangler?" asked Joe's father as he stepped out of his truck.

"Dad, what are you doing back here so early?" Joe asked suspiciously. His father, Chet, rode saddle bronc in rodeos, and was usually away from home from May to November.

"Well, kiddo, you ain't gonna believe this, but they're gonna have a few rodeos down here. Yep, one every weekend until the end of November. It's some okay money if you win. Plus, they're giving a buckle to the winner of a different event each week. The second week it's gonna be saddle bronc. So, I figured I'd ride in them instead of ones all over the country."

"Really? Down here? Does that mean I can enter 'em?" Joe asked hopefully.

Suddenly his father was very serious. "Absolutely not! You're too smart to do that for a living, Joe. I don't want you getting all beat up the way I do. That's not the kind of life you want, Joe."

"But Dad, I've been wanting to do this my whole life! I don't want to compete professionally or anything. I just want to ride in these local rodeos. Come on! You said once I got old enough to decide for myself you'd let me." begged Joe.

"I've told you before, Joe. No. What part of that don't you understand?"

"Fine, Dad. Whatever you say," replied Joe sarcastically. The two Whesit's spent the rest of the evening catching up on things that had happened in the past few months.

Joe woke up the next morning around nine o'clock. He walked into the kitchen to get something to eat, and found a note stuck to the refrigerator. It read:

I've gone to the store to get some food
and other stuff. I'll be back around
noon. See you then.

"Great!" Joe thought to himself. He quickly picked up the phone and called Rock.

"Hello?" asked a sleepy voice on the other end of the line.

"Rock, it's me. I need you to come pick me up. I'll fill you in when you get here," said Joe, and he hung up the phone. He picked up a piece of paper and a pen and wrote a note to his dad saying that he'd gone to town and would be back before dark. He put it on the refrigerator, then put on his blue jeans and a black t-shirt. He pulled on his black cowboy boots and put his black cowboy hat on his head. He picked up his belt, complete with brass belt buckle, tucked in his shirt tail, and put his belt on. "Man," he thought as he went out the door, "I really need a new belt buckle. This thing's older than me."

About five minutes later, Rock pulled up in his red Chevy truck. He stepped out, the morning sunlight catching his silver and gold belt buckle, making it shine next to his blue jeans and white t-shirt. His brown, leather lace-up boots kicked up dust as he walked towards Joe. He pulled off his dark red baseball cap and ran his fingers through his light brown hair. He yawned and stretched his muscles. That's where he got his nickname from. He was built like a rock. He was an amateur bull rider, and a great friend.

"Get in the truck. We're going to town," Joe said as he got into the Chevrolet.

"Alright, Bo'," said Rock, "fill me in."

Joe told Rock all that had happened since he called the night before, and then told Rock about his plan to get into the rodeos. "First we need to stop by the feed store. There's a few things I need to pick up there," said Joe.

"Yeah, like Danielle Jordan!" Rock said, laughing out loud as Joe shoved him. Danielle, a straight A student, was a good looking girl that Joe had a secret crush on. In fact, Joe had had a crush on her since sixth grade. Her father owned the feed store in town, and Danielle usually had to work the register in the summer.

A few minutes later Rock was pulling into the parking lot, if you could call the gravel covered area a parking lot, of the feed store. Joe stepped out of the truck into the sunlight, pulled off his hat, ran his fingers through his medium length dirty blonde hair, and put his hat back on. "You look fine, Joe. Now will you just go in?" teased Rock.

They went into the store, Rock leading the way. "Hi Rock!" called Danielle from the counter. "Oh, and, uhm, hi, uh, Joe," Danielle said, her face turning from a light pink color to a dark red color quickly. "Can I help you?" she asked, trying her best not to seem stupid. Joe noticed that she had her light blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, letting her sky blue eyes catch the light. Her light blue shirt was tucked into her black jeans, and she walked around in a pair of white tennis shoes.

"Sure," said Joe, trying just as hard not to sound stupid, "I need a barrel and a spool of good strong rope."

"What kind of barrel do you need?" asked Danielle.

"That blue one out front will do nicely. Oh, and I also need two pieces of two foot PVC pipe if you have it."

"I'll be right back," replied Danielle as she went to get Joe's rope and pipe. "That will be $56.73," she said after she rang everything up. Joe pulled out his wallet and gave her three twenties.

"You can keep the change," Joe said, handing her the money.

"Thanks! Come again!" Danielle shouted after the two teens as they walked out the door.

Joe and Rock picked up the big blue barrel and placed it in the bed of Rock's truck. "Now where to, Romeo?" Rock asked as they climbed into the cab of the truck.

"Now," Joe said, "we go to the saddle shop."

They went down the road about a quarter of a mile, then pulled into the saddle shop's yard, which served as a parking area. They went into the store, and Joe picked out a saddle bronc saddle and halter. He then got a saddle bronc rein, cinches, latigos, spurs, and three sets of rowels. He took them up to the counter where old Mrs. Shakstein was waiting. "I hear your father's back in town. How's he doing?" the sweet old lady asked.

"Oh, he's doing alright, I reckon. He has a chipped tooth and has to make an appointment to get that fixed, but that's about it. How's your husband?" replied Joe.

"Not much better, I'm afraid. I used to tell him that smoking two packs of cigarettes a day was unhealthy. He said he was going to die anyway, so he might as well enjoy life before he went to his final home. Now that he has lung cancer, I think he's scared. In fact, just last night he told me he'd accepted Jesus Christ and now he's going to Heaven."

"Well, there is good news in every tragedy, then, I guess."

A few minutes later, Joe and Rock were in the truck again. "Home, Jeeves. And don't spare the horses," Joe said with a mock British accent.

"Where you gettin' all this money from all of a sudden, Joe? D'you rob a bank or somethin'?" Rock asked as he headed out of town.

"No, Rock. I've been saving my money since I was five. And I meant your home, not mine."

After a direction change and 3 miles the friends were at Rock's house getting the barrel out of the bed of the truck. Joe got out the spool of rope and a buck knife. They took the hardware over to a group of four trees about ten feet apart. Rock placed the barrel in the middle of the square, then Joe punched four holes in it, two in each end, and ran a piece of rope to each hole. Then they nailed each piece of rope to a separate tree so as to suspend the barrel in the middle of the square. Next, Rock tied a piece of rope around the middle of the barrel. Then Joe cut and tied two twenty foot pieces of rope to the rope that ran around the middle, one on each side. They put a PVC pipe on each of the ropes and ran the end of the rope back to the barrel and tied it off. It was finished all this by noon.

Going inside Rock's house, Joe called a friend of their's; Mac Johnson. "Mac... this is Joe. Listen, I'm over at Rock's house and we need some help. Since you watch a lotta rodeo, we figered you'd be the man. Can ya' get over here now? You can? Great!" and with that, Joe hung up and went out of the house with Rock at his heels.

When Mac arrived, Rock and Joe explained what their plan was. The three of them went to the barrel, and Joe placed the saddle on the barrel, strapping it around the bottom. He then put a piece of rope around the front of the barrel and attached an old metal loop he had found to it. He hooked up his thick riding rein, and climbed up into the saddle.

"Alright, boys, let's do it!" he shouted to Rock and Mac. Each one had a piece of PVC in their hands.

They started pulling and pushing on the pipe. The barrel started moving around wildly, bucking back and forth, up and down. Joe stayed on for about a second, then flew off. "Okay, boys, lets do it again," laughed Joe, picking himself up off the ground.

They trained like this for the rest of the day. At the end Joe was sore, and could stay on about eight seconds, the qualifying time in a rodeo, so he was happy. It started getting dark, so they finally stopped. Joe put the saddle and his rein in Rock's barn, and Rock took him home.

The sun found a tired and sore Joe Whesit the next morning. He got up and called Rock anyway. "Alright, Joe. If you're crazy enough ta do it, then I guess we'll do it again. I'll call Mac and be there to pick you up in five minutes," Rock said on the other end of the line.

Ten minutes later Joe was lying on the ground, thrown off the barrel again. The training went on for the rest of the week. By that Saturday, Joe had worked his way up to a whole minute on the barrel. He was ready.

It was Saturday evening, and Chet Whesit was preparing for that night's rodeo. "Will I see you there?" Chet asked his son.

"Definitely. Me an' Rock'll both be there. Rock's not gonna be in this one, though. He says he's too rusty," Joe answered.

"Alright, then. You better be rootin' for me. I've gotta go now. Bye."

Chet walked out of the house, leaving Joe standing alone in the kitchen. A minute later Rock pulled up with Joe's riding equipment in his truck. "Let's go," Joe said, climbing into the cab of Rock's Chevy.

They pulled up onto the rodeo grounds a few minutes later as Joe was pinning his number on his back. "You sure you can pull this off?" Rock asked.

"Yeah. Saddle bronc riding is the first event, and I made a deal so that I'll be the first rider. All I've gotta do is avoid Dad until I'm all set up. Piece o' cake," Joe said, smiling.

Joe got out and got all of his stuff. He walked through the crowds to the back of the chutes and met up with the host of the rodeo. "Alright, Joe," the man said, "you'll be in chute 4. You drew Rambo. He's a mean one. Probably meanest one here."

Joe went over to his chute, where Rock soon met him. Together with another guy they saddled and bridled Rambo. Then the announcer called everyone to silence as the flags were ridden in, and everyone stood for the national anthem. After it was over, Chet walked up. "Hi, Joe!" he said. "You didn't have to come back here to wish me luck, but I'm glad you did."

The announcer came on, "Ladies and gentleman! Welcome to tonight's rodeo! As you know, there will be a rodeo every Saturday night right here at the same time until the end of November. I hope to see all of you there!

"Now, tonight's first event is gonna be the event that started rodeo; saddle bronc! Tonight's first rider is Joe Whesit. Now this here's Joe's first time riding a real bronc, and, wouldn't you know it, he drew the meanest horse here, ol' Rambo! Well, let's see just how good Joe really is. Let's rodeo!"

A storm brewed in Chet Whesit's eyes. "I thought I told you no. Joe, why didn't you listen to me? Do you want to get yourself killed? You're not going to do this! Go tell Bob that right now! I mean it, Joe!"

Joe spoke without emotion in his voice. "No. I'm going to do this, Dad. I don't care what you say. Now get out of my way."

Joe walked by his father and climbed up the back of the chute. He sank into the saddle, slipped his feet into the stirrups, and took hold of the rein. Joe shouted out, "Alright, boys!"

The gate flew open and Rambo burst out of the chute. He was a wild one, just like the man had said. He jumped straight up and kicked back his hind legs. Joe was flung off and landed face down in the dirt within two seconds.

Rambo, rearing high into the air, slammed his front feet on Joe's back, knocking the wind out of Joe. Rambo reared back again, neighing loudly in triumph. Joe tried to catch his breath, but the wild horse came down again, and Joe felt a pain in his left arm and his neck. Then everything went dark.

When Joe woke up, he was lying on his stomach in a bed. He felt his back. It was wrapped up in medical bandages. "How do you feel?" a voice asked him.

"Painful. Where am I? What happened?" Joe asked.

"You're at your house in your own bed. Rambo stomped on you pretty bad. He bruised your ribs, broke your left arm, and almost broke your neck. You're one lucky son ova gun," the voice answered. It sounded strangely familiar.

"How long have I been out?" he asked.

"You've been asleep for about twelve hours. Want me to get your dad?" Rock (because that's who the voice was) asked.

"That's okay. I think I can get up and find him," Joe answered, pushing himself up to a sitting position. He looked at Rock. His eyes had bags under them, and looked red. "How long have you been awake?" he asked.

"All night. I was worried." Rock answered, stifling a yawn.

Joe got up and stiffly wobbled to the kitchen, followed closely by his best friend. His dad was sitting at the table, "Folsom Prison Blues" playing over the radio. "Hi, dad," Joe said, sheepishly.

"Joe! You're awake! I was so worried!" Chet cried, jumping out of his chair and running over to hug his only son, who winced with the pain of the pressure on his ribs.

"Dad, I'm sorry. I wanted to try it just once," Joe said.

"Well, that's one lesson learned. Go put on some clean clothes. We're gonna go learn another one," his father said sternly.

Joe changed his clothes, got a bite to eat, and then went with his father to their truck. Chet started the old Ford up without saying a word, and in a few minutes they were at Rock's house. "What are we doing here?" Joe asked suspiciously.

"I told you," his father replied, "we're going to learn a lesson. Now get out of the truck."

They went around to the back yard. Rock was waiting for them. Joe's saddle was on the barrel, along with his rein. "Get on," Chet commanded.

"Dad," Joe complained, "I said I learned my lesson. I'm never gonna do it again, okay? I quit rodeos. Okay?"

"No, Joe," Chet said coolly, "that's not okay. So you tried once and got hurt. So what?" He was speaking a little more angrily now. "No son of mine is going to be a quitter. You went behind my back and started this, so now you're going to finish this right here in front of me. Now get on that barrel."

Joe remorsefully climbed into the saddle. "Now," his father was saying, "hold on with your knees. Remember to keep your left hand up and waving, so that you won't touch the horse. Also, it will help you throw yourself back on if you feel yourself slipping off. Hold on to that rope tightly. And remember not to spur him before the horse lands after he comes out of the chute. Now, one thing you should never do is shout out like you did to get them to open the chute. It lets the bronc know that yer' ready. Got all that?"

Joe nodded his head slowly. He took a deep breath and nodded that he was ready to begin.

Rock pulled his rope as Chet jerked his up and down. The barrel started moving rapidly. Up, down, to the left, to the right, to the front, and to the back. Joe's father was shouting orders, and Joe was riding the barrel. They kept it up for about a minute, then Joe was thrown off.

He landed on his side and rolled over onto his stomach with a loud moan. He was out of breath and his ribs hurt. "Get up. Let's do it again," Chet commanded him.

Slowly and painfully Joe stood up. Rock was on the other side of the barrel, his father was standing beside him. "Congratulations, kid. You've just gotten yourself a personal trainer. Now get on that barrel," his father said, smiling coolly.

The rest of the week Chet and Rock made sure that Joe thought about nothing but saddle bronc riding. When he wasn't practicing or sleeping, he had to watch videos of the event. The next Saturday brought another rodeo. Joe was entered by his father and Rock. This time, Rock was going to be riding bulls in it.

That Saturday night, Joe found himself with Rock talking to Bob Mandrilly, the host of the rodeo. "Well, we're doing it a little different this time," Bob was saying, "Instead of having all of the bull riding at the end, we're going to have half at the beginning and half at the end. Now, Rock, you're riding in the first half. You have a nice ole' bull called Hatred. Joe, saddle bronc is the third event today. I hate to tell you this, but you have Rambo again."

"Alright," Joe and Rock said together. Bob left, and Rock turned to Joe. "Man, you sure you want to try and ride Rambo again?" he asked Joe.

"I'm not going to try and ride Rambo," Joe replied. He turned to walk away, and called over his shoulder, "I am going to ride him, and I'm going to win the money and the belt buckle."

Half an hour passed, and it was Rock's turn to ride Hatred, a large bull, all black with white horns and fire in his eyes. Rock got up on top of the bull and tied himself down. He nodded his head, and the gate flew open.

Hatred came out of the chute with a large jump. He spun around clockwise as soon as his feet touched the ground, and then leapt up into the air again. He kicked the air with his hind hoofs, came back down, and started spinning again, this time counter clockwise. Hatred got up against the fence and ran along it, trying to scrape his rider off. He tried every trick in the book to get Rock off, but Rock just stayed up there and rode him like there was nothing to it. The eight seconds were up and the buzzer buzzed. Rock pulled his hand out of the rope and jumped off of Hatred. He took his cowboy hat off and threw it into the crowd as the announcer called out his score; 83 points.

After what seemed to Joe a long time, the announcer came on again, calling out to the excited crowd, 'Alright, cowboys and cowgirls, we've got a rookie coming up next by the name of Joe Whesit. Now, some of you might remember Joe's last ride here when he took such a bad beatin' from purty ol' Rambo. Wael, he's back now, and, Lordy o' Lordy, if he ain't drawn Rambo again! Let's see if he cain't do better this time around."

Chet walked up to Joe, his face masking his worry for his only son. "Now Joe, this ain't gonna be the same as that barrel. That barrel's gonna seem like a carousel ride after tonight. Just remember what I told you and do your best and you'll be fine."

"Yessir'," Joe said, pulling on his riding glove, which had belonged to his dad when he started to ride.

Joe climbed over the fence, and climbed into the saddle courageously. Rambo gave a sudden little jump, and the young cowboy came halfway out of the saddle. But he slid back down as soon as the horse had calmed down, this time a bit slower. He put his spurred boots into the wooden stirrups, grabbed the rein in his leather clad hand, and leaned back, raising his feet over the bronco's shoulders. Joe pushed his hat down tight onto his head, whispered a pray, then nodded his head.

The gate swung open with a loud creak, and Rambo was loose. The beast swung his head out of the small pen and gave a tremendous leap into the air. As soon as Rambo's front hooves hit the ground, Joe dropped his feet to the horse's belly, squeezed his knees together, and gave the rein some slack. As the cowboy ran his spurs along the wild animal's ribs, it once again leapt into the air, this time straight up, rolling it's back, trying to buck Joe off. As the couple came back down, Joe's hat flew off of his head, but he didn't seem to notice, because Rambo jumped once again, this time spinning to the left. Joe pulled back on his rein and flung himself to the left as he felt himself being thrown off of the right. The trick worked, and he was still on the horse's back when the beast landed. Rambo reared up, his front hooves pawing the air, and came back down. Then he kicked his hind hooves back and brought his head down, but to no avail. Joe spurred the brute as he squeezed his knees even harder. The pair went into the air once again, this time spinning to the right. As they landed, the buzzer rang, signaling the end of the eight seconds.

The pickup men were there in half a second to help Joe get off of Rambo. He got off and went to the back of the chutes, where everyone was cheering. "What was my score?" Joe asked anxiously.

"You won! 86 points! Man, that was the best ride I've ever seen! You were right, that buckle is yours!" Rock was shouting through the others cheers.

Chet came up to Joe and looked at him sternly. He said very seriously, "You ain't gonna beat me next time, kiddo."

I'm sixteen and I live with my father and brother in Garner, North Carolina. I wrote this story when I was fourteen.

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