Words and reactions x 4
Word count: 800
“Boy!” Had that word throw at me more times than I care to count. Snarled as an insult, or to make the user feel better about themselves.
A Padre once read words from the bible telling me to turn the other cheek at words that riled me. Never was one to do that, too much pride running through me.
Pride, now that’s a word that fits me. Even before I traded as Madrid, pride got me in and out of all kinds of trouble.
Heard ‘boy’ with a sneer in his voice, younger than me and full of his own importance asking what I was doing among those big shot ranchers. I looked him up and down and fingered my hip where my colt rested. Didn’t need to say any word to him, he got the message. His father might swing some weight as a cattleman, don’t give either of them any rights over me.
I sniffed, pulled my hat low, rested my hands on my hips and turned my back on him to hide the grin.
There are only a few men who I allow calling me that word. I look up to see one of them striding across the street.
Dios I’m proud when he calls me his ‘boy’.
Easterner, Dandy, Tenderfoot—those names have been directed my way and I smile calling upon my upbringing to not take offence.
But Yankee? I’d rather not dwell on the memories of the prison camp that word stirs in me.
Yet I heard it just now spoken with a hint of contempt. My mouth went dry, my heart fluttered. I turn and coolly appraise the man who had described me that way. A rancher puffed up with his own sense of importance.
I sniff and turn away. Grandfather once told me how he had been underestimated by high Boston society as being simply ‘trade’. It had worked to his advantage as his profits bought and brought social standing.
I’m not one to boast but I have skill with a rifle and horses, and I can recognise a good business deal offered by an honest man as opposed to a deal presented by a grifter. I will be a success here.
There is another word: ‘Boston’. I smile. At first, the boy had used it to bait me, but now I detect respect and even humour. I intend to earn and hear the word ‘brother’ when he describes me.
Stubborn. My dear late mother always said it’s a Lancer trait in the menfolk. Be that as it may, it gave me the strength to leave behind being the youngest son of a tenant farmer on a Scottish estate to becoming a rancher owner of over 100,000 acres in the San Joaquin valley.
I like to think it was Lancer charm and love, and that Lancer stubborn that won me my first wife, Catherine. Her father has several words to describe me, none of them complimentary, but I have a thick skin and a long memory. Although patience isn’t normally a word to describe any of my virtues, that and sheer stubborn persistence has eventually paid off and I have my two sons back.
Many fellow cattlemen admire my stubbornness, calling me bull-headed in my leadership of the association. However, I have been told there are one or two who find it a barrier to their ambitions to expand their own ranches.
I sniff and rise up to my full height readying myself for a confrontation at the cattlemen’s meeting.
I spy my boy waiting for me. I’ll live with being his ‘ol’ man’ while I wait for the day he’ll call me ‘Pa’.
Ornery. Been called that and slob; scruffy with messed up hair, yep I’m that and some. Most everyone soon learns not to tell me that to my face; there’s not many I’ll take that kind of sass from.
I’ve seen a lot, been a lot in my wandering life: gun for hire, trail boss, sheriff, best I have ever been though was Papi. The boy would call me that to charm his way out of feeling my displeasure at his sass or time-keeping. I ain’t one for being soppy but it was best when he let that one word slip out all-natural like.
He always had a good heart but like lots of young’uns who trade as guns for hire, he lost his way and went to a dark place. Now though, I can see he’s being herded onto the right path.
I sniff and smack my hat against my pants, raising dust, and watch him leaning against a post in that easy relaxed way of his and I raise my beat-up old hat to him.
I’m proud that boy now calls me his amigo.
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