I seen a lot of scorpions in my day. Of all the tiny varmints that can bite or sting an unsuspectin horse on the snout when his head and his defenses are down, a scorpion’s my least favorite, ‘cause they sneak up on ya silent-like, then sting ya with a swish of their tail and run. I don’t know why they run, ‘cause from my understandin of the cowboys’ talk, a scorpion’s danged near impossible to stomp on and kill, and I’d likely say the big, bad cowboys is even afraid of scorpions. So I’d think a scorpion would rather stand his ground and keep on stingin ‘til he got whatever it was he was after, ‘cause I think that’s what I would do if I was a scorpion.
Over the course of the very last hot time, a downright infestation of scorpions was set upon the County Island. There was a couple big’uns that took up residence inside the shed where our bucket gal keeps our hay, of which I am only aware ‘cause on more than one occasion I heard her high-pitched, blood-curdlin, shrieky screams comin from inside there. And then it would take her twice as long as it should take to feed us horses, while she was busy shriekin instead of horse-feedin. So then the scorpions really were, pardon my french, pissin me off.
So you can likely imagine my surprise when the next thing I overheard was that the people, includin our own bucket gal, was all excited, and apparently in a good way, because “the” scorpions was gonna be right here on the County Island for somethin called a “photo shoot” as part of their “tour in the valley.” And this here shootin was gonna require some of the County Island’s finest horses to deal with ‘em.
It weren’t even a proper job for a ranch horse to handle, from the sound of it. It was gonna require all the extra tact and diplomacy of some mighty fine therapeutic ridin horses — which is those that help those people that can benefit the most from a horse’s kindness — to take on all of them scorpions at once and tour ‘em right out of town, among them some of my buddy therapeutic ridin horses from the place where I went to study with the horse police.
My mind was downright boggled. What kinda scorpions could be so well, big, maybe, or so important, maybe, that the people were callin in horses to deal with ‘em, I’d likely guess to round ‘em up and drive ‘em elsewhere, preferably off the County Island entirely? Scorpions as big and ornery as a Brahma bull, maybe? Even I don’t know if I’d like to take on that kinda scorpion. Oh sure, in my younger days, but like the fella in the song sings it, well, I ain’t as good as I once was. But if they wasn’t big as bulls, sendin people out on horseback to shoot at scorpions in the desert didn’t make no sense at all, although this bein the County Island, you would think I would know better than to keep lookin for logic in plain sight.
It turned out our gal wasn’t gonna be shootin any scorpions herself, which is a good thing ‘cause I ain’t never seen her handle a revolver and I kinda doubt she’s got the capability, nor thankfully was I expected to cut and sort any scorpions nor round any up. But we was apparently gonna go over to watch the proceedins and then take a trail ride after.
Before I’d even stepped out of the rolling white horse box at the therapeutic ridin center, my poor ranch-horse ears was assaulted by a reverberatin and ranklin racket which the people call “heavy metal music.” And it does grate on a horse’s nerves the way the way a sound of a cowboy at work solderin or sawin on metal pipe fencin does, so I guess that’s why it’s called that.
There weren’t no scorpions to be seen nowhere, even though I made sure to tilt my head downward and from side to side, and to scan the dusty ground as best I could, but rather there was good horses wearin good western saddles and bridles (the therapeutic horses was playin at ranch-pony dress-up). And there was rumbly bikes which is called Harley-Davidson motorcycles near to which the horses was standin.
And there was men there that sorta looked like cowboys, if cowboys was wearin their proper jeans and chaps, but forgot to put their shirts on and was only wearin leather vests, and lotsa chains, like stud chains, around their necks. They did have cowboy hats on, but they didn’t talk like no cowboys I ever heard. They was all “zis” and “zat” in their talkin, like, “Vhere do you vant us to ztand for zee shoot?” and such, although they seemed like alright kinda guys. But they weren’t likely to hit any scorpions at all if they aimed to just stand there and shoot at ‘em!
I managed to ask my therapeutic horse pal who I call Big Red what the deal was, as one of the strange “cowboys” settled into his saddle and posed him near one of the Harleys, and set to consultin with a man who carried a very large photographin camera. Big Red said he had no real idea what was goin on, other than the people kept sayin that the cowboys were the scorpions, or “the scorps.” Me and Big Red locked eyes for a second, then set to snortin hard.
At that point, I just stopped tryin to understand it and reckoned I’d roll vith, I mean with, it. And after a time, I found myself bobbin my head along with the heavy metal music. It did have a real good and strong rhythm once you gave it a chance. Maybe that’s why the people liked it. So if these funny-talkin, fine fellas was “the scorpions,” and the idea was to shoot the scorpions with cameras on account of tourin’ ‘em around the valley, then so be it. The whole afternoon, this here sign that was posted on the main gate was the only evidence I saw at all of any scorpions: