On the ranch, there’s a lot of bull to go around, between all the actual bulls, plus all the braggin and boastin that goes on among the ranch hands and cowboys, which is also called bull, I guess because when you set to braggin, you bust all of your outlandish words through every reasonable thought in their path like a bull bustin through a fence. Some horses, and some people, too, behave like bulls themselves, actually bustin right through other people or other horses with their orneriness ‘til they’ve got ‘em cowed (see that right there? most things always start with and come back around to cattle). And that is, I tell you, where the word bully comes from.
This is the tale of when I encountered a mean bull of a man here on the County Island. Me and the bucket gal was strollin on the side of a road where a little horse path runs, when I heard a great, big rumbly truck behind us. Mostly trucks and cars make a low rumble sound that ain’t a big deal, but if they’re gallopin down the road, they can clatter like a hundred horseshoes. They can pass a horse so close I swear they could scrape the hair off my hide.
So this rumbly truck came clatterin and roarin and bangin with a big ol’ rollin box bein towed by it, runnin in what’s more like a slow trottin zone. And so my gal and I moved quietly aside as far as we could without landin in a cactus, and the bucket gal waved to ask it nicely, “Hey, slow down.” But just like a bull-headed horse that grabs the bit and charges when ya want it to stop, the rumbly truck set its hocks set under itself for take-off right next to me, and then it blazed past us in a great cloud of dust and gravel. The bucket gal yelled some bad names at it after it, lots worse than I’ve ever heard her call one of us horses, and I could see her shadow on the road wave her hand and make a gesture people use when want to give someone what-for.
We strolled on for a ways, when a little car suddenly come barrelin at us from the direction where the rumbly truck had went! And the car stopped kinda blockin our way, and out stepped a man redder in the face than a cowboy that’s been out in the sun too long.
I stood there politely, with my ears pricked forward to try to catch all his words, while he berated my bucket gal up one side and down the other. I learned he was drivin the rumbly truck just before, and was so mad when he got home, he had to come find us in his other little car to give us some what-for. But, for what?
Oh, how he shouted! You horse women, like they was bad, and … can’t control your horses! I wondered if I looked particularly out of control to him while I stood like a palomino rock. He must know some truly dead-headed horses, emphasis on dead … you think you own the road … and … should just stay off the road, and again with the part about can’t control your horses.
And oh, how my bucket gal’s voice changed! She started off sweet, like when she’s tryin to direct one of us in a positive manner to do somethin maybe we ain’t inclined to do. She was all sir this, and sir that, and I hope you can understand that you was speedin and that all I was askin was for you to please slow down a bit.
But the bull wouldn’t let her talk, runnin her down with his words and then takin a step closer to me, and wavin his arms all around me, like maybe he thought he could threaten me like that.
He shouted at her, almost in my face, “You flipped me off!”
The bucket gal said, “Yes. I did. AFTER I asked you to please slow down, and. you. floored. it. right. next. to. my. horse. on. purpose.”
More bully shoutin. I stayed as still as I could, though my nose started to itch somethin fierce. But I wasn’t gonna scratch it or move a whisker while he was gesticulatin and talkin trash about how danged out of control I was and how my bucket gal couldn’t ride me for shit, pardon my french, and should stay off the road.
Well, he kept rantin. He was callin her words my dam would have nipped me hard for sayin back in the day. The afternoon seemed to drag on. The sun was fadin in the sky. Bucket time was, I reckoned, about to come and go without me. The red-faced bull and his tiny car was still blockin our way home. I was startin to feel entirely sorry for myself.
The bucket gal finally inquired if he had an issue with women in general and enjoyed tryin to intimidate ‘em and use his rumbly truck and his car like weapons against ‘em, which was, she noted, illegal.
And with that, the big ol’ red-faced bull backed away into his tiny car and said he was done talkin, and peeled on home.
Oh, we rode after him to find his house, and the bucket gal done made the only good use I ever seen of one the telephones that the people talk too much to, and she used the telephone to talk to the sheriff, which is to say, the herd-alpha police of all the people here on the County Island. Our sheriff deputies like us horses, and like to keep the peace for us.
The female, I must note, deputy that went to have a word with the bull man must have talked some sense into his skull, ‘cause a short time later at home, when the bucket gal was puttin me away – and finally gave a starved horse his bucket – her telephone called her and told her that the bull man wanted her to know he was very sorry, and that the lady deputy had done explained to him “traffic law.” Oh, how she must have given him a right proper round-pennin, and I had missed it!
But I don’t miss the red bull man. We ain’t seen him since, not that I know of, and that’s fine by me.