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Henry the Bull

by na’im 10 months ago in Humor · updated 10 months ago
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Henry the Bull - Hailey Jackson

“Relax everyone. He did not mean to say that.” Winston’s calm, steady voice betrayed the scared look on his face as his life flashed before him. His cheeks ached from the force necessary to engineer a smile. The muscles around the corners of his lips began to melt against the heat of his fear.

Using only his eyes, Winston tried to smile harder. His mother always said he had the eyes of a young Harry Belafonte. At that moment, he wished he’d gone into acting.

“I meant every word.” Eaton was defiant as he focused on the little boy who asked him the challenging question.

Eaton was a towering figure at 6’7’’ tall and 285 lbs. The brown, strong locks of hair that were formed out of a receding hairline flowed perfectly into a full, gruff beard. Leonard stood on the stage of the auditorium, with oversized eyebrows barely separated by a fold of skin in between them. His eyes were piercing. Nothing within or around his eyes suggested he was joking. His agent and best friend Winston knew the look all too well.

Small, soft-spoken with a boyish face, Winston was the perfect counterbalance to Eaton’s abrasive personality. Winston and Eaton were friends since elementary school. The plan was for Eaton to be the superstar athlete and for Winston to become his sports agent. Eaton eventually became the most recognized athlete on the planet and would bully other athletes to choose Winston as their agent. It wasn't too hard to convince many because Winston was far from a slouch as one of the more skillful agents of his time.

It all went crashing down when Eaton assaulted a young fan in the stands after being heckled relentlessly. Eaton lost practically everything and so did Winston. Impressively, Winston resurrected Eaton’s revenue generating capacity by turning him into a traveling attraction at various small-town fairs throughout the country.

“Ha. ha. That’s what your fans like about you. You’re such a kidder” Winston was praying for Eaton to follow along with him.

“I’m not kidding.”

“Ha. Oh yes, you are.”

“I meant every damn word.”

Speaking through his comically frozen face, Winston managed to whisper words to Eaton in a manner that would make the most accomplished ventriloquist envious. “Eaton. Stop staring at that boy. And take your comments back.”

Demonstrating ventriloquism dexterity of his own, Eaton replied, “Hell, no. And, Hell, no.”

A series of voices emerged from the crowd. “Apologize! Apologize to that boy! Yeah! Apologize, idiot. Yeah, weirdo, apologize! Apologize, you asshole! He needs to apologize! That’s why you’ll never make it back to the league!”

“Ladies and Gentleman,” Winston’s face calmed enough to speak. “The Amazing Mr. Challenge was giving the young lad a compliment, but in his own colorful, challenging way.”

The crowd looked confused. Winston had them exactly where he wanted them. He almost felt bad for them. His grandmother always said he had the guile to match any politician. At that moment, he wished he was running for Mayor instead of saving Eaton’s image once again.

“The young lad said to the stupendous, miraculous, unmatched, Amazing Mr. Challenge that he hopes he does not use paid actors in his many challenges. When the marvelous, Amazing Mr. Challenge responded back by saying he hopes the young lad one day grows into his oversized head, he was actually calling him a precocious little kid. It was his tough love and challenging way of saying the kid is quite advanced for his age and can become somebody great. Now, you all would agree he’s rather advanced for his age, right? Don't you believe he can become somebody great with tough love?”

Nods started rippling through the crowd

Winston noticed a few people still looking puzzled.

Winston whispered to Eaton, “Nod your head as if you actually agree with me, damnit.”

Eaton flashed his trademark large smile and nodded his head. He finally lifted his gaze from the little boy to the nearly three hundred other fairgoers in attendance.

Eaton hadn’t noticed how packed the large, circular auditorium was before. There were thirty rows of progressively elevated bench seating forming a nice oval around a field of dried hay, horse manure, and a diverse assortment of abandoned food wrappers.

The Annual Biscuit Festival was the biggest event held in the small town of Dalton. The auditorium was the prized jewel of the festival. From the monthly Medieval jousting events, daily rodeos, and the weekly funerals, everything was held in the auditorium. Today they were hosting the Amazing Mr. Challenge and his traveling challenge contest. The auditorium was completely sold out.

The Amazing Mr. Challenge’s shows were always sold out. It wasn't hard to understand why.

Each ticket holder is asked to come prepared to present a challenge for the contest. Everyone yells out their challenge, however, only one challenger is chosen each night by Winston. He had a knack for estimating odds. If the Amazing Mr. Challenge fails to meet the challenge on a given night, everyone gets double their money back on their $50 ticket. Additionally, the person responsible for the successful challenge gets an added grand prize. Remarkably, the Amazing Mr. Challenge rarely fails. The few towns that are successful at challenging him become immediate tourist attractions.

“We do not use paid actors, young lad,” Winston had completely regained his composure.

“Well, then challenge an animal to prove it,” the boy smirked. He knew that was against the rules, but he figured it was worth a shot. “Or are you chicken?”

“The rules of the challenge are clear. The challenge must be completed in the auditorium and only with citizens,” Winston was relieved to have navigated through the challenge from the lad.

“My prized bull, Henry is in the auditorium,” the little boy smirked again as panic noticeably infiltrated the face of Winston.

“You have a live Bull in here?”

The town nodded in unison.

“In here right now?”

The town nodded in unison again.

“I suspect that this Henry bull is somehow also a citizen of your fine town?”

All the townsfolk nodded once again. The pride was palpable.

“So, what’s the challenge?”

“Henry is our reigning champion in our annual staring contest,” the little boy’s voice echoed through the auditorium. He paused for added effect as he lifted his head into the air and displayed the type of grin that wiggled the ears. “He’s been in my family for years. And Henry challenges the Amazing Mr. Challenge to a staring contest."

“What do you want for your grand prize if you win?” Winston was equally curious and terrified of the answer to his question.

“We want to borrow his Misses to bake 500 red velvet cakes from scratch on the count that our town baker was killed jousting and we like our red velvet cakes.”

“And if we win?”

“We will give you all a key to the city.”

“Key to the city? We want the bull instead, but Challenge accepted!” Eaton blurted out. Before Winston could stop him, he ran over and shook the boy’s hand.

The town roared in celebration!

“Eaton!” Winston was furious.

“He challenged my manhood when called me a fake. He made it personal. So, I’m making it personal, too. I'm taking his prized bull home with me.”

“Oh, your manhood was challenged?” Eaton’s wife emerged from the crowd and approached the steps leading to the stage. “So, that just made it okay for you to volunteer my womanhood?”

“Honeybuns? Can we talk about this later?”

“Oh, Mr. Manhood, now you want to talk something over?”

“Pumpkin, I think these fine people have had a long day and I don’t want to keep them waiting.”

“Mr. Manhood doesn’t want to keep the fine people waiting. Like how we had to wait for your pill to work on our wedding night?”

“Why would he need a pill at a wedding?” the young boy seemed puzzled.

“Sugarpops. I am just trying to be a stand-up guy for these fine people.”

“Oh, Mr. Manhood is trying to be a stand-up guy for these fine people. That’s odd since he sits down every single time he goes to the bathroom.”

“Every time, Amazing Mr. Challenge, sir?” The young boy seemed both puzzled and concerned.

“Turtle dove. I am just trying to be respectful to these fine people.”

“Mr. Manhood here wants to be respectful to these fine people. Does anyone want to know who made the anonymous call to the national news about your killer mosquitoes?”

“Our mosquitoes can kill?” The boy was puzzled, concerned, and frightened.

“Snookums. Let’s not scare the little children.”

“Mr. Manhood doesn’t want us to scare the little children. Like the way you’re scared of large stuffed animals?”

“Okay, okay!” Winston stepped in. “Listen. Clearly, we are all upset here. Eaton. I didn’t agree with this, but I really don’t think you can win this challenge. So, let’s say this. If you do win, you can have all the money, but I will no longer represent you. I’m tired of bailing you out. If you lose like I know you will, I will represent you one more time. And trust me, it will be the last time.”

“This is getting interesting.” The boy whistled into the corner of the auditorium. Everyone in the auditorium stood up as Henry the Bull walked toward the stage. One by one, the men all removed their hats.

“I want a piece of the action. I definitely didn’t agree with this either. If you lose, Mr. Manhood, we are going to settle down and raise a family in this town because I’m not leaving here anytime soon. And if you win, Mr. Manhood, I would love to have the Bull for our home. I hear bull sperm in a bottle is what all the celebrity stylists use. ”

The boy looked puzzled, confused, concerned, and intrigued.

Eaton looked frigthened.


About the author


K-12 educator originally from the South now freezing in the Upper Midwest.

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