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Ropers, Milkers, Muggers, and Nuns (Part 5--The End)

A Sister Jim Bob Jesse and Sister Forebearance Tale

By Chuck EtheridgePublished 10 months ago 7 min read
Ropers, Milkers, Muggers, and Nuns (Part 5--The End)
Photo by hp koch on Unsplash

The time keeper was the only one in the whole arena paying attention to the actual event rather than the carnage in the ring, and a buzzer went off.

The loud BUZZZZZZ musta woken up Forbearance, because she sat up real quick, crossed herself, and said “AMEN” real loud like she does when she falls asleep in mass. Then, she looked around real loud and said, “Did we win?”

Well, I gotta tell you I was so glad she was all right that I ran over and hugged her, which is something you probably should never do to a nun. But she hugged me back and I helped her get standing up and by then Sister Jim Bob Jesse and Father Darry Lee were with us.

“Did we win?” Forbearance asked again, only it was hard to hear her ‘cause the crowd was cheering real loud.

I’d been so caught up in whether or not the sister was maimed or dead that I’d plumb forgot about the competition. “Doesn’t work that way,” I said. “Remember? We compete for the best times?”

“What’s our time then?” Forbearance asked impatiently.

“Can’t be right,” I said, staring at the electronic time clock by the judge’s table.

“Fifty-eight seconds?” Jim Bob Jesse read aloud. “Is that good?”

“It’s unheard of,” Father Darryl Lee muttered, and then looked at me. “I think you better get to the judge’s table.”

When I got there, the judges were talking.

“It’s a disqualification,” said one old-timer with a big belt buckle and a bigger wad of chaw in his lip.

“Gotta be,” said another old-timer in a ten-gallon hat.

“Okay,” said the third judge, who was also the announcer, reaching for the mike.

I put my hand on his arm. “Wait a second, sir. But why?”

“Why?” he said. “Whaddaya mean, ‘Why?’”

“Look at the rules,” I said. “She got the loop on the stock. The cow didn’t get jerked or dragged. The milk bottle got filled and over to the judge’s table.” I picked up the bottle and tipped it, watching the milk run down the side. “The cow got milked.”

“But she fell off the horse,” Big Chaw said.

“Fell off?” Ten Gallon said. “Flew off is more like it. Knocked that poor heifer silly.” I wasn’t sure if he was referring to the cow or was being mean about Sister Forbearance, but I kept my lip buttoned even though I felt mad inside. “That roper knocked that poor cow out!”

“None-a that’s against the rules, boys,” the announcer said. “It’s dumb, but not against the rules.”

Ten Gallon turned away in disgust and Big Chaw let loose with a stream of tobacco juice into a 32 ounce Allsup’s cup, glaring at me over the rim. But they didn’t argue.

“That’s a good, time,” the announcer said into the mike, his voice amplified all over the Dumas Fair Grounds. “The Lady Gophers of Galilee post a time of 58 seconds.” He paused, his eyes scanning a clipboard on the table in front of him. “Which, I believe, that’s right, here it is—Which is a new record!”

Most of the crowd—the people who’d come watch the rodeo and have a good time—cheered. I guess Wild Cow Milking Catholic Clergy makes for good entertainment. The team captains from the other contestants came over to the judge’s table to argue. But the announcer, to give him credit, stood his ground, and, after a while, they gave up and went back to their teams.

Jim Bob Jesse and Forbearance had big ol’ smiles on their faces when I got back to them. Father Darryl Lee looked shell shocked, like he’d just gotten home from the war or something. The nuns had the reins to both the horses we’d brought.

“So, did we win?” Jim Bob Jesse asked.

“Like I said earlier, we gotta wait and see what the other times are,” I said. But I knew we were gonna. “Let’s put the horses away and then we’ll meet back in the stands.”

“I’ll help,” Father Darryl Lee said, taking the reins of the gelding from Sister Jim Bob Jesse.

“MWOOOeeeOOWoooo!” came a loud sound from the ground near us. She-Devil’s whole body shook, and she looked around crazily, then shot to her feet. Then she got an eyeful of Forbearance, who she must have recognized because she turned and ran off in the other direction. I swear that cow looked petrified.

“And the cow is OK too,” the announcer added to scattered applause.

When the Padre and I caught up to the sisters, they were in the stands in deep conversation with some dime store cowboy—a guy in pressed jeans, a Western shirt, and boots and hat so new you just know he’d bought ‘em the day before from some Farm and Ranch store.

“This is Mr. Benavidamontez,” Sister Jim Bob Jesse said by way of introduction. She said it “Ben E Vee du Mahn taze.”

Mr. B shook hands. “I’m from Laredo Distribution. We’re the corporate sponsors.”

“Nice to meet you, sir,” I said, automatically polite in my Panhandle way. I didn’t know what this big city man wanted—Laredo’s HUGE, like 200,000, big, like Amarillo. The very thought makes me shiver. But both sisters looked happy, so he must have been doing something nice.

“Mister Benavidamontez asked us about our team,” Forbearance gushed. “So we told him all about the girl’s bathroom and how it needed fixin . . .”

“And he just up and offered to pay for the whole thing!” Jim Bob Jesse was beaming too. “Isn’t that nice?”

“Yes, it is,” I said, puzzled but pleased. Mr. B’s gift meant my retirement from Ranch Rodeo was permanent—or at least I hoped it was.

“Are we gonna have to put up a sign?” Father Darryl Lee, usually mild, sounded irritated.

“Oh no, Father,” Mr. B said meekly. “It’s not necessary. It’s my gift to you.” Then, he added, “I’m Catholic, too.”

“What’s wrong with a sign thanking him for his generosity?” Forbearance wanted to know.

“Do you really want a sign up in the girl’s bathroom that says ‘This here bathroom was fixed up by Devil Beer?’” Father Darryl Lee asked.

“I see your point,” Jim Bob Jesse said.

A bright idea suddenly dawned. “How about,” I said, and then held up my hands like they were holding a sign, “Renovations to this facility were made possible by the generosity of Laredo Distribution.”

Both Father Darryl Lee and Mr. B looked pleased by that idea. I have my moments.

“That finishes up the Wild Cow Milking competition,” came the voice over the loudspeaker. “And the winner is—the Lady Gophers!!!!”

Most of the crowd cheered. Forbearance and Jim Bob Jesse looked pleased. Father Darryl Lee still had this “Beam me up” look on his face. We all headed to the judge’s table to claim our prize.

Mr. B stopped me and said, “You know, we’re looking to sponsor a team. Do you think your friends would be interested? It’d be, well, it’d be great PR for the company.”

I looked at the three black clad Catholics walking toward the judge’s table and heard the cheers raining down on them. And I remembered that Sister Forbearance had told me that I just needed to have faith, and that she had enough faith for all of us, and that we’d gotten what we came for—funds to fix the girl’s bathroom.

Then again, there’s a fine line between faith and foolishness. Best not to push our luck.

“Probably not, sir. We’re all pretty busy up at the school.”

He gave me a card. “Let me know if you change your mind, Pete.”

I took the card and put it in my pocket. “Thanks,” I said, turning to join my friends. “But I won’t.”

By Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash


About the Creator

Chuck Etheridge

Novelist, Teacher, Transplanted West Texan, Reluctant Poet

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