Authors note: This story is very loosely based on Mickey Gilley's great song:
"The girls all get prettier at closing time...
They all begin to look like movie stars
When the change starts taking place
It puts a glow on every face
Of the falling angels of the back street bars"
"Hey, Jake! How about that one? Damn, a nine for sure. Oh, hell, she's with that handsome bull rider."
I turned my head to see what Hank was looking at. Man, he wasn't kidding. An easy nine. And that looked like Pete Ayres—he was the guy that rode Bodacious inta the ground over in Amarillo and took the prize money. Yeah, I remembered...
Never forget that night. I was young and cocky—pretty sure of myself. I had a ride in the finals on Hellfire; damned if it wasn't the bull right after Pete's ride. I was still glumly watching Pete in my mind and not really ready when the gate opened. My grip wasn't what it should have been and I didn't even make two seconds. It never was clear in my mind what that bull done but I landed on my nose and Hellfire kicked my leg before they got him off me.
I woke up at the hospital the next morning with a cute little blonde nurse messing 'round with my plumbing ... putting a tube in it or somethin'. She looked up and saw I was awake and gave me a big smile.
"Hey, cowboy. The night nurse didn't do this right so I'm fixin' it for you. Doc says I can take it out in the mornin'. How you feelin'? I'm Annie, by the way."
I wasn't really sure how I felt—thought maybe I'd ask. I didn't know what had happened. Last thing I 'membered was that shit eatin' grin on Pete's mug when he jumped off Bodacious.
"How did I get here?"
"Oh, honey. I was at the rodeo last night and saw that handsome hunk, Pete. He was great. Then I saw you get on Hellfire and I tol' Martha—she's my best friend from forever ago—and I said, 'Martha—this guy is really cute. I bet you the next beer that he wins everything.' Then that chute opened and Martha said, 'Annie, go get them beers.' I never ever saw a cowboy hit the ground any faster," she finished with a way too cheerful laugh.
Later the doc came in and told me my rodeo days were over. I'd broken that big bone in my leg but they couldn't put it in a cast until the swelling went down. It was held in some pulley contraption and my leg was uncovered. My thigh looked like rainbows were having a convention from my knee to my hip. My leg was fatter than that Greta's over to the café. (Though some said she might be more fun to ride than any bull.)
The next morning Annie pulled out that damn thing she'd done put in my privates. Aw, did it hurt! Sweet girl like that looked like she would be gentle.
"Hey, cowboy. Now you can use a bedpan. Let me know if you need any help." She was laughing as she walked away. Woman thought she was a comic.
Since I couldn't ride anymore I had to find something' to do for money. I looked around and found something' that sounded pretty good for a broken'-up bull rider. I wound up managing a large ranch for an oil guy about forty miles out of town.
Hank nudged me as the next passel of gals come waltzin' in the big dance hall. Glancing in the mirror, I shook my head again and saw the way my nose started out heading down southeast but turned for the southwest like it couldn't make up its mind. No, I wasn't gonna miss them bulls much. (I do hafta say that since I fell off that bull I sure enjoyed eatin' big steaks more than ever. If they would butcher Hellfire I'd be in heaven.) Running my finger over the bend in my nose I watched that group of overstuffed jeans walking away with their butts twitching back and forth like a dog and cat having at it in a burlap bag ... like we used to do to them for sport.
I looked at the clock—past ten and I hadn't even had a dance yet. Hank had gone dancing off with a solid seven while I was feelin' sorry for my nose. Shruggin' my shoulders in resignation, I started looking for a five or six—it was getting' late and I hadn't been laid the last three times I came in to town.
I saw a couple of girls come in the side door—one I knew 'cause she was a regular squeeze of Hank's. The other looked pretty good stuffed into a short jean skirt (a good seven plus) and the brightest flowery shirt I'd ever seen, but man, those freckles spread across her face—like the time the hail over my dad's place wiped the hay out—and the kinky curly red hair pushing out of the ugliest hat I'd ever seen; well, that hat and those freckles cost her a good couple of points.
Her friend, Tammy, skittered off and she sidled up to the bar like she was kinda dry so I started thinkin' 'bout buying her a beer. I was rubbin' the bend in my nose and caught her lookin' at me in the mirror and she just frowned a little and decided she wasn't that thirsty after all. Hell, those damn freckles cost her a good three points. Man, not even at closin' time!
Tammy and I entered the dark expanse—there were five bars and three big dance floors—through the door next to the side parking lot. I hadn't really wanted to come but Tammy said she was horny and maybe that guy, Hank that owned the feed store would be there.
"Tammy, Hank's gotta be ten, fifteen years older than you. What do you see in him?"
"Sally, I admit he ain't 'xactly God's gift to women and maybe he is a little long in the tooth. But honey, he ain't forgot nothing once I got him in my bed and he done wore the paint off the wall banging the bed into it!" This last with a big grin.
I almost didn't come: my twin babies Bobby and Missy was all over me as I was trying to get dressed. They weren't but three years old but I think their wind-up key broke—they were wound up all the time. Patsy, my sitter, was late and I was getting frazzled. I was trying to pull my panty hose up where it wrinkled on my thigh and snagged it with my nail and started a run. I 'bout said the hell with going out 'cause I was down to just this pair. I remembered what my momma told me and dabbed a little clear finger nail polish on the tear so it wouldn't run no more. Hopefully it was high enough under my short jean skirt that it wouldn't show.
I put on my new boots daddy give me for my birthday—momma passed away a year ago last summer and now daddy spent too much money on me and the kids—and my prettiest shirt with all the flowers on it. I wisht I could buy a new hat—mine looked like the hogs had got at it.
Anyway as I was walkin' in by the bar, I saw this guy with a butt that was a ten (I wasn't horny like Tammy but I could see myself cuddlin' up against that—ten for sure—butt on a cold winter night so I signed to Tammy and I started over to the bar, thinking I'd stand there and look thirsty. Then I saw his face in a mirror—kinda cute—but his nose looked like that Circle S brand that Kenny Slade used out west of town. Maybe a six. It wasn't that late and we had just got here anyhow. Closing time wasn't 'til two.
Decidin' I wasn't that thirsty I scat on into the dancin' area and found Tammy sittin' with Hank. They were both already sweaty from dancin' and were drinkin' a couple of long necks. Tammy was holdin' hers up to her neck to cool off.
I sat down and it weren't but a minute when this tall lanky drink of water in a new Stetson and sportin' a big handlebar mustache asked to whirl 'round for a bit. He weren't but a two or three but it was too early to worry 'bout anything like that and I surely did love to dance. They were playing "High-Tech Redneck"—man, I do love that great George Jones song—and we did a lively two-step. We did a couple more, and then they started on a couple of line dances and when they started playing "Cotton-Eyed Joe" I cut loose and got all sweaty myself.
I finally danced a couple of waltzes with Molly—a cute ol' gal I fooled with once in a while. I saw that freckle-faced gal dancin' a line dance and she sure looked good in that jean skirt. Looked like she didn't have anything to be shamed of under those roses on her shirt. Molly cut out on me to go to the bar where she was the late shift bartender. I was standing there watching her butt walk away and someone bumped into me, liked to knock me over.
I turned 'round and caught freckle-face lookin' at me a little pissed off. She'd lost her ugly little hat and her curls were looking like they were trying to cut and run—kinda reminded me of that surly old sheep dog got caught in the electric fence that time ... damn fine dog he'd been too.
"Hey, you crazy galoot. This is a dance floor, not a parking lot."
Her face was as red as her hair. I couldn't tell if she was that mad or if it were the dancin' she'd been doin'. I just grabbed her hands and picked up the beat and started a waltz with her. Her face turned from red to white so fast I thought she was passin' out. She looked like a bobcat I surprised once and it sure looked like it didn't know whether to turn tail and run or just try to kill me.
She suddenly relaxed a bit and give me a funny little smile like that lady I saw in a magazine over to the doc's office that time, Mona somebody. Anyway she was the best damn dancer I ever saw and I weren't too bad myself... 'cept for that limp I couldn't get rid of—doc said I'd like to never get rid of it.
We danced a couple of songs then they played a slow one by Faron Young, "Crying Time." After a bit she put her head on my shoulder. She felt good—maybe those freckles were kinda cute after all. Of a sudden, she pulled back and turned for her table; I could see something wet under her eyes.
.... There is more of this story ...