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Writins of Weakeyes Cody

                                  Talented and witty writings

Take It Or Leave It   @2004

We had been on the drive for a couple of weeks and were just lettin' the cattle graze along during the day. Covering maybe five miles. There were fifteen of us, not countin' the boss, and we were headin' for Abilene with around five hundred fat longhorns. So far it hadn't rained much but the grass was high which kept the dust down so's ridin' drag wasn't so bad. I was settin' on ol' speck braidin' a quirt one evenin' long about sundown when I spotted a thin trail of dust out to the east. It wasn't long before I made out a skinny lookin' old dun horse with a dusty rider. He approached camp with an skeptical attitude 'cause we all knew and he knew he was ridin' the grub line. He was an echo of his horse, a critter that needed feed and water and a few days to bring him up to bein' a normal wrangler. I was close to the wagon and my curiosity drew me over to where I could listen as he stood twiddlin' with the reins. His beard was all scraggly, his mustache was askew and his clothes had kissed too many thorns. He was sayin' to the boss his name was Whitehurst, Coffer Whitehurst, and he needed work and was good with ropes and such and would appreciate a job. The boss invited him to a plate of cold beans, a cuppa coffee and a little hard tack and told him to let his horse in with ours to graze. He did this and bedded down that night in a ragged bedroll out from the rest of us.


With a fresh horse under him, Coffer rode with us next day and even took drag. He began smiling about the third day and even joked a little. Pretty soon I was sharin' my tobacco and papers with him. Coffer was handy with leather and wood and soon he began to hand out little bits of things he had made to the riders, like watch fobs, whips he would braid and carvings of various things. By the second week he had become a part of our outfit.


We crossed Red River, and entered the nations by mid July, and Coffer cussed because he had got his boots wet in the process. He didn't have much so I reckoned he guarded what he did have closely. That evenin' at supper time he complained to cook about too much salt in the beans. Then it rained and he complained that the slicker the boss had given him had a hole in it. As we got deeper into the red clay country he complained about havin' to ride drag and breathin' that red dust. Around the fire he developed a tendency to tell the boss how best to direct the herd and gradually he became the camp curmudgeon being sort of displeased with the world in general.


The summer heat of August beat down on us and it was somewhere betwixt the South Canadian and Cimmeron Rivers that Coffer and Spade Jackson got into it and tussled for maybe twenty minutes around the camp before deciding it was going to get worse before it got better and quit swingin'. Next morning at the crest of a knoll Coffer rode up to me on his old dun horse which was lookin' pretty good now, and stuck out his hand. "I'll be leavin' yuh here curly." He announced to my surprise. "I ain't wanted here no more." I tried to tell 'im that a fight ain't unusual 'tween cowpunchers, but he was set on leavin'. He told me life was just that way and that it was time he moved on.


He lit out down the slope and I knew it would be the last I'd see of Coffer Whitehurst. I rode on a piece pausing again to look back. Then I reached into my pocket and fetched out my pocket knife with the nice oak wood that Coffer had put on it for me replacing the original that got busted. It was a nice piece of work. Coffer had a gift for such things. Leaning forward on the pommel of my saddle, I reckoned people are all endowed with little bits of unique qualities. We all have something that's different. My eyes caught again the thin line of dust far below as it wound its way westward. Coffer had a special gift. He liked to give out things. And we could take 'em or leave 'em.


~ Weakeyes Cody


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