ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT
AND SOME THAT AIN'T
Howdy folks! This here’s ol’ Pete and Rosebud comin’ at you again!
I reckon you remember me tellin’ you ’bout my mule Rosebud gettin’ herself called up for jury duty, don’t you? I was purty worried about it there for awhile. As it turned out, I didn’t have to be, but I didn’t know that, y’see.
Ol’ Denver come up here with his pickup to carry us to town bright and early the day she was s’posed to show up down there at the courthouse. It was a tight squeeze in the cab, but we all three got wedged in with Denver drivin’, me settin’ in the middle and Rosebud with her head out the winder. She likes to ride like that, with her head stuck out so’s the wind will riffle her mane as we go down the road. That, and she likes to holler as everbody we come to. She’s just like a young’un when it comes to stuff like that.
We hadn’t gone very far past the crossroads down there when Denver kinda offhand mentioned he’d been havin’ trouble with his brakes. Yeah, said he hoped they wouldn’t go out. That sorta bothered me and it didn’t help none that we was about to head over that long grade down to the flats when he brought it up. There’s stories about brakes goin’ out on that hill and there ain’t none of ’em got a happy endin’.
The hill ain’t too bad ’til you get to the bottom. There’s that sharp right-hand turn with that big ol’ rock settin’ out there where if you miss the curve you’re gonna hit it. Yeah, if you don’t make it around that curve, you’re liable to splatter on that rock like a big ol’ bug on a windshield. I don’t mind tellin’ you, thinkin’ about it bothered me some.
At the top of the hill, Denver downshifted to secont gear. Everthing was lookin’ good. We got about a third of the way down and everthing’s still lookin’ good. Denver sorta tapped the brakes ever now and again, but mostly the secont gear was holdin’ us back just about right. Halfway down and we was still doin’ good. Two thirds of the way and everthing is still alright. I start to breathe again. Then we’re far enough down that I can see the bottom and that big ol’ rock settin’ out there. It’s okay, I’m thinkin’, we’ve got it made.
Then it happened! The dadgum truck jumps outta secont gear and we take off like a rock fallin’ outta the sky! And we’re headin’ straight for that big rock! Denver slams his foot down on the brake pedal. The brakes give out a squall, the truck bucks and then the pedal slams all the way to the floor board! We ain’t got no brakes! We’re gonna die!
They say that when you’re drownin’, your life flashes before your eyes. I’m here to tell you that drownin’ ain’t got nothin’ on headin’ for a big rock at a hunnert miles a hour! I seen everthing bad I ever done in them few seconts. I knowed I was a goner. I knowed we was gonna hit that rock and they was gonna have to scrape us off of it with a shovel!
But—miracle of miracles!—we made it. I don’t know how. Seems like Denver sorta eased over to the side and dropped the wheels into the ditch. The wheels held in that ditch like it was in a groove and we whipped around that curve like we was on one of them rolly-coasters! Yeah, it just slung us around that curve like we was supposed to do it like that.
The rest of the trip wasn’t too bad but we crept along real slow from there on to town. The only other trouble we had was with them red lights after we got there. It’s hard to stop at red lights when you ain’t got no brakes. But slowin’ down and easin’ through a red light ever now and again ain’t nothin’ compared to comin’ down off that hill the way we did. We finally made it over to the courthouse and Denver geared it down slow enough for Rosebud to jump out.
There ain’t nothin’ much to the rest of the story. Not like there was up to then, there wasn’t. I wasn’t even worried no more. Bein’ chewed out by a judge ’cause you brung a mule into his courthouse ain’t nothin’ when you’ve looked death in the face. What’s that judge gonna do to you? Make you pay a fine? Throw you in jail for corn-temp of court? That ain’t nothin’ compared to bein’ splattered on a big rock. It’s hard to scare somebody that’s faced somethin’ like that and lived to tell about it.
That’s the way I was feelin’ after we’d gone around the square a couple of times and got slowed up enough to pull to the curb and park. Rosebud had already gone up to the courtroom by then. When I got there they had just started callin’ the roll to see who was there. They come to her name and she bellowed out her “here” and they went on like they wasn’t nothin’ strange about it. Me and Denver set there and waited while them lawyers asked questions and everthing. They picked the jury out before they even got down to Rosebud. The judge ’scused her and the rest of ’em, said thank you very much and told ’em they could all go home.
I still ain’t figgered out just what happened. I don’t know if they didn’t notice her bein’ a mule’, didn’t care or what. She did happen to set down behind this great big fat woman. Maybe that was it. Maybe they just didn’t get a good look at her.
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