Cowboy Heroes

Being Shot At.

I’ve been shot at! No . . . it wasn’t a jealous husband, a jealous boyfriend or anything of that nature (although it may have been warranted a time or two). It wasn’t over a horse trade, a cattle deal gone bad or because I held someone up. Never been to war, never lived in a foreign country, or anything …

… you might normally associate with being shot at. I was shot at by the law, but didn’t deserve it! I was innocent! It was a little misunderstanding involving a trigger happy cop, mixed with bravado and beer. It went something like this:

My buddy and I had just broken down in a “borrowed” pickup truck on a long stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere. I say “borrowed” with a little emphasis to it because . . . let’s just say the vehicle was a little over due to be returned to its rightful owner. Some might say it was a stolen pickup at that point, as a matter of fact, some did say it was stolen, but I will contend it was borrowed.

When that pickup truck quit running and left us stranded on the side of the highway, we were tool-less and clueless. There weren’t any phones around for miles in any direction and things didn’t look good right about then. So we just took off  walking in the direction where there should be a pay phone. It was about dusk and before it was said and done we wound up walking 10 miles or so in the dark. Boy did our feet hurt before long. We had both just purchased brand new Tony Lamas!

Several cars passed us that evening and into the night, but nobody would stop to help. We were a little put out by their rude behavior, but looking back on it now, I guess the mean blue heeler cow dog growling at everyone as they passed or slowed down, and the fact we had taken with us the most important thing from that broken down truck (the remnants of a 24 pack of beer) . . . well I guess I can see why people may have been a little leery to stop.

After walking several hours, we arrived at this little convenience store and bar combination at a highway junction in the middle of nowhere. You know the kind of place, two highways intersect there, but there is no town around for quite a ways, so some enterprising individual opens up and sells cold drinks, tee shirts, gas and souvenirs to anyone willing to stop. Of course, there are always the local cowboys who don’t want to drive all the way to town to get alcoholic drinks also. Anyway, this little place just happened to have a pay phone on the wall on the highway side of the building. Perfect!

It was pretty dark that night, everywhere except the parking lot area that is, which was well lit by a street light. Of course, there wasn’t anyone around, as expected, since it was about midnight on a weekday. Now we can call a friend in the next town to come and rescue us. The only problem was . . . no change. But that’s okay – we’ll just wake up the feller who owns the establishment. He lived in the quarters attached to the rear of the building. Besides that, maybe we could convince him to sell us more beer while he’s at it.

Well, we went to banging on the doors and windows to the little place hoping to rouse somebody to come give us some change . . . and of course, more beer. After several minutes of banging and hollering, to no apparent avail, there suddenly appeared a pistol waving store keeper out of the darkness!

“Whoa now feller, there’s no need for pointing a pistol at us!” is what I told him. But he just started hollering that we were trying to break into his store and he had called the law already. “And besides that, I got word they’re looking for a couple of desperadoes that stole a pickup truck,” he said. “I don’t suppose you two are them?”

“Nope not us,” my friend told him. “Now wait just a minute; if we were trying to break into your store and were wanted by the law, would we be making so much noise trying to rouse you out of bed? No! We just want some change . . . and maybe a little beer. That’s all . . . can you help us out?”

It was a perfectly good sounding explanation to me, but mister store keeper wasn’t having any of it. After trying to talk to him for a minute and getting nowhere, we decided to leave as the dog was getting awful nervous and growling at the ol’ boy. I told him, “See ya!” and turned around to walk towards the highway junction. My friend followed suit. The irate store keeper hollered, “Stop!” and that the law would be there any minute.

Well, let me tell you, we were tired, sore footed, and in no mood for him or the law at that moment, so we kept right on walking. He hollered, “Stop!” again and said, “I’ll shoot,” but luckily he didn’t. We were hoping he wasn’t coyote enough to shoot us in the back. We kept our hands in plain sight. No tellin’ what that over-reactor would do with that pistol.

In just a few minutes we were out of the light by the store and were in the darkness near the highway junction. I had a suspicion that we better get hid out before the law got there.

Sure enough, in a short time, this black patrol car comes sliding to a stop in front of the little store. We could see all this from our hiding spot which was in some brush a little north of where we had left the lighted parking lot.

Apparently the pistol wielding store keeper and the highway patrolman knew each other. We could hear some of what was said, and mister store keeper wasn’t doing us any favors at all. He painted a bad picture of two drunken cowboys trying to break into his store, then the bar, and then his living quarters. Oh yeah, they are very drunk and dangerous, demanding more beer . . . and they have a vicious attack cow dog with them! They fit the description of the desperadoes wanted for stealing the vehicle also!

“You sound like a pretty bad hombre,” I told my friend.

“I think their talkin’ bout you, not me,” was the comeback.

So, this store keeper and the highway patrolman head into the direction whence we had gone. Pistols drawn! As they approached the darkness, some wild animal made a lot of noise in the brush about the same spot they thought we should have been hid out. It was just a little south of our present position and we had a good view of it all.

The highway patrolman hollers, “Freeze!” and points his pistol at the brush. God must have been looking out for two drunken cowboys that night because whatever was in the brush took off running south. You could hear the brush crashing as it tried making its get away.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! The highway patrolman fires four times in rapid succession at the noise of the crashing brush.“Holy smokes! That sorry *#*#*# is firing at us!” says my partner.“

Or at least what he thinks is us,” says I. “Lets get the heck out of here, that guy likes to shoot first and ask questions later!”

While the patrolman and the store keeper probed the scene of the shooting, we got the heck out of there in the opposite direction, muy pronto. We were careful not to make much noise while at it, just wanting to put distance between us and mister trigger happy highway patrolman.

It sure was a long walk to town that night, especially since we kept to the brush and avoided the roadway from there on out. We didn’t arrive at a friendly location until just after dawn the next morning . . . tired and hobbling pretty badly.

The next day we located the rightful owner of the pickup truck and helped him get it back home and running once again. We also persuaded him to talk to the judge with us for apparently we’d become wanted while out on our little jaunt; all charges were eventually dropped.    

A couple of days later we stopped by the scene of the incident at the highway junction. Being extremely careful to avoid the little store and its owner, we found a bloody trail leading to the south. Couple hundred yards later, we came across a dead deer in the brush . . . shot four times!“

That could have been us!” says I, as a cold shiver ran down my spine.

“We sure are a couple of lucky cowboys,” says my friend.

“Being shot at ain’t so lucky, but that deer taking the fall for us shore was.

”The moral of my story is . . . 

If you steal a truck, ‘cause you’re down on your luck
Don’t take it too far, and avoid the bars
When needing a quarter, don’t wake the owner
If avoiding the cops, don’t take long to stop
When you want more beer, don’t wind up like that deer!

– Jim Olson© 2010