“When it came to a challenge, Jim Smiley just had to jump right in!” said Grandpa Turner.
“Ah, that’s just a story, Gramps,” said 14-year old Nate. He patted the shoulder of Rover, his bull. The beast was getting anxious with all the noise in the fairgrounds. The tarp spread over his whole body kept him reasonably calm, but a touch from the boy who raised him settled him down even more.
“Ain’t no story. ‘Strue!” Grandpa held out a picture for Nate to see. “See? Got a plaque and everything. Ol’ Jim was the luckiest son of a gun anybody ever knew. You got that kinda luck too. I can see it, ‘specially on account a’ you finding Rover.”
“You really think we can win the ‘Ugliest Bull’ contest?”
“I know it, boy.”
Grandpa Turner had moved the family to Oklahoma after selling his ranch to a winemaker in California. Hackams Bend was a tiny town, far smaller than the famed Angels Camp Grandpa Turner was born to. The “Grandstands” for the annual rodeo held no more than 350 people. Folks had to drive in from neighboring towns just to fill it. They never failed to come, though. The much ballyhooed “Ugliest Bull” contest and other creative competitions outpaced even the Fourth of July for popularity.
For this reason, the competition was tough. The hundred dollar entry fee meant as much as $2,000 was on the line. Colton Funston had won for the past three years with Meany Bull. The huge beast loved to fight other bulls, and every year he sported a fresh set of scars. He seemed a shoe-in for this year too.
Colton was next to last to appear in the competition. Organizers liked to saving the best for later. He trotted Meany Bull around the rodeo ring as the audience cheered. The beast stood 5’10” at the withers, huge for a bull. One eye was scarred over and solid white. A rakish red new scar stood prominently on his face. From the cheers, it seemed he would win again.
Nate showed appeared last. The rodeo organizers thought it was cute and fun to have a 14-year old join in, but nobody expected him to have a chance. First of all, Rover stood only 4’10” at the withers. Kinda small. They expected him to be a curiously-marked young bull, hardly scarred yet.
At last, Nate removed Rover’s tarp in front of the rodeo fans. The crowd gasped. People chattered excitedly.
“What in Hayull?”
“It’s got long horns, but that ain’t no longhorn!”
“Where’s his hayer? He ain’t got no hayer!”
“Lookit that dang tail! Looks lahk he’s shittin’ a alligator!”
“Whut’s that huge growth on his neck?”
“Folks!” called rodeo announcer John Turnbull over the speakers. “I ain’t never seen a uglier bull in all my days. Whaddya say?”
The crowd cheered so loud they could hear it the next county. Turnbull announced, “I hereby declare, Nathaniel Turner’s, ‘Rover’ is the Ugliest Bull!”
Nate smiled at Grandpa Turner in the stands. The old man held up a hug wad of hundreds. Apparently, he liked gambling as much as the legendary Jim Smiley. Hats flew into the rodeo ring around Nate as the crowd cheered even louder than before.
All of it stopped when Colton walked into the ring, Meany Bull in tow. “No, no! This ain’t right! That ain’t no bull!”
Turnbull replied over the speakers. “What is it then, Colton? A goat?”
The crowd guffawed.
“That ain’t no bull an’ ay can prove it!” He set Meany Bull loose and pointed at Rover. “Sick ’em!”
Bovines don’t see too well. So Meany Bull trotted straight up to Rover, as confident as you please. But when he finally got a good look at Rover’s yard-long horns pointed straight at him, something extraordinary happened. The fightingest bull in the state…turned tail and ran.
Nobody ever saw Meany Bull again. Legend says he ran all the way to Mexico, then drank himself to death. Others say, he met a senorita cow, and gave up fighting forever. All anybody knows is, the Ugliest Bull in the world lived in little Hackams Bend, Oklahoma.
Okay, yes, Triceratops is REALLY big, but some Ceratopsians are smaller and when these aren’t fully grown, they’ll be smaller than a bovine bull, but still mighty nasty. That would be Rover.
Each week on Monday, it’s time to finish the story. This week, Barbara W. Beacham provided a pic from Calveras County (posted above). The opening sentence prompt was, “When it came to a challenge, Jim Smiley just had to jump right in!” Well, I researched by reading Mark Twain’s, “The celebrated jumping frog of Calveras County.” Great story. I wanted to do it homage with my story, but with the Science Fiction angle I always like. I hope you enjoyed it. Here’s a link back to the prompt page and even more stories: https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/mondays-finish-the-story-march-2nd-2015/