Monday, May 9, 2011

Memoir: Chapter 21: Sorly, a horse destined for greatness, inspired his suicidal King owner to live a few more years

Barbara promised me that she and I would go to the nine room cave even if we could not get anyone to go with us. She assured me that this hike would not be too hard for me as I balked at climbing some of the places she did. She would climb up the front of the school house ledge like the boys did, but I would not. I used up all my bravery riding horses and had none to spare on sand rock ledges.
One Saturday she stayed over night on Friday as that Saturday was my day off from doing the wash. We climbed what she called 'the easy way' up to the school house ledge, then we began to walk to the west. Barbara kept saying it was a little further and a little further. Finally we entered what was a fairly large cave with several compartments in it, which was why it was called the nine room cave.  Some of the cave rooms had old bones in them which made me a little nervous.  What if a cougar suddenly came home? That thought caused me not to want to linger long in the nine room cave. 
Next Barbara showed me the trail that led down 'the crack' where we could climb down off the string of ledges. She said the green fields we could see close by belonged to the Haws ranch.  As we were walking along to the road leading back to the main highway through Boulder she pointed out the ledge our school boy chum Darrell had fallen down.  I had always imagined the blood spots they said he left on the pale sandrock to be permanent and therefore still plainly visible, but the rain had long since washed them away.  But I thought Darrell's spirit would always haunt that ledge.  
I was glad I had such a good sensible guide to all these places as Barbara. She was always respectful of my limitations and did not urge me to take chances I was not ready for. I had no doubt one of her older brothers or sisters had in turn been her guide to the nine room cave. Maybe Leah took her who worked for us more than any other hired girl and saved us children from all getting a bad case of chronic fatigue when we were young.   

We were sorry to see our teacher, Edison Alvey, go at the end of the year, but he had gotten a job in the Escalante High School where he planned to teach the rest of his days. I had not thought where I might go to high school. I didn't even know if I would live that long.

The parents had a hard time finding a new teacher when I went into the 6th grade and finally drafted Rosa Petersen, the wife of a local rancher who had taught school years ago. I remember she was appalled at my bad handwriting and tried her best to teach me better penmanship and failed. She was also big on spelling which I aced easily. I thought my bad handwriting could have been the result of nerves, writing with my left hand, or inheriting my penmanship from Grandpa Wilson. Everyone complained they could not read anything he or I wrote.

That spring I had another troubling encounter with Cecil, Grandpa's resentful hired man, which did not seem too bad on the surface but I became very worried about what could come of his unwelcome interest in me. How this meeting came about was through me having to go down in the draw during the spring roundup with my dad to bring up some cattle. Daddy got me going with them and then hurried on ahead of me to Boulder to do other tasks. The round-up of the cattle from the winter ranges was always a stressful time for him, which was why I could be drafted any time to help him keep some old cows from making their way to the mountain summer range by themselves where they would be trespassed.  
Cecil must have seen Daddy riding back through town alone because pretty soon he rode up saying he had come to 'help' me. I was immediately alarmed because he was observing my comings and goings so closely, but everything seemed to go okay until just before we rounded the turn into Boulder with the little herd of cattle, where we were more apt to be observed by someone. Cecil turned back and rode up close to me and grabbed me around my thigh exactly like a rough young cowboy might do to his girlfriend. Only he was thirty years old and I was only eleven. He was also getting far too close to my 'private parts' grabbing my thigh for me not to become very alarmed. Was this going to end like my encounters with Bill Isabel had done when I was five, with his hand down my pants? 

To my relief Cecil went no further, but the very fact he would lay his hands on me again after last summer's encounter in the pasture was ominous. From then I spent a lot of time worrying about Cecil and how I could put an end to his attentions without having to risk a scandal and worse to do it. 

But a big exciting new addition in our troubled lives proved to be Daddy's new horse, Sorly. Before the Baker family moved to Richfield, Daddy bargained with Hayward for a big colt he had gotten out of a lively work mare he bred to a local thoroughbred stallion. Daddy said he was big for a cow pony, but he thought this sorrell colt might just make a good cow horse, and when he actually started working with Sorly he got even more excited. He said that he had not let him buck when he was breaking him because he proved to be so intelligent and quick to learn.
Now that Daddy had trained Sorly and was riding him all the time he could not get over his lucky break in seeing the makings of great cow horse.  He acted like he had probably found his cow horse of a life time and that proved to be true. Sorly was soon taking first place in the judging of the best trained cow horses they had every year. Everybody in the country thought that my dad had spotted the makings of a great horse when no one else did, and now he truly had a wonder horse, so quick and intelligent he stood out. 
The only thing Daddy ever had trouble with was training Sorly to stand still after he roped a calf off him. The reason for that was because Daddy had gotten so he never dismounted when he was roping calves for branding, so Sorley only had to stand still and hold the calf in the calf roping competition on the Fourth of July.
The first year he competed in public in the 4th of July rodeo, he disgraced Daddy by running off with the calf he had roped when Daddy dismounted to go tie him. Sorly had been so excited the morning of the rodeo. Somehow he knew he was going on display. When Daddy rode him down to the store for something just before the rodeo, Sorly danced all the way. A dancing horse. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen him dancing myself. I couldn't get over it.  Daddy said the only time he danced was when he was on display in front of a bunch of people, but he seemed very pleased that he owned a horse that showed he knew the difference between ordinary days and the 4th of July in a little town like Boulder.  
I asked Daddy when he was going to let me ride Sorly to punch cattle.  He said I had better wait a couple of years until he settled down. I guess he did not want him running away with me because he was overly excited by a new young rider. 

 Daddy was the only one who got to ride Sorly the first couple of years. But I thought because of Sorly, Daddy was sure to live a few more years. He finally had the horse of his dreams that every cowboy is always looking for. He was going to have to stick around now so Sorly could live up to his promise with a legendary career as a rancher's treasure, just like Grandpa's Old Breech had done.   

I thought I had even more reason not to tell Daddy about Cecil though. He and Cecil still had to ride the winter ranges together where Daddy and Grandpa ran their cattle. Relations between them did not appear to have improved.  The yellow palomino mare with the black mane and tail, Grandpa's horse that Cecil trained, had been taking the prizes for being the best cow horse, but not after Sorly came into his own.
Grandpa King's horses had been outdone by the poor Widow Baker's colt nobody thought would amount to anything. I was so proud of Daddy for seeing the potential of this horse. He had really been rewarded with a horse that defines a great horseman, a horse as intelligent and quick to understand as  the cowboy who trained him. 
I always knew my dad was an even greater horse trainer than his dad and the hired hand he had taught, Cecil.  Daddy was a little more patient and a little more tenderhearted. Besides that he was one of the smartest men in the country.  He always saw a little deeper into any problem than other men.  But he was going to need every bit of the brains he possessed to keep from going down in flames like so many of his male relatives had done.  
I felt I was going to have to carry on where the other victims left off.  I would have to deal with the shadow world but without being addicted to alcohol as my male relatives had been maybe I could survive. I was like Grandpa King.  I was smart enough to keep my vow never to drink, but I was a girl for a reason.  I had to introduce women to the way the men had pulled the wool over their eyes, took advantage of them, because the males would never tell.  The women had to be able to figure out what went on somehow, observe for themselves, believe what their senses, instincts and analyzing powers told them.  They had to be able to think, with a problem like this, in order to figure out what was wrong in their marriages that so adversely affected the sons especially.  
Mother could not reach Daddy because of not fully understanding what caused his suicidal depressions. Her thinking abilities fell short, but I might be able to.    
I knew I had inherited the element that was superior in Daddy's thinking, which was another reason why I was so tortured. I could put things together faster than most kids. I knew Daddy could see a lot that was going on that he could never talk about it, and thanks to my ability to observe, analyze, and come to conclusions about what I saw, I could, too.  Well, this ability I inherited from him was either going to save me or cause me to have the worst crack-up in history.  Some days I just did not see how I could keep my sanity and deal with the shadow world that I thought my dad and his cowboys also inhabited.     
My dad had already all but cracked up as I saw it or he wouldn't have been trying to kill himself as often as he was.  My mother just was not  analytical enough to figure out the one big problem that was torturing him the most.  She did not have that kind of mind.  I figured Grandpa King had a good idea, but he was up in his 80's.  And it was obvious from how scared the women in his family were of his temper, he had always tried to protect himself.  He had not been self sacrificing enough to help his boys.
His daughter Nethella, my dad's oldest sister, had come home from teaching school with a new husband.  Together they were going to take over the management of the ranch from Grandpa.  I could see as soon as I got around her a little more she did not seem to have any perception of the shadow world that existed right under her nose on that ranch. In her years of interacting with her Dad and brothers she had not been able to pick up its insidious presence. Or if she did know anything, she had committed herself never to show it. 
Whereas I had a reoccurring dream that I was sneaking off over to the government corral at night when I heard the sounds of activity over there.  I would climb the fence and look down and see men who looked like bulls circling around in a deadly dance with each other, I would see their penises flashing silver in the moonlight, which filled me with great fear.  I would think that if they spotted me watching their rituals in the shadows, they would beller with rage and try to gore me with their long sharp horns or maybe with their stiff gleaming slick penises. I would shrink back down into the shadows trying to hide before I was killed for watching the male dance, a sight I was never supposed to see. 
I thought what I had to impart to the women of the world about the shadow men was so important that the spirits themselves would need to guide me.  If I could not talk to anyone else about this, and I could not, I could talk to the spirits.  I understood now why my Uncle Reed was always out in the trees talking to the spirits.  It was likely about this. 
I had to carry on where he left off, too.  With his sensitivity, his fragile health, he had broken.  Nothing he said made sense to people after he had gotten locked up a few times.  The world could no longer interpret his 'gibberish'.  Dementia praecox was his dread diagnosis. Alcohol was Uncle Reed's downfall before he got locked up. Poison moonshine they said split his fragile mind, so he was of not one mind any more.  Killed his best friend and almost killed him.  
I had to keep my head.  Keep from being raped and murdered by a shadow man.  Keep......

No comments:

Post a Comment