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A Letter from Alf

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On The Edge Of Common Sense
by Baxter Black, DVM

Dear Carol and Grahame,
I’m writing in behalf of a
mutual friend, Alf, who spoke
highly of you. You know him
as a banker, land baron and
intellectual. I knew him in
college as a struggling, cynical,
stubborn hayseed who
was very thrifty. He would
go home on the holidays
to get his clothes washed.
He only owned two pair of
jeans and would wear the
same shirt all week, then
patch it on weekends. He
was constantly borrowing
my truck, my frying pan, my
overshoes and my typewriter.
I didn’t mind. He was a
friend, though I didn’t know
at the time how good a friend
he thought I was. To his
credit he was a hard worker
and became a good roper.
Of course, he borrowed my
horse, my saddle, my rope
and my trailer which he
pulled to ropings with my
truck which he often kept in
his driveway.
Years went by and we
stayed in touch. He became
a successful businessman
lending money to desperate
paupers and charging usurious
interest rates. He also
had a towing company preying
on highway breakdowns
and prided himself in learning
words like treatise, vacuity
and salubrious. Then you
came into his life. You took
him in, fed him, bedded him
down and treated him like a
C+ student. He had never felt
your kind of kindness, generosity
and faith. He began
to stick a tiptoe into feeding
the hungry, contributing to
cancer drives and filling up
the tank after he’d borrowed
your car. So when I invited
him to my ranch to help us
gather calves, he accepted.
And unlike years past, he did
not require I have an EMT
ambulance on the scene,
pay gas and transportation
for his round trip or someone
to saddle the horse I
lent him. He still insisted on
roping any slick calves we
might find.
As I said, he was a fairly
good roper and was helpful
bringing in the cows. There
was one slick in the bunch,
a bramer-lookin’ red calf
weighing 250 lbs. He needed
bandin’ and cuttin’, I took
Alf aside and told him this
red calf is kinda bravo…
spooky little booger and ran
like a deer.
He looked at me with
disdain, “I can do this, you
know.” I shrugged, “Okay.”
Unfortunately he had lost
his 60’ rope somewhere in
the 12-section piece of mesquite
and Lowell Lovegrass.
I lent him a rope. He eased
in the bunch. In a world of
black cattle, the red calf
stuck out. Now like I said, he
used to be a good roper but
he missed the first thee tries.
Then the second three tries.
Then he dropped his rope.
We thought for a minute he
would pass the turn to one
of the other cowboys. But
he didn’t. It was only after
7 more attempts, each accompanied
by increasingly
colorful language, that he
dismounted and on foot
began to stalk the red calf.
To his misfortune, he
caught it! A figure 8 around
the neck and left leg. Alf
took a quick wrap around
his waist and braced himself.
The calf was doing 35
mph when the slack ran
out! Alf was airborne long
enough to blow his hat off
and lose one spur! To our
amazement, after a sled
run around the pen, the
calf tangled in the line and
crashed! The crew fell on
the calf, subduing it while
Alf spit, shook and scraped
off the shrapnel that had
attached itself to the shirt I
had lent him. It…was…a…
glorious …moment! We gave
him a standing ovation, congratulating
him on his skills
and perseverance. He was
glowing with pride.
That’s when he asked
me if I’d write and tell you
how much he loves you and
maybe mention his cowboy
prowess. So, Carol and Grahame,
I can say, “Alfie loves
you and every cowboy in
the corral who watched
him survive that splendid
performance would agree,
“By gosh, he’s still got what
it takes!”
www.baxterblack.com

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