In this excerpt from A Good Place, 12 year old Mayo is being chased by a wild bull called “Roscoe.” I grew up in “Open Range” country where cattle roamed everywhere. The story below is gleaned from an old family story concerning my great great uncle, Dan Iles.
Climbing through another treetop, I broke off a small limb.
When I came out of the top, Roscoe was already around the treetop, heading me off at the pass.
I immediately reversed direction—running right back into the treetop. Snorting with rage, he came back around, matching my every move. We danced a deadly dance, a terrified boy and an angry, two-thousand-pound bull.
Again, I retreated into the fallen treetop, waited, and when Roscoe came around, I sprinted out the backside. Running for my life, I saw my salvation ahead—a leaning pine lodged at a forty-five degree angle against another pine. It was climbable if I beat the bull there, so I dropped my bag and sprinted as hard as I could run.
However, beating Roscoe there was a big if. He emerged from the fallen pine in a rage—he’d had enough of being toyed with. I ran, arms pumping, hollering at the top of my voice as if yelling would propel me faster.
Neither Roscoe, nor I could have predicted what happened next.
Bo came hurtling out of nowhere, launching himself at the large patch of skin dangling below the bull’s neck.
The enraged bull bellowed, slinging his head and spinning, attempting to shake Bo loose.
I forgot all about the leaning tree; this was a fight I had to see.
My daddy always said that no Redbone worth his salt would ever willingly miss a good fight. He was right—I wasn’t going to miss this one and began hollering for my dog. “Hang on, Bo. Get him, boy!”
I’ll never forget it—the bull turning savagely in circles churning large clods of dirt as Bo, tossed about like a limp rag doll, determinedly held on. It was a sight to behold, and better than any rodeo I’ve been to since.
“Come on, Bo—hang on, buddy. Show that bad bull what you’re made of.”
Finally, Bo slung loose, flying a good ways before hitting the ground hard. He lay dead still as the bull, ready for the kill, went after him.
Now, there was no way I was going to let that happen, especially after how Bo had saved me. What I did next wasn’t very smart on my part, but loyalty and instinct clouded my better judgment.
I ran and poked the bull in the eye with my limb, blindsiding him since he was focused on Bo.
Being poked in the eye was all it took for him to turn after me. By then, I’d dropped my limb and was halfway to the leaning tree.
Like a fox chased by a pack of hounds, I scampered up the tree. Roscoe arrived just seconds after I did and actually got his forefeet up on the leaning trunk, scraping loose pieces of bark and shaking the entire tree.
He snorted with rage as he slipped off, hitting the ground hard. I climbed higher and held on for dear life, safely watching him pawing and snorting below. From my high perch, I hollered down,
“Next time, I’ll have my daddy’s gun, and I’m gonna bust you with a load of buckshot.”
As if in response to my threat, he butted the tree, and I heard a sickening sound above me—the unmistakable cracking of a limb. Looking up, I saw the splintered limb that’d caused the pine to lodge.
Each time Roscoe rammed his head against the trunk, the limb cracked a little more and the dead tree seemed ready to go down. Sensing victory, the bull backed off to get a running start at the tree.
Looking around desperately for any way out of this mess, I glanced over and saw Bo standing, wobbly shaking his head. He barked loudly, causing Roscoe to stop and turn. It was almost comical to see the big bull repeatedly staring up in the tree at me, then at the barking dog, trying to decide which one he hated most.
Bo’s non-stop barking turned the bull’s full attention toward him. Roscoe snorted and trotted after Bo, who seemed to make a game out of it, alternately running at the bull and then backing off.
I couldn’t help laughing as I hollered, “Watch him, Bo. He’s faster than he looks.”
As Roscoe made a full charge, Bo took off for the swamp. They were off to the races again, the bull futilely chasing after Bo, as they went out of sight.
“Make it count, Son. Run that bull ragged.” Then the barking and snorting faded and the woods became silent.
I waited a while before climbing down, retrieving my sack, and making tracks for my grandparents. I‘d had just about as much excitement as one could stand for a day—first with the thieves, and then the “bull of the woods.”
Daddy was sitting on a stump sharpening his ax when I trotted up. Out of breath, I handed him the saw file.
“What’s the big hurry?”
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
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