Memoirs of a Yankee Cowboy

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Ben breaks loose again as he is pulled like a magnet toward his dream to reach the western shores.

Chapter 5 (v.1) - Troubles Follow

Submitted: May 02, 2019

Reads: 21

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Submitted: May 02, 2019



Chapter Five

From that time on, I didn’t stop except for gas, a fast bite and toilet until I got to South Dakota.  I had seen the posters about the motorcycle rally at Sturgis and I was one of the first to arrive.  It was crazy as I had never imagined it could be.  As usual, I found a bunch who included me in their party and I was drinking again.  This time I stopped myself after a few beers and jumped on my bike.  This was the side of me that I was running from.

I rode out into the desert and stopped at a little gas station just before entering Death Valley.  I bought water and stuffed it into my saddle bag, filled up with gas and had the most beautiful ride I could imagine.  It was heaven as I had never seen it.

I kept riding toward the Rocky Mountains.  The scenery took my breath and I never wanted it to stop, but before I got to Denver Colorado, I had to pull away from the highway going south to refuel.  I was running low on money and I asked a cowboy about the possibility of a job somewhere in the area.

“Know anything about cattle?”

“Raised and worked on dairy farms.”  I said.

“Then you know how to shovel shit.”  He said

“Never mind.”

The clerk asked me, “Know anything about working in a gas station?”

“I’ve done that too, but on a small scale.”

“Can you run a cash register?

“I can and I’m good at it all.”

“Then come back here and show me what you know.”

I did and the manager liked my work, so I got a trial run.  I worked there for a month for long hours which kept me out of bars, but I drank my beer bought at a discount from the station.  The people were cordial, the town was kept spotless with street cleaners and the motel by the gas station was really clean.  The smell of the ranches nearby and trying to stomach food in restaurants was another story.  The smell reminded me of the farms in New York times one hundred.

I kept my dealings with people honest.  I was determined to change from that little thief in New York.  Once I even chipped in for a woman who was running short on paying for her gas.  However, another man was not so honest and one night as I was getting ready to close up, I was met with a gun in my face.  I already had my hand down below before the register before he could open his mouth.  I grabbed the pistol on the shelf with my left hand as I said, “O.K. I’ll open the register.”

I popped open the drawer with my right hand, just as I brought the gun up and shot him in the face.  My boss walked out of the back office where he had been taking inventory.  He looked at the man on the floor and the bloody mess and then at me, standing there shaking like a leaf.

The police didn’t ask me any questions.  They knew who we were in the community.  They just had the mess cleaned up

That was it for me.  After I picked up my last paycheck, I explained to the manager that my mission was to get on and settle in California.  He was a good man and gave me a letter of reference to use when I got there.

I passed by some good places that I really would have liked to explore and moved on.


When I saw the California state sign, I yelled out at the beautiful blue sky with elation.  I was not done yet, I wanted to pierce the state and find a place where I kiss the ground.  I did that after a pit stop near a park.  I ran into the park, got on my knees and actually kissed the ground.  I bought post cards at a service station and mailed them home to Ma, my brothers and my sisters.  I wrote on each one of them “Beautiful America, Beautiful State, I made it all the way on my bike without a beer, without a smoke, without a tear.  I mailed them and thought, well I guess maybe I had a beer or two.  They didn’t need to know all the story.

I rolled into Kensington, north of Berkeley one night, beat and hungry.  I got a job as a janitor in a bar and got caught up in drinking again.  I met a barfly named Veila who offered me a room in her house to stay for just the companionship.  I was tired of sleeping in the janitor’s closet so I took her up on it.

I soon found out why she needed me there.  She had a little baby boy that needed a daddy.  He was dam cute and she wasn’t bad to look at in an average sort of way.  The little boy was a good kid and I took to him right away.

Veila took me to Las Vegas for an outing and one crazy night we were both getting pretty drunk.  We were married in a Vegas chapel before we left town.  Back in Kensinton, I put in for adoption of the boy.  She got pregnant right away and we had another little boy.

My new wife was really sweet and seemed easy going.  She didn’t drink or smoke for the months she carried our child.  But since she wasn’t that much fun either, I got involved with a biker gang and we had some pretty wild parties.

I didn’t feel the need to chase women, but Veila thought I was having sex with every girl and woman in the mobile home park and beyond.  She ragged on me every time she got drunk.

After the boys, Eugene and Benjamin, Jr. started school, it turned out that my new wife could keep up with me in the drinking and she was just as quick tempered as I was.

Even so, I didn’t think life was so bad at first.  I got a job as a night watchman which paid more.  I had my boys and I put in for my GED which I passed with flying colors.  But we needed more.

I had read an article in a local paper about adult learning and training programs.  I got a great job as a top printer.  I was doing well.

But then the sky fell and after seven years, the printing shop went bust overnight and the shop full of people were left without a paycheck.  I had always been looking for a family.  Now I had one, but I was struggling to keep them together.  Along with my unemployment, I somehow found a way to get enough work to keep us going while looking for a permanent job.

But now, I’m skipping over my addictive behavior, some of which I continued after I was settled down.  I had been keeping in touch by mail and phone with my family in New York state.  One day I got a call from Ma.  The youngest brother, Keith had tried to follow me and ended up in Las Vegas.  The authorities there had just notified her that he had been killed in a drug deal there.  I ran up credit cards and went to Vegas to identify and arrange for shipment of his body home.  I will never forget looking into his drained face and remembering what he always said, “I’m just as loose and cool as you, Bennie.”  I walked out in a daze, made arrangements for shipment back paying with my credit cards.  I went straight to a bar, got liquored up and slept it off in my car.  The next morning, I gambled, running up more credit card debt.  I watched the card games about an hour before I got into the game.  I was sweating and really feverish with the winning, but then the dealer became suspicious and I got kicked out for suspected card counting.  Anyway, I made some of the money back to pay off some of the credit card bills and to make it home.

When I got home, things spiraled further down.  Veila and I were battling it out and boozing more every day.  She was getting more and more depressed.  She was not a good mom and the boys went school half dressed, unkempt and with lunches they packed themselves after eating breakfast that they made themselves.  That was happening from day one of kindergarten.

I was working part time jobs and looking for permanent work.  I was now down to smoking cigars, but my boozing after hours was a constant.  I slipped through the loops of the law for DUI’s but was ordered to AA due to being drunk and disorderly.  In our neighborhood, I was known as the top of the drunken party clowns.

One fourth of July, there was the usual party with fireworks.  Before the big boomers, I was already drunk.  The kids were playing with sparklers and we were shooting off the little poppers.  I put a whole string of them in my back pocket and lit them.  I was jumping all over with the poppers going off and yelling, “Blow up the clown” over and over with the kids screaming and laughing.

I spent a lot of time at a sleaze motorcycle bar near our apartment.  Veila got a job as a bartender and that’s when the real trouble started.  She started flirting and going to bed with the men she served.  We had a camper at a lake in the next county where I would take the boys fishing on the weekends.  She started running up our credit cards to take guys there for the night.  The tables had turned and I was the one being cheated on.  I stopped that soon enough.  I paid off and cut up the credit cards that day.  She was furious when she was rejected at the liquor store.

Finally, after three years, I ran into a cowboy at an AA meeting that said he was a foreman at a dude horse ranch near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  He talked for quite a while and at comment time, I said, I love horses, but hate cows.  “See me after the meeting”, he said.

“We have a training program for both men and women who can be committed to working long hard hours with horses and then build up to deal with green horns and guide them on trail rides.  If anyone is interested, sign up to interview after the meeting.”

I signed on and went to the bar to tell the wife that we were moving to Jackson Hole.  Veila was mad that I would show up at her workplace while she was working.  After she got home she came and slammed the door behind her.  She informed me that no way was she going to leave her job.

I verbally painted a picture for her about the handsome cowboys that I had met.  I really didn’t care if she went with me or not, but there was no way I wanted to leave another family of boys.  These kids were the only reason that I went home at night.  They were finally the family I got to raise and I didn’t want to give them up.  I knew if I left her and went out the Wyoming, she would file for divorce and there was no way the courts would let me take them across state line.  But I wanted that job.

She got a different look on her face when I told her about the tall cowboys.  She walked over and put her arms around my waist.  “You’re all the tall cowboy I want.”

I thought, yeah, I bet.  I hugged her back.  That night we had sex for the first time since I got laid off.

Within the week, we were packing and moving out to cow country to start a whole new life.  We lived in a mobile home park and for a little while we were seemingly happy.  The boys were in school and for a change, their mother was taking care of them.  The oldest boy was now eleven years old and my biological child was going on ten.  They were having the time of their lives with more friends than they ever had.

I started out working on the ranch which was a short old country bus ride from the mobile home park.

It didn’t take long before Veila was back in her depression.  She didn’t take well with the western wives and started drinking, hoarding and getting lost in her puzzles, books and T.V. soaps and movies.  My job kept me until late at night, I would come home to a filthy house and the boys were once again on their own to get meals, dress themselves and run free in the neighborhood.

It was good money, but every day was an eleven hour a day job.  It was not too great for family life.  I didn’t see the difference because my wife was lost to me anyway with her refusal to take care of the house or kids.  She would sit and stare at the T.V. and play cards, read romance novels and scream if anyone interrupted her.

Life went on and the boys somehow survived, but they were wild.  They were the bullies.  Every time the oldest got into trouble at school, his mother came charging in to take up for him with the school, and by the time they were graduated from high school, I had to start making the boys come work with me on the ranch after school and during the summer months.

The boys graduated and went to work full time at the ranch in the summer.  When I cut off her money and the credit cards, their mother went back to work in a cowboy bar and repeated her actions from before.  I filed for divorce with the aid of a great lawyer.  While we were getting a divorce, I was back to drinking as heavy as ever at the biker bar.  One day, I was running my bike along the neighborhood roads near the town park when a dog ran out in front of me.  I wasn’t going fast, but the impact turned me over and the bike slid me down the pavement scaping and tearing at my leg muscles as it went.  The insurance company for the family who owned the dog paid for my hospital stay, lost wages and rehabilitation.  The rancher was great about giving me time off and I used that time to exercise my legs.

When the divorce was over, I moved into an apartment near the ranch with the boys, and their mother was happy to have the mobile home all to herself.

One day after I went back to work, the cowgirls on the ranch dragged me out to the dance bar.  I really didn’t think this was something I wanted to do, but after a lesson or two and dressed like a real cowboy, I was addicted.  I became healthy and drank less.  The crazy thing about it all was that I no longer was interested in women and drank very little.  Dance was now my addiction.

I will always remember the rare Saturday afternoon when I stepped onto the dance floor for a line dance lesson.  Next to me was a thin little woman with long, blonde hair.  I noticed her hair briefly and then turned my attention to the teacher.

As I was spinning around beside the woman on the last few notes, my eyes locked with the woman next to me.  The shock was so great that we stumbled into each other.



© Copyright 2019 Cookie Reece. All rights reserved.


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