chapter twelve

chapter six

chapter twelve

chapter one

chapter seven

chapter thirteen

chapter two

chapter eight

chapter fourteen

chapter three

chapter nine

chapter fifteen

chapter four

chapter ten

chapter sixteen

chapter five

chapter eleven

chapter seventeen

chapter twelve
just among friends

They found a nice little spot to make camp for the night, situated right in the middle of a clump of trees. They could see the mountains miles off in the distance. And about fifty yards away and over a small rise was a narrow section of the river. It was only a few feet deep and the current was slow, but it would serve its purpose.

The sun was just going down behind the distant mountains, and tonight it was almost a full moon. After Norny tended to the horses she headed off to the river to bathe. She needed to refresh after her long ordeal back in Ballard and riding through trail dust all day. Her mood was somber from the memory of her friend Jimís sad ending.

The boys had split up gathering wood for the campfire and to cook dinner.

Pete was collecting wood beneath a group of trees while Roscoe was walking along the crest of the hill between the river and the camp. He hears a little water movement and as he bends down to retrieve a piece of wood, his eyes catch a small glimpse of heaven at dusk. Through the tree limbs he could see a vision of religious proportion. There was Norny standing hip deep in the river. Naked up to her cowboy hat. Except for the earring around her neck.

"HOLY!ÖÖÖ" Roscoe exclaims to himself.

He stood up and looked straight at her. He knew he should avert his attention and give her privacy, but what man could? Catching sight of something as provocative as Norny appeared to him. His view of her was sensual, but rather in a more artistic and poetic light. Were he a painter, he would have wanted to capture the magic of the moment for its full value.

For Norny was a prize for any mans eyes, and it was never more apparent than now, he thought.

He was captivated by Norny just for who she was, but to see her like this. Well it was a new and welcome perspective on her.

 

The ripples were evenly spaced one after the other spreading out gently from the emerging curves of her feminine torso.

Her long brown hair flowed down her back past her squared shoulders, like Venus DeMilo in a cowboy hat. He could only see her back and just the side of her breast. Her proportions were just right. Not too much or too little of anything. But just enough to alert a man that sheís a woman. Both he and Pete had almost forgotten what a soft and feminine creature she was underneath that rugged exterior. She was becoming their cowgirl pal and sidekick and they tried not to let themselves think of her as a female object, but as a friend.

Pete is walking up the ridge to see whatís going on with Roscoe. He notices that something has his full attention. "What the hell you starin at Roscoe?"

When he arrives at the top and looks out, "Yippee yi o!" Pete says. "Norny got your tongue Roscoe?"

"Not yet, but she can have it and anything else I got if she wants it."

"Damn! Sheíd better not catch us up here lookin at her, or sheís gonna be mad. Besides, sheís been real down in the mouth since we left Ballard. Thereís something that has been bothering her." Pete says.

"Maybe we should ask her about it. Says Roscoe.

The two men couldnít help but stare at Norny from up there.

This was the third time Pete and Roscoe saw Norny for the first time. Once when they had seen her riding Cricket, then when they saw her defend herself against men, and now seeing her in the buff in all her feminine splendor. She was a whole new woman to them like this.

In an almost whispering voice Roscoe says, "Ainít she somethin, a prettier site I never saw. And to think she is the result of Indian up bringing. Hard to believe. Sheís extraordinary."

"Sheís what?" Pete asks.

"Sheís special in an unusual way." Roscoe replies.

"Oh!Ö Yeah, she sure is." Pete says

Norny went on about her business unaware that she was being watched.

"Think about it Pete. That little lady down there can out ride, out fight and out class just about any man or woman weíve ever met. I wonder what her life must have been like growing up the way she did. Sheís so independent and tough, yet kind and gentle the way a woman should be."

"You ainít gonna tell me sheís the fragrance of lilacs or somethin, are ya?" Pete says sarcastically.

Roscoe slowly turns his head towards Pete with a scowl on his face, "You got all the sensitivity of dog shit." Roscoe says.

Pete just laughs, "Yeah! Well here you go again... stirring up all this mushy crap. Iíve told you before, you canít be in love with her, you gotta get her out of your chest."

"I donít give a damn if I am! Hell, there are worse women to fall for. Women that donít deserve a manís attention. But Iíd sure like to know what kind of man has her heart." Roscoe says.

"Yeah? Well, so would I. But we know it isnít one of us, so keep it holstered pal."

They were right about her. As tough as she was, Norny could knock most men out with just her smile. And thatís what amazed them the most.

Both Pete and Roscoe couldnít help but be intrigued by her. For Pete it was just an attraction, but for Roscoe it was much more.

Norny had brought forth words and images from Roscoe that he didnít know existed within him.

Roscoe was a rough tough rodeo riding cowboy, but he had the imagination and sensitivity of an artist. It was obvious with his poetic words of cadence and rhyme, and his view of things from his colorfully slanted prospective.

As much as Roscoe desired her and wanted desperately to savor the flavor of the complete Norny experience, and even though he knew it could never really happen. He understood better than Pete that an intimate relationship with her would cause the artistic and poetic illusion to quickly disappear. And he didnít want that.

The more Roscoe was around her, the more he became inspired with poetic images of Norny. For the first time in a long time, Roscoe was chuck full of words and rhyme about his cowgirl angel on the lone prairie. And he wanted to make it last as long as possible.

Roscoe was always the more philosophical of the two of them, but sometimes Peteís stability and common sense kept Roscoe from doing something foolish.

 

"Try and think of her as our little sister like I do, that might help." Pete says

"Yeah.. right! Look, Iím never going to act on my feelings, it's enough that I know that theyíre there. But I canít hold it inside, I need to let it out, to express it somehow." Roscoe says.

"Well havenít you been doing that with those little mushy pie poems youíve been writing?"

"Look, if the words come to me, I gotta write it - good or bad. Hell, your my buddy, nobody else hears the words behind my words."

"And I guess it makes me the unlucky target of your romantic caterwallering. No matter how much we both want to jump into the river and wash her back, we canít do it. And if we did, we would loose the friendship we have with her. We got too much invested in her to do something stupid. Are you forgetting it cost us six grand to keep her out of jail? Now I think we need to do something totally against our instincts." Pete says.

"Yeah, whatís that?"

"Weíre gonna walk back to camp like we didnít see a thing."

"Yeah, I know we are.. Damn it!" Roscoe says, "Tell me Pete, do you think weíre fools?"

"Yeah, you know we are. But we would be even bigger fools if we betrayed her trust."

"I guess your right.".

While Pete and Roscoe walk back to camp Roscoe tells Pete, "You know Pete, I thought about telling Norny how much I think of her before she goes."

"You shouldnít oughta do that Roscoe. Sheís heading off in another direction. And whether she means to or not, she gonna have to step on your feelings to get there. So where is that going to leave you?"

Roscoeís feelings for Norny is what gave him the ability to poeticize her character. Once the feelings he had for her changed or went away, so would his inspiration and his ability to see her in a creative light.

"Damn it! Your right again Pete. I guess Iím not thinkin too clear these days."

"No, I guess your not Roscoe,".

 

They dropped the subject and went about their business.

Pete built a fire while Norny finished bathing and Roscoe rustled up some grub.

Roscoe was fixing one of his specialties for dinner, and he was brewing up some tea for Norny and coffee for them. You could never predict what Roscoe was whipping up. He had quite an imagination when it came to poetry or food. And right now his thinking and judgment was a little impaired. This could effect the out come of anything he does.

Roscoe had put some things in a stew pot and set it on the fire while he made some skillet biscuits, "I got some tea here for ya Norny, here use this cup."

"Thanks, but I have my own cup." And she went into her bag and brought out the cup and saucer Daniel and given her.

"Mighty fancy cup for the trail." Roscoe says as he pours.

"It was a gift from a friend." She says

"And have one of my biscuits while we wait for dinner to finish cooking."

So the three of them are sitting around the campfire sipping their brew while they wait. While Norny sips her tea, she take her biscuit and pokes it over the little pinky finger of her cup hand.

"What are ya doin with that biscuit on your pinky finger there Norny, is that an Indian thing?"

"No, itís a white manís thing." She says.

"Well who taught you to do that?"

"No one, I just figured it out. I knew the little finger was sticking up in the air for something but I didnít know what. Then I saw little Erin poke it over her finger and realized that it sticks out to hold your biscuit."

Pete and Roscoe were dumb founded. They just looked at her puzzled that this very intelligent woman deduced something so ridiculous as this as part of the white mans custom. The expression on their face was one of surprise. Then suddenly they both broke into hysterical laughter. Now Norny was puzzled.

With that biscuit over her little pinky finger she looked like a child herself.

"Norny. No one puts the biscuit over their finger like that, except maybe a child playing with their food."

Norny felt a little foolish. "Oh!" She says in an embarrassed tone. She removes the biscuit from her finger while sheís remembering all the people in places that saw her plunge her finger into the biscuit. "No wonder they looked at her so strangely." So she removes the biscuit and that ended that tradition.

 

"Well Iím starvin, how bout you?"

"Yeah! Pile it on." Pete says.

It was calm and quiet while they sat around the fire eating one of Roscoeís campfire creations.

Pete is holding his plate up close and looking at it. It was a rather thick gray looking mess with odd shaped lumps in it, "Whatís in this Roscoe?"

"Lets see, some flour, a potato, some roots, an egg."

"What kind of egg?" Norny asks

"Iím not sure."

It could be a reptile egg, she thought.

"Part of an apple a piece of jerky and a secret ingredient."

"Secret ingredient? What kind of secret ingredient?" Norny asks again.

"Donít ask, I donít wanna spoil it for ya. And oh yeah! Some of my special herbs and spices." Roscoe says, "I call it my mouth waterin cowboy quiche."

It was mouth waterin all right, only after you eat it. Norny pretended to like it, but she thought it could take a week to wear that taste out of her mouth.

"Are you sure about this Roscoe? It donít exactly look eatable." Pete says..

"Sure Iím sure."

The last thing Roscoe made for us tasted great, but this is a disaster, Norny thought.

While she went on nibbling on her food she asks, "What were you boys discussing back there?"

"Back were Norny?"

"Back there at the river where I was bathing."

Their mouths dropped. They had been caught, "Oh, we didnít mean any disrespect to you. We were gathering fire wood and just happened upon you. We didnít mean to stare. Weíre sorry."

"Oh thatís OK." She said. "Iím not mad at you."

 

When they finished their meal, they laid around the campfire jawing a while.

Pete and Roscoe rolled themselves a smoke and relaxed in for the evening.

One of them asked her about what had happened back at Ballard that caused her to be so solemn. She told them the story of her friend Jim the candy man, and his unfortunate conclusion. Now they understood her unexplained sorrow.

In the still of the moonlight, Pete and Roscoe turned their attention to something they needed to know about her. They both had strong feeling for Norny, but Roscoe was getting in deep with his feelings for her, and they needed some answers in hopes to put Roscoe back in touch with reality.

"Norny, you mind if I ask you something personal?" Pete asks.

"No. You know just about all there is to know about me now. What do you have left to ask?"

"That little trinket you wear around your neck. It appears to have some special meaning to you. Iíve noticed that you fondle it in a religious sort a way. Does it represent something of your tribe or belief?"

"No, it was a gift from a friend. It was once a pair of earrings but I lost one. So I had this one put on a chain to keep from losing it too." She says as she takes hold of it with her hand.

"Was it a man friend?" He asks.

"Not just a man, a very special kind of a man."

"Was he like a husband or fiancée or somethin?." Pete inquires.

"No, but a man I will never be able to forget.." She says.

"Well... where is he now and why arenít you with him?"

"My life is a journey, and what I seek, I must do alone. I donít know how long it will take me or how far I will go. But I must. And until I find it, my life will remain incomplete."

 

"Why donít you tell us something about him. Weíre curious to know what heís like." Roscoe says.

"I donít know exactly how to describe him to you. To most he is just another man. But to me he is much more."

"I have only spoke of Daniel to one other," as she recalls her discussion with Emilly about him, "But I guess I can tell you two, my close friends." Pete and Roscoe glance at each other.

"He was a railroad man.. He spent most of his life laying miles of track. I remember when I first saw him. I was following the river, when I noticed him wading in fishing. He didnít say anything he just looked at me as I went by. I didnít pay much attention sense I was just passing. But hours later when I was hurt and lying on my back after Poco had dragged me a great distance, Daniel found me in the middle of nowhere.

When I looked upon him at first, he appeared to look a little angry. And believe me, with all that has happened to him in his life, he has the right to be. But with a closer look, there was something in his eyes that showed a confidence about him. I was uncertain until he made me feel something I had never known with a man before. He gave me a sense of security that I canít explain to you. I had injured my ankles, and when I felt his touch upon my feet, I felt a gentleness and a warmth in his hands. Like he had some power of healing and strength. He didnít have to do anything for me. Or he could have just taken me to nearest town, but he took it upon himself to take care of a total stranger as if I were one of his own."

"We would have done that for you Norny." Pete says

"IĎm sure you would have. Its just that there was some sort of connection with him, some spiritual tie that grips my soul. I was meant to find Daniel, of that I am sure. I donít know why, but somewhere is the truth." Norny replies.

"His life was full of tragedy and grief. Yet he blames no one for his sorrow. Instead he would stoop to carry the burden of a stranger without hesitation. "

"When I was in Cotterville, I went to visit an old man who worked with him on the railroad. He told me a story of how Daniel rescued an Indian woman and her papoose from some bad men who had enslaved her. And perhaps out there somewhere today is another child that has grown to have a life because of Danielís kind deed. That is the Daniel I will always carry with me."

"But Norny you havenít seen him in a long time, do you still think about him like you did then?"

Norny stares into the fire without so much as a blink while visualizing Daniel as she speaks, "I never knew my insides could betray me this way, or that I could feel for any man what I feel for him. He travels with me always, in here (she points to her heart). He is a man unlike any other. I was with him for only a few days, but after the first couple of days I woke up and saw him for who he is. With my injuries I couldnít even walk, and he found me and carried me back to his cabin. He fed me like a baby and cared for me and made me strong again. I did not have to ask for anything. He saw my needs and met them for me. And then when I was well enough, like a bird whoís wing had mended, he held me in his strong hands and lifted me to the sky and set me free. "

"He didnít know me or ask of me. But then Daniel gave me something unexpected. He made me see myself in a way I never have before. He made me feel like I was a special woman, a different woman. A beautiful woman. No one has ever made me feel this way. When we parted I felt different about myself and the way I looked at others. And when the time and distance between us grew greater by the day, so did my thoughts of him. The image of his face haunts my mind at times, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. And now he travels with me. I carry the reminder of him as the fluttering in my stomach, and the pounding in my chest, and this earring around my neck. But he is the strength in my soul.. He is a spiritual vision of all that is good to me. And if the sky is blue or gray or night, the sun in my heart for him shines, and the memory of him lifts my spirits high above my earthly ties. I know now there are good men in the world, you two are proof of that. But I was fortunate enough to cross paths with Daniel no matter what the reason. Now I can only hope that I should be so lucky as to meet up with him again someday.

"Well do you really think youíll see him again?"

"I donít plan for anything. Each sunrise brings a new trail to my future. I go towards the setting sun. For how far and how long only the godís know. But when I reach my destiny I will know." She says.

"Well you wonít be heading into the setting sun much longer, or youíll get water logged. The Pacific ocean isnít too far away." Roscoe says.

"Thatís what I was told." She says. "That is something I must see for myself."

"But Norny, there are many things to enjoy in life if you stop and look. You need to experience one place for a while."

"This is why I must keep going. I know nothing of life or how big the world is. If there is more to life, then it will find me in time. But as for now, I have nothing to compare myself to. How can I recognize you, if I cannot recognize me? The key to all things in life is in the recognition of ourselves in relation to things around us. But I am an orphan, and that makes me incomplete. Someone out there fathered me and bore me as their own, but I will never know who, so I will never really know me. But it is not my parents I seek, it is me. After that, there is nothing left to find."

"Daaaamn Norny! Every day I learn something new about just how complicated you are." Roscoe says.

 

As Roscoe sat there listening to all the words she spoke to them, he came to realized the incredible, over-his-head depth of her. Norny was far more woman then they imagined her to be. A rare and incredible unicorn among women.

Pete listened to her speak, but he couldnít get the sight of Norny in the river out of his head.

 

Pete looks over at Roscoe and in a soft voice in hopes that Norny wouldnít hear, he asks, "Isnít there something else you want ask her about."

"What!? Are you nuts! I ainít askin."

Pete chuckles.

"How about the rodeo, you like ride'n donít you?" Roscoe asks

"I love the challenge of the wild ride , and Iím learning to like rodeo people. And after all I made two good friends riding rodeo." She smiles at them, and sends a little fireside moonlight zinger straight through their hearts.

"Well Norny you oughta think about teaming up with us and doing the circuit. I mean the three of us could have the bull by the tail if you know what I mean." Roscoe says.

"Yeah, we could put an act together. Maybe some trick ride'n and rope'n you know, stuff like that." Pete says.

"That would give me great pleasure, but I would be left with something missing from my life. I need to find what I seek before I can fit in anywhere or with anyone. Thatís why I couldnít stay with Daniel. My heart was torn between him and the path I must follow for my completion. If I had stayed as I wanted to, I would have not felt good about myself and in turn I wouldnít have been able to make Daniel comfortable with me. I couldnít go through life with something missing, and I couldnít give completely to someone else."

"Where is Daniel?"

"Near a little town called Ashby. Its not far from my people."

Pete looked over at Roscoe as if to ask, well does that answer your questions?

Roscoe knew Pete was right all along, the necklace was an interracial part of her past.

Well, if she feels this way about Daniel, and he couldnít make her stay, what chance would anyone else have? Roscoe thought.

 

It was getting late and they were going to be up at the crack of dawn, so it was time to say good-bye to another day.

The next morning Roscoe brewed up some coffee and tea while they ate left over biscuits for breakfast. Afterwards they mounted up and headed north. They had been on the trail for about three hours, and they were getting hungry. But to make it even more difficult, Pete and Roscoe kept thinking they were smelling food cooking. The aroma was driving them crazy.

As they rode closer the smell of food got stronger. When Pete noticed the white smoke rising from the trees off on their left, "There! Thatís where the smell is coming from." He points out.

The aroma of cooking was so great, they couldnít resist its enticing allure. The three of them followed their noses and their stomachs and head over in that direction. When they came through the brush and trees, there they were.

With gesturing arms a thin little man steps forward from the campfire and says, "Welcome my friends, welcome.".

"I have plenty of food for all. Please come, rest and eat with us." He said. His accent made him to be of Mexican decent.

Pete and Roscoe look at each other with a smile. Then they look back at the man, "Thanks partner. Donít mind if we do." And they dismount their horses.

"Come on Norny, we canít turn down an invite like this one." Roscoe says.

The three of them tether their horses to a tree and walk towards the camp, "MMMMMMM! Something sure smells mighty tasty there partner." Roscoe says

"My name is Diego." The man says enthusiastically "And this is Rosa and my son Pablo. We are so pleased for you to join us for our supper." Diego says.

"Iím Roscoe, this is Pete, and this little lady here is Norny. Your cookin smells awful invitin. Weíve been following the aroma for miles. And I donít think Iíve ever smelled anything so appetizing as that."

"Then please, sit, all of you, and share with us. Rosa! Bring extra plates for our guests. Pablo you help Rosa, then come and sit so we can all eat together."

"We donít wanna eat up all your grub." Roscoe says.

"We have plenty, senior. We always make enough in case some friends should come by to share with us. We are honored that you stopped to join us."

"Well thatís mighty generous of you, Diego. Thank you." They all sat around the fire on stumps and logs and rocks savoring Diegoís culinary talents.

"This is the tastiest chow I ever ate." Roscoe says

"Yeah, it sure is!" Pete agrees.

"Are you a cook Diego? Where did you ever learn to fix something like this?" Roscoe asks.

"Si! I am a cook. This is one of my own creations. Rosa and Pablo and I are heading north to find our own little place. I want to cook for everyone who will eat my food and enjoy our company. We have heard that dreams come true in America. And we have a dream too."

"So you want to open your own eating establishment?" Roscoe says.

"Si. If we can earn the money and buy the land. We are hard workers and Rosa can sew and clean. And Pablo can help with the animals and chores."

"Well.. if this is a sample of your cooking abilities Diego, then your gonna be a success for sure. This is the best darn grub I ever ate."

"Yes it is. I donít think Iíve ever had anything quit like this before." Norny says. She had never experienced the spice of Mexican flavor in her whole life. And she loved it.

"What do you think Pete?" Roscoe asks watching him shoveling one mouthful after the other into his hungry mouth. Pete pauses for a moment to finish chewing and swallow then says.

"Damn good, Diego. Damn good!" Then shovels more in.

Diego has a big smile on his face.

"We oughta pay you for the meal." Roscoe says.

"To see you enjoy what I do, is my reward. I love to cook, and to know people want my food makes me happy. In this country my Rosa and I can have a good life, a simple life and my Pablo can learn to read and write. And to share our riches with good friends like you, this is all we want." He says

Seems like such a modest request of life Roscoe thought.

"How old are you Pablo?" Norny asks.

Diego says something to him in Spanish. Pablo holds up his two hands to try and illustrate SIX years old.

"Six, your a big boy for six." She says.

"Is Pablo your and Rosaís only child?" Norny inquires.

"Pablo is from my wife who was taken by the soldiers in Mexico. I met Rosa a few years ago when I was traveling south from here. She was abandoned by her tribe of Navajo. She traveled with Pablo and I sense she had no where else to go. She is a good woman and she likes my Pablo. She has dreams too. So we should dream together I say."

They went on making small talk while they ate until they were stuffed.

"Please why donít you stay and share our fire for the night. And in the morning, I will fix you a breakfast you wonít forget, I promise you."

"Diego, with an offer like that, a team of horses couldnít drag me away from your camp and kind hospitality." Roscoe says.

The rest of the afternoon the boys helped out with the chores while Norny worked with Pablo. He was a seemingly happy little boy though he was the only child. He didnít speak much English, but the expression on his face pretty much spoke for him. Norny and Pablo got along great and they communicated in many other ways.

That night they sat around the fire sipping on tequila and talking of all kinds of things. They told Diego that they ride the rodeos for fun and money, and that Norny is on a journey westward, and by the end of the evening they all felt they knew each other pretty well.

Norny could see that Diego and his family were plain simple folk. Honest and friendly, just hardworking, good people in search of a life worth living.

 

After the sun came up, while the boys were still in the sack, came these words from Roscoeís mouth, "Hey Pete! Look over and see if your horse is still tethered to the tree. I think he just stepped on my head."

"Yeah, well Iím afraid to look and see if Iím still wearing my socks, right now I gotta mouth full of cotton."

Norny was the only one of the three of them that didnít feel hung over, sense she didnít drink.

That morning, while Diego prepared the breakfast he promised, the boys felt the need to repay Diegoís kindness any way they could. So Roscoe had noticed a problem about to arise with one of the wheels on Diegoís wagon. He and Pete got right to it and fixed the wheel.

Norny looked at and tended to their horses. Then she sat down with Pablo and showed him how to write his own name in the dirt. Pablo took an immediate liking to Norny as most kids do.

Rosa wanted to make friends with Norny as well. She also couldnít speak English or any other language that Norny could speak. But somehow they spoke just fine. Rosa made blankets and pottery and wanted to give Norny a blanket as a gift. At first she didnít want to take it, but then she realized that Rosa wanted her to have it as a sign of friendship. Besides with the nights getting colder Norny could use and extra blanket.

Pablo was asking something of Diego in Spanish, so Diego says, "Pablo wants to know if you would show him a trick like you do in the rodeo. I told him you donít have time for such things."

"No, thatís OK Diego. Thatís the least we could do for getting a chance to sample you cooking. Tell him Iíll do it." Pete says.

So Pete mounts his horse and does a few little maneuvers like spinning the horse around while staying in the same spot. Then his horse bowed down. Roscoe does a few fancy rope tricks, like twirling and jumping through.

Then Pete rides out a ways and charges back. Roscoe stands out where Pete could reach him, so Pete snatches the hat off Roscoeís head as he goes by. Pablo laughs with delight.

When Pete turns his horse around to ride back, Norny steps out to him. Pete stops.

"Can you garb my arm and swing me up behind you as you go by?" Norny asks.

"Sure, I think so." Pete says.

"Then go down there by that tree and ride back for me."

"OK." He says

So Norny drops down on the ground and removes her boots and socks. Then she takes her hat off and places it on Pabloís head. It comes down over his eyes, so he pushes it up in the front to see.

Norny stands there and waits for Pete to ride by. Pete is charging full speed right at her. He leans forward and puts his arm out to grab hers. As he goes by their hands grasp each others forearm, and in one smooth motion Pete swings her up right be hind him. Pablo laughs. He never seen any kind of trick riding in his young life, and this was as exciting to him as a day at the circus..

Pete pulls his horse to a stop about fifty yards from where he grabbed Norny.

"Ride at a gallop and put your hands over your head to steady me?" Norny says.
"Allright! But what are you going to do?"
"Iím going to climb on your shoulders if you can remain steady." She says.
"Your gonna WHAT?" Pete asks.
"Donít worry, I wonít get hurt if you donít make any sudden stops."
"Norny I donít think..."
"Stop worrying, just ride." She tells him.

Pete takes off and breaks into a gallop. Norny puts her hands on his shoulders and stands behind Pete. Then he puts his left hand up over his shoulder so Norny can take it with her left hand. Then he does the same with his right and she takes it. Next she places her left foot on his shoulder, then her right and all of the sudden she is crouching on Peteís shoulders while they gallop at full speed. Pete can hardly believe sheís up there.

Norny is poised in position on Peteís shoulders. She stays crouched until she gets the rhythm of the horses gate and the movement of Pete with the horse. When she feels herself in sync with all the motion, she will make her move.

Roscoeís jaw drops as he sees what she is about to do.

Then she stands straight up and she turns loose of his hands. Pete feels her feet rocking back and forth on his shoulders to keep her balance. He puts his hands up around her ankles to steady her, And Norny puts her arms straight out from her sides. And there they were, traveling at full gallop while Norny is standing on Peteís shoulders and her arms out like a cross.

Roscoe and the rest of them canít believe their eyes. Roscoe had seen this done only one time before by a trick rider from a wild west show, but only once.

"Boy Howdy! What Buffalo Bill Cody wouldnít pay to have us in his show!" He says.

Pablo and Diego are cheering as loud as they can.

Roscoe is awe struck and amazed once again at this incredible woman. She had a natural balance and agility that made stunts like this easy for her. Pete and Roscoe had no idea of how skilled her riding abilities actually were. They knew she could ride a bucking horse or a angry bull, but now this too.

As good as Diegoís cooking is.

At the moment Roscoe was salivating for a sweeter taste. A big helping of his cowgirl candy apple, Norny.

Pete and Norny ride back to a ear full of praises.

"Show them your dead eye shootin Pete." Roscoe says.

"OK, throw somethin up."

So Roscoe picks up a small piece of wood and tosses it. Faster then the eye can blink Pete hits it three times in mid air. The sound of his six gun gives way to the sound of Rosa covering her ears and screaming in terror.

"Whatís wrong?" Pete and Roscoe say.

"I am sorry seniors', but she is very afraid of the sound of the white man's thunder. When she was as a child she saw her people attacked by bad men who killed many with their guns.

"Tell Rosa we are very sorry." Pete says.

Norny was consoling and calming Rosa down, although the loud pop of the six shooter scared the hell out of Norny too. She wasnít use to the abrupt sound and deadly consequence of the white mans weapons.

 

After a little while all was back to normal again and it was time to move on. Diego prepared some tastily filled tortillas for the three of them to take along the trail.

"Thank you Diego, that is mighty thoughtful of you. Your good people and were glade to have met you." Roscoe says.

"Thatís right ." Pete says.

Norny says, "You remember what I showed you Pablo." (referring to writing his own name)

Diego translates for her, "Adios my friends." Diego says as the three ride away. And as they did they placed in each others memory, warm friendly smiles to remember each other by.

 

They were heading back north. Pete and Roscoe had little reason to return to Sedona now since the gunfight incidence.

They rode the trail for about six hours and their time together was running out.

As all three were riding along together, Pete and Roscoe could see the fork in the road up ahead. The departing point where Norny and them must go their separate ways. The last few yards were increasingly painful as the distance dwindled down to the last few steps.

Pete and Roscoe loved this little lady, from their cowboy hats to their spurs. And though they would never admit it, saying good-bye to Norny was one of the hardest things they would ever have to do. They had mentally adopted her as one of them, and she was leaving the nest.

When they had arrived at the fork in the road and their trails headed in different directions, their sadness weighed them down. They were a couple of tough cowboys, and all cowboys know you donít show emotion.

And they would be the first to tell you that real cowboys donít have tears.

Norny dismounts from Poco, so Pete and Roscoe do the same, "Pete,Ö.. Roscoe,Ö. Iím gonna miss you two. And I donít know how to say thank you for helping me out of that situation back there in Ballard. Except to tell you both, that you honor me with your friendship."

"Ahhh... twern't nothin." Roscoe says.

"Oh yes it was. You are truly fine men. And these past days Iíve learned to feel a closeness with you two that Iíve never known with men before. Thank you for giving me that. For allowing me to know that there is such men like you out there." She says.

"Oh come on, Norny, weíre just a couple of old rodeo bums, weíre nobody special." Pete says.

"No, your wrong about that. Your two are very special to me. And two of the best darn cowboys Iíve ever known. Iíll never forget either one of you. And my memory of you two will always be together."

"Well weíll never forget you either, Norny."

Norny goes back to the saddlebag on Poco, and takes out the silver buckle they had given her.

"By the way boys, I know all about the silver buckle story youíve been handing me. Tom told me all about how you guys must have made it up. He says they donít give out silver buckles to the winners. But Tom is going to bring it before the Rodeo committee, and theyíre going to start awarding them to the winners from now on. He thought that was a pretty good idea. But Iím going to take this one to teach you two a lesson." She says as she hands it back to Roscoe, "And I want you to deliver it to Cotterville for me on your way home. Will you do that?"

"Sure we will Norny. Who do we deliver it to?" Roscoe asks.

"Thereís a little school house on the west end of town. Mrs. Beale is the teacher there, you can give it to her and tell her I sent it to my little hero Danny. Sheíll know what I mean."

"Ok, Norny, consider it delivered." Roscoe says.

So Norny throws her arms around Roscoe and gives him a big hug, then kisses him on the cheek, "Take care Roscoe, and watch over my good friend Pete." she says.

Roscoe suddenly felt a little embarrassed and shy for some reason. Then she puts her arms around Pete and gives him the same treatment. As she hugs Pete she says, "You be careful, and watch out for my pal Roscoe."

Norny was sad to say good bye to them both, and she felt she missed them already. Pete and Roscoe were her white manís version of Crow Feathers and Red Arrow. Following her and acting like her guardian angels.

"Ah, youíd better get going Norny before I get mushy eyed."
"Yeah, me two." Pete says.

Norny knows what they meant, so she just smiled. She could detect the soft spot growing in their hearts at that moment. Her pleasure for these two men was immeasurable, and she couldnít prevent showing it on her face. Her sparkling, smiling now liquid blue eyes, pretty much told them her feelings. Their cowboy hearts were gripped with her smiling face, and it was painful looking at her knowing she would soon be gone.

Norny climbs up in the saddle a little misty eyed. She takes the reins and says, "PeteÖ.RoscoeÖ.. stay clear of the horns."

"Go'on, get out of here Norny." Pete says.

Norny turned Poco and headed off up the hill. When she was about forty yards out, Roscoe yells out to her, "NORNY!" She stops, but she doesnít look back. Her facial smile had probably turned to something a little more sorrowful and she didnít want them to remember her face without a smile on it.

Roscoe yells out again. "YOUR THE BEST DAMN RODEO RIDER WE EVER SAW........ BUT REMEMBER THIS........ AINíT NO ANIMAL CANíT BE RODE...... AINíT NO RIDER CANíT BE THROWED."

Norny heard every word, but didnít answer. She couldnít, her vocal cords were in a knot. So after she paused, she gave Poco a nudge and continued on up the hill.

 

They watched her without saying a thing. Theyíre eyes stayed on her as she went over the top. First Poco started to disappear then Nornyís back, then her head and finally her hat slowly sank from sight over the top of the hill. They never said a word, but their hearts were saying, So long, you glorious bull ridin angel.

For the next five minutes, these two best friends like brothers never spoke to each other.

The two of them had a lump in their throats the size of a chicken egg. They didnít know when or if they would ever see her again. But they would never forget her, for as long as they lived, that was for sure.

Her sweet naivete and innocents, was refreshing and humbling to the both of them.

To see that gentle lady ride to victory on the back of the beast, an opponent twenty times her weight.

A gentle woman that could put a man twice her size on his back with ease, but never with vicious rage or anger, but remaining calm and collected at all times.

A woman that could stare in the face of danger without showing fear, yet weep at the slightest stirring of her heart.

Women like Norny just donít exist in the real world. And they would never see the likes of Norny again. They realized now that they were privileged in their lives to have crossed paths and interacted in hers. They wouldnít talk about it to each other, but they both knew deep down they would never see her again. But they didnít want to think about that. And the macho cowboys that they were, wouldnít allow them to acknowledge emotion or sadness even to each other. But they both knew..

As they rode along, there was nothing that could make them look at each and discover the obvious sadness that there faces were betraying them with.

"Damn! Something just blew into my eye.." Roscoe says.

"Yeah, I think Iím coming down with a cold myself. Say.. how about that prize stud Marty just bought?" Pete says.
"Prize stud! I canít think about that right now." Roscoe says.

But to get through this moment of sadness, they start their usual bantering between them.

"I knew that little lady had a feelin for me, did ya see how she kissed me." Roscoe says.
"Yeah, I saw. She kissed me to."
"Yeah well she kissed me first. Hell, I donít think Iím gonna wash this cheek for a while." Roscoe says.
"Hell, you donít do that anyway." Pete says.
"Says you! Whenís the last time you took a scrub brush to your stinkin hide?"
"Ya know, seein Norny up on your shoulders like that, weíd sure made a good team for that wild west show." Roscoe says.
"Ya! Wasnít she somethin. She stood up there like she was flat on the ground." Pete replies.
"Hey, since weíre goin through Cotterville, ya think we oughta pay a visit to the Joís. Iíll bet the twins will be surprised to see us.".
"Yah, Iíll bet they will."
"Well this time, you take Hey Jo, and I want You Jo."
"What are you talking about, you had You Jo last time and I had Hey Jo."
"No you didnít, I did."
"Wait a minute... You mean neither of us are sure which one is which. Weíd better let them speak first until we figure out who is who."
"You think maybe thatís why they were laughing when we left them the last time?"
"It must be..."

And the two of them rode on up the trail talking and bickering to each other like they did every day of their friendship into the rest of their lives. But now, as captive hearts with the wonderful memories they had created with Norny, their friend, their pal and cowgirl angel who carries the memory of them with her always.


chapter

13

the crystal ball

(click on Norny's face to see sketch detail)