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A short story by Emma Carpenter.

No Business

Some people just don’t have any business getting on a bull.

Just like some folks aren’t cut out to be a tightrope walker because they’re terrified of heights, and other people shouldn’t be a heart surgeon because the sight of blood makes them queasy, some people just aren’t wired properly to be a bull rider. They are the complete and exact opposites of those hardy but bizarre souls who can climb over the back of a bucking chute onto a ticking bovine bomb, sit there a second to think it over, and still be able to say to themselves “Hey, this is a good idea!”

A horned bull running toward the camera

One time at Trail Riders Arena in Wichita, Kansas a bull named Circle C threw a guy off the first jump out. Circle C had really wide horns, and his favorite thing in the whole world was to slide one of them between a bull rider’s legs, lift him up a little bit, and spin him like a pinwheel. He had mastered the art of sliding the horn back out, then stepping back to watch the still-spinning pinwheel spiral up into the lights. That night Circle C had no trouble catching up to the bucked-off bull rider to slip his horn between his legs to play his favorite game.

Now, in all fairness, I don’t think anyone would have been real happy in the bull rider’s situation. But I once saw this same guy pass out cold when a bull trotted by him twenty feet away, looking at something else, and going in the opposite direction. Honest. So while you sure couldn’t have blamed the guy for not having much fun playing Circle C’s game, he was taking it worse than waking up to a grizzly bear in his own bedroom.

Even though Circle C had done this many times before, he was having a little trouble that night. He had been caught off guard by how unusually tall the guy was, and hadn’t gotten him lifted high enough off the arena floor to get a good spin property started. In fact, the humor-loving bull had just barely gotten the guy's boots off the ground when the suspended bull rider started running in place like a madman windup toy.

When Circle C put the bull rider down to try and get a better lift, the bull rider already had more forward momentum than a racehorse could have handled. When his boot soles touched the arena dirt his head snapped back, his legs got a two-foot lead on his shoulders, and he tore off out of control for the arena fence.

He smashed into the 4-inch box wire fence until it stretched a couple of feet into the crowd with a loud whining sound. Just before it snapped back he was able to jump up just enough to flip over the top of it at his waist. His extra long legs whipped his feet over his head and brought them down to land flat on the ground on the other side. Sadly, that much momentum just can’t be stopped by the average arena fence, and the guy ran three-fourths of the way up the bleachers, jumping over blankets, heads and hats, taking the steps two and three at a time.

That must have been where his adrenaline glands thought it was safe to stop pumping bucket loads of the stuff into his bloodstream. Or maybe that’s where his spur got caught in the handle of some lady’s purse. Whatever the reason, that's where he stopped running. It's also where his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted.

First his head and neck got all noodley and limp, then his shoulders and hips, then he slid down through the opening between two rows of bleachers like disappearing through a trapdoor. He bounced off the rungs bracing the grandstand underneath, ricocheting downward until he hit the popcorn, candy wrappers, and mystery goo that covered ground below. He was still out cold. The crowd must have been the out-of-sight, out-of-mind type because when he disappeared they just shifted back over the hole and waited eagerly for the next bull to buck into the arena.

When the guy eventually showed back up behind the chutes again – it had taken him awhile to come to, then peel enough popcorn and candy wrappers off himself to be presentable – he casually started gathering up his stuff. The only evidence he had left on him of Circle C's fun-loving little game were reddish scrape marks from bouncing off the braces underneath the bleachers. He was trying to hide all the scratches, though, because bleacher burns aren’t the type of injury bull riders like to brag about.


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About The Author

Emma Carpenter and her husband Bill are the owners of the website. Emma is the administrator of the website, and when not writing articles for other areas of CowboyWay she enjoys writing the occasional short story.

For many years Bill and Emma maintained a small cow/calf herd while also doing day work for area ranchers in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Carpenters are retired from Carpenter Rodeo Company, a family owned rodeo company that put on rodeos in Kansas and Oklahoma for over 40 years. They still own a small cow/calf herd.


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