Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Big Ass Bull

Author's note:  I thought I might re-publish some of the older stories on this site since many of them were posted way before there were many visitors to Snippets and Tales.  This one is a classic!

She held tight to her cell phone in trembling hands as if it was the only thing that could save her life.  

“Who should I call?” She screamed at me as we stood motionless on the dirt path in the middle of a hundred acre orange grove.  

My eyes were fixed on the larger than life bull blocking our escape route.  His horns had to measure at least six feet across and his head was as large as my entire body.  His lady friend standing on his right was just as large – minus the horns.  “Who should you call?”  I yelled as the first hint of laughter began to enter my psyche.  The irony of the situation was truly funny:  Here we stood, two defenseless ladies on an afternoon walk, face to face with a 3,000 pound bull and an equally large cow – one of us holding a cell phone poised to call for help.
I began to laugh.  I just couldn’t help it.  Linda, my friend, failed to see the humor in our predicament and began to cry hysterically.  

“I’ll call Bill!”  She screamed as she began frantically dialing.  (Bill, my husband, was at our home located in the front of the orange grove).  

“What is Bill going to do?”  I asked choking back more laughter.  “Is he going to run to our rescue and chase away the big ass bull?”  

I knew the minute the words left my mouth that I had stepped over the line.  Looking at my friend Linda all I could see was sheer panic on her face.  All power of reason had abandoned her.  She was on auto pilot and her only hope of rescue rested in the little cell phone in the palm of her hand.  
It all started when Linda, my good buddy and loyal friend, came to visit me after I had had a particularly harrowing day.  She was dressed in high heels, slacks and a black sweater.  I wanted to tell her about my day but there were five children and a husband in the house so, I suggested a walk in the orange grove.  I was so consumed with my own problems and wanted so much to talk to Linda that I didn’t even take notice of her attire.  However, Linda being the true friend that she is, wordlessly trailed behind me like a dutiful loyal dog follows its master.
The first hurdle we came upon was the fence separating our back pasture from the orange grove.  I, in my shorts and sneakers, climbed the fence without even breaking a sweat.  Linda, on the other hand, labored in her high heels to scale the fence.  Unfortunately, she found herself perched precariously on the top because her sweater had snagged on the splintering wood.  I assisted her from atop the fence while she examined her sweater.  

“Why are you wearing a sweater in Florida?”  I asked as we made our way to the path.  

“I was on my way to a board meeting and it gets cold in that room!”  She replied in a tone that suggested she was getting a bit snippy with me.  (I was still so self-absorbed that I hadn’t acknowledged her high heel shoes or her slacks).
I often take refuge in the orange grove when things are bothering me and I need a quiet place to sit and contemplate the day’s events.  It’s where I go to think and pray.  I don’t usually take anyone with me except my dog, Toby.  So, when I asked Linda to walk with me, I was inviting her into my world of comfort.  I don’t think she saw it that way.  The orange grove was probably as far away from her level of comfort as a city street would be for me.  Yet, here she was walking by my side down a sandy dirt path as her high heels sank perilously with each step she took.   

Oblivious to her plight, I rambled on about my problems with tears steaming down my face.  Panting and sweating, she dutifully followed and patiently listened.  My rambling was suddenly interrupted as Linda spoke for the fist time since our entrance into the grove.  

“Betty, do you see what I see?”  It was the way she asked the question that got my immediate attention.  

There was a dread in her voice that sent chills up my spine.  “A rattle snake!”  I exclaimed.  

“No”, she yelled back, “It’s a huge bull!”  

“Oh, he won’t hurt you.”  

I said this with an air of casualness because I regularly came across bulls in the orange grove.  I always just walked by them with not as much as a glance in their direction.  Linda, on the other hand, stood frozen in place ~ she looked as though she were melting as her high heels sank further into the sand. 

 “Why are you wearing high heels out here?”  I finally observed.  

“What are you talking about!!!”  She screamed back at me.   “Don’t you see that bull!!”   

I glanced at the bull standing behind some trees.  He was at least 50 yards from us.  I also noticed that he was accompanied by a large cow.  I knew this meant that the rest of the hundred head of cattle were very close by ~ like probably right behind us.  

“Okay”, I said in my most assertive voice, “We’re just going to keep on walking forward and ignore the bull.” (She hadn’t seen the cow that was partially hidden by some brush and an orange tree).  

“Are you sure?”  Her pleading eyes looked into my face for reassurance.  

“Of course I’m sure.  Besides if he charges, we’ll just climb a tree!”  

The picture of Linda climbing a tree in her slacks and high heels brought an immediate smile to my face.  I think it was the first time I had smiled all day.  As she clung to my arm, it occurred to me how lucky I was to have such a good friend who’d brave a huge bull just for me.   We proceeded with caution down the path.   
We arrived at my thinking spot by the creek and we talked and we laughed and we cried.  I apologized for dragging her into the orange grove.  

All she said was, “Isn’t that what friends are for?”  

It wasn’t long before we had to make the trek home.  Poor Linda still had a board meeting to attend in her snagged sweater, dirty high heels and sweaty slacks.  
It was on the way back that the real trouble started.  I assumed that the bull would have migrated away from the path by the time we headed toward home.  However, he and his girlfriend had actually come much closer and now stood dead in front of us.  A stare-down ensued as the bull and I made eye contact.  This is when Linda hysterically reached for her cell phone.  
I knew I had to act quickly to get Linda under control.  I also knew I had to act quickly to control the laughter that was welling up inside me as I watched her fumbling with the cell phone.  I really didn’t want to laugh but fleeting images of my husband, Bill, running to our rescue kept rushing through my mind.  

I tried desperately not to laugh.  It didn’t work.  I laughed.  She became hysterical and the situation deteriorated until it was totally out of control.  I thought briefly of slapping Linda, but instead, I grabbed her hand and calmly directed her to back up and move off the path.  

What a sight we must have been: Linda, in her “going to a board meeting attire” hiding behind me, her cell phone in a death grip, as we slowly backed off the path into the weeds.  

The bull quickly lost interest in us and turned his head.  This was our cue to run.  We dashed through to orange trees and prickly weeds – never once glancing back.  Soon, we were at the back yard fence.  Linda wearily scaled the rails without even caring about her sweater (now covered in briers).  I hopped the fence and we wordlessly made our way to Linda’s car.  
I was afraid to talk as I aimlessly plucked prickers from her sweater.  She looked like something the cat had drug around the yard for days.  Her hair was matted to her head, her sweater was marred with snags, twigs and dirt and her slacks were drenched in sweat.  Finally I got up the courage to apologize.  

She hugged me and said, “You owe me big time for this girlfriend!”  
So, now Linda and I have a great story to tell.  Rest assured, every time we tell it, the bull’s horns grow a tad bigger and the cow puts on a few hundred pounds.    

But, there’s another story behind the story.  It’s the story of trust, love and true friendship.  As the tale of the bull is forever woven into the fabric of our lives so is the tale of two friends who find comfort in the fact that we’ll always be within arms reach of each other – even if we’re miles apart.  Sometimes friends have to hold each other up.  Sometimes we have to laugh together. Sometimes we have to walk in silence together.   And sometimes we even have to brave big ass bulls together!