A professional rodeo bareback bronc rider, I was busting mostly Christianson Brothers stock in Washington, Idaho and Oregon that season. This little trick rider with roan-colored hair and riding a chocolate-colored pony caught my eye. Every show, there Linda was in her short red skirt putting that pony through its paces. I was one smitten cowboy. Dashing too, I thought, with my red chaps and the peacock feather in my hat.

I finally girted up enough nerve to saunter up to her. “Say, girl, you and me. We could show ’em something at the rodeo dance shindig tonight.”

“You ain’t been showing ’em much riding barebacks,” she said, turned in her little red skirt and walked off.

I was nothing if not persistent. I knew the girl liked me, other cowboys said so, but her papa thought I was just another circuit bum going nowhere.

Finally, I won Pop over. Linda and I made our first date for the dance after the Saturday night show in Moro, Oregon.

It was September, the end of the season, and starting to get cold. I drew a horse called The Mop, a name that turned out to be prophetic.

Barebacks are the first event of a rodeo. I was first rider out in the first event. It was spitting rain when I eased down into the chute on top of The Mop. The announcer was going through his spiel from above the chutes. I looked up as I pounded my gloved hand into the bareback rigging handle and winked at Linda where she was watching from the shelter of the announcer’s stand. She gave me the sweetest, most promising smile.

The chute gate swung wide—and The Mop mopped up the arena with me. That was one bucking cayuse. He threw me so high I got a nose bleed before I hit the ground. And when I did hit, ol’ Mop was waiting for me. He tattooed four hooves from my spurs all the way to my gloves.

The Mop moved on, kicking and bawling with triumph and passing wind every time his front feet hit the ground. I lay where I lay, unable to move. That beast had stomped both arms and both legs and I was paralyzed, couldn’t move anything except my head. I thought I was some messed up.

As they will, cowboys ran out and hoisted me up to take me to the waiting ambulance. One cowboy had one leg, another the other leg. That was when I noticed to my chagrin that my jeans were split open all the way at the crotch, exposing everything private or not. And Linda had climbed up on the fence gate as the cowboys carried me past—and the look on her face!

“Put my legs together!” I pleased, humiliated totally.

I ended up in The Dalles hospital, with bad bruises and no permanent injuries. And Linda. . .? I think she must have gone to the dance with a calf roper.


A Thousand Years of Darkness by Charles W. Sasser predicted the May Day violence. Want to know what comes next? Enter to win FREE signed copies of A Thousand Years of Darkness by e-mailing charlessas@msn.com. Drawing will be held on May 30.