Stood Up by a Horse at the Cody Nite Rodeo

a cowboy rides a hysterical bronco


The sonuvabitch never even showed up. Didn’t even bother to call.

I mean, I bought this cell phone just for such a circumstance. If you can’t show up, just give me a ring. I can keep moving on down the road.

PBS hired me to help with this documentary they wanted to do. Or rather, I told them I could pull it off and they gave me $3000 and a good pat on the back. Oh, and a film crew. Consisting of one guy and his two cameras. There were also some microphones. But really that was about it. I had to buy my own cell phone. I figured it was the least I could do to be professional.

So here I was in Cody, Wyoming. A town dedicated to its namesake, Buffalo Bill Cody, a kind of showboatin’ cowboy type who was once a soldier and buffalo hunter, but really achieved his fame by shooting holes in quarters and telling people about all of the stuff he did before he went around telling people about it all. Town was alright. Touristy, fake, kind of bloated. But I was here on work, and Yellowstone was only an hour West, so I had hope for the morning at least.

The job was to interview this rodeo guy. Cody’s got a nightly rodeo and the whole town, shit all of Wyoming, is themed around being the Wild West, so it all seemed to fit the storyline. The cowboy was all set to meet us just before tonight’s rodeo. He gave us the place, how to get in, everything.

“Yeah just tell ’em Jake sent ya,” I can’t actually remember his name, this was years ago, but it was something like Jake or Jack or Tex or whatever. Something that says, “I’ve been ridin’ horse since before you could spit on your boot.” I don’t know. Anyway, I show up at the gate.

“That’ll be $25 each,” a guy standing underneath a sign reading something similar and thick with the kind of fat that even overalls can’t hope to hide.

“I’m here to see Jake, he told me to tell you to send me back to the C lot and I can meet him there.” I paused, waiting a response. The guy looked down at his seat. “We’re here to interview him.” I paused again. “For PBS.”

“$25 each.”

I paid him. “Which way to C lot?”

He pointed. We proceeded.

“Jake said he’s real sorry but he’ll have to talk to you afterwards.” That was the news from a guy who was probably Jake’s son’s buddy, or looking back at it all, just some Wyoming red stater looking to fuck with a couple of guys who clearly had never ridden a bronco in their life.

“Just catch the show, he’ll give you a ring after it’s over.”

I don’t know if Jake ever gave me a rang, that night, the next day, no clue. We found a place in the stands that seemed like a good angle for the camera man. Then we proceeded to watch guys chase down cows and string ropes around their necks, then grab calves by their feet and string them up with ropes. Guys looking to prove to the audience, I guess, that they can kick the shit out of a cow whenever they please. I found it a bit gross. I found myself hoping that the fellows riding the bulls later would get stabbed hard, something that would leave the kind of scar that would say, “Quit beating up those burgers.” Which made me feel a bit gross about myself.

I tossed that cell phone into the trash and bolted on the whole affair. I gave the camera man half of the cash left from the project, wrote on the Wyoming page of our atlas, “I give up, the job and the rights,” and made my way into the desert with my tent.

Work is hard, and the rodeo? Well, no thanks.