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    Headstall
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Larkspur: A Sidewinder Tale - 1. Chapter 1 The Arrival

A new adventure begins for Boone and Coy...

 

The Arrival

 

 

The late July evening was coming on and Boone was fretting something fierce. Daisy had been trying for too damn long to push her foal out, and the exhaustion of her sweat-soaked body was plain to see. Coy’s reassuring words didn’t match the concern on his face as they watched the mare’s front legs buckle.

Boone frowned at the thud her body made as she hit the grassy ground of their newest corral once again. She had been up and down all afternoon, and he was fearful he might lose his trusty mount and friend. At this point, he didn’t give a whit about the foal, not if it meant losing Daisy.

For likely the hundredth time, he cursed Duke, muttering under his breath at their big stallion while he paced. It was his own darn fault for not being mindful—he knew that—but he hadn’t even been aware the deed had been done until midwinter, when the swell of Daisy’s belly made the saddle fit different.

So many things had taken his attention the previous year, what with clearing land across both of their newly-purchased properties and selecting and cutting the best trees to build their house and barn—not to mention putting in the well and all that went with that. Most nights he’d been too worn out to even think after they crawled into their combined bedrolls. Despite that, he and Coy had almost always made time to love one another.

They’d been busy from sunup till sundown until the days grew short and the chill of winter creeped in. Even then, after they’d finally moved out of their tent and into the warm and solid cabin, there’d still been much to do. The long work days may have shortened once the buildings were done, but they never stopped… and he’d never been happier in his whole life.

For a time he’d wondered if maybe some wild stallion had snuck up on Daisy when they’d taken the team into town to get lumber milled, but with the difficulty she was having, it erased all doubts this was a big foal and that Duke was the culprit. Besides, he’d seen him jump a fence this spring with his own eyes, and then seen him hop back again after Boone had let loose a yell. Sneaky son-of-a-gun had them adding another rail to the top of the posts. He’d have been impressed at the ease of his jumping if he hadn’t been so damn angered.

Buttercup, originally their deceased friend Lee’s mare, had given birth to a big filly the week before, but that breeding had been planned. She was a real beauty, but her birth weren’t near the trouble Daisy was having. Coy and he had speculated she must have had a foal or two before, since she’d been so relaxed about the whole thing.

As if she knew he’d been pondering over her, there was a loud whinny from the recently enlarged barn. Buttercup wanted her friend back in the stall next to her. Boone would have preferred that too, but Coy was convinced walking outside would help the birthing. So far, it hadn’t, but he was always inclined to trust Coy’s opinions about the stock. The man had a proven ability to figure out an animal’s needs.

“Goddam that Duke!”

“Stop blaming him. It ain’t his fault and it don’t do a lick of good!” Coy snapped, the strain in his voice clear.

“I know that. I just—”

“We’ll get her through this, Boone, I promise.”

“You can’t promise such. Look at her—she’s plumb wore out and there ain’t no foal in sight after all this time.”

“First foals can be tough,” Coy said, but he wasn’t sounding very confident to Boone.

“Sure enough they can, but this weren’t a typical breeding. Daisy’s little compared to—” He stopped when Daisy grunted loudly and then let loose a long groan, her belly rippling as she lay flat out.

“Boone! Look at that! I think I saw the nose and front feet for a second. See there?”

Boone, pacing near her front, spun and stepped closer to her rear, but didn’t see what Coy obviously had. Daisy, with a might effort, rolled back up from laying flat and grunted again, pushing enough that this time the foal’s head and feet came halfway out. Not feet… foot. She grunted again, but the foal slid back, almost out of sight again.

“Coy! There’s only one foot I saw.”

“Saw it too… left one must be folded back.”

“Oh, Lord, if it’s all the way back in the womb at the shoulder, we could lose her.”

“We ain’t going to lose her! I’ll push the foal all the way back in if’n I have to,” Coy responded, determination in his tone. He removed his shirt and walked over to the bucket of soapy water he had Boone fetch earlier, scrubbing both arms thoroughly from hand to shoulder.

Boone’s attention shifted from him to the mare and back again. Daisy was pushing again, but the foal wasn’t budging. “I should do it.”

Coy was back at the mare’s rear. “Why? Don’t you trust me?”

“Course I do. I just—”

“You need to keep her calm. Talk to her, Boone. This probably won’t be easy if the leg happens to be pointed back, but I’ve done it before with a cow, and I saw my pa do it once with our old mare. If I can’t get nowhere, you can ride Mouse over and get Lars.”

Boone nodded before doing as Coy asked. Lars, one of the good friends they’d made in their community, had plenty of milking cows, and might know what to do better than they did. He spoke to his mare in soothing tones, and her ears flicked in response.

Watching nervously, he saw Coy’s arm slowly disappear inside the mare. They both knew arms could get broke this way if there was a particularly strong contraction. There wasn’t a lot of room with the foal already in there. His partner frowned in concentration, and Boone held his breath, forgetting about talking to Daisy.

“I feel the foot, Boone… leg must be… yeah, it’s folded back some I think… don’t know if it’s at the pastern or the knee yet… just….” He grunted before taking a deep breath. “I’m going to push the foal back some, and then see if… I’ll try to pull that leg straight… the bag is damn slippery.”

Boone murmured a prayer as he watched Coy’s strong back and shoulder muscles ripple and bulge with the strain. The man was using both arms now.

“By golly, here it comes.” Coy had given a sharp tug at the same time Daisy grunted in obvious pain, and his right arm and left hand came into view again—as if being pushed out—along with the missing foot and more of the foal’s head. “Thank the Lord. The shoulder’s for sure not in the way since the leg came down straight, so all she needs to do is push. Let’s hope she can muster up some strength for it.” He was panting heavily as he spoke.

“You did good, Coy! I could kiss you right now.” Boone meant it. He had the strongest urge to pick the man off the ground and hug him fierce.

“It’ll have to wait,” he drawled out as he gave Boone a fleeting, tired smile. “Daisy has some more work to do yet.”

The exhausted mare, after more grunting, had laid flat again and was breathing heavily, the air blowing hard out her widened nostrils. “Come on, girl, you can’t stop now,” Boone coaxed. Coy had a grip on the foal’s feet through the thick birth-sack to keep it from sliding back inside.  

With a snort, Daisy sat back up and groaned mightily, and her belly spasm was the biggest yet. With a wet-sounding whoosh, the foal slid forward quickly, its shoulders clearing the birth canal. Coy kept it moving and it slid easily across the lush grass. He quickly tore the thick bag covering its face and the foal sneezed his nostrils clear, and then shook his head in response to the evening air.

“Lord almighty!” Boone uttered, relief and astonishment flooding over and through him. “That is one big goldarn colt,” he said about the very dark bay or maybe black foal—was hard to tell since it was wet—who was Appaloosa through and through. He had dark spots throughout white markings across his hips and along his back, and his left fore and right rear leg were white to the knee. Duke’s wide white blaze marked his face.

“He’s a flashy fellow, ain’t he? Don’t remember seeing a bigger colt come out of a mare in my life,” Coy said, sitting back on his haunches as he rubbed his arm.

“You okay?”

“Right as rain. Got to admit I was powerful worried for a time there, knowing how much you love your mare, but—” He was interrupted by Daisy’s nicker to her new son, and it was a river of sound that made the hairs on Boone’s neck and arms lift. It brought tears on, ones he weren’t expecting.

With surprisingly little effort, Daisy was on her feet, and Boone was quick to pull Coy to his, out of the way of the spinning mare. “This is the best part, ain’t it?”

“Surely is,” Coy answered with a knowing smile, reaching up and rubbing some wetness off Boone’s left cheek. "Everything seems fine with both of them, so you can stop your fretting. I’ll take that kiss now if you’re still offering.”

Boone grinned and wiped the rest of the moisture away before planting his lips on Coy’s. He would never tire of being able to do such to the handsome man. The kiss ended with him staring into smiling eyes. They both turned their heads to watch the new mom and her son. “Yep, everything is fine now… and look at Daisy’s milk pouring out. He’ll have no trouble finding it.” He turned his attention back to Coy. “So, you were more worried than you let on?”

“Suppose I was,” Coy answered with a smirk and then a weary sigh. “No need for you to be knowing that, though. You’d been wearing the grass down already with your pacing.”

Boone snorted, but knew Coy weren’t wrong—you could see the path he’d made. Daisy was busy licking her colt, and he had thrashed and lurched enough to kick off the last of the protective white sack he’d arrived in. “Look at him go. Is he bay or black?”

“Hard to say—bay I think—but he’s dark enough to be black. We’ll know better when he’s dry, but it still could take a few weeks to be sure. Lot of blacks don’t stay true when the coat grows out. Either way, he’s a beauty for sure.”

“So are you, and you proved again you got a better touch than me with the stock. Thanks for getting Daisy through it… and him here safe.”

“No need for thanks, but I might accept another kiss,” Coy said playfully, not looking so tired anymore.

Boone did it right this time, pulling the man tighter into his arms and breathing in the unique, sun-kissed scent on his neck before working his way under his chin and up to those always-soft lips with his own.

“Well, ain’t you fellas a sight.” The words came from the south side of the corral, a couple of hundred feet away, and had both men pulling apart quick as startled rabbits. A stranger leaned on the other side of the fence, his face partially obscured by the two upper plank rails.

“Who the hell are you, mister, coming on our land uninvited?” Boone asked sharply, his challenge ringing out. He was angered at getting caught in the kiss, and even angrier at not feeling safe on his own property. His hand went to his side, but his holster wasn’t there.

“Relax,” was drawled out by an amused-sounding voice. “Was quiet for not wanting to disturb such a pretty sight, and you boys were plenty busy. I expected you’d have seen me coming, but when I got here I saw why you didn’t.”

It was hard to get a read on this man who had his hat pulled down. Boone stepped in front of Coy to shield him, but Coy immediately stepped aside and spoke.

“You making fun, mister? Cause we don’t appreciate being played with on our own land. We was just celebrating new stock on the ground, is all.”

Boone bristled when the man chuckled and spat, and then coughed, but there was something familiar in the sound and the action. “What you do on your own land is your business, so hold your britches, young fella. Been here longer than you think, and I was talking about that colt getting on the ground safe. Looks to be something special, he does.”

“He is that,” Coy agreed. “So you going to tell us what brings you onto our land at dusk?” Boone had moved again to try to block him from the man, but that got him a quick frown as Coy stepped to the fore once more, moving closer to the man at the fence.

“Thought you boys were smarter than that.”

“What?” they asked at the same time. Boone recognized something in the voice now, and he moved closer as well.

“You don’t recognize an old friend?” he asked as he spat again. “I reckon y’all are gonna hurt my feelings.”

The man pushed the brim of his hat up a couple of inches, and Coy’s sharp intake of breath could be heard clearly. “Sheriff? Sheriff Willard?”

“One and the same, young Diamond. Sorry for catching you unaware like I did. Tied my horses to the hitching rail over yonder—was heading for the house, but then I saw y’all through the trees. Probably a good thing you boys didn’t have your holsters strapped on,” he finished with a wide grin.

Boone, letting out a sigh of relief, walked over to greet the man proper. “Never expected to see you up this way. Welcome to Red Apple Farm. How does a sheriff get loose to go traveling this far?”

“He don’t. Not unless he quits, and that’s what I did. Yep,” he drawled as he surveyed them both. “I reckoned it was time for me to make a change.” He shook the hand that was offered to him, and then shook Coy’s. “You boys are looking a sight for sore eyes. Damn pretty spot you got here, and that house up yonder looks mighty fine… better than most log cabins I’ve seen.”

Boone wanted to ask why the man quit sheriffing, but held back with something more important on his mind. “We’ll show you around if you like,” he offered as he worked up some courage. As good as it was to see the man, Boone was a little nervous about the kiss he’d witnessed. He cleared his throat. “Ah… about what you saw between Coy and me—”

The sheriff cut him off right quick. “Don’t pay it no mind cause I don’t. You think I didn’t know what you boys mean to one another? Shoot… weren’t no secret to me.”

“You knew?” Coy asked, but he didn’t sound surprised.

“Course I did. Might not be obvious to other folk, but it was to me, and to be honest, Wes and Lee confided in me what they saw between the pair of you—so don’t give it another thought. Said it was only a matter of time you boys figured it out, and turned out they were right.

“And yes, Dan told me how he felt for you, Dixon—considered me his uncle—and how you didn’t feel the same. Was hard for him, but he respected that. Considered you both friends, which is why I was surprised you left without this one last year,” he said, nodding towards Coy.

“Was mighty glad to hear you two found each other.” The sheriff tipped his hat further back, and Boone noticed the man’s face was quite a bit leaner than he remembered. In fact, his whole body was leaner. No wonder they didn’t recognize him right away.

“Who told you we found each other?” Coy asked.

“Met a man in town who liked to talk. Name was Bright. I asked if he’d heard of you boys, and he told me you both had farms, side by each, and where I could find y’all.”

“Ah, Alan. Yep, he does like to yammer on, but he’s a good man once you get used to him.”

“Thinks highly of you fellas, that’s for sure. Said the whole town does, and how you fit right in.”

“Good town with good people,” Boone said, feeling relieved they had nothing to hide from the man he had high respect for.

“Look behind you. That big boy’s about to stand,” Sheriff Willard pointed out.

Boone turned his attention back to their new addition, and sure enough, he was working on getting up. The stud colt had a lot of leg to get positioned, but he managed it quicker than most newborn foals. He looked even bigger on his feet, legs slightly askew, but stayed upright as he moved each one. Boone expected him to tumble like most new ones do, but that weren’t the case at all, and he was soon covering some ground. It was the fastest he’d ever seen one find the teat and start sucking.

“That sure is a fine piece of horseflesh—gonna be a big ‘un,” their visitor said. “I reckon folks will be lining up to breed their mares to him one day. I know I would… if I could.”

“Might be so,” Coy agreed, his eyes shining with pride as they met Boone’s. “Still mad at Duke?”

“Not as much, no,” Boone answered with a grin. “I thought Buttercup’s filly was a good one, but this one shows lots of promise to be even better. Wait till old man Corker sees him.”

“Oh, Tiberius will be doing his jig for sure, but we’re keeping him, right?”

“Be fools not to. Just hope he’s sweet-tempered.”

“He will be if’n he takes after his pa,” Coy said, the pride once again clear. “We’ll find out soon enough what brains he’s got when we move them to the barn tonight.”

“Yep, and might be we should do that now while he’s standing. Give us a hand, Sheriff? We’ll show you his pa before the light fades and you can say hello to old Blue.”

The sheriff had been watching them with a smile on his face. “Ain’t this better than standing in a river, panning for shiny rocks? You boys have gone and built yourselves a fine life here.”

Boone exchanged a warm glance with Coy. “We sure have, and we ain’t never regretted our choices.”

 “Can see that plain. Can see a lot of things plain,” he added as his gaze traveled from one to the other. “Now let’s get your new stock in the barn, and no need to call me Sheriff anymore. Name’s Mitch in case you didn’t ever know it.”

“Mitch? Yep, I remember that. Okay, Mitch. I’ll lead Daisy—she should come easy unless he wanders off—and you and Coy can keep the foal from getting into trouble. We’ll find out how smart he is, and then we’ll show you around and fix us all some good grub. I’d like to hear what made you decide to leave Red Bluff after all these years.”

The smile the sheriff had been wearing, suddenly slipped, and his gaze moved off Boone. Changing the subject abruptly, he put a smile back on his face. “Grub sounds welcome to me. I could eat the ass end from a skunk about now.”

As he squeezed between the boards of the fence, Coy caught Boone’s eye, and his eyebrows raised and lowered quick. Boone knew he’d sensed it to. Sheriff Willard was hiding something.

 

 

*

The interest for more of Boone and Coy's story motivated me to write a sequel of sorts, something I seldom do. Thanks for checking this out. Please share whatever thoughts you have with me, good or bad, if you can. They would be greatly appreciated, and keep me inspired. Cheers!

Copyright © 2021 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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