Eight Seconds of Hell

Big Red, for most of the time, was docile. His owner could walk up to him, pet him, and stroke his ears. At least that is what happened when he dreamed. He had never been able to tame him. Several had tried and failed. Big Red had put so many in the hospital he had acquired a reputation.

Now he was being wooed by a number of rodeo promoters. They were always looking for an exceptional bull, and Big Red fit the bill. There had been a fierce bidding war and he now had a new home. He was the color of burnished copper and was eighteen hundred pounds of pure hell.

The first time they took him to a rodeo was an experience. He broke two cowboys' hands as they tried to get him ready for a rider. He smashed them against the stall. Wild - and raging mad, he took it out on the cowboy who settled on his back. It was an unexpected feeling, the weight of a human on his back. He instantly didn’t like it. When the chute door opened it surprised him. For a second he stood perfectly still. He came to his senses and erupted with one thought on his mind. Kill whatever was on his back! In less than two seconds the cowboy was sprawled on the ground. Big Red looked at him with murder in his eye. The only thing that saved him was the rodeo clowns. He chased one until the clown dived head-first into a barrel. He butted it all over the arena. Mounted cowboys tried to herd him out. He charged them. Thus a rodeo legend was born.

Big Red quickly became a star. No one could ride him. It was impossible to stay aboard. Whenever he came out of the chute there were four clowns and mounted cowboys with bullwhips. It was the only way they could control him. They considered injecting a mild sedative until they were told it was against the rules.

The Rodeo National finals were approaching. They somehow got him on a stock truck and arrived at the arena. He knew when he ambled off that truck what was expected of him. He was going into battle once again. He settled into a pen where he rested. Later that day, he could hear the roar of a crowd and knew his time was coming.

He was loaded into a chute and barely endured getting ready. There he waited, a muscular, coiled spring of hatred. He had no way of knowing, and wouldn’t have cared anyway, that by the luck of the draw, the cowboy leading in points had drawn him.

He felt the unwanted weight on his back and started getting mad, uncontrollably mad. The chute gate opened and off they went, the cowboy desperately holding on. The rider had studied his moves and knew what to expect. Big Red became a whirling dervish. It didn’t work, the weight was still there. In desperation, he did something totally unexpected. He barrel rolled. The rider was unable to jump free and it was all over.

The crowd was so silent you could have heard a pin drop. They got Red out of the arena and removed the cowboy’s body. The promoters stopped the Rodeo in respect for the dead.

That night Big Red was retired. There was talk of having him turned into hamburger. The deceased cowboy’s family intervened and persuaded the owner not to kill him. They said he did what he was supposed to do, buck off the rider. The owner took him home and put him out to pasture.

They put a sign on his paddock.  “HERE LIVES A KILLER! BIG RED’S HIS NAME!”

January 28, 2021

Photo courtesy of Pixabay