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Gather the Longhorns

Gather the Longhorns Carrot Ranch @Charli_MillsYippee-ki-yi-ay, get along little longhorns, Carrot Ranch will be your new home! Yippee-ki-yi-ay, get along little longhorns, these stories are rich black loam. 

And so the writers sing a herding song this week as they gather the longhorns and tell the tales. An unusual topic, perhaps, but it’s approached as usual by versatile and creative writers with wit, tenderness and even some creepy-crawlies.

The following are based on the May 25, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a that includes the word longhorn.

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Flash Fiction by Pensitivity

It was all Horace’s fault, having said the grass was always greener on the other side.

In the early hours before anyone else was up, Longhorn Bert set off on his lone adventure.

Somehow though he’d lost his sense of direction, and found himself in a bit of a scary predicament.

Though the leaves were greener than his familiar pasture, they were definitely not grass.

Not wishing to attract attention to himself or give up his new found freedom, he decided to stand still on the roof and hope no-one would notice.

He wondered if anyone would miss him.

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Where’s the Beef? D. Avery

“Fifty musta’ made her cantankerous.”

Shorty just smiled. Even as they whined and complained they were checking cinches, adjusting stirrups. Getting ready.

“We’re not all country western singin’ cowgirls!”

“A short piece on longhorns! I’d rather a tall-tale than a longhorn.”

“Are there even any left?”

Shorty finally spoke. “There’re longhorns out there for you to wrangle and round up. Bring one back to the ranch on the hoof; raw, if you will.”

More grumbling but they were already mounted and ranging out.

Shorty never used a stick, and knew that the carrot was simply a job raw done.

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Myths of Longhorns (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls

“Ever see cowboys riding the trail with their longhorns?” Jesse asked.

Sarah was tucked in a blanket, sitting on Jesse’s porch. Shulls Mill squatted dingy with lumbering dust and brick buildings. Not the crisp colors of the prairie. “No,” she replied.

“But I thought Hickok was Marshall of the biggest cowtown.”

“That was later. I saw plenty of oxen and some had long horns.”

“I pictured longhorns on the prairies.”

“Buffaloes. I once saw a herd so large the ground shook.”

“Weren’t you afraid of Indians?”

“Jesse, there’s much about the west not in those dime novels you read.”

###

Holy Cow! It’ a Long Shot by Norah Colvin

The enclosure was built, the hay delivered, the trough filled. We children watched from the rails, as Dad and Mum manoeuvred Cow #1 into the yard.

Everyone clambered to be first to milk her.

“We can all milk her – in the morning,” assured Dad.

But in the morning, the cow was gone. The gate lay crumpled on the ground.

A stronger gate contained Cow #2, but she squeezed under the fence.

More repairs must secure Cow #3? She jumped over to flee.

Defeated, Mum replenished her powdered supply, and we kids never learned to milk.

Should’ve got a longhorn?

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Steakhouse by Elliott Lyngreen

She had put contacts in.

He put on deodorant and her favorite button-down.

She offered, “you can move here,” smiling without glasses, taking him to glimpses in here many years ago, before the lumps appeared.

He accepted, “dont mind if i do,” nearly wincing into the booth against her.

He knew exactly what she wanted. Steak and potatoes.

The restaurant always resembled a giant tree hollowed, carved into places to eat.

He had far away stares of her, them; laughing contagiously; two kids up too late in a treehouse.

She squinted, “you will never go south again. ok?”

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Defining Moment by Jules Paige

Detective James Longhorn knew that there would be no syncretism for Janice and Richard. The reformation of a psychopath was like trying to collapse the tough cast iron barrel of an old cannon.

Richard seemed to have a stiff vertebra, and the uncanny tendency to warren his way into the nerves of a woman whom he had once controlled. Longhorn would do all he could to catch Richard whether the troll was actually lucid or oscitant.

When that horrid call came over the invisible strands of transmission; to the unboxed cell phone – everyone in the police precinct room shuttered.

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Long on the Horn by FloridaBorne

Texas, the longhorn state. The real thing isn’t anywhere to be found in the city of Houston. Sure, you have plastic replicas of longhorns, but the days of the cowboys tending them are relegated to rodeos.

Sleeping on the ground, stepping in manure, and being bath deprived aren’t my idea of an ideal any more than doing garbage pickup or plumbing. Nor would I want to have the job of keeping predators away from the livestock. Nowadays in Houston, braving the traffic is just as dangerous.

That’s today’s cowboy: It’s a dirty job and someone has to do it.

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Flash Fiction by Geoff Le Pard

Mary smiled at Paul. ‘One more round.’

He affected a sigh, ‘If I’d known the booze was shit, I’d have babysat…’

‘Harry doesn’t understand wine.’ She glanced at their team captain.

‘Ok so who knows about Americana? Paul, you’ve been to the States. You’ll be good at this. Odd man out. Which isn’t a Longhorn? A cow, a cheese, a basketball team and a steakhouse?’

Paul grinned then shook his head.

‘Well? Share your ideas Paul. I’m sure we’ll all be grateful.’

‘Sounds like the name of a male porn star.’

Mary sighed. Paul wouldn’t be invited again.

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Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Gruene Hall was roasting. Renee and I sat drenched from drink and dance. Her hair shined. My favorite curl had slung itself around her cheek as we heaved, giggling when the headliner, Merlin Mowers, slid next to Renee. A round of Lonestar longnecks followed.

Renee squealed. We snapped selfies. All was wonderful until Mowers veered into Renee, his long face like a Cadillac Deville, his mustache a set of longhorns affixed to his grin.

Renee’s eyes widened. Her grip tightened around the longneck.
I could’ve told Merl to duck.

Instead I bailed out my lovely wife the next morning.

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The Longhorn Saloon (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Jane walks past the bar, its door open to the summer evening. How wonderful to step inside, clink a frosty mug with those of others, join the ritual of shaking off the workweek.

But it could never be like it was back home. Clack of balls on a pool table, shrieking laughter of women with too-big hair and too-tight jeans, jukebox blaring country music she only likes with draft beer and too many cigarettes.

The Longhorn Saloon. How she’d loved that dive. Of course, last she heard it changed hands and was Bob’s Place or something.

Jane walks on.

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Curds and Wheys and Means by Bill Engleson

Sally Longhorn Wakely made her pitch to me one night on the corner of Blather and Scrounge.

I wasn’t ready for it but knew it was coming.

Sally was a little like Runyon’s Apple Annie but with cheddar dreams.

You just knew she would bake a swell pie.

“I just wanna make cheese, Gerry. Cheese. Is that so much to ask?”

Well she had me there. I’d funded a brick load of Yankee lads and lasses who knew no other dream then one pleasured with carroty joy.

Trump had delivered their moment of revival.

We were feeling the auburn.

###

A Horn for Hearing by Anne Goodwin

Squeezing the mouthpiece between her lips, Liesel exhaled. Two short blasts sandwiched between one long one, timed by the beating of her heart. Heads turned, foreheads creased at the woman-made incursion on the birdsong but, seeing the alphorn, longer than the instrumentalist was tall, they smiled and cocked their ears towards the distant hills, tuned for his reply. Nothing heard. She blew again without response save the call of a cuckoo. Red-faced, she tramped back to the car.

His hearing horn discarded on the backseat. Without it he could not hope to hear her call.

###

Andy Longhorn by Michael

Andy Longhorn was the lawman in my part of the world. Everyone called him Longhorn and no one was sure where the name came from though some women in the town thought it was because…but that was just hearsay.

He cracked the great cow rustling caper back a few years ago. Tracked down those thieving wretches and put them well and truly out of business. That act alone made the town feel a debt of gratitude to him.

He never wanted any reward. He wanted a quiet town. A quiet town meant a happy Longhorn, and that suited us.

###

Highlander by D. Avery

These green mountains had never held her the way they held him. She’d always chafed at the constrictions of hill farming, pined for open range. With dual citizenship she could be anywhere; Texas, Alberta, anywhere her wild western dreams led her. He wouldn’t look.

He was pioneering right here, innovating with heirloom breeds and traditional farming methods. He raised Highlanders for meat, but kept one as a milk cow, another tradition for this loyal breed. These Scottish Longhorns were hardy and independent, but also good-natured and reliable, good mothers.

He’d be right here with his fold should she return.

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Long on the Horn by Ansham

The hidden light of the sun barely cut through the thick fog that covered the prairie in that remote village when, unexpectedly, a strange shape could be discerned in the distance. I stalled in fear.

The crisp winter air and the moisture made the scene even more ethereal. There I was, face to face with the most magnificent animal staring deep into my eyes. She was standing still, enamored, looking beautiful, majestic and grandiose. I was stunned, speechless and mesmerized as this longhorn cow communicated to me the essence of her right to live. And then she was gone.

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Saints Marching by Liz Husebye Hartmann

They clattered down the long hallway, down stairs littered with rocks, crossing the division into darkness.

“There it is again,” they whispered. A low bellow moaned from the depths below.

Right, left, left again, then down once more. Their torch flickered in the thin breeze.

“Any Minotaurs in this labyrinth?”

“Don’t worry. I know the way out.”

Another bellow, followed by sliding sobs. They sprinted hard now.

And then, a Sousa solo.

“About time you got here!” The earthquake had wrecked the practice room, tipping the sound panels and trapping Tony.

“We’ll save you, but that trombone stays here.”

###

Longhorn’s Tale by KittyVerses

There wasn’t any connectivity through roads and no means of transport from his village to the nearby hospital. One had to pass through the forests to reach the other side. He had to visit his ailing mother. The village folk ensured they reached their destinations before dusk. It was rumored that a giant inhabited and nobody lived to tell the tale.

He was asked to duel with the giant. Sensing defeat, he escaped between the legs of the giant.

Always mocked at for being puny and untrue to his name, he received a hero’s welcome,

Hail Longhorn! Brain is mightier than brawn.

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Cerambycidae by Sarah Brentyn

I feel them crawl over my skin before I see them.

Looking up, I notice hundreds of insects skitter across my floor, up the walls. They are everywhere. I want to scream. To call for help. But I don’t.

I study one on my left arm and become entranced with its bright, colored spots and antennae.

I have a memory of school where I learned about this species. The common name, ‘longhorn beetle’, fits well as the antennae extend past the end of their bodies. It’s fascinating. I lean in for a closer look but see only my bare arm.

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Longhorn by formicatio

She stared out across the field as one of the mighty beasts lumbered over to her.

She hated the ranch.

Born a book lover on a longhorn ranch, a disappointing oldest child followed by three born-farmer brothers, she couldn’t wait to get out. The scholarship she’d won to what her parents called a ‘fancy city college’ had been her dream, and now her packed bags were waiting in her pick-up truck. The longhorn pushed its nose against her arm, and she scratched his forehead affectionately. “Bye, buddy,” she said, “seeya in three years,” doubting very much that she would.

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May 25: Flash Fiction Challenge

White clouds scud across the blue skies of Kansas. An ocean of green grass spreads out below and I can imagine how the pioneer wagons with white tarps once mirrored the procession of cumulus clouds. In a modern car the going is smooth, but in a wagon the path was not easy. Wagons wore ruts and packed the earth so hard, grass doesn’t grow in some places even today. Ravines and creeks were dangerous, and pioneers often drowned crossing rivers. My idyllic vision of Conestogas crossing the prairie is far from reality.

Yet there’s a reality often overlooked in the western expansion of the US — the perspective from women who came west. Just as I’m driving the car in our mini RV train of sorts, women often managed the reins of the wagons. At the end of the day after traveling, I can still feel the movement of the road. I’m sure the wagon drivers laid down at night feeling the sway and jostle of their conveyances, too. But what’s significant is what’s omitted from the pioneer diaries and accounts. According to one historian, as many as 90 percent of the women who came west were in one phase of pregnancy or another. There were plains so flat and wagons so many, I wonder how women found privacy for the most personal of functions?

A community of women would have been important. They could look after one another and best understand feminine needs. But what about those on the fringes? I often think of Nancy Jane Holmes as a feminine rebellious spirit. But how rebellious could her gender be? Evidence indicates she had a child out of wedlock and later lived with a man as a common-law wife. She grew up on the prairie and I imagine she learned to hunt and fix game for meals. She was more hunter than farmer. Did she ever ride with the buffalo hunters? What did she think of the groups of women who passed through in the wagon trains? What did they think of her, or say to her?

For men, the westward expansion was more adventurous. In their prime, they were not burdened by bodies meant for fertility. They didn’t experience monthly fluxes, pregnancy or nursing an infant. They were free to roam, explore and be independent even with families in tow. If men were single and in a group, often they were pushing longhorns to Kansas from Texas or serving as soldiers in the US Cavalry or frontiersmen who scouted for wagon trains and hunted buffalo.

Driving across the lone prairie, I wonder at how to breakthrough the stereotypes of these past experiences, to acknowledge what was common and likely, yet imagine the unrecorded exceptions. History has documented James Butler Hickok, Wild Bill, to the minute detail. There’s no new evidence of his experiences, yet I think there’s much left to say about them by looking at the other people he interacted with at Rock Creek. Especially the women. Historians have turned wild imaginations toward Sarah Shull, and yet have virtually ignored Nancy Jane Holmes (or Jane Wellman). She was on the fringe of what was typical of pioneer women. She was more of a frontierswoman. And that’s where the story gets interesting.

Kansas provides rich history, and tomorrow my research here begins.

For the challenge, I’m thinking about the longhorns who also once spread across the plains. The word longhorns evokes notions of cowboys and cattle, which featured later in Wild Bill Hickok’s life. It’s also the name of western steakhouses, bars, football teams and a type of cheddar cheese. Dig deep enough and you’ll find some obscure term for computer technology. It’s the same idea with history, and I look forward to digging.

May 25, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a that includes the word longhorn. You can go with any of its meanings or make it a name of a person or organization. Cheese or cattle, technology or place, what can you create from the western icon? Go traditional or new; go where the prompt leads.

Respond by May 30, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published May 31). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

Myths of Longhorns (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls

“Ever see cowboys riding the trail with their longhorns?” Jesse asked.

Sarah was tucked in a blanket, sitting on Jesse’s porch. Shulls Mill squatted dingy with lumbering dust and brick buildings. Not the crisp colors of the prairie. “No,” she replied.

“But I thought Hickok was Marshall of the biggest cowtown.”

“That was later. I saw plenty of oxen and some had long horns.”

“I pictured longhorns on the prairies.”

“Buffaloes. I once saw a herd so large the ground shook.”

“Weren’t you afraid of Indians?”

“Jesse, there’s much about the west not in those dime novels you read.”

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