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January 15th, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

You should have heard him snort. It was like a damn semi backfiring, loud as hell. So that’s how he got the name. My cousin Sam called him the “120 deci-bull” and over time he just became Dessie. He was even that loud as a calf. None of the ranchers had heard anything like it before. They just stood and gaped until their eardrums felt like they’d burst. Hell, I wore earplugs all the time and still ended up with tinnitus. Dessie was special, all right.

So the rodeo wasn’t the most logical place to take him, but I had a hunch. Dessie was skinny but determined. He had a gift that could cause a dust storm with a single bark. And after I saddled him up for an amateur bronc riding contest, he won his first seven matches by forfeit. All the riders were too afraid to mount him. His snort really was that jarring.

Anyway, we climbed the ranks quickly, and all the cameras and hangers-on made Dessie nervous. His public persona by then was “Hani-bull Lecter,” which felt fraudulent to both of us. But it sold. Then suddenly he was promoted to the top rodeo circuit, and we had no choice but to accept. And I guiltily realized my hunch had been right. We could win the rodeo.

Which we did. Dessie came out of the gate bucking at a fractional speed of the others. But he was screaming his damnedest too. Not a single rider was capable of hanging on eight seconds without clutching at his ears, when they’d lose their balance and fall off. The noise scared the hell out of everyone but it was legal. Believe me, we checked the rulebook for that.

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