“Hey, Booker, is that another book you just had in your hand? I never saw that cover before. You got more book speed than all the teachers I ever knew.” Booker’s buddy, Mark Geston, was riding his pal again, even though he’d never been in a classroom at any age, at any level, which each of them understood as a trade-off, Booker could come up with a synopsis of his latest read while sitting his horse beside a herd of cattle, settling in for a night’s rest, charming those who liked a quick story.
Booker Brady was one good talker the boss lady had heard a couple of times. Sonia Colton became boss of the whole Bar-S-C Ranch when her father died of a heart attack all alone in the barn, where his body had lain for half a day.
It was Booker who found the body and stood with his Stetson in his hands at the front door, Sonia knowing right away there was bad news at hand. She invited him into the house, his first visit inside, finally delivering the message, and when he was leaving, he said, “Ma’am, someday when things settle down, I’ll tell you your father’s favorite story of mine. He heard it several times, each time asking for it again. He sure liked it. He sure did!”
Booker and Mark made it every Saturday night to the warm interior of the Horseshoe Club Saloon in Gallivant, Texas where Booker had loosed his first public address of a book synopsis, late in the evening, the crowd of cowpokes suddenly quiet as Booker charmed them with a tale’s synopsis, his short-cut to the heart of one of his latest books.
It made its way all the way back to the Bar-S-C, including Sonia, always alert to what her hirelings were up to on those nights away from the ranch, an interest she never let go of, finding memories of her father always coming back from the same saloon, and practically the same crowd, his eyes droopy, his head low, his horse taking him all the way home on its own, that horse she’d take for a ride every once in a while, her ears laid back, a jump in the saddle, a memory shaken from its roots, to its roots.
When Booker charmed the crowd at the saloon, Sonia heard all about it, from diverse routes, diverse voices, diverse versions, but charm all the rave.
So, it was one early evening, the stars low in the sky, scattered past the grassy horizon, weighty thoughts filling the air with a special message, she summoned Booker to come to a dinner she was hosting, knowing how the evening would go. Booker at the helm in a late hour, a story coming from his heart through his lips, drawing all souls into one appreciation of a short tale of the West, the West all about them.
Booker ended it all with a flourish, “And so, with a special grace abounding, his nerves sleeping past his dream, a young character sprung to life as though he was right there at the dinner with them all, as if he had come around the corner of the room and went back the way he came into the room, with Booker saying, “so, the youngster found his mother waiting for him at the door of the little cabin on the plains, the bandit at her feet not six feet from her door, the smoking rifle still in her hands, her husband wounded but well in the offing, happiness supreme.
The short tale captured the lot of them at the dinner, Sonia highly pleased that Booker had delivered again, this time on the spot as though it was a regular night at the saloon, Booker the reader spreading his talents. She suddenly realized how comfortable she was in his company, yet a hireling making the inroads on feelings.
That she was able to fend off that social distance mood, simply added to her new favoritism, until she agreed with herself that Booker had made solid penetrations into her feelings, finally managing to say in her mind that she was in love with Booker, a plain cowboy who had a charm that suited her to a high degree, making her feel special when in his company, or when he was in her home.
It could have gone on forever like that, knowing but not growing with the idea, the thoughts of love, her spirits in tune with a new feeling that made Booker lean over of a sudden and kiss her for the first time since her father died. She unrolled herself, he enfolded her, the scene spread out before the both of them, and was accepted. None of the crew, including Booker’s best pal, Mark Geston, knew what had transpired between owner and wrangler, not all the way, until Sonia, not Booker, asked Mark to be best man at their wedding.
“Yahoo!” shouted Mark, “the story-teller has got a new listener. I figured someday something like this would come to him, as he is one great pal of mine, and I’d be delighted to be best man to my best pal and his bride. Yahoo!” came again, shouted out like a trail command. “It’s like a dream come true, a cowpokes campfire dream sitting right up and taking over a whole night of sleep out on the heart of grass country, a thousand or so cattle merging at the final gathering
The next morning, at a cattle count for a possible move to market, all the cowpokes knew the story, stories and callings flying through the air, surprise and gaiety in the ranks of plain old cowpokes at their jobs, but one of them was not surprised at all, as he said, but did allow that here was one more chance for him to get even with all of life itself, and he’d make a full commitment on how to read a full book like his pal had done for years, come Hell or high water, take your pick.