|Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the East Wing.
Made a new friend a while back, a feller from Texas, out toward that West Texas Town of El Paso. He came to Chicago on family business, sad family business, and decided to see if he could find the East Wing while in this part of the world.
Now I’m just setting in my office one day doing the stuff that I do for a living, things that’ve sustained me and mine for a long time. Nothing exciting ‘bout what I do for a living, just keep track of stuff for other people. And sometimes make suggestions which I think may help somebody along the way. Actually I love what I do for a living so much that if I didn’t have to pay bills like everybody else, I’d do it for free, and some times I even do, do it for free.
So I’m working away one day and my front door opens. Right there with a smile as big as Texas, a white hat, black boots, black paints, a white shirt with little black trim around the edges of everything. A white shirt that would do Roy Rogers proud. That kinda shirt with snaps, not buttons, the snaps with the little mother of pearl inlayed on the top of the snap. The shirt pockets with those little flaps that come to a point, and those same little snaps, not buttons, even on the pockets of the shirt. Um, um, what a shirt! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m truly looking directly into the eyes of a real Cowboy.
He says “you BobbyRay?” I say “I am”. And then he spoke his first cowboy words of the day as he smiled and said “Howdy Do BobbyRay, I came all the way from Texas just to see Sophia The Republican Cat”.
And I knew right then and there that me and this Cowboy would just get along. He told me his reason to be in Indiana in the cold weather. Of driving to Chicago for a funeral. Taking three days of long hard driving to get to Chicago, and staying a little extra time to visit family before heading back home to Texas.
It was on that drive ‘cross Texas, that long night drive ‘cross Texas, the Cowboy decided to visit the East Wing in person. Told me there were three reasons he decided to come to Indiana on the way home. The first reason was to just see if he could find me based only on the information he’d remembered receiving from the East Wing.
Turns out the Cowboy is, among other things, a tracker, a man tracker. He does contract work from time to time with various law enforcement agencies and other organizations through out the country. The Cowboy finds people. When it’s necessary to find somebody in the vastness of open country, such as west Texas, or an urban environment such as New York City or Chicago, a man tracker is sometimes used, and that’s what this cowboy can do. He can find people, he’s a man tracker. The Cowboy that walked into my office, wearing that cowboy shirt from the movies when I was a kid, he finds people. Both good people and bad people, he find’s ‘em.
And so it was to be, a man tracker had found BobbyRay.
The Cowboy’s second reason for tracking down the East Wing was to see if Sophia the Republican Cat is real or just a figment of my imagination. And the third reason was to see if the 2girldogs were really just laying ‘round on their couches waiting for handouts.
After ‘bout two minutes talking with the Cowboy, I knew, I just knew, this was a day no work would be done, so with noon still two hours in front of us, as I shut down the office computers, I asked the Cowboy how he’d found me.
He said “It’s not hard to find ya BobbyRay, ‘cause ya tell everybody where ya live, even where ya teach Sunday School, ‘cept ya all call it something else, that I don’t remember. Ya told me everything I needed to know to get close to ya, and when I got close to ya, I just started asking the question, and only had to ask the question twice.”
Then the cowboy said “When I left Chicago this morning ‘bout 8 o’clock or so, I set the GPS to North Judson Indiana, and when I got into town, stopped at the very first gas station out there on the edge of town, that one that sells hamburgers and stuff along with their gas. Went inside and asked the little lady did she know BobbyRay”. She said no, she didn’t know any BobbyRay, but she’d ask the other girl doing the stocking today. When that girl came form the back room the little lady asked her did she know BobbyRay. And she smiled and said “from the East Wing?” Well that’s when I said “BINGO!” Now that lady even knew where ya’re setting right now. And I just followed her trail right here to your office.
After hearing that story I knew it was gona be a good day, a fun day, and so it was. A day to remember, a day spent in the company of a real Cowboy, a man tracker, a Cowboy from West Texas, out there by El Paso.
With a proper introduction to Miss Kitty and Little Brother, the Cowboy felt right at home in my office. He said they’ve got bigger cats in Texas, call ‘em bobcats, out there in west Texas. But they sure don’t have thumbs like Miss Kitty. I was surprised how fast Little Brother took up with the Cowboy, ‘course ya gota keep in mind, this was the first real Cowboy Little Brother had ever seen, so the natural curiosity of the Little Brother kicked in.
Miss Kitty as the official greeter of the RHCO Office, was in the Cowboy’s lap almost as soon as he sat down.
The Cowboy asked the history of Miss Kitty. He said “All God’s Creatures have a story to tell and the best way to know the creature is to hear their story”. And so I told the Cowboy the story of Miss Kitty, how my son, John had found her in the very final throngs of death, how we gave her water, food and warmth, and how she responded by walking into my life. When I’d finished the story of Miss Kitty’s tribulation, the Cowboy said “Ya know, BobbyRay, the story of Miss Kitty alone, makes my trip to Indiana worth while”
The office was locked for the day and off we road, with the Cowboy trailing Mr. Lincoln, east to the East Wing. The Cowboy was about to get his wish to meet Sophia The Republican Cat and the 2girldogs. Now the 2girldogs have long since learned the sound Mr. Lincoln well before I pull into the driveway, so even though the 2girldogs are inside the house, by the time I’m in the driveway they’re at the West Wing door waiting to come outside.
As soon as I unlocked the door, out runs the 2girldogs and up to the Cowboy. The Cowboy recognized who was who right up. He said “ Why I believe I could pick these 2girldogs out of a lineup if I had to. They look just exactly what I expected.” As he bent over to pat Mustina on the head, he even remembered to rub and scratch her hind quarters where the badger attacked her and the scar had healed over. I realized then this man tracker pays attention to such minute detail. He even remembered where to rub and scratch the Pup Baby.
By the time we walked through the house and reached the East Wing, the Pup Baby and the Cowboy were best of friends. Mustina invited the Cowboy to share her couch, and he accepted the invitation . Sophia on the other hand was a bit more stand offish. In fact she didn’t even look at the Cowboy.
When I sat down, Sophia ran over and jumped up on the back of my chair, and only then turned and looked at the Cowboy, as if to say “I don’t sit with strangers like that Pup Baby does.” But in a little while Sophia was off the chair to check out the Cowboy. Sophia first looked at the boots, I don’t think she’d ever seen real cowboy boots before. ‘Course her circle of friends tends not to wear boots, they tend more toward kat skin, ‘cept her friend Pus, of course, who does wear boots. Soon Sophia was setting on the knee of the Cowboy allowing him to stroke her fur at will. Sophia looked at me, as only Sophia can look, and said “WHAT ????”
The more the Cowboy talked, the more I enjoyed hearing the Cowboy talk. He told me ‘bout west Texas. How dry it was where he lived. How hard it is to make a living in the dry, infertile land of west Texas. It turns out the Cowboy owns a ranch. A huge ranch by Indiana standards, a small ranch by Texas standers. The Cowboy owns 7,500 acres of land and has access by contract to another 16,00 acres of open range land.
Setting in the East Wing looking south, I told the Cowboy the 40 acres ‘cross the road was my ranch. He was impressed, not so much by the size but rather by the amount of vegetation on my ranch. Said he wished his land was one one filthiest as productive as mine, then he’d need only a fraction as much to make a living.
It amazed me how Sophia the Republican Cat was sucking up to the Cowboy. It was as if she knew, she just somehow knew the Cowboy was a republican, and not only a republican, but a Tea Party Republican. I didn’t ask the Cowboy ‘bout politics, we didn’t talk ‘bout that stuff. Didn’t want to know that I’d wasted a day with a republican who may have the same political point of view as Sophia. Damn Republican Cat.
He told me ‘bout the times spent on the vast open spaces of west Texas during roundup. ‘Bout using horses as well as helicopters, four wheelers and jeeps to find the cows, and baby cows, and bring ‘em home. He talked ‘bout the story I wrote when Johnny and I went to Utah and how those two stories ‘bout our trip out west got him to thinking that he could track me down.
How the events in his life required him to travel to Chicago in the winter time, how he’d never been to Chicago, and how he hoped to never need to return to Chicago again. The thought crossed my mind that this is not your typical drug store cowboy, this is a real Cowboy, a Cowboy from West Texas.
His descriptions of the open range were most fascinating when he asked me if I’d ever been 50 miles away from everything in my life. I hadn’t. “Ya can do that in west Texas, be 50 miles from everything”, so says the Cowboy. Said his closest neighbor is 23 miles from his front door. I pointed east and said, “ my closest neighbor”. The Cowboy smiled, he could see the house several hundred yards away.
Stories were told that day by both me and the Cowboy. Stories ‘bout my childhood, Weeksbury, Southfork, Tiptop, Toto, California Township School, North Judson Blue Jays, Elkhart University, Medical Laboratories, Forensic Autopsies, The Ohio State University, Hospital Administration, Buying a Paint Factory, RHCO INC., the East Wing, and ‘bout telling stories.
While the cowboy talked ‘bout being born west of the Pacos River, going to school in 100 ° heat as a routine part of the day, learning to rope and learning to ride before he went to school, of being a cowboy, of knowing how to tie knots with one hand, of time spent on the open range, of having a hose as his best friend. Spending time with just him and God and his best friend under the west Texas stars, of not being afraid of the dark. Being 50 miles away from anybody. Of having time to think of many things. Of seeing more stars in one night out there in west Texas, than most city people will ever see in a lifetime. Of talking directly to God.
The one thing I enjoyed most from my time spent with the Cowboy was his descriptions of time spent out on the open range and how ya have so much time to think. To just plain think ‘bout anything and everything, and how that affects your outlook on life.
The Cowboy shared with me some of the stuff he’d spent time thinking ‘bout, out there under the stars in west Texas, on those 16,000 acres looking for the cows.(keep in mind that one square mile is 640 acres) Such things as “It is what ya know and not who ya know that really makes a difference in your life.” “ There’s no such thing as trying, ya do or don’t” “ Winning and losing are the same thing, just a different point of view.” “ Most all the angels and saints in haven at one time on another wanted to be cowboys, but they just never got a horse”. “Cowboy hats looks dumb on anybody that’s not a cowboy.”
The Cowboy was a treasure trove of wisdom with such sayings as “don’t squat with your spurs on”. And “if ya want to have a really good day, just ride your horse in the direction he’s already going.”
Of all the things the Cowboy said, the one I love the most was “If ya think you’re important in this world, and ya have influence over other people’s lives, just try bossing their dog around for a little while.”
Only a man who’s spent time in deep thought could’ve possibly harbored such ideas as, “after all is said and done, there’re only two type of people in this world, those who can be ruled, and those who’ll allow others to govern. And ya gota choose one or the other, ‘cause ya just can’t get on both sides of that rope”.
The days end came much too soon for me and the Cowboy. So me and the Pup Baby, walked the Cowboy to his pickup truck. And I didn’t even tell ya ‘bout that Cowboy’s pickup truck. What a truck, WOW ! We said our goodbyes as the Cowboy climbed on board his transport.
Then as the Cowboy programed the GPS to take ‘em back home to Texas. We, the Pup Baby and me, with the Gray Lady now at our side, we watched and waved when the Cowboy drove from the East Wing, turned his pickup truck west, and road off into the sunset.
Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From the East Wing, When The Cowboy Came To See The Cat