Iggy came into the bunkhouse, took off his hat and coat and hung them on the hook by the door. He went over to the wood stove in the middle of the room and warmed his hands. Slowly rubbing and massaging them until the circulation returned. He then turned around and let the heat of the fire warm his back and legs. When his hands were thawed out some, he rolled himself a quirly and lit it. The other cowboys were already in and were sitting on their bunks. Iggy said to no one in particular, “Well, at least the sun has come back out, but damn it’s cold.” He went to his bunk and sat and smoked his cigarette. The last couple of days that old feelin’ had come back. It hadn’t been around in a couple of years.
It all started the other day when the boss had asked him and Ol’ Jim if they would mind ridin’ out to the hills and cut a small pine tree for him? He wanted to put up a Christmas tree for the missus and the kids. Iggy thought, I plumb forgot about it being close to Christmas. He and Jim got the tree and took it up to the main house. When they took it inside, that warm house and the kids and a woman bustlin’ around brought back a flood of memories. Iggy hadn’t thought back about his childhood in years. His folks was dead by now he was sure, and he had no idea where his brother might be. Iggy reckoned about the only family he had was them fellers in the bunkhouse, and I’ll bet none of them have thought about Christmas either. Iggy’s thoughts came back to the present. The cigarette had gone out and was hangin’ from his lip. He sighed and rose slowly. He put the cigarette butt in the stove and looked around the room. He stood there a minute, and then made up his mind. Iggy straightened out his bed roll, gathered his razor, comb and extra sacks of Bull Durham and put them in one of his socks. He stuck the socks down in the bed roll along with his extra pair of longhandles. He took his other pair of Levi’s and his dress shirt from the hook on the wall and laid them out flat on the bed roll. Then he rolled up his bed roll as tight as he could, and tied it with a piece of twine. Ol’ Jim saw what was happening and said, “What the hell you doin’ Iggy?” Jim had been his partner ever since Iggy had starting riding for the Triple T, and they had become good friends. Iggy turned to Jim and said, “I reckon I’ll be driftin’.” Jim started to say something and paused, then said, “Where ya gonna go?” “Oh, I reckon I’ll ride south a ways..... Or maybe north..... I dunno.” replied Iggy. “You know you got a home here Iggy,” said Jim. The boss thinks you’re a good hand. Iggy said, “Yup, I know. He told me so a little while ago, when I collected my pay. He said there was a place for me anytime I wanted it. He said he shore hated to see me go.” “Well then, how come you leavin’ now? This ain’t no time to be driftin’.” said Jim. Iggy looked at Jim and said, “Ol podner, you know how it is, comes a time when you got to see what is over that ridge.” Jim nodded, “ Yup, I reckon I do, but I am shore gonna miss yore ugly puss ridin’ along side of me.” Iggy nodded. He put on his coat and hat, picked up his bed roll and went outside. He went to the barn and gave a hand full of grain to Ol’ Dollar and Rascal. He brushed the two ranch horses he had ridden the time he had been working there and then turned them out with the rest of the remuda. Iggy saddled Alpo and tied the bed roll on behind the saddle. He led his horse back to the bunk house and went inside. He looked around the place and said, “Boys, it has been mighty good riding with you, and I hope some day our trails will cross agin’. Adios Amigos.” Each of the men shook Iggy’s hand and wished him well. As he turned and went out the door, the youngest hand said, Vaya Con Dios, Iggy, and Merry Christmas! Iggy closed the door and didn’t hear Jim say to the young man. “Dammit, don’t you know that Christmas is what he is lookin’ for? The sad part is, he’s ridin’ away from his only chance to find it.” MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!! Adios, Iggy
© 2003 Chip Harding
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