As you know, round about
Christmas time somethin started pullin' on Iggy and he packed up and left
his friends in the bunkhouse where he lived.
Them was about as fine a bunch of fellers as anyone could ever want to ride
the high country with; but something told him it was time to be driftin
on. Iggy really hated to leave ol Jim. He had been as fine a bunkie as
a man could ask for, but it was time.
When Iggy left the Triple T, he headed north and about a half a days
ride he ran into the worst blue norther he had ever seen. He screwed
down his Stetson and pulled up the collar on his sheepskin coat and kept agoin.
Something was pullin him on.
He couldnt hardly see his hand in front of his face and he had to depend
on ol Alpo to find his way. After a while even, Alpo was bout blind.
He had snow and ice froze on his face and around his eyes.
Iggy knew of a grove of trees and some cover bout a mile up ahead and
decided to try and make it there and hole up till this danged storm
let up some.
They were only about a hundred yards from shelter when Alpo stepped off into
empty space. He had wandered to the edge of a gully about 10 feet deep and
about 30 feet wide. He did a somersault and landed on Iggy in the bottom.
Iggys chest was crushed and both his legs were busted and he was knocked
out cold. In a few seconds the rush of pain brought Iggy back to his senses,
and he became aware of Alpo lying nearby and thrashing around trying to get
Iggy could tell that Alpos shoulder was broke and there was no help
for him. He was just gonna hurt himself more. He dragged himself over to the
struggling horse and spoke quietly to him. The horse settled down a bit. Iggy
managed to get Alpos head into his lap and the horse became quiet.
Well, ol podner, I reckon we are in a hell of a mess here, huh?
He rubbed the horses nose and ears. Tears came to his eyes as he slowly
drew the pistol from its holster. The tears were so bad that he couldnt
see as he moved the gun up to Alpos head and when he pulled the trigger,
he shuddered so hard that the pain in his chest nearly made him faint.
The old Colt pistol boomed but was hardly heard in the roar of the storm.
Alpo shuddered once and was still.
Iggy said, Goodbye old friend, A whole lifetime of loneliness
swept around him like a flash flood. For the first time in over fifty years
He lay there cradling his horses head and tried to figger what he
was gonna do. He couldnt feel his legs anymore and it was sure getting
cold. Maybe if I rest a bit. It is getting dark anyway. He drifted
off into a deep slumber.
Then over the roaring wind, Iggy thought he heard someone calling his name.
There was a voice, but there was nobody even knew he was out here.
Iggy! Up here!
Then Iggy recognized the voice. That you Lord?
Yeah, Iggy, its me. What have you two got yourselves into this
Well, Sir, I think maybe we have bit off a little bit more than I
The Lord reached down with his hand and said,
Well come on you two, there is a whole bunch of your friends up here
that is waiting to see you agin!
Iggy reached up and touched the Lords hand and the pain and loneliness
A couple of months later, Jim was out riding the north range and he happened
to see a couple of coyotes jump up out of a gully and run away.
Hmm, thats kinda strange to see a couple of yodel puppies out in
broad daylight, he thought to himself. He rode over to the gully and was
shattered by what he found.
Awww, Iggy!! Why couldnt you have stayed a while longer?
There wasnt much left--a saddle, a boot,
a few bones, some scraps of clothing,
and an old Colts revolver.
Jim picked up the gun. He noticed the 3 notches filed in the back strap.
He had always wondered about those notches, but there is some things you
just dont ask a man.
He gathered things up as best he could and put them in a pile under the
dirt bank. He caved the bank in on top of what was there. He knew full
well that when the first spring flood came that all his work would be
Jim looked again at the old Colt and carefully put it in his saddle bag.
He walked to the edge of the gully. Jim removed his hat and looked down
into the hole.
He whispered softly, Why Lord?
Why couldnt he a been happy and stayed where he was?
A voice rumbled softly, Jim, you know that Iggy was getting
long in the tooth and him and Alpo was only gonna be able to do what they
loved for just a little while longer. You know that neither of them would
have been able to stand what was coming their way. They was doin
what they wanted.
They was together and they was still strong and proud.
Jim thought about it for a minute and nodded. Youre right,
Lord, I never thought of it that way. This is a hard land for old timers
and there aint no good way to get old out here.
Them two up there with you, Lord ? he asked.
Yup. Ol Iggy is playing cards with his friends,
and Alpo is seal fat and sassy! said the Lord.
Jim smiled and asked, Would you give Ol Iggy
a Howdy for me sir?
Consider it done Jim. See ya down the trail!
the rumbling voice said from a distance.
Thank you Sir.
Jim murmured as he climbed back into the saddle.
As Jim rode back toward the Triple T, he realized that he now
understood more of the hard cold truth about living out there on the
eternal plains that Iggy had called the High Lonesome.
He was able to see that Iggy and Alpo had become a part of the prairie
and would forever be a part of that unforgiving land.
Jim realized something else.
He was a part of that High Lonesome too, and he was able
to accept his fate, just as Iggy had done a long long time ago.
A note from the author:
I know this wasnt a pretty story,
and yet if you look at it for a bit,
I think you can find a simple beauty to it.
This wasnt easy to write.
You see there was a real Alpo,
I learned that he had cancer,
and there was nothing that could be done for him.
I had to shoot him to end his pain.
I lost a good old friend that day.
This story took me through some deep emotions
and maybe even some sort of catharsis.
Maybe in writing this I came to a better
understanding of who I am and what faces me.
Maybe there is more of Iggy in me
than I really knew.
See ya down the trail!