When Cowboys Die

When Cowboys Die

When Cowboys Die

When Cowboys Die


A man either chases his dreams, or he dies.

Present-day ranch hand Charlie Lyles longs for an era before mechanization, when a cowboy’s greatest ally was his horse. He remembers stove-up old men telling of cattle drives and stampedes and shallow graves in lonesome country with few fences. At a dollar a day, none of them died rich, but for a cowboy who knew no other way to live, maybe it was a fair trade.

Society has pushed Charlie toward a conformity that he hates, but he is about to change the rules. Walking up to an illegal alien at a remote line shack in West Texas, he steals a horse, leaving a perfectly good pickup behind. “You tell ‘em, amigo,” he says. “Tell all those hombres with their fancy equipment to just stay out of my world or play hell tryin’ to catch me.”

Track him they will, with a helicopter and radios and assault weapons, but they are headed into territory that hasn’t changed in a century . . . and they are trailing a man born a hundred years too late.


Wednesday, June 2

The cowboy boots were dusty and well-worn, the pointed toes as scuffed as an old cattle trail and the cowhide uppers strangely split down the front.

From the outlying pen, the Mexican ranch hand noted the odd lacing as the big stranger approached from the chalky road that fronted the remote line-camp shack in the mesquites and cedars. the illegal alien lifted his eyes up along the thread-bare jeans and the puddle of sweat darkening the western work shirt. Rolled-up sleeves bared swarthy upper arms and tattoos—Texas on the left, Roper on the right. He found the leathery face and stubble, the crow’s feet marking the eyes, the brim of the sweat-stained Resistol throwing a shadow across bulging veins in the temples.

But it was the corroded, bolt-action .22 rifle, dangling from a glistening hand, that dominated.

Charlie Lyles rounded the back corner of the sagging shack and squinted at the sudden glare of evening sunlight from left-side mesquites bunched like cattle in roundup. a mirror-like pickup at a shed, it was a reminder he didn’t need. the pungency of horse manure from the pen ahead was more to his liking, for it stirred so many memories of how a cowboy should live.

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