Rufus Hartz

First time I ever seen her was in the Rodeo parade
Jesse Sue and her pa ridin’ in line with the cavalcade
Me I had a right good view, as the clown with the broom and pan
Sweepin’ up hot horse apples and dumpin’ em in the can.

See Billy didn’t have no sons, his wife a long time ago
Run off with asome deputy come up from Del Rio.
Since then him and Jesse Sue they run their ranch alone
Hunnert and forty acres of hardpan, flint and stone.

Their ranch raised buckin’ broncos for to sell to rodeos.
Mighty tough work, I reckon just ‘bout everyone knows.
Wranglin’ broncs is cowboy tough and it’s easy to git hurt
But Jesse Sue and her daddy never minded dirt nor work.

Now the Rodeo market ever’one knows can be a bumpy ride
Billy figured jist to be safe, he need sumthin’ on the side.
Your hogs is sure fast money, tho’ raisin’ ‘em aint much fun.
But Big Black pigs will market jist under a quarter ton.

Big Blacks, was a new kind of breed
Round here they’d never been seen
On accounta them hogs, while they grow mighty big
They tend to git powerful mean.

But the brood sow never quit turnin’ out choats
A reg’lar piggie machine
So when the Rodeo market was cold or flat,
Them pigs paid the bills in between.

They’re fierce them Big Black hogs,
They’ll fuss and fight at the trough
Snarlin’ and bitin’, pushin’ and shovin’
By God don’t them hogs play rough.

So Billy rigged him a feed chute
Then he’d never have to go in.
He’d feed them murderous Big Blacks
Him standin’ outside the pig pen.

Other day I seen her sittin’ tall on her Appaloosa mare
Her hand above her eyebrows blockin’ out the glare
Over by the water tank I was hidin’, down in the draw
I weren’t s’posed to be there, on accounta Jesse’s pa.

He’d ordered me off’n their place and threatened to call the law
He’d seen me a’ peekin through the winder one evenin’ late last fall.
The man don’t understand there aint no harm in a’ lookin’
Jist watchin’ through the winder pane at a pretty girl a-cookin’.

Yesterday I seen her it was at Old Gumps Feed and Seed
Helpin’ her daddy Billy, they was stackin’ bags o’ feed
Slingin’ sacks of horse feed from the tailgate to the cab
Pigtails shinin’ golden in a shirt of pretty plaid.

Now Billy’s eyes don’t see so good, and his hearin’s a total wreck
So creepin’ round his ranch house is easier than you’d suspect
So tonight I’m gonna slip up to her winder, jist to take me a little peek,
And watch the pretty fourteen year old get ready to go to sleep.

Late that night Jesse Sue awakened, them pigs was a raisin all hell
Somthin’ in their food chute she could hear it clear as a bell
Why was daddy feedin those bruisers in the dark of the night?
Then the pigs got all quiet, she rolled over and put out the light.

The deputy and the coroner lifted what was left to the ambulance
“Crazy as a bedbug, Rufus Hartz never had no sense.
And whatcha reckon he was doin’ in Jesse Sue’s pig sty at night
Them hogs was known to be vicious and ever so quick to bite?”

“There ain’t no accountin’ with a bad sort, one like Rufus Hartz
Ain’t it awful what them hogs has done, ‘specially to his lower parts.”
Death by accident was the verdict that day at the coroner’s inquest.
In a plain pine box the sheriff and Jesse’s daddy laid Rufus to rest.

© Gary Ives 2012

Photograph courtesy of  Elizabeth Akin Stelling

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