Rattlesnake Bill

 

One afternoon in Texas a baby boy was born.

“My names Bill,” he said. “And I’m hungrier than a rattlesnake before dinner.”

His parents were astonished that he could talk, so they gave him a great, big, piece of steak with some water, which he gobbled down in less than a minute. With a belch, he said, “Thanks for the steak.”

            “You’re welcome,” his mother said. Bill worked on the farm for a few years, and then, when he was four, the horse, Windbreaker, broke free of the stable. He chased it for about five miles before he jumped on its back and calmed it down. He walked it home. When he got there, his parents asked him what happened.

            He replied, “’Chased Windbreaker ‘bout five miles before I jumped on her back and rode her here. When should I fix that stable?”

            “When you’ve got the chance,” his father said. When he was ten and the stable was fixed, he saw a stranger on the field. Bill ran to him so fast that he was a blur.

            “Excuse me, Mister,” He said. “I think you’re on the wrong field.”

            “Not a chance,” He said, “’ Names Red. And yours is…?”

            “Bill.”

            “Here’s a present, Bill,” He said, dropping a scorpion. Bill grabbed it by the tail and threw the pest into Canada. He wasn’t scared. Red’s next trick was a cobra. Bill grabbed it and tossed it to Red. Red smiled and ran as fast as Bill to Bill’s back, where he placed the annoyed cobra. Bill threw it so far it hit him in the back, dead. Bill looked up to smile at Red, but he was gone. Bill didn’t care. Bill looked down to see if the crops were harmed, and he yelled out in surprise. Nineteen rattlesnakes were curled around his legs! He tied them up and threw them in a tree. H e earned his nickname, Rattlesnake Bill. Bill met Red again at twelve, and he sad to him “Red, I aint gonna hurt you, but you seem pretty fast, so I wanna race you. If I win, I don’t wanna see you again. If you win, you’re welcome here.”

            “Sure,” Red said. They raced up five mountains and back, but Bill fell and Red won.

Red smiled and said, “See you tomorrow, pal!” Bill nearly cursed. Red laughed. Day after day, Bill kept getting teased, until one day, he held up one single finger, and said, “One more race. God help me, one more race! Same like last time except I bet my horse too, and it will be one week from today.”

“Same here.” Red said. For that next week, Bill practiced running up and down mountains, trying not to fall. He also was trying to get stronger so that if he did fall, he could get back up again fast. Red was doing this, too. Finally, the day of the race came. In the beginning, Red was in the lead. Then Bill was. Then Red was. This continued for a while, until Red was in the lead with the finish line very close. Suddenly, Red fell. He pushed Bill down, but Bill had exercised more, so he got back up right before Red. Bill crossed the finish line a second before Red. Red got annoyed, but he gave Bill his Black horse, Shadow, all the same. Red walked home sadly. Bill loved Shadow and Windbreaker, and he never saw them fighting. Shadow was happy with his new home. Bill never forgot how Shadow became part of his family, or his old owner, his enemy, Red.