Red of Barstow

This happened years ago when I rode a motorcycle. I had just pulled into Barstow, California. I was filling up my tank.

At the pump next to me was a guy with 2 teeth left. He asked me where I was from.  Since I was a long ways from home, I didn’t know whether I should answer San Jose or North Dakota. So I gave him both answers.

Roger: Originally I’m from North Dakota, but now I live in San Jose.

Red: Originally I’m from Pittsburg Kansas, but now I’m from Hawthorne, California. I have a ranch out here. Wanna see my ranch?

I was thinking that I should probably begin heading for home, but I said okay anyhow.

So I followed him out to his ranch. Very quickly the road changed from pavement to a washboard gravel road. Twenty miles further down the road he turned off the main road, and pulled into his ranch. This was hardly what I had in mind when one speaks of a ranch.

The ranch, or should I say lot, was about 160 feet by 320 feet. On the lot was a trailer house, and a corral for his horse. The elevation was considerably higher than Barstow.

He had some old 55 gallon TWA drums that he used to water his horse.  That morning he had had to break the ice in the drums so his horse could drink.

We spent the rest of the afternoon playing Dominoes. I looked out the window, and saw that the sun would set soon. He asked how long I thought it would be until sunset. I guessed 5 minutes. He said 2 minutes. We timed it and 2 minutes later the sun set.

Red: It’s getting late. Why don’t you stay here tonight?

Roger: [Thinking … will they be able to find my body out here.] Okay

He cooked some soup on his potbellied stove. It was surprisingly good.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by one of Red’s coughing spells. I asked him if me was all right. He said he was but I wasn’t so sure. Especially when he said, “One of these times it’ll probably kill me.”

The next time that I stopped at his place, he didn’t recognize me.

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