It was the summer of 1956, the month of July, the day of the 15th, a Tuesday, and I was in pickle.
Cattle herding was no easy feat, but I'd had years of experience. My pa had been a cattle wrangler in his time, moved out from Tennessee during the Great Depression to live a life unaffected by the greed of men in cities and trusts and other things I didn't understand. He'd taught me that cattle were simple, honest, loyal. They listened, and obeyed. They let you ride alongside them, and guide them. And in return, they would serve as food, sustenance, and a source of money bills.
I had been cattle herding for nearly 8 years by this time, starting from the day I turned 18. And as I supposed, this was the last day I'd be doing so. From the bottom of a well, pushed by a heifer, loose from the herd, scared, frightened.
The splash of water at my broken legs, my jaw wincing as I grunted through the pain, the tumultous cry and roar of the hundreds of cows above me. Friends, all of them, I thought, but none that could save me, nor knew I was in need of rescue.
There had been stories of a man made of green and rubber who walked the arid lands of the Arizona deserts, a man eight feet tall. An Arizona Sasquatch, really.
A rustling came from the top of the well.
"Hi ho, stranger. Did you crawl down there for kicks, or is this be yonder trouble?"
The voice was high-pitched, squeaky, but had the intonations and drawl of a man in his 50's. I was befuddled, but piped back;
"One's 'a my cow's pushed me in, sir. I hate to be the owin' type, but I'd sure owe ya' a favor if ya' were to fish me out."
"Hold tight, cowboy," came the strange voice, "I'll have you outer' there lickety split!"
Soon after a rope from my horse's pack came tumbling down the shaft. I grabbed on and pulled to check. The rope came, but sucked back the moment I let up.
"You sure this is secure, friend?"
"I've got a mighty grip on it myself, partner! Grab on, and I'll hoist you up!"
With little to lose, I grabbed on and braced for the pain of my legs being loosely hung down from below. The rope bounced and jumped as he pulled firm and fast, but oddly, I never felt unsafe. The top came into sight, and tired and sweat-drenched as I was I could hardly see when I came upon the lip of the well. I crawled out to safety and rested my head against the well, and for's all I know, I fell asleep there.
When I awoke, Gumbi was impaled upon a cactus. The cactus moaned. The arm of Gumbi rose from it's flacid droop and stretched out towards me. Gumbi held no life in his eyes, but yet, his body twitched and flickered, crumpled and folded.
In my dreams when I passed out, I saw the cacti, it's second stalk raised like an arm, Gumbi collapsed around it's shaft, a red fire burning everything around. I wondered why.