I lived on Hall street in Amarillo, Texas way back in the sixties. Our neighborhood was on the south side of town. Two blocks west of my house was a field that I played on with the neighborhood boys. We spent our childhood on that great section of the Texas panhandle.
“Our field” was, I would guess, twenty or so acres. Our neighborhood bordered the east side. The west side of the field was bordered by a farm to market road named Soncy Road. On the north side was Bonham Junior High School.
On the south side of the field was a farm. That farmer grew sorghum that they used to feed cattle. Sorghum grows pretty tall and when it was grown we would sneak into the sorghum fields and play hide and seek. We never did stomp any of the sorghum down or hurt nothing. I knew some teenagers would get in there and stomp down the plants for whatever dumb reason. I walked into two of them in there once and they were smoochin. Anyway….
Well, we were in there once and the farmer that owned the land caught us. He called our daddy’s on us and, boy, Jesus had a lot of meetings that night!
After what seemed like a year of being grounded, the ten of us went over to Rex’s house one night to roast marshmallows. We had a great time. Rex’s daddy came out and asked us if we wanted to hear a story. He had lived in the panhandle all his life and knew about all there was to know about Texas.
He told us about an old man that lived way back in the cowboy days. You know, back when everybody rode horses and carried a six shooter? He lived on the very farm that bordered our field. You know, the one we got in trouble for playing in? As a matter of fact, the farmer that had caught us was the old man’s great grandson. Anyway, that old farmer had a cow and she was pregnant. She came due late one night during a storm. That old farmer went out into the field to where she was going to give birth to help her. She was making such a ruckus that he thought she was going to die. Right at the time the little calf was coming out, the old cow jerked in pain and hit the farmer and knocked him plum out. Just as that happened, lightning struck the old cow and her calf. The farmer came too after a minute and he thought the cow and the calf were dead. They were not as it happened and the old man was able to get mother and calf back to the barn. But things were not the same. No sir.
As the bull grew up, he wasn’t like the other cattle. For one thing, he was mean. He was. He was meaner than any snake and he was the biggest bull in the panhandle. He was so big and so mean there wasn’t a cow or bull anywhere that would have anything to do with him. He didn’t have any friends except the old farmer. He and the old man knew one another and knew what each other wanted. The old man decided to plant a field of sorghum just for the bull to eat. Somehow or another the bull knew the field was for him and he stayed out there all the time, day or night.
You know, that bull got so he didn’t want anybody in amongst his sorghum field and that included any and all animals. He’d chase off any snake or coyote or anything else that got into his field. If he did catch something, he’d up and eat it. Didn’t matter what it was. Lizard, horned toad, didn’t matter. He’d eat it.
The only living being that could get on that field and not get hurt was the old farmer and his sons. It was that way until they turned that field into houses some years after I left.
Rex’s dad looked at us long and hard then he said: “You all remember Rusty’s little brother Billy? (Rusty was one of the neighborhood boys – but he was home that night because he was grounded). “You remember then”, Rex’s Dad went on, “that he up and disappeared one night?” We did and nobody ever knew what had become of him. When we would ask Rusty, he would just cry. “Well”, Rex’s dad said in a dead serious tone and with the light from the fire behind him, “We don’t know for sure but Billy was last seen near the sorghum field.” He looked at us with a deadly serious look on his face for what seemed like forever. All of a sudden. He slapped his legs, stood up and said, “night ya’ll.”
We never set foot in the sorghum field again. Ever.I did hear that, when he died, they stuffed him. I am told he sits outside some restaurant on the highway near Amarillo.