Guest ranch, p.1
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       Guest Ranch, p.1

           Don Hoglund
 
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Guest Ranch
Guest Ranch

  By

  Don Hoglund

  Copyright 2011 Don Hoglund

   

   

  This short story is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents are fictitious and the product of the author’s imagination. The author has published the story, or parts of it in other places, but the content originated with the author.

  Guest Ranch

   

  They call it a guest ranch instead of a dude ranch.  Not much difference except that “guest” sounds more genteel than “dude.” But I didn't care.  If I was a dude, I just as soon be called one.  At that moment, I was sour on Western hospitality.  Call a spade a spade, I say. I felt more like a sucker than a guest. Not that it was the cost of the place. It was expensive enough but most resorts are.  No, what was bugging me was the local law enforcement.

  I don’t think Helen understood my mood. She was too enthused with the idea of being out in the real west.  A guest at a ranch, never mind the fact, that we were paying a good price to be guests.

  I was enthusiastic too, until we hit the last town—or rather, the town hit us. A regular speed trap--and I wasn't speeding really—and a small town Judge just waiting to fleece the tourists. That did dampen my enthusiasm, I'll tell you that. It didn't faze Helen though.  She jumped right out and was waving her hand excitedly for me to follow and then she went into the office.

  I followed her, but slowly.  By the time I got into the office, she had already registered us and was talking to the desk clerk; at least, I thought he was a desk clerk. That's what they usually call such people when you stay at a hotel.  It turned out that he was our trail guide. He said his name was Hank.

  Hank was a young man, well under thirty years old. He seemed well mannered and friendly enough.  Thank God.  Somebody out here is! He was wearing tight-fitting blue jeans and one of those absurd checkered shirts, just like the judge wore.  At least the one Hank wore was clean.  To give Hank credit, standing there with a smile on that deep tanned face of his, he didn't really look so much the hayseed.

  “You folks are too late for chow,” he told us, “but I reckon we can dig up something for you to eat.  Go on into the dining room and I'll get the cook to send something in.”

  “Thank you,” I said and we went into the dining room.

  The food was something less than the guidebooks always promised we’d find in the Golden West, but you can't judge much from leftovers.  I felt a little better after we ate but my face must have shown my earlier mood because Helen said, “are you still pouting over that traffic fine this morning?”

  “I m not pouting,” I said.  “You are,” she argued.

  “O.K—so I'm pouting.  Why shouldn't I? That town is a speed trap.  That hick who calls himself judge fined me one hundred dollars.  And I was within five miles of the speed limit.”

  “But you were speeding, weren't you, dear?” She always said 'dear' when she thought she was one up on me.

  “Well, yes—” I said, “if you want a purely technical definition of speeding.  But a speed limit isn't posted for an exact miles-per-hour.  They don't make speedometers that accurately, for one thing.  Besides that fine would have been excessive even if I had been guilty.” I started to explain to her what is meant by reasonable infractions of a speed limit, when she said, “Hank is taking us on a tour of the ranch, and there's a barbecue afterward.” She always changed the subject when she couldn't answer an argument.

  I didn't feel much like going horseback riding.  I'd been driving nearly twelve hours straight except for the time I spent in the court, which didn't help much either.

  “But that's what we came here for,” she said.

  I knew that I'd have to give in.

   
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