Finn and I were celebrating our final night of summer freedom at the line shack. Earlier in the day, we had helped count and load all the cattle the two of us had gathered over the last two and a half months.
“George,” Finn said, “I’m glad you held back on the good stuff.”
He lifted his cup, half full of whiskey, in salute. He then downed it in a single gulp. I poured him some more.
“Wonder what happened to old Nameless,” I said as I tipped my glass back.
Nameless was a large black bull, well known for his nasty temper. We couldn’t find him anywhere in our searching for the nearly wild cows that we’d driven into our stock pens in the many weeks we’d been working together.
“Probably got kilt by a mountain lion or something,” Fin answered. “After all he was pretty old as I understand it.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “More than likely he is a ghost out roaming around looking for someone to run over or something.”
“Now, don’t you go telling any spook-stories to me,” Finn demanded. “You remember that last one you told me. Nearly had a heart attack when you howled like a dog while I was in the outhouse.”
We laughed as we enjoyed another splash of whiskey.
“Won’t be trying to scare you tonight,” I said. “Not with old Nameless unaccounted for.”
“Stop it, damn you,” Finn shouted. “Not another word about ghosts, spirits or spooks or anything of the sort.”
“Okay,” I answered, “Want another snort of spirit?”
Finn laughed so hard he nearly fell out of his chair. I poured him another couple of ounces.
Once finished with that, he got up and went outside, announcing, “You only rent whiskey.”
I stayed seated, worried that the room might spin too fast for my balance should I stand up.
That’s when I heard a particular sound, heavy breathing, and a solid thump. I got up despite my possible intoxication and went to the cabin door.
Intoxicated or not, I recognized Nameless right away as he stood horns pointed at me. I quickly slammed the door.
No sooner had I closed it than the door and frame shattered as if in an explosion. Nameless had entered, and I sought my escape through the glass window above our washbasin.
As Nameless trashed the cabin, I sprinted around the front and downhill to the outhouse. As I tried to open the door, I heard Nameless racing behind me.
“Open the damned door,” I cried.
“Find your own spot to hide,” Finn returned.
The bull was nearly on me as I ran around the outhouse twice before deciding to climb on top of it. I watched in relative safety as Nameless disappeared into the darkness.
As I contemplated getting down and running up to the shack, I heard the brute come racing back. I had hardly focused on its black silhouette charging from the dark before slamming into the side of the outhouse, scattering boards, magazines, and I supposed, Finn.
The sun was coming up when I finally felt brave enough to lift my head and look around. I was stiff and sore from my tumble, and it was made worse from having played dead on the ground all night.
I could see neither Nameless nor Finn, so I crawled to my knees.
“Finn?” I called.
“Here,” he hollered back.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Do dandy,” he said. “You?”
“I’m still put together,” I answered. “Where are you?”
“In the shitter,” he said.
“No, you’re not, its spread all to hell and back,” I returned.
“Nope,” Finn said, “I’m definately in the shitter.”
Crawling, I made my way to the floor of what had been the outhouse. I looked in the privy hole and saw Finn looking back at me.
“How in the hell did you end up there?” I asked.
“When that freight train hit,” he explained, “It threw me in the air, and when I came down, I landed straight-legged in this here shit.”
As I started to laugh, I heard a sound from behind me that left my blood cold then I felt the ground tremble through my hands. Without hesitation, I jumped in the hole next to Finn.
Soon a face peered over the edge of the privy hole. It was McDaniels who had come back to help us pack out.
He pushed his lid back and scratched his forehead before exclaiming, “Boys, I don’t even want to know how badly you two tied it on last night.”