Your name is Sam, but most people call you “Partner.” You’ve been riding the range all your life. Your old hat is starting to get a little floppy. Your boots are wearing thin, out here in this dry country.
When you started this cattle drive you were fresh, wiry, and energetic. But all the dust storms, the desert heat, the dangerous river crossings, the lonely nights in the middle of the sagebrush, it’s all starting to take its toll. Life is wearing you thin, Sam.
Excuse me. I mean, Partner.
You haven’t shaved in weeks. You caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror back in Taos. You almost didn’t recognize yourself. Rugged. That’s what you were. Your stubble had turned into an area rug, your skin was sun-worn, like boot leather. You’ve lost so much weight that you resemble a San Pedro cactus. It’s all part of being a cowboy.
A few days ago you went out looking for those mares who busted free from the corral and got away. When you found them, they were halfway to Mexico. You captured them and were bringing them home when…
(Cue melodramatic music.)
You ran into Evil Eddie. He is the most evil outlaw in the West. The fact that Evil Eddie has the same name as your little brother who just stole your LEGO NASA spaceship set is only a coincidence. Make no mistake. Evil Eddie is dastardly, the most fearsome criminal this side of the Sierras.
When you happened upon him, he was even more evil than you thought. He was busy counting stolen money beside a campfire. His gang was with him. He was laughing, and you could see his yellow teeth. That’s right, yellow teeth. Outlaws are notorious for having gum disease.
You knew where Evil Eddie’s money had come from. You’d heard all about the stagecoach robbery. Evil Eddie robbed the stage and kidnapped its two female passengers, Miss Kitty and her elderly mother, Miss Kit Kat Barre.
You found Miss Kitty tied to a tree. Miss Kitty was lovely, and you knew she needed your help.
You untied her in the darkness, when nobody was looking, and you whispered something to her. “Pssst! I’m here to rescue you, ma’am. Is your name Miss Kitty?”
She looked at you with hope gleaming in her eyes. She answered, “Actually my real name’s Amanada Blake, I played Miss Kitty for 19 years on ‘Gunsmoke’ and was eventually inducted into the Western performer’s hall of fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City before my untimely death in 1989.”
So you knew something had to be done. You’re a hero, Sam. It’s in your blood. Can a tree stop being a tree? Can a rattlesnake apply for HMO health insurance? No. Heroes are born heroes, and this is why they make more money than supporting actors.
You made a quick plan. Because this is what protagonists do. You’d been preparing for this moment your whole life by doing good, helping the downtrodden, not cheating much on your income taxes, flossing after every meal, etc.
You took on this band of dismal thugs using only your pistol. Somehow, you managed to single handedly fight all six gang members and win!
Did I say six? No. I meant 16. Make that 56. Evil Eddie has a HUGE gang of evil henchmen. Most of whom have not seen a family dentist since their fifth birthday.
When every outlaw was hogtied and you recovered every last dime from the robbery, you carried Miss Kitty and her mother back to town. And it was there that you delivered Evil Eddie to the sheriff. All the townspeople cheered for you.
What a night that was. It was one of the best of your life. There was a band (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys) playing music. They played “Take Me Back to Tulsa.” You danced with Miss Kitty, then you ate so many pinto beans that you felt like you were going to explode with joy.
And just when you didn’t think the night couldn’t get any better, you kissed Miss Kitty! Right on the lips! After you brushed your teeth, of course.
You’re a man who follows the wind, Sam. A man who was born to wander, to roam the lonesome hills, to go where duty calls, carrying with you nothing but your pride, and your Listerine anti-cavity oral rinse.
So you waved goodbye to Miss Kitty. Then you rode off into the night, admiring the stars. The stars have been keeping you company ever since you were old enough to spit, rope, ride, shoot, and sing. These stars are always reminding you that there is something big up there.
You’re a man of the dust, Sam. You ride with the breeze. The junipers, the iron-red rocks, and the purple sage are your companions. Your horse is your confidant. The sound of the earth is your song. The sun is your compass. Your only law is right. And your only obligation is kindness.
Because you are a man whose job in this world is to be strong. And when your mother wrote to me, and told me that you loved cowboys and Westerns, I couldn’t wait to sit down and write something for you. Because I’m cheering for you to beat this cancer, Sam.
You’re my hero. Partner.