Tess was seized with fear.
Rumors of his return were true. But this was not possible.
Through the swirling wave of dust from the departing Stagecoach she could see him.
Her mind dizzy from the mere thought of him. Dust and memories mingling in the air.
The meanest man ever to have lived in these parts.
The meanest man to have ever left these parts, with the promise of a return.
His voice cut through the stale brown air.
"Ya'll in better'n a geet out of thissa heeeruh oura wayyy!!!"
Her fear was deepened when she saw what he was riding.
His legs and feet dragging far behind the pony, his face clinched teethy grimaced.
A man on a mission.
"Whuts youns alla a looken attt!!!", Bubba screamed.
"Yeww aint'a neever saina man onna hers befoe?"
Tess knew better than to answer him right away. She quickly pondered what had driven him away in the first place.
(He left Oklahoma riding on a (horse named) Pontiac, just about to lose his mind )
"This is a proud man", She thought. "He probably loves that little horsey...."
"Golladarrrnedit!! Sumbudy hep me git my legs unnerme! They beena draggin hind this horsey for a lottta dangd miles.....I caint fell 'em anymur...!", Bubba bellowed.
Bubba bellowed all the time.
Now he was bellowing about his poor feet.
The outline of Tess's face and figure were not familiar to him.
"Bubba, it's me...it's me, Tess."
"Who'nit?" grunted Bubba.
Bubba bellowed AND grunted all the time.
"It's Tess, your wife...you dirtwhacked idiot, don't you remember me?"
The dust had now settled while the Shetland sauntered to the hitchin' post.
"Golldarnnedit horsey's been sauntrin for days now!!, I dun axd him a hunnert times,"What the blazes u got to sauntr about?" He dont ansuh me wun tim!!!"
Tess strained to glimpse the man she had fallen in love with years ago. He was gone.
Only the gruff voice and dirt remained.
Bubba was (in) famous for shooting grown men for riding Shetland ponies.
Word of his misdeeds carried so far that nary a man considered riding a Shetland within a hundred miles of Bubba. So goes the legend anyway.
The whites of his eyes were matted with the dirt that laid claim to this land years ago.
"Tess, if thats a rellly ewe ther, wood you git Roy some watr?"
(A Shetland named Roy.....Someone somewehere was playing a cruel joke. The cruelest of all. Roy was also a trained Circus Shetland, but that's a story for another time)
"Sure, Bubba...but first, can I ask you a question?" Tess was using her "Soft" voice. The voice she kept in reserve for her 1st grade class.
Bubba looked straight up, stared right into the rays of the blazing noontime sun.
"How longsit beeena nightfalll? Whin smornin comin?" Bubba moaned mournfully.
"Bubba, why.......why a Shetland? What's happened to you?"
"Gollldangedit...why a Shetlan?"
"Dangedit feller down in El Passy caut me wun nite and ses he wansa traid his jackarse fer my jackarse. Strait acrosst. Eben stebens."
"Well I caint see nun too good and noticed his jackarse was shortern mine which mad it ezyer to raiz my leg, So I ses sure. Done deal. Strait acrosst. Eben stebens."
"Deal dun. Feller takes off and I falls asleep rite ther in the road. Ded nite."
"I wakes up and with this her Shetlan, who I find outs namd Roy. Now whut kinda name that fer anybudy much less a Shetlan?"
"So here I yum. Ridin' a Shetlan, bein' maid mockd in efr town jus' to git bak hum."
"I toldjee I wus comin' back didnI?" Bellowing again.
Tess's heart was breaking.
"You do have a way with words, don't you Mr. Dawg?"
"Allin I beena tellin efrbodee whod listen is I gotta git bak home to my Misses Dawg...."
"You is still Misses Dawg aintcha?"
" You had me at Who'nit" Tess whispered softly through the weathered patch of hair beneath his weathered brim.
"You had me at Who'nit".