Suggested Pandora Online Radio station: Portishead (artist)
The Gypsy and The Cowboy
By: Abby Adams
Time tells many tales of many different lives, of many different souls that travel this vast Earth in search of the one thing the heart yearns for day in and day out. The world filled with dreamers and heartbreakers living life after life breathing the breath of a heart ache in search of one thing to make them whole.
The cowboy had ridden his horse from one end of the countryside to the other without meeting a single soul he felt the need to stay with. He travelled with a buck colored horse with white socks and grey streaked strands of hair flowing from her head and tail. She was a steady horse. A loving horse that stuck close to her master even when he ventured to places a horse would rather not venture.
She would snort and paw as he thrashed across a river pulling hard on her reigns. She tossed her long mane in defiance, but eventually relented to his sweet words of confidence that the water was no higher than her knees while he waded out, waist high, soaking his leather chaps and cotton breeches to the skin.
At night she stood steady and close to the sleeping form of the cowboy. His own hat set atop her head, his jacket laid across her shoulders.
Then one day he came across a gypsy caravan in the woods. It’s bright colors stood out against the surrounding forest. A sleek stallion stood tethered to the side of the pink and blue railings of the built on porch. Its benches were laid with hand sewn pillows embroidered in gold and silver.
The cowboy slid down from the horse and very quickly jumped right back up onto her back as a very large black dog stood from the shadows of the benches.
“Well ol’ girl I reckon we oughta just keep going on this one,” He whispered into his horse’s ear.
She twitched and nodded at the dog. The huge powerful creature nodded in return and laid back down on the porch, disappearing again from sight.
The cowboy pulled the reigns turning away from the caravan and back off the trail into the woods to camp.
His horse stopped short just out of sight of the caravan and would not go further. He hopped down to the ground and walked a big circle in search of two trees that would make a good place to put up his hammock. His horse followed close behind.
“You’re not scared of that half wolf dog thing back there, are ya?” He asked his horse as he hopped up into the hammock and settled his hat on her head. “If ya don’t mind tonight, I’m going to keep my jacket on tonigh. Okay girl?”
The horse snorted and nosed his cheek. He fell alseep with her warm breath ruffling his hair, her chin resting on the hammock strings just above his head.
As the dawn broke across the field facing the cowboy in the morning, he gapped his eyes just enough to see the horizon. There in the distance stood the silhouette of a woman in pants, wearing a vaguely familiar hat.
“Hey ain’t that my hat!” He exclaimed falling out of the hammock, with a smack onto the ground.
By the time he had untangled himself from the strings of his bed the woman was gone and, he realized quickly, so was his horse and his hat!
“Damn horse thief!” He shouted straightening his jacket and tossing the remains of the useless hammock into the bushes.
He ran off across the field back in the direction of the caravan and slid to a stop in the road directly across from it. There, with his hair raised on the back of his neck, stood the huge wolf dog guarding his pretty colored home and whoever was within it.
“Whoa buddy. I’m just looking for my horse,” he said backing away slowly across the road tripping over a huge clump of grass. The cowboy threw his hands over his face as the dog leapt the width of the road towards him. The door to the caravan banged open and a woman stepped out of the dark confines.
He heard the clicking of her boots across the planks of the porch over the growling dog above him. The string of gypsy words that rang over the snarling were incomprehensible to the cowboy, but whatever the gypsy woman had said stopped the dog and the large black creature backed away, slinking around the back of his owner.
She was not as bright as the colors of her home. Her skirts were gray and buck colored reminding him, suddenly, of the horse thief in pants. She was standing above him now, offering her jeweled hands to him her long sleeved white blouse tattered in places, the laces tied tightly across her chest, a dark brown leather corset laced over it. Her hair hung around her face in clumps of unbrushed masses of shiny dark brown strands.
Her grey eyes were sad and her face was dirty but she was beautiful. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
“Sorry about him,” She said in english pointing to the dog behind her now moping on the bottom step of the porch. “He doesn’t like strangers much. You said you lost something?”
“Uh, yeah…” He said dusting himself off and trying to regain his compusure as he stood before this tall and beautiful woman. “My horse… My horse went missing. I gotta find her…”
“Well I haven’t seen a horse, but all your yelling and my wolfie over there just woke me up. It is very early in the morning you know.”
“I know, but I saw a woman in this direction when I woke up and she was wearing my hat!” He said straightening his jacket.
“Hmm… There is a gypsy camp I’m kind of following,” she said taking his hand. “Come on have a cup of coffee and we will go and see if any of them have seen your horse.”
“Uh, sure,” He said following her looking down at her tall high heeled leather boots that were a dingy white. He sure hoped he found his horse soon.
The gypsy camp was covered with quiet whispering people setting up their wares just outside of the nearest town to catch people on their way out or into town. They whispered so they would not wake the younger children before the day began, so that the young ones would not be under foot while the older children had been awakened and set to work. Teenage girls helped set out all the jewelry and ribbons crafted by the women of the tribe, while the boys gathered fire wood and stoked the campfires for cooking breakfast.
Matronly women, clothed in bright reds and blues, their dark hair tied behind their heads with matching handkerchiefs, stripped chickens of their feathers and clucked and fussed at the adolescent children, who yawned and dallied over their morning chores.
The cowboy reached up to tip his hat at the women, but remembered, too late, his head was bare and ended up popping his head with his hand. The women burst into laughter gibbering on in gypsy, gesturing at him as he quickened his step to catch up to the gypsy woman.
She glanced back at him and offered her hand. He caught it and caught up to her quick pace.
“Best not to talk to the market people while they are getting ready for the day,” She said pulling him along. “We will go to see the chief. He knows everything that happens around the camp. If your horse came through, he would know.”
A grand black and gold caravan loomed before them. The caravan of the gypsies’ leader. The man they simply called chief. His giant horses shuffled tethered close by. Massive dark brown creatures with muscles built to pull the huge mobile home on great wooden wagon wheels.
The gypsy climbed the steps to the caravan, but the cowboy hung back watching her white boots, thinking the whole time of his horse and her dirty white socks. A guffaw of laughter came from within and a muttered curse from the lips of the gypsy woman broke through his thoughts. She glanced back with sad eyes again before she knocked on the door. The door swept open and a man swooped out sweeping her up around her waist.
“Well here she is now! My love!” He grabbed her head and descended on her with a rough kiss that made the cowboy start up the stairs, but then the massive man that was the chief stepped out behind the couple and clapped the younger man on the back.
“Now son be gentle with the woman!” He shouted throwing the boy backward. “Well, where have you been my dear? Hiding in the woods? And who is this you bring to my camp? I hope that he has money to spend.”
The conversation was loud and the gypsy woman was constantly fending off the advances of the gypsy man, who was obviously drunk.
The cowboy sputtered out who he was and that yes he had a little money and a mind to work if need be. He could chop wood and tend animals. Had they seen his horse?
All the time he was talking to the chief he glanced at the gypsy woman in grey who had her arms all but held behind her by the amorous man.
“Boy let that girl go!” The chief shouted knocking the boy around his head and batting him back into the caravan slamming the door closed. The cowboy sighed in relief.
“No boy, I haven’t seen your horse around here, but I will be sure to ask around and let you know tonight at the fire feast. You can help chop wood and earn your supper.”
The chief then reached out and took the gypsy in his arms hugging her tightly.
“You come back later. He will be sober by then. His mother will straighten him out,” The chief said to her before letting her go. “Do not leave his side he will go crazy without you.”
“I will come back later. Let me help this stranger find his horse first,” she whispered.
The chief nodded and held his arm out for her to go down the stairs. She took the cowboy’s hand and headed back towards the woods and her own caravan. The other gypsies looked on. The men folk murmuring to each other quietly and the women tsking and shushing their children into action.
The cowboy really wished he had his hat right now.
“We will have to return to the fire feast tonight or he will come looking for my caravan,” She said as she ran up the stairs ahead of him. “I don’t have the time to pack up today. So we will go into the forest to look for your horse.”
“Who was that man, gypsy?” The cowboy asked climbing the stairs behind her. His eye caught a big black floppy hat sitting in the corner of the bench seat on the pillowed porch. She was inside the open door of the dim caravan, the inside was covered in clothes.
“He’s a bad man cowboy. One you don’t want to know. I thought he had gone for good when I disappeared. Off with some seashore harlot.”
She snatched up a long dark brown jacket and a leather cowboy hat and turned towards him. She laughed when she saw him eyeing the hat.
“The worst thing a woman can do to a man is steal his hat,” She said picking up the hat and settling it on his hat. “Whether she be two legged or four legged kind.”
He looked into her eyes as she leaned in closer. She sighed and began to move back. What came over him next he would never be able to explain, he grabbed her face gently and pulled her back kissing her quickly, but softly, on the lips. She smiled against his lips and pushed him away.
“Horse,” She said pulling the caravan’s door closed behind them.
They headed into the woods side by side, chatting about the weather awkwardly at first. Not a word of the kiss, yet. Soon deep in the woods she turned to him and ripped off the cowboy hat, sending it sailing into the trees with a laugh.
He ran to catch it, but she caught him as he passed wrapping her arms around him and planting her lips on his. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the closeness of her. The feeling of Heaven on Earth. They spent the day sitting close to each other talking and sneaking kisses in the shade.
He would never find his horse this way, but he didn’t care. The gypsy talked back to him and for once he felt like he was home just being with her.
The night descended before they wanted it to, forcing them to head full speed back to her caravan, clutching each other’s hands the whole way. She let go of his hand at the foot of the stairs.
“Stay,” She said and tore up the stairs leaping over the sleeping wolf dog stretched across her porch.
She rattled around in the caravan for a few minutes and came out a transformed woman. Her wild brown hair was loose all around her head with jewels dangling in the glossy locks. Around her waist was a black corset laced up tight. She had donned a new white off the shoulder shirt with ruffles around her wrists. Her skirts were bright pink and around her hips jingled silver coins attached to black silk. Her feet were bare.
She skipped down the stairs to him and took his hand, smiling sadly as she led him back down the path to the camp. The big black wolf dog followed close behind, eyeing the cowboy warily. The gypsy shushed him away when he circled them whining at her.
The scene in the camp was very transformed from the quiet morning preparations for market. The women danced around in jeweled belts and long bright colored skirts. The children ran barefoot through the camp playing tag in the moonlight.
The chief was seated at edge of the fire close to his caravan. His wife danced around in her bright green skirt, twirling with the music played by the musicians in the caravan next to them. Their son was slobbering on some poor frail looking woman in purple skirts and a very dirty, torn white peasant top.
He let go of the frightened woman when he saw the gypsy and the cowboy walk into camp hand in hand. He pushed his way to her glaring at the cowboy who kept his head down, hat covering his eyes.
“Well what are yyyuuuu doing baaack heerree?!” the big brute said snatching the gypsy from the cowboy.
“Whoa buddy don’t mishandle the lady now,” the cowboy said the hat still pulled down over his eyes.
“I will haaaannddle heeeerrr hoowwever I waaannt,” the chief’s son spit in the cowboy’s face tossing the gypsy to the ground and kicking her hard.
The cowboy leapt forward grabbing the other man and tossing him over his shoulder easily. The chief’s son slammed into the ground and rolled over quickly. The cowboy spun around now standing in front of the gypsy, shielding her from the big man who was struggling to his feet.
“Leave her be,” the cowboy said slowly.
The chief’s son lurched forward, reaching for his smaller opponent. The cowboy sidestepped him, grabbing his shoulder and tossing him back into the ground away from the gypsy who had finally sat up clasping her stomach.
“Please stop,” she whispered getting to her feet, glancing back at the chief’s caravan. The door had just swung shut and the chief had disappeared inside.
The cowboy looked back at her and caught a fist in his jaw for the distraction. The gypsy cried out as he fell to the ground his hat toppling from his head. She ran to him but was was caught up by the chief’s son. He grabbed her face trying to kiss her. She screamed and thrashed as he held onto her tightly.
Suddenly a barely audible snap stopped her thrashing. Silence seemed to fill the camp as the cowboy saw the gypsy’s body go limp in the brute’s hands. He yelled out and jumped to his feet. The chief’s son, realising what he had done, dropped the gypsy’s body to the ground.
The cowboy leapt over her smashing the the brute to the ground and landed on top of him. He straddled the man’s chest trapping his arms on to his sides and began to pummel his face, his hands becoming more and more bloody with each swing.
A loud crack resounded in the night. The cowboy straightened feeling the pain of the gunshot spread across his back. His hands fell limp to his sides and he fell to one side with a groan. The chief’s son spit out a few of his teeth and rolled away from him coughing.
As the chief’s family ran to their son and his mangled face, the cowboy struggled to his feet and gathered the gypsy up into his arms. With the whole tribe focused on the heir to the chief’s position, the cowboy walked slowly back towards the gypsy’s caravan with his love held tight to him and no one noticed him leave.
The wolf circled him, whining and sniffing the limp hand of the gypsy. When they reached the caravan, the dog almost helped the cowboy up the stairs nudging his legs with his massive head. The cowboy laid the gypsy down among her silk pillows on the porch.
“I’m so sorry, boy,” the cowboy whispered to the dog. His breathing was getting labored as the pain spread through his chest.
The giant dog ran from the porch into the woods disappearing into the night. Then the cowboy saw a flash of buck color and white in the tree line. He pulled himself to his feet, placing a trembling kiss on the cold lips of the woman he had known so briefly yet had fallen in love with so deeply.
He brushed the hair from her face and smiled sadly at her face. She almost looked like she was sleeping. Tears ran from his eyes and he heard hoof beats coming towards the caravan. He shuffled to the top of the stairs and let out whoop of laughter.
“Well I’ll be danged,” he said as his horse trotted out of the woods, still wearing his hat.
She came straight to him and reached up with her nose. He took the hat from his head patting her nose gently. He stuck the familiar hat back on his head. Then a coughing fit came over him and he spit blood on the ground. His horse whinied and in the distance the cowboy heard the wolf cry forlornly at the full moon.
The cowboy turned and went back to the bench where the gypsy laid. His vision was slowly fading and the cold set into his body. He laid down next to her and took her hand. He started trembling and finally his breath stopped.
The horse skipped and pranced around the small yard in front of the caravan kicking up dust. Suddenly a commotion in the trees turned her around and out burst a big bay stallion with tall glossy black socks.
They wrapped their noses around each other, snuggling, before taking off through the woods and out into the open field. Together again. Those two souls in different form. True love, will always find its way back to where it belongs. Once two souls have found each other in true love, they will always find each other, forever.