Princess the Cowboy

Stopping for a quick drink at the O’Range Bar, Point Rock, WY

The night before had been a rough one, though nothing out of the ordinary. “She ain’t coming back in here,” Carol told the Sheriff. He has a star-shaped badge and a “Sheriff” graphic on his car, though the title might be a bit grandiose considering he amounted to the town’s entire police force. He also delivered the mail, which he sorted from his station in the convenience store that served as the post office and pumped gasoline no more than a literal stone’s throw from the bar (which shared a wall with the laundromat). These services comprised the entirety of Point Rock, Wyoming.

The outside of the O’Range Bar had indeed been painted orange fairly recently (by the looks of it), and, if you squinted, the range it called home recalled the one of the famous song of the mythical West.

“Well,” he sighed, but got no further before Carol threw her damp rag down on the bar and waved a sinewy arm over it, launching aggressively into the story of how she had to leap over that same bar last night and push Angela out of the building even though Angela outweighed her by better ’an a sack of grain. There wasn’t much more explanation. None needed. He’d heard some version of this story too many times to count, but this morning Carol hit it with renewed vigor. “No,” she affirmed. “She ain’t coming back in here.”

Which she would, because, really, where else would she go?

The O’Range Bar had indeed been painted orange fairly recently (by the looks of it).

Outside, the asphalt—where last night under a flickering overhead light Carol had pushed Angela until she fell over onto the concrete and broke a heel off her boot—baked. The Sheriff implored Carol to just holler at him if Angela showed up tonight. Which she would, because, really, where else would she go? Everybody not only knew everyone else in Point Rock but knew them by name and nickname and knew which trailer they called home. “Just call me,” he said.

As he turned to head back out into the bright sun and desolate rock piles outside, a tall and impossibly lanky old man, who had seen at least 70 hot and dry summers such as this one, ambled through the door, tipping his cowboy hat to the Sheriff. The Sheriff tipped his back. The cowboy’s yellowed beard spilled out over the first button of his leather vest, and his jeans, slim cut though they were, sagged slightly off his hips as his spindle-legs bowed carrying him around to the far side of the bar, farthest from the window and beyond the reach of the light filtering through the front window and the dusty neon beer-brand signs. He sat on a Naugahyde-wrapped stool and smiled a yellow grin.

Carol turned to him and chirped, “Hi, Princess.” He tipped his hat again.

Whenever anyone asked about his name, he responded cordially but quietly, content to keep the story of just how he’d come by such a moniker to himself.

Illustration by Zach Causey