OLE' HOSS LEGACY STORY: THE GIRL ON THE BUS




THE LITTLE GIRL ON THE BUS:

The now older man, Marvin, has taken to riding the buses around town instead of fraying his nerves dealing with daytime traffic, and especially night time darkened streets. He can still drive, but finds the buses as much more convenient and at his age economical, too.

Though he is unusually hale and hearty for his age, he does have some age related physical issues and so uses a cane and is careful where he sits to protect his hips from undue strain from getting up and sitting down. So, when he rides the bus, he takes the center-facing seats in the front of the bus whenever possible. And he has noticed how very considerate many people are, when he stands waiting for one of them to become available, and they graciously surrender a place on that seat for him. He always thanks them for this sacrifice and they usually smile and nod to him in return.

Marvin, had ridden the bus in the past sporadically, but was now becoming a regular passenger. This allowed him to become tuned into who the regular riders were. And there was the usual array of personages that he regularly noticed. A bully boy teen, who lightly pushed his way around. A ‘milf’ type middle-aged lady who might be a nurse. A couple of older (than him) ladies who always rode together and were busy in their own world of conversations. A young woman, who looked at him speculatively, but surreptitiously from under her ever present sun glasses. And a little approximately ten year old girl, probably a student in some private school from here manner of dress, who always sat in the same seat in the front of the bus right next to where Marvin usually sat.

This could have been for her safety. Sitting up by the driver, you know. Also it provided her with easy access and egress at her stops.

Since she was obviously a regular, she didn’t pay much attention to me upon my inaugural ridings of the bus. But, as she became more used to seeing me, she began to take note. There was a measuring manner to her assessing my presence on the bus. And, of course, I was under scrutiny by the other regular riders too, especially the speculative young woman.

As the rides multiplied over the next few weeks, Marvin could tell that the young girl wanted to inquire of him about something, but just couldn’t think of a way to broach the subject. And there was the normal reticence of her age group, no doubt magnified by the admonition of her parents, “Don’t talk to strangers!”

But, good heart and deep abiding curiosity overpowers even such sound advice in time. And so after a number of abortive attempts, she finally got out the inquiry, “Are some kind of cowboy, Mister?”

I and the others in earshot smiled at that inquiry from the impressionable young girl.

“No, I am not,” I gently and respectfully answered the young girl’s question, “but I do sort of dress like one though, don’t I?”

She quickly nodded to me, evidently still obedient to her parent’s command to ‘not talk to strangers.’ But, there was still a questioning expression on her face as she scanned over my manner of dress. I regularly wear a black Clint Eastwood type of hat, washed out jeans, a unstarched patterned business type of shirt, a western patterned type of bandanna tied western style around my neck and black athletic shoes. That with my older demeanor and clean shaved, but with a mustache and goatee beard completes the picture.

I tend to be very garrulous in manner and am comfortable with conversing to anyone about anything that would be socially acceptable to their interest and place in my current circumstances. I was a very chatty grocery clerk for years and then followed that up with being a very chatty and story-telling cabbie for a decade more. I even talked to anyone who would respond in grocery lines as I awaited having my groceries and almost always, after an initial shock on the recipient’s awareness, got positive and interesting replies.

But, I was holding back with this young girl. I didn’t want to startle or scare her and I wanted to respect whatever instructions that her parents were giving here. I raised children myself and chaffed when other good-meaning people tried to undercut my and my wife’s standards of conduct for our kids. So, I had no intentions of interfering with her parent’s control of things, though I didn’t know them or what they might be enforcing for their daughter.

But, since she rode the bus each day, and I did several times a week, I decided to lighten the mood between us since she was evidently so curious about me. So, I offered to serialize a story that I had recently produced. In an expurgated version, of course, appropriate to her age. “Would you like to hear a cowboy story, young lady?” At this the other persons about perked up, too, to see what I would share with this young girl.

Still being obedient to her parents, she nodded ‘yes.’

Interestingly, from that time forward, by an unknown enforcement, that particular front seat was reserved for him when he rode the bus, and the young girl continued to sit in the front facing first seat right next to him. The rest of the interested passengers, would organize themselves in the immediate area with regard to each one’s ability to hear him. Even the driver made attempts to not be as noisy about his work as usual, since he was only eight feet away from Marvin with his back to him and very curious about these stories, too.
So, Marvin began his story to the young girl, whom he later learned was named Jennie.

“There was an old cowboy, age 38 being considered old for that time, who had worked out on the range for several years, alone and in company of other lonely trail hands. They had a terrible cook, who fed them food that they could barely eat and some kind of thick black syrupy drink that he called coffee. At least it was hot and wet for them.”

With this the little girl smiled in appreciation and his other audience seemed to be enthralled. So, He continued,

“This old cowboy, named Hoss and usually called Ole’ Hoss, had been working for the Boss, who owned and managed the ranch for several years, and Hoss was known to be an honest and dependable man. So, the Boss decided to send Hoss to town for a couple of days of fun and to gather a manner of supplies for the ranch that they couldn’t make or grow for themselves. It would be most of a day’s ride and would be somewhat dangerous of a trip.”

With that Jennies’s stop came up and she nodded to Marvin and jumped off of the bus. The rest of his audience were curious as to when he would continue the story that they didn’t want to miss and so he remarked for them all to hear, “I ride on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s” So the audience talked amongst themselves and designated a couple of them to keep track of the story for those who would not be able to ride on each of those days. And so grew the reputation of the ‘story bus.’ And its ridership increase dramatically over time.

The next time that Jennie and Marvin were on the bus together, he continued the story for her after noting her expectant eyes,

“So, Ole Hoss stated out with his very experienced horse, Ambler. The horse was named that because unless there was an obvious emergency or it was spurred into spirited action during work, it just took its time in going anywhere. And even though Hoss was in some kind of hurry to get to town, but respectful of the horse’s feelings, he just let it proceed at its own pace, which was, of course, ambling.

At that pace, it would take a good part of the day to get to town, but the time taken would ensure that they would not take any unnecessary chances (the adult riders recognized a life lesson there being passed on by Marvin) and any risks could be met without rushing in to them (with this Jennie also recognized what was going on and smiled in response, nodding to Marvin.)

The road to town, and it was actually an old cow path and maybe deer path too, was narrow and barely passable in places due to fallen trees, landslides and washouts from gushing streams from the melting snows in this high land. But, despite having to divert into very prickly brush at times, Hoss continued to make progress toward the town of his destination.

Finally, he came over a rise and could see the as of yet unnamed valley and the ugly dingy little town in its middle. This used to be a mining town, but the mines were playing out and so the surrounding area was being taken over by small ranchers and smaller homesteaders who lived in an uneasy peace due to the cross purposes of each of their operations.

Hoss now moved toward town at an increased pace, since even Ambler was feeling excitement at their coming encounters………”

With that, he cut off the narrative and waited a response from Jennie, since her stop was still several stops away. Finally, her frustration overpowered parental authority and she in a slightly exasperated voice asked, “Is that all, Mr. Martin for today?”

Marvin smiled and replied, “Yes, young lady, enough for today. The adults here will get writer’s cramp if I go on any further today!”

With that, he got a great big smile from Jennie………and the adults too.

The next time Marvin rode the bus, he noticed a public address microphone mounted at his assigned place on the bus, evidently a gift from the driver, though no mention of that fact was ever pronounced. And when Marvin continued on with his story of Hoss, the sound carried even to the far back of this long bus. Also he noticed a somewhat reduced noise level in the bus’s operation. He didn’t know what could have caused that. Also, he noticed the appearance of recording appliances among the adult crown. That was okay as far as he was concerned. Prevented a number cases of writer’s cramp, he surmised.

But, with Jennie’s nod, Marvin picked up the story of Hoss’s trip to the town at the leaving off place, with him and Ambler, his horse, moving at an accelerated pace towards the town.

“As Marvin and Ambler moved towards the town, Marvin noticed the increased dilapidated state of the town. Most of the big mining companies had already moved out and the businesses that remained among the closed up ones, just evidently didn’t care about the state of their town.

Marvin pulled up to the town’s only still operating saloon and tied up Ambler to the remaining functional hitching post outside. With that he moved up to the swinging doors and peered into the low level light to make out what might be going on. Practically nothing from what he could tell with his eyes, nose and ears. So, he entered and saw nobody at the bar, but a shortish, slim and rather underdressed young lady. Her plain shift was gussied up with some needle point and bows with ribbons, but not all that stylish or even proper for a well brought up young woman. She was pretty, though.

And she approached Hoss, evidently measuring him for what he might need and what she might be able to supply to him.

“Is the barkeep in? “ he inquired.

“No, he has went off to stand in a long line at the doctor’s to get his monthly supply of his patent medicine for his ‘Rheumatiz,’” she replied.

“Oh darn,” Hoss replied, “I was counting on having a drink to begin my time her in town. It has been a long time since I have had a drink without trail dust on it and in the company of a pretty lady, either.”

Petty, the young lady, smiled at the nice compliment that he had just passed on to her. “Well, I think that I can take care of that for you,” she offered. And she did.”

With that came another of Marvin’s ‘cliff-hanger’ endings, which they were now becoming used to. Without too much groaning, either.

This carried on for the next four years and then one day; Jennie, who was now in high school, passed a note to him from her parents. He paused his storytelling for the moment and read the note in front of Jennie.

Mr. Martin, the note began, we Jennie’s parents and would like to invite you to a teatime or coffee time at the TEAHOUSE or the nearest STARBUCKS to you, to discuss a topic of mutual interest. Please note your acceptance or hopefully not your rejection on this note and return it to Jennie.

With that Marvin wrote on the back with a pen that he kept in place of his pocket just for such rare uses, “I accept.” And then continued the story of Hoss and Petty for his audience of the day. The bus had long past been repainted on its turn and since the bus line often decorated the buses in interesting motifs, had repainted and decorated this bus inside and out with a thoroughly Western flavor. It was one of the most favorite busses in the city. And the company had even installed recording equipment that played back Martin’s latest offerings on his days off of riding and replayed the whole scenario in serialized form on other times that he wasn’t in the bus. It had even gotten notice on the local T.V. channel.

The next time that he saw Jennie, there was another note with the time and place left open for Marvin to fill in. He noted a time and place and returned it back to Jennie, before beginning the latest episode of his story.

When they finally met at the TEAHOUSE, even though he didn’t usually drink tea, they appeared as an early forties couple, fine looking and very engaged with each other. Just the kind of parents he would have ordered up for Jennie, if he had any choice in the matter.

And she, Marion as she introduced herself with Mark her husband, began the discussion as Martin was settled in seated across from them at a very antique iron table with an equally antique tea service with hot tea preordered by the parents, began her address to him
,
“Mr. Martin, we have noted your wonderful stories that you have told our daughter about Hoss, working in a lot of the conditions and ‘color’ of the Old West. As you probably know, she has been recording them ever since the third episode and playing them back for our family much to our family’s continued delight.

One of the side benefits of this all is that she has taken much more interest in her studies because of the interest in learning that you have spurred in her and the much more relaxed nature of her bus rides to school that you have produced.

We sincerely thank you for that!

We understand that she is much more open and conversational with you, with the continued attentions that you have given her. And as a product of that, she has now announced to us that she wants to see you at times other than on the bus. She has heard of your trips to the State Fair and some of the movies that you see, which are well within her interest zone. We are concerned about this request on her part, no lack of respect to you intended, and have desired to meet with you to discuss it.

Martin mulled all of this over in his mind as he sipped his tea, which turned out to be very pleasing. Then he looked up and addressed his little Jennie’s very concerned parents, “I raised children myself and can understand how you would feel with this assertion being placed before you.” With this the parents relaxed a bit, but remained very focused on what was to be said.


NOTE: THERE WERE SEVERAL ENDINGS WRITTEN FOR THIS STORY, THIS IS THE ONLY ONE THAT MADE IT ON TO THIS SITE:


ENDING NUMBER FIVE

“I am and older man, as you can see, living in a very generic condo, in spare but comfortable surroundings. I love to tell stories, both on paper and vocally. It has been my pleasure to share some of my stories on the bus. I very much look forward to each trip to do so. And your daughter has been such a fine audience, and so very encouraging to me. The others on the bus seem to enjoy them, too.”

“Yes, we have heard all about them and have even heard ones that Jennie recorded for our enjoyment and analysis as to whether they are appropriate for a young girl of her age. We are very appreciative how you have toned down the stories to a level of general acceptance and see no harm in them. In fact, those stories of yours have helped build a fire in her heart to learn and be able to write something herself. Her grades, which were already quite good have elevated to a very high level because of your lighting this fire under her. Probably not your purpose, but a good result anyway.”

“I had no idea, but she was always very appreciative of them, though.”

“What my husband I had in mind when we asked for this meeting with you was a disturbing report we got from our daughter. She has grown very fond of you and your stories over the years and she has reported to us that you seem to be going into some kind of decline lately. You aren’t as positively mooded in your story telling and you seem to slur over the words sometimes and lose your place in your stories, too.

She and we were wondering if we could be of some service to you as you deal with whatever health issues are plaguing you.”

“Well, I don’t know. I am aware that I am not as sharp as I have been, but I didn’t know that that was so obvious to my listening public,” this came with a bright smile. Jennie’s folks smiled at that too.

“As fond of me as Jennie seems to be, she can’t cure me from getting old and what that all means. But, I highly value her interest in me and her gratitude for my stories on the bus.”

“What our little girl, who is now sixteen by the way, came up with was that you could continue to write your wonderful stories and when you seem to falter in telling them, she could switch places with you and carry on for you. She is taking SPEECH in high school and this would help her in her public speaking skills. And she has heard your voice inflections for years and has practiced them here at home in front of us while speaking along with tapes of your story telling. She has it down just right. I think that you will be amazed and delighted with her take on your voice style.”

“I don’t want to embarrass her by requiring a try out, for something so mundane, so I will give her a chance the next time we ride together. Most of my story telling is off the cuff, as it were. But, there is nothing to say that I couldn’t write them down at home, instead of doing the ‘as I think of it’ on the bus. I can print it up in larger letters to make it easier on her. Yes, I think that that would work.”

“I am sure that it will, and I think that she would be very pleased to render this service for you. Just be very patient at first, because she does tend to be very nervous and shy when she first starts to talk.”

“Yes, I will remember that.”

So, the next time on the bus, Marvin started the story as usual, “Sally, one of the daughters of Hoss and Petty was very resentful of her parent’s way of life. And

so she decided to embarrass them with a very public action of hers. Neither Hoss nor Petty had a prejudice bone in their body, but the valley had attracted some people from the Old South and they had brought their racial prejudices with them. Though they were generally silent about it.”

At this point in the middle of the story, he stalled on purpose and then passed the paper over to Jennie. She started at first with a choked and nervous voice,

“Sally found her chance to cause some trouble in the preparations for the community picnic. She and Flagon, a colored man, were there early to help set things up and she began to flount herself to him….”

but after a couple of lines of dialog, she was really with it, with Marvin’s humor and storytelling intact. The bus crowd gave them both a standing ovation, with the driver swinging his free had wildly behind him in his own form of appreciation.

So after that she rescued Marvin whenever he needed it and eventually she was doing most of the reading and finally all of it as Marvin got even more frail. About the same time that Jennie got married and moved away, Marvin was moved to a care facility for closer monitoring. He no longer rode the bus, and since no one else felt able to continue with the story telling, the next time the bus went in for refurbishing, any sign of the ‘story bus’ disappeared. The crowds thinned out to the normal riders and the noise level returned to the previous amplitude.

The only thing left to remind people of what had gone on before, besides their memories of his stories, was a prominent plaque that would be noticed upon entering the bus at the front that noted the most popular rider that the bus line had ever had.

And whenever Jennie came back to town to visit her folks, she always came to see Marvin as long as he lived and brought her own children to meet her favorite story telling cowboy friend from her youth.

NOTE: I think that I like number 5 the best. And it conveniently leads into the next story, too.

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