We all have fond memories of our childhood. We remember those time times that were different and exciting or a time when we met someone special
The horseman was one of those special moments in my childhood. He was a tall lanky man with a haphazard short cropped beard and I was pretty sure his nick name was something like “Slim”. It wasn’t. It was “The Horseman”. Naturally I assumed he rode horses.
Of course the residents in the small Southern Utah never uttered the direct article “The”. They simply said, “Horseman, how the hell are ya”, “Horseman, how the hell is old ‘Cabby’ doin” or “Hey Hoss, goin fishin today?”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was with my mom and dad sitting in one of the three booths at Judy’s Café when he walked in. He nodded at my parents and squeezed my shoulder.
He was a pleasant man with a warm smile that divulged a couple of missing teeth. Judy had his breakfast ready as he slid onto one of the four stools at the counter. He bantered back and forth with four road workers sitting at the booth behind us. He drank a full cup of black hot coffee before he started on his ham and eggs with a side of hotcakes
He didn’t waste any time with his breakfast. He made small talk while he still had food in his mouth. I was sure my mom was going to say something because she always did when I talked with my mouth full but she just looked the other way. I knew his bad table manners would be a topic that I would hear about the next time we sat down to eat. Also I noticed that he didn’t remove his hat when he sat down to eat. In fact, nobody did except me and my dad. ‘No hats at the table” was a rule at our house and it was strictly obeyed. I decided that I was going to be real happy when I could enjoy a meal like they did.
The tall man left just before we did. As I walked out the door I heard him say, “Come on Cabby lets head for home.”
The horse was nibbling grass next to the café. It wasn’t tied to anything. It didn’t even have a halter on. I waited for the tall man to get a saddle and halter and put it on the horse but he didn’t. He just started walking up the street and the horse turned and walked along beside him.
One of the road hands walked out of the café and my dad asked him why the tall man didn’t ride the horse.
“Old Hoss?” he answered. “Hell he’s never ridden a horse. Says it’s cruel. That old horse Cabby is his pet. Just like a damned dog. Follows him wherever he goes. Some folks swear that they even sleep together but I don’t believe that.
We call him the horseman because of old Cabby being a pet. You know he lives 5 miles back up in that canyon. He walks down here 6 days a week for breakfast. Figger he has to leave about six A.M. to get here by eight. Says the horse needs the exercise.
Walks to church on Sundays and that’s near seven miles one way and that damn horse walks with him. When he gets to church he sits in the back by a window and Cabby stands outside with his head in the window. Folks say that old horse hears every word the preachers says and even laughs when the preacher comes up with a good joke. And that ain’t the best of it. When the preacher prays, folks say the horse says amen. Now doesn’t that beat all. Course I never heard him say amen because I don’t go to church but I’ve been tempted just to hear that horse talk.”
By the time the road worker was through with his story, the Horseman and Cabby had walked clean out of sight.
“Is that a true story?” I asked my dad.
“Beats me,” my dad said. “But I’ll never call a man a liar unless I know for sure. What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “But I sure would like to hear that horse say amen.”