We hadn’t seen our pal, Steve the cowboy, at the philosophy counter at the Mule Barn truck stop for a while. After a week’s absence, he showed back up for his daily ration of caffeine, and it was obvious he’d lost some weight, if not attitude.
“Hospital again,” he said. We nodded. Steve has internal workings situations from time to time. Usually, these happen during a cold snap when the bunkhouse needs extra firewood. He swears this is just a coincidence.
He appreciates doctors a lot, it turns out. Especially young, cute, female-lady-type doctors. He has two of them that look after him. To quote Steve: “ Cuter’n a pocketful of baby mouses!”
But nurses? That’s another thing entirely.
“They run this nurse in on me,” he said, “to give me one of them baths, you know?”
Doc grinned. “Cute, was she, Steve?”
“Cute? Doc, her face looked like it had worn out two bodies. She had the exact aerodynamics of a milk carton, and the human kindness of a meter maid. I didn’t stand a chance!”
“Food any better this year?” asked Herb.
We had heard all about 12,000 mile-an-hour toast last year and how they had used it as heat shields on the space shuttle.
“Boys, they don’t have food in that hospital. They just want to tease you by telling you it’s edible stuff. You just take our special Sunday dinner. They called it ribeye steak.”
We waited while he sucked down another cup of coffee and asked Loretta to bring him something that wasn’t good for his situation.
“Ribeye sounds good, Steve.”
“Ribeye? RIBEYE? Say listen, guys, I don’t know what gopher they cut that off of, but it was sure as sin a long-distance gopher. That was so small and tough … I’ll bet that steak had more miles on it than my pickup.”
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