The Round-up

I spent yesterday in Indian country (Oklahoma) and barely escaped with my scalp (you have to be on your toes in those casinos). Today, I feel like stomping the dust off my boots, busting through the bat-wing doors of my favorite watering hole, and sucking down a frosty mug of ice cold sarsaparilla.

In this week’s story a daring young man attempts to herd a valuable cash-crop through the badlands in search of fame and fortune.

If you are new to Friday Flash Fiction, the Trail Boss in charge of this weekly wagon train is the straight shooting Rowdy Yatestein Wisoff-Fields. To learn how to participate in this exercise of madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF “Hollywood Squares” author seating chart click here.

copyright Douglas MacIlroy
copyright Douglas MacIlroy

Elton couldn’t believe his eyes. The lush valley below was overflowing with cotton candy, the largest herd he’d ever seen. Dollar signs flashed before his eyes as he contemplated how to get it to market.

The shortest route to the railroad was through Indian Territory. It would take a team of veteran drovers to get the herd through the high-walled canyons, ford swollen streams, and across the wind-blown prairie. They were sure to encounter some sticky situations, especially with the Sweetoothi tribe now on the warpath.

It would take a special breed of cowboy. Where would he find such men?

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26 Comments on “The Round-up

  1. Hi Russell,
    You must have some good drugs to come up with these crazed and hilarious stories. This one is especially delicious, and way, way out there. As a native Okie, I’ve often encountered this scenario, and found the Sweetoothis can often be avoided by making the drive when they are at the dentist, which is about half the time. On a serious note, if that’s possible, I’ve been thinking about your visit to UCLA and hoping you’re all right, or going to be all right for you or your family. Maybe I’m overreacting, I hope I am, but I’m somewhat alarmed. Or was that all just a tall tale? Can never tell with you. Hoping all is well. Ron


    • Thanks, Ron. I think you’re just the kind of man Elton is looking for. Why don’t you saddle up and mosey on to the chuck wagon and sign up as a cotton candy drover.

      A family member is the one seeing Dr. Raz (fascinating man), who has assured us everything is going to be A-OK after surgery in December. I’ll be playing the nurse maid role for a few weeks, which will be challenging. Who knows, there may even be some good stories come out of this adventure.


  2. Rowdy Yates now that’s a name I haven’t come across in a long, long time. You’ve done something totally different to every other story I’ve read from this prompt. No one else noticed the cotton candy, or the Sweetoothis lurking in this photo. You have the keen eye of a trail boss 😀


  3. Yee-HAAA!!! Gittin’ past the Sno-Cone Mountain’s gonna be rough! Like Festus would say, “Matthew, it’s gonna be a two-toed, turkey-tailed too-baloo!”

    Amazing suit on that cowboy. Shows you what a little imagination can do with old left-over Cub Scout uniforms.


  4. It would be easier to herd Fictioneers! I hope everything goes well with the surgery


  5. You always make me giggle Russell. Sometimes with a shake of the head, and sometimes with a nod, but you always make me giggle.

    Yes, like a school girl, OK?


  6. i’m always pleasantly surprised by the stuff you come up with from that imagination of yours! the herd of cotton candy sounds lovely ^^ ^^ and those cowboys are very creepy.


  7. Glad you kept your scalp and toes down there in Oklahoma. And you certainly kept your wonderful imagination to create this story. I love the idea of a valley full of cotton candy — and I couldn’t resist looking at the photo prompt again and mentally transforming the clouds to cotton candy stretching far across a valley.


  8. Russell, you had me at Rowdy Yatestein! I love your intros as much as your stories. Oh yeah, I’m sure these cowboys will get the job done! – Amy


  9. Dear Russell,

    Once again I am on cloud nine over your writing. Sticky situations were made for rodeo clowns. A most amazing take on the prompt.




    • Thank you, Doug. I probably had more fun writing this one than any FF story to date. Finding the cowboy picture was the hardest part.


  10. “Move ’em on, head ’em up, Head ’em up, move ’em out, Move ’em on, head ’em out Rawhide!” In my book, probably the best of the old-time Western shows and from seeing it recently again, it still holds up. Rowdy Yates and Gil Favor were a perfect team (Eric Fleming tragically dying several years later during an accident while shooting a film), and you actually got the sense that you were learning something about the way a cattle drive was, even if you weren’t. Your piece accurately captures the spirit of the show while making a great tie-in to the prompt with cotton candy. Great job, Wishbone!


  11. Hollywood Squares? I feel like a celebrity now. Whatever that is.
    The Sweetoothi tribe, I imagine my dentist would like to check them out. I’m wondering if the name Elton was brought to mind by those colorful shades. Thanks for stopping by my blog.


  12. Wow, I almost missed last week’s inspired wackiness Russell. The next time I see a guy in an industrial strength cowboy hat being carted on another guy’s back in a trash can, I promise that I will immediately think of these Sweetoothi-sabotaging cowpokes.


  13. This gets to me where my sweet tooth lives, Russell. I’ve always been a sucker for an old-fashioned western cotton candy drive. Plus I’m 1/1329872 Sweetoothi which I’m very proud of. (Although I can’t get in on the casino action as you have to be 2/1329872 Sweetoothi . . . sigh . . . )


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