We worked until 10 pm that night in the onslaught of a heavy thunderstorm, trying to get the damaged bull corralled and loaded into a trailer. That $185,000 prized bull was now only suitable to become hamburger, and we had to get him to the slaughter house before he developed a fever, which would render him unsuitable for use as food, and a total waste.
Hercules had reclaimed his sovereignty, disposed of the interloper, and taught Hack Thompson a great big $50,000 lesson. I was roundly chastised and cursed for not being more aggressive in making my case to move the bull. I smiled throughout the entire tongue-lashing. Hack was always a wonderful old character, as authentic a cowboy as exists today.
I soon took another job, one which paid much more so I could support a new family. But when I left, my dad took over the care of the herd, and of Hercules.
Daddy called me yesterday and I could tell by the sound of his voice and his unusual speech patterns that something wasn't quite right. After a few minutes of awkward small-talk, I finally asked him what was wrong.
He told me that they found Hercules last week in the pasture, near the creek. He said they weren't sure of the cause, but Herc - that magnificent, wonderful bull - had died in the night. He thought I'd want to know.
The last time I saw Herc was about eight months ago when Daddy asked me to come help him load some cows and calves for the cattle auction. The big bull sidled up to me and nuzzled my face as if we had never spent a day apart. I scratched him behind the ears and patted his front flanks. He licked my hand with his coarse, too-wet tongue. I hugged his great neck. He cautiously avoided stepping on my feet.
I'm going to miss my friend....
My friend, Hercules.
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