Eight Seconds of Revelations

Submitted into Contest #208 in response to: Write a story about someone living vicariously through someone else.... view prompt


Western Adventure Fiction

“Do I have to do it?” Myles asks his father as they walk towards the arena, their spurs clink on the hard caliche leaving little clouds of dust in their wake.

“You ain’t got to do anything,” his father says. “Walk away now if you want. But there may come a day you’ll wonder ‘what if’.”

The west Texas sun begins to set and bloodred clouds reef out into the western horizon. An owl screeches from a nearby oak and it flies into the air with great wings silhouetted against the reddening sky and lightning flashes from distant black storm clouds set against the crimsoned sun like a scene from the apocalypse.  As they walk, Myles watches the sky slowly transform into a darkening violet that spreads like a bruise and he begins to mouth the lord’s prayer.

They come to a small paddock where a dozen horses mill about. A young vaquero is cleaning stalls and he sees Myles and his father and he nods.

“You remember your first time?” Myles asks.

“I do,” his father says. “I was probably more scared than you are. I was sixteen years old, just like you.”

“Did you make it eight?”

“No,” his father says. “I don’t think my father or even his father before him ever made it eight on their first ride.”

They turn near the stables and walk down a short path lined with dozens of round bails of hay and the smell is sweet and earthy.  A large, gray barn cat lies in the path licking his paws. Myles’ father stops and nudges the cat with his boot and when he does his right knee buckles and the man collapses to the ground, breaking his fall with his right arm.

“Goddammed leg,” he says. “I hate this thing.”

Myles kneels beside him, and he can see his father’s prosthetic leg is twisted at an odd angle, its straps had worked loose. He helps his father roll up his pant leg and reattach the straps that straighten the leg out. Then he helps him back to his feet.

“You ok?” Myles asks.

“Yeah,” his father says. “I’ll be even better after watching you ride.”

“You really want me to do this?”

“You were born for this,” his father says. “You’ll see.”

Myles nods and looks down at his boots.

His father brushes the dirt and dust from his jeans and they continue to walk down the path that leads to the arena. They come upon an old, abandoned barn made of cedar that has weathered into a sooty gray color, the gables are caved in places and the roof is threatening to fall at any moment.

“That’s where we kept the bulls when I was your age,” his dad says. “My first one was named Rancid. He was about the biggest Plummer you ever saw. Seventeen hundred pounds of the rankest beast God ever created.”

They turn left by the barn and come to the arena that’s about a quarter the size of a football field. Half a dozen ranch hands sit atop a wood fence, with their hats low on their brows. Five of them are young men, lean and fit with hands as tough and weathered as rawhide.  One of them is older, about sixty with thick mustaches but as fit looking as the young bucks.  The lights are already on, lighting the dirt field arena so that it’s as bright as day. The hands jump off the fence when they see Myles and his father walking up. The older man’s name is Mitch. He is tall and bow legged and he walks towards them. He wears leather chaps over his jeans and his stride is like that of a warrior with his shoulders back and upright as if ready to go into battle. He wears a black hat that is stained with the toils of his work and he smiles as he reaches them.

He extends his hand to shake with Myles Father.

“Good to see ya Hank,” Mitch says. He then turns to Myles.

“You ready for this?” He says to the boy.

The boy nods nervously. Mitch looks at the boy’s father, eyebrow raised.

“He’s ready,” his father says. “You’ve seen how he handles those broncs. He’s ready to go.”

Myles eyes say something different.

They walk over to the gate leading to the chute where the bull will be let in from the pen. Two of the hands head over the pen where the bull is waiting. It’s a giant Charbray, his coat is a malicious combination of gray and black and he looks like he could be a guardian of hell itself. The bull stares at the boy, his eyes as black as coal. He lowers his head and charges the gate, ramming his head into the metal. Myles jumps back.

“Is that the bull I’m riding?”

“It is,” Mitch says. “His name is Revelation.”

“Like the bible?”

“The one and the same,” Mitch says. “I guess you can figure why he’s got that name.”

Myles eyes widen and his mouth falls open and again Mitch looks towards the boy’s father with an eyebrow raised. Hank ignores him.

Mitch looks at the boy. 

“You sure you’re ready for this?” Mitch asks. “This ain’t no bronc.”

“I told ya he’s ready,” Hank says. “I’m willing to bet he’ll make it eight too.  He’s got way more talent than I ever had.”

One of the ranch hands rolls a barrel into the arena while two others open a series of chutes to guide the bull into the main chute and gate where Myles will get onto the bull.  The Chute is barely big enough to contain the bull which limits the range of his bucking and thrashing in the confined space. Three hands work on attaching the bull rope and another attaches the flank strap. Revelation starts raising hell when the strap is attached and he’s banging the sides of the chute trying to squeeze his way out.

“You got this,” Hank says to Myles. “You got more talent than your Granddad or I ever had. Use your legs like I showed ya and you’ll be fine.”

Myles nods and gulps and Mitch calls him over to the main chute.

“You sure about this?” Mitch asks in a whisper. “I’ll back your old man off if you want.”

“He’d fire you,” Myles says. “I think he’d disown me if I back out.”

One of the other ranch hands brings over a pair of chaps and helps Myles tie the straps and Myles climbs up the fence. Hank hands him a riding glove and Myles puts in on his left hand and he tries to slow his breath down. He can smell Revelation, a combination of musky sweat and heat mixed with the manure smell of the arena. He throws his right leg over the bull’s back and settles into the middle of the giant beast and he can feel his immense strength as Revelation’s muscles contort as he tries to buck and in the confines of the chute. He puts his gloved hand under the bull rope and the ranch hands wrap it tight and Revelation bucks again, slamming against the side of the chute. Mitch slaps the bull on the ass to move him off the side of the gate.

“I need you to nod your head when you’re ready,” Mitch says. “When you do that, we’ll open the gate.”

Two other cowboys have come into the arena on horseback. They’ll help Myles when he comes off and also help distract the bull and round him up when the ride is finished. Myles shifts from his perch on the bull and he presses his knees hard into the bull’s back. He closes his eyes, and he prays.

Mitch is beginning to think the boy is going to back out when he finally nods.

One of the ranch hands holds a rope and he pulls the gate open and Revelation flies like a shot out of the gate and Myles is immediately thrown back from the acceleration and he would have fallen within the first second had his knees not had a vice like grip on the beasts back. But as quickly as Revelation flew out the gate he stops and dips his massive head and Myles feels his body shifting forward and now he uses his hips and throws his shoulders back to maintain his center of gravity behind the bull’s shoulders and then Revelation  thrusts up with such power that the bull launches like a rocket into the air and Myle’s face nearly smashes the center of the bulls head but he manages to stay on. When the bull came back down, he starts to spin to the right while bucking and Myles anticipates the move and the centrifugal force is trying to push him to the left and he adjusts and then Revelation drops his head again and kicks out his rear legs and Myles can feel himself getting ready to fly up over the bulls head but again he manages to lean back just enough to counteract the forces while maintaining his perch on the center of the bull.

Revelation is angry and his bucking intensifies and now he spins to the left and Myles uses his free hand to balance himself but he’s in a rhythm now and to the amazement of the cowboys watching Myles looks like he’s in complete control.  But Revelation has one final trick. In the midst of a spin to the right the bull rears back on his hind legs then drops his head nearly to the ground while kicking straight up into the air and Myles butt actually comes up several inches from the bulls back and Myles is staring down at the ground and the only thing keeping his on is the grip from his knees but he holds on for dear life as the bull comes back down and somewhere in the back ground he hears a commotion from the cowboys watching and they’re clapping and the horsemen come to help him off the bull. He’s made it eight seconds. He dismounts with no problem and one of the riders is able to untie the flank strap and the bull immediately calms down and the riders guide him out of the arena.

Hank comes into the arena and he’s smiling and laughing and he grabs his son and embraces him in a huge hug.

“I knew you could do it,” Hank says. “I’m so proud of you. That was amazing.”

Myles says nothing.  He dusts himself off. All the other cowboys come into the arena and they’re high fiving each other and shaking Myles hand. Mitch approaches Hank while Myles is being congratulated.

“That was some kind of ride,” Mitch says. “But he don’t look too happy about it.”

Myles is silent while the other cowboys pat him on the back and his face is a blank.

“He’s just in shock he stayed on,” Hank says.

“You sure he was mentally ready for all that?” Mitch asked.

Hank grimaces.

“You should mind your own business,” Hank says, turning away from Mitch and walking towards Myles. The cowboys meander their way out of the arena leaving Hank and Myles alone.

“What’s the matter?” his father asks. “That ride would have won the national PBR last year.”

Myle’s just stares at his father and he has a little tear in the corner of his eye. Without saying a word, he turns and walks out of the arena.

July 28, 2023 22:53

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


David Sweet
03:39 Aug 03, 2023

This story had a lot of great detail and rhe dialogue was very natural. Thanks for sharing. Good luck with all of your writing endeavors.


Larry Litton
03:52 Aug 03, 2023

David - thank you so much for the comment and feedback. I really appreciate that:


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.