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The Legend of The Rhinestone Cowgirl

By Bandanna Redd

(The late Bandanna Redd was a talented western ghost writer and friend.)

"Well behaved women seldom make history."
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    Well now, it didn't take long to notice that the lady was a long way shy of reserve.  As she rode into town the local town folk dropped their chew right on the boardwalk. The bonnets tightened and the top buttons on every flat chested Miss Ann closed shut. Her ass was huge...Rawhide the mule carried everything the cowgirl owned, and the Paint was split 'tween it's eye for color. The duster draped over her dusted on chaps and the awe of the town made a great sounding board for the jingle bob tune her spurs played as she moseyed through town right up the melodic door front of the Red Door Saloon.  Peanut husk and cracked egg shells lead her eye right to the chandelier lit bar with mirrors from end to end..  So she swung off her  gelding, brushed her hair from her squinted eyes, licked her lips and pinched her cheeks.  Some unsuspecting poker face was about to buy her a cold one.  That is.. right after she found a laced room with a hot tin tub, with a tall dark hand to keep the warm water poured over her for about an hour.  The trail dust had layered pretty thick, and nothing short of a soak was gonna loosen it up.  The man behind the bar couldn't speak up for gap'ng, but pointed to the pretty madam in petticoats and silk for an escort to the second floor. Candle sconces lit the hall ways and her cigarette. The tobacco smelled sweet...just like it did when she rolled it earlier in the day around the lonesome breakfast campfire.  A lady finds all sorts of luxuries to afford herself when she spends solace on the trail. The thought of the soft satin night gown she would slip into before bed was the reason for the smile on her stained lips. It would be heavenly to sleep off the ground tonight. Most women play damseled when the distressing task of rendering their carpet bagged luggage up the stairs looks uphill.. . But the men folk dropping at her feet could have made stepping stones as they parted the aisles, and doors open with tilted hats for the Maam. Even in painted on jeans, a lady's hard to deny. The talk of her arrival was good for business. The bar was full and the liquor poured freely as they waited for some glance of the Rhinestone Lady again.  You could hardly tell the untuned piano was off key as it kept the calling melody ringing...Buffalo Gal won't ya come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight. Buffalo Gal won't ya come out tonight...and put your silhouette, I mean, dance by the light of the moon.

      There was no hurry in the bath water.  The  scented soap must have come all the way from the big cities where ladies dab perfume behind their ears and blush their faces with rouge from Paris.  There's enough woman under all the trail dust to enjoy the whole aromic experience. Funny how when a woman can smell her skin she feels shiner than before.  From the lady's bag, she pulled a floor brushing gown.  No pastels or flowers... The lady loved red. Red thirstier than blood and rosier than a thorn.  If there was a man brazened enough to pick it, he's gonna bleed for sure. The persuasion of her form made room for one single rhinestone, but it spoke volumes. The curl in her hair fell over her eyes and the mystery was about to wind down the baited staircase where cigar smoke and shot glasses hung on everyman's mouth like old embossed wallpaper when she hit the last rise near the curved banister. A string tied gentleman rose and gave her his seat at the greenbelt table filled with chips.  All the hands layed down as though she might be capable of reading right through their fingers.  "Deal me in boys...What's your game?  She murmured.  The studs had five cards and faces poked with question as to whether to sit or play. Finally, the music started up and the laughter lightened the room again, as they heard the clang of the coins in her red velvet cinched purse hit the table.  A corseted lady brought her an ashtray for her cigarette piece. It too was as shiny as new gold and twinkled from the candlelight on it's faucets. It's a girl's night out and all the her drinks are free.  I'll have a tall glass of Sarsaparilla...Thank you very much, and stir it with the root.

     A curtain rose in the corner and a painted lady with tall hair appeared. The ruffles on her bloomers showed, and that's not all. At the junction the pale of her leg was clear all the way from her laced up heeled boots to the black garter on her thigh.  It didn't matter what key she sang in... the patrons only heard 'come here boys' in their minds ear. One wink of her eye and a weeks paycheck would have sent any husband home homeless. This was the type of room that most women stirred clear of. Booze and music make the other gender wild with unleashed ambitions that they can easily blame of the color of the flavor in their glass.  The Lady knew how to handle herself and the fellas, too... and if she didn't the small plated Dillinger in her boot could. By the time the Cinderella hour stuck, most of the chips were on her side of the table.  Gracefully she bid the gentleman goodnight, name by name, and beckon for the use of the safe for the night. With hesitance they all rose as their fingers touched the corner their hats to signal submission to the likeness they didn't quite understand  the outcome of. But they respectfully enjoyed her exit from the table as her bosom bow while they watch the rhinestone throw them a kiss and she turned her bustle to saunter deliberately away and back up the staircase, where she disappeared behind the draws of the landings curtains. Hot dang... it was a good time in the old time for her tonight...stay tuned...as the tail, I mean tale turns...


Shot In The Heart.......

The events of the frontier borrow the lives of many whose dreams lent passage to the West.  On the backs of Oxen, in covered wagons, on horseback and by foot, man, women and children set out for unclaimed dreams. Trails of keepsakes and belongings mapped the plains and mountains.  The stories that were sent back were glorified to recruit ambitious settlers and new starters. The hardships and defeats of the weak were mentioned in the obscure headlines toward the back of publications that took as long  to reach the civil side of the Mississippi as a late stage coach could carry them. Somehow the accurate visions and descript portrayals of the ordeals of the new  frontier had to be stored.  Artist made drawings.  Pioneers sketched, and storytellers passed tales,  but the miracle of photography would capture yet a million words in one reveal. Days and moments were stilled forever in time. Eyes of the souls of many who would have other wise disappeared from recognition found permanent reflections on pages and walls. Endless lines of meager waited to be immortalized on pulps of paper treated ever so magically for an eternal document.  A photo is the stamping of an artist eye.  They say a picture doesn't lie.  But many a story was built around a frozen flash.

 'Star' captured such images in the daylight and in the darkness revealed the millisecond of forever. 'Midnight Star' came to be her name and self titled monthly publication for the territory's tales of events. From hangings to weddings, fashions to inventions, light left it's mark to be remarked about from town to the countryside. But the most glamorous of portrayals was that of showmanship.  Words could not describe the mind defying stunts of the Wild West Shows, the cattle drives and  rodeos. The talents of the cowboy were a sight to behold. Star was good at her craft. From dangerous post, she planted her body in position for shots of panoramic  prospectives. Trees shook from thunder, but Star steadied her picture box for a birds eye instant of a stampede.  She laid in the road under wagons while hoofs inched passed her  as the cattle stack into the stockades at the end of  town. When others turned their head from the squeamish faint of blood, Star, was wide eyed and steady, in the heat of the gun fight. With bodies still warm she flashed the victims of the fallen end of the sheriff's draw.  Star shot the Sheriff... but she shot the deputies too, as they posed boastfully with the trophy corpses of a street fight. Gangs were glorified for the rampage they tore from town to town.  The lore of a thief grew with pictures and print as if to be studied for future example.  History is a recipe for the future. Ordinary folk stood side victims for pictures to validate their witness. Sites to behold... the truth be told like Romans to the lions, crowds gathered to gape at the last breath of an outlaw on the galley. What words could not describe the Midnight Star captured in a flash with an instant to save.

      There were happy times to remember, too.  On the lawn of a cottage.  Tables of food spread for delight to celebrate the wedding of two hearts that had staked their love to build foundation in the plains of the new west. Tears fell and hearts united as vows of promise repeated themselves through the guest. Let no man put  us under as a circle of  pickers played harmonies that moved the feet to many a gig. Oh Johnny, Oh... give your honey a swing, cause next spring she'll be heavy with child. The candles and lace made fine backdrop for the leap into happily ever after.  No doubt that special flash of memento will grace the parlor wall for generations as the family unfolds like a wallet of brag books from this one momentous day.  Ms. Midnight Star burned etches of a family tree that day that will take root and scatter the plains like tumble weed.

      In between the towns and lights is where the bones structured the west.  The farmlands connected to the ranch, the ranch hands connected to the Pony Express, and the stagecoach connects the East to the West where all these stories meet.  By word of mouth, the legends build, but none so large as the posters that stretched as marquees along the roadsides of stagecoach routes and pony express lines. The enterprise of legends is crafty... and art meets life as Ms. Star's blowups lead trailers to build enchantment toward the caravan of wagons the Rhinestone Lady and her big haired outfit of talent paraded into the next town. Spectacle can induce a swarm of  curiosity.  Could any human form live up to the promotion in the larger than life advertisements. Well, we're talk'n bout it now, so it did and it does.  The dust and travels make a gal pale in comparison to the glory billboards. Life on the trail is real, well, earthy for a woman at times.  But relief from the road is washed away with homemade soap bars. And all the Lady and her showstoppers wipe on in the mirror is a little lipstick and rouge to shine and dazzle. Wow, is the response, and all eyes gaze...The Show must go on.~ B
andanna Redd

The Lady was an early riser...She'd spent the dawn of the morning tacking posters down one side of the planked walks of town and up the other.  By now the business owners were turning their shingles and stirring...ritually they swept their stoops and displayed their wares in the windows.  The smell of coffee and pastries invited passersby. Yeah, it was an ordinary day by the looks of the sky but it was due time for a stir. Quiet as this villa was now it was about to lift its boots and jump to it's edges...

    From her shoulder to the tip of her boots the duster made mystery of the rounds she was tote'n.  The Lady simply rested her heels as she listened for the thunder that no one else heard. The timepiece she carried was a token of appreciation she had earned for talents this town was yet to witness. Unassumingly she rose and flipped the loose panel of her coat to tie the fancy tooled holster to her thigh.   Her paint horse, Cowboy, stood tied near by as she uncovered the shiniest barrel of a long nozzled rifle strapped in it's holster aside her saddle.  The silver alone was heavy enough to crown the likes of any nasty smart mouthed alec dumb enough to challenge her feminine perks.  With one more check at the end of her chain and a glance at the dust stir at the edge of town, she untied her paint from the hitching post. With a hoop and a holler she wailed a battle cry of yelps that brought everyone in town to a window or door. Chairs flipped as the regulars jumped from their leisure against the storefront walls. YeeHah rang loud and rampant as she vaulted from one side of her dazzling saddle to the other, springing from the ground as if a trampoline drug along side her gelding who was at full pace.  She had every eyes attention and that's what they paid as a timely covered wagon stampeded into town kick'n up enough racket to stir the late sleepers and rattle the windows that may have been left down over night. Mothers grabbed their children back as they ran toward the commotion. Heads popped out of the saloons and every corner was turned by stutter stepping gapers. "What the heck... and who the hell was shaking the ground." they all puzzled. The wagon carried a brightly cladded dudette with smokin' pistols that blasted upwardly toward the sun.  The colors on the wagon cover boldly illustrated the bosomed flank women blasting two-fisted shots at targets in their random aim. A small herd of unbridled steeds blazed in with cowgirls gone wild among them casting foot long fringe to the wind and twirling ropes that lassoed and released anything still dumb enough to be in the streets by now.  The Gal who road in hanging from the downside of her tack took aim at the church bell steeple on the hill and rang it to high heaven.  Quiet Ville was about to witness the Greatness of the Wilderness Gals of the West up close and personal.  Flyers flew high and the towns folk scattered to pick up everything that hit the ground. They read in bold print.  6 O'clock ...On the other side of town ...Room fer everyone wit' 2 bits and a grin. Line forms at the BIG TENT DOOR.

    There was 'standing room only' in the tobacco scented tent.  Lemonade and hard candy was sold among the crowd as they waited for whatever's next...At last...The Rhinestone Lady appeared, clad in buckskin and leather so tight the buttons stood double breasted. Her hair caught the breeze and she looked like a western goddess as she slowly turned like a crystal ball in the center of the arena. The murmur hummed so loud till she raised her big hat of gallons and simultaneously cracked the bullwhip so loud that babies cried and women screamed out with surprise. The men just roared with amazement and came to their feet as they shouted for more. " Be careful what you ask for ...More is what we got Ladies and Gentlemen...Boys and Girls."  Drum rolls poured and banjos picked to prelude  the hell-bent wagon that cornered the huge tent on two wheels as galloping horses mounted with lovely curved silhouettes stride up along side to pulled the flared nostrilled runaways to a halt. Cowgirls on foot piled out and wailed decoys high as mounted markswomen rode in to hit their marks while throwing devil to the dare stunts on the speeding horses.  Pandemonium spread across the arena.  The eyes of the audience danced from one side to the next.  Oohs and aahs sang out with delight while hands clasps and mouths gasped as mind defying acts circled before them.  The footed patrol lit rings of fire with their twirling torches that burned from both ends.  In a puff of smoke and blast like a canon the twirlers were gone and horses leaped through  torched rings with calmness and grace, carrying their glittering riders through the crowd to the dark opening that closed behind their mystery.  Before the crowd could search for their disappearance the riders appeared from new angles gliding and weaving through more fire lit obstacles in the ring.  It was the gala of the untamed WEST... That whip popped to alert as the Lady commanded the attention to the center of the ring. "Hold Yo Horses, Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls as the fearless equestrian dames tame the strides of the galloping beast side by side, straddling the pair atop their backs with reined control. They've tamed the call of the WEST Ladies and Gentlemen., what do think of that?" The Lady exclaimed with sparkle and contagious enthusiasm.  The crowd was on it's feet and the sound of the hoofs made their hearts pound out of rhythm.  It was the evening of their lives and you can believe they'll write home about this one. While the lady sang out for the parade of the stars, the drums pounded and the shots went off as flags of flame circled and drew patterns before the audience. The music heightened to close the show and everyone called for one more peek at the feminine spectacles of the wilderness that had captured their fascination. At lightning speed the gals rode through. At last surprise the a rider swung her lasso into the crowd and tied unto an unsuspecting fan, leaping him to his feet and out into the ring  to her horse where she planted a wet one on his head before loosening him to stumble nervously back to his seat. The Rhinestone Lady bid goodnight to the crowd, "Till we meet again Ladies and Gentlemen, till we met again..."

                     THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE  WILDERNESS...
~ Bandanna Redd


Walk The Line....

Living an unsettled life,  you come across all kinds. The laws are hard to enforce, but the CODE of the WEST is always the same. The cowboy way is simple and fair.  There are two sides to every nickel...But the buffalo don't take no... well you know what I mean. The skin on a gal of the frontier aughta be pretty thick if she's gonna make it through the plains.  Every closed eyed can't sleep. And every pretty face can't be that friendly. You learn to keep it simple, and you pick your friends wisely.  Like keeping your horse tuned up as well as your aim. Minding her own Ps and Qs will keep a gal out of most altercations.  Never let a man make a habit of doing for you what you can do for yourself. He'll eventually ask you to pay for it with wages you don't want to spend at a time you can least come up with it...

     The Rhinestone Lady carried a quiet but courteous posture.  A fine "good day to ya" was proper enough to bid the aspiring admirer without leaving him cold.  An even step indicated that her time was her own, leaving her unapproachable by most.  She had a heart and she knew where she left it. But there's always some cad of a man cocky enough to think he's due a familiarity that's best left to a woman's own discretion.  Without any hint of an invitation the crafty hound will sniff his way to the shadows and wait for some unsuspecting moment to greet a lady when odds lerk in his favor. It was the Lady's privilege to bed her horse up for the night in a comfortable stall with fresh hay and water whenever she hit a town. That, and a new pair of shoes, were her paint's fair installment for a hard trail's ride. Her mule, Rawhide, could lay down her load as well. The stables are always on the quiet end of town.  Most travelers make it their last chore of the day, so they don't linger long. As she single handedly  boards up her gelding, her minds lingers on the days between her and her beloved.  It's many a weeks ride and numbered shows between an embrace. Her love and loyalty keeps her moving forward.  Through  the dim light of the whickering lanterns in the barn she can see the outlines of a wirery, vested mankind, of a rude mouth.  You know the line..." What's a nice gal like you, doing in a place like this." he startles. "Minding my own chore's, thanks.  I'll be out of you way in no time at all, sir," the Lady retorted firmly. "No need to rush, maam, I've got no where to be but here," he murmured with an unflattering tune."  "Well, I have mister,  I'll just be on my way..." she confidently stated as she looked him in the eyed and headed toward the light of the barn door. The man step in her path and brush up against her.  Excuse me sir, and I ain't ask'n ya. Her hand was already around the handle of her bowie knife. She hope it wouldn't come to make it's appearance, cause once you pull it, you gotta use the element of surprise.  This match up was no match and she was a little out of ear's reach of  the nearest town's gentlemen of chivalry.  "I gotta  line, and you've crossed it MR." She swiped.  He looked surprised but still intrigued at her sass. Before her strength was tested,  a drizzle of hay fell from the loft above and an undoubtedly sound of a cocked gun piece cut the tension. "The lady drew a line Mr., you best back away from it, " a strong dialect spoke from the darkness. A creep only creeps in seclusion.. so the snake nodded at his missed opportunity and turned his rattle off. But she'd be on alert the next time their paths crossed and he wouldn't get in arms length of her holster again. " Heavens above, come out in the light where I can thank you proper my friend.  You're a timely angel if I ever had one." her voice smiled. A lean muscled limb wearing black weathered denim, and black leather chaps descended down the ladder from the rafters. His belt stored glistening bullets of silver and his black shirt was studded with sterling buttons that caught the light.  In the shadows his features weren't true until he came into full view.  But when she ever stopped looking up he was a handsome work of chiseled ebony. "My name's, Jett Suede, maam, and I'm respectably at your service." he tipped his hat.  She greeted in relief,  "I've heard tell of you plenty in these parts, Mr. Suede." Legend is you're the best hand with a horse this side of the Mississippi Gate. I reckon, Maam. I've been humbled to the residency of the beast I tame.  That's no problem though.  I like horses more than most people I've met,'' his humility laughed. I treat horses royally and it's my pleasure to spend a night in their palace. Well, your timely appearance and reputation brings me to a prospect of proposition for you, Mr. Suede, if you'd be so incline.  My Wild West Wilderness Show needs a hand and a character of your stature, to raise the hair on the neck of it's next audience.  Wages are decent and fair and the lodging is clean and honorable. Whatta you'd say we shake on a departure toward the next town on our tour of the West.  Lord knows we can watch each others back along the trail.  I'll look for your answer in the morn'n.  I'll be saddled up at sunrise. It's been my good fortune to make your acquaintance, Mr. Suede. I look forward to our continued trails.
     Jett was an independent gentleman... one of a kind. He handled the indignities of the times with a dignity unique to his
status. Since most ranchers needed his talents more than his attitude, he was accepted on his own laurels. So he never rested. Jett's wages were spent on the staples than supported his profession tolerantly. A good horse, a comfortable working saddle, with a distinctive bridle, set in silver, and a smooth of pouch of sweet tobacco for his neatly wrapped cigar that aired aromas of lingering black licorice. His bedroll unfolded under the stars most nights and his six-shooter laid cocked by his hip.   There were more than wolverines and coyotes awake in the night. It might not be too bad to team up with a markswoman for a long haul through the plains. An unlikely pair might raise an eyebrow or two, but pity the soul who'd be incline to test them. Till we're not in Kansas anymore...

There ain't a line they've drawn that hasn't been crossed, ~
Bandanna Redd