Cowboys and Wizards



By Penny



“Woah, baby doggie, now ain’t you a purty sight.” Buck Cannon smiled at the lone calf. “I tole brother John my math’s as good as his, looks like you gonna help me prove it.” He nudged his horse, moving cautiously down the rocky slope of the arroyo. His herd tally had shown one head missing; John insisted his brother couldn’t count rocks in a bucket. “I purely do love it when Big John turns up wrong.”


He continued to pick his way down the incline, automatically checking the high shelf of rocks on his left and talking absently to his horse. “Cain’t be too careful, specially all out here by our lonesome, ain’t that right, Rebel? Man’s gotta watch for everythin’. A-pach, rattlesnakes, comancheros, banditos. I seed a camel once, you ‘member that?” He laughed, pushing his hat back on his head. “Bought the dang thing, too, Blue Boy like to bust hisself a gusset over ole Tillie.”


His meanderings were cut short as a figure burst out of the rock face. Rebel started and shied, he reined him sharply and stared, open mouthed. A young boy stood before him, unruly head of black hair, bright green eyes, black glasses. Buck rubbed his eyes, shook his head, and looked again. I either been drinkin’ too much or not enough. The lad pushed an odd contraption in front of him, some type of metal basket on wheels, filled with books and suitcases. Sitting on top of the metal basket was a large birdcage, holding a white owl. Buck looked at the shelf of rock.  Solid, no opening. Stared at the boy.  Solid flesh, real as heifers.  “Boy, where in the name of green apples did you come from?” He bounced off Rebel and approached the lad.


The boy extended his hand. “I’m Harry. Harry Potter. Have they changed the train to Hogwarts this year?”


Buck gaped, his mouth hanging open, rubbed his forehead. “Hogwash?”


“I got on at platform nine and three-quarters, same as every year.” He looked at Buck closely. “Do you by any chance know Hagrid?”


Buck felt dizzy. “Hag-who? We got a Scotsman name of Fergus McLeish, he eats haggis, but iffen you ask me I’d rather eat heifer dust. Why, you looking for Fergus?”


The owl in the cage fluttered its wings and hooted. Harry picked up the cage and held it. “No, Hagrid, not haggis. Hagrid sometimes meets us and it just that, well…” He leaned closer to Buck and sniffed. “You smell like Hagrid, you see, and so I thought somehow you might know him.”


Buck took off his hat and rubbed his head. “I smell like…Look a here, Harry, what did you say your name was? Never mind. I’m Buck Cannon. You is on High Chaparral land, and I want to know right now how you walked out here in the middle of nothing with a great big wing-flappin’ hooty owl for company?”


The boy nodded, settling the caged owl back on the wire basket.  He began turning it toward the rock face as he talked. “I’m sorry, you’re a Muggle, I’ve only just realized.” He pointed toward the solid rock. “The portkeys, sometimes they malfunction slightly, that’s what’s happened. I was supposed to go from platform nine and three-quarters to the train for Hogwarts.  Instead I wound up here, it’s a perfectly logical mistake.”


Buck replaced his hat, nodding. “Perfectly los-ti-gal. You out here in the desert, A-pache around, no water, no horse, talking something sounds like English but I cain’t understand.  Los-ti-gal. You mind telling me something? How am I gonna explain this perfectly los-ti-gal to ever body back at High Chaparral?”


Harry gripped the handle of the basket. “The Ministry of Magic may send someone from one Department or another to clean things up.  Or not.”  He stopped and walked toward Buck, extending a hand. “Very nice to meet you, Mr. Cannon.”


Buck shook his hand, then watched as he gripped the basket and ran straight for the rock wall. “Hey! Stop! What you think you’re…” He started to chase the boy, skidded to a stop when he seemed to run through the hard surface of stone. Buck looked over his shoulder, up into the sky, and rubbed his face and forehead. He walked to the solid wall, rubbing it with a hand, then pounded it with a fist. Jist as hard as my head. He sank to the ground, rested his back against the wall for several minutes, then, shaking his head, rose to retrieve his horse.


He opened the flap of a saddlebag, retrieved a bottle, removed the cork, and drank.  He replaced the bottle and mounted, stared at the solid rock face for a bit, then turned to continue down the arroyo. “Rebel, I’m gonna make you a deal. You don’t tell nobody what we jist seen, and I won’t tell nobody.”


He swung the horse down the slope, removed his hat and slapped his leg with it. “Reb, we might jist as well pound sand down a rat hole, that cow done disappeared. Big John ain’t never gonna believe I can count now.”



2005 Penny McQueen


(written in response to a double-dare from Denise.  Never Double-Dare a Crazy Person.)