I don’t normally watch films in the afternoon, but temporarily incapacitated today I did – a weepie set in Montana where a sassy photographer from New York finally got her cowboy in the end. The scenery was stunning but the story reminded me of an experience I wrote about in Nanaimo in 1999 – one of the pieces that I had not got around to typing into my electronic filing system, so I did and here it is. Hope you like it. e
The Cowboy on the Coast
The click of silver shod heels on the wooden dock gave him away. The tooled leather of fancy boots overlapping a long pair of faded denims were as incongruous as the moth-eaten plume on a Stetson that used to be cream and the fringed tan shirt pulled taut across his belly. A cowboy on the coast.
I watched as he walked over to the elderly fiddler playing ‘The Hornpipe’ by the harbour wall. They spoke as friends and it became clear who owned the battered guitar case propped against the side of the dock. A musical cowboy.
He leaned against the stainless steel rail of a convenient boat, skinny legs stretched and crossed before him. Pulling a hand rolled from behind his ear, he adopted classic cowboy pose, cupped hands below the brim of the lowered Stetson, protecting the match as he lit the joint. A cowboy with a habit.
As he leaned back to inhale, a pale and painfully thin face was darkly shadowed beneath deep-set eyes. It was a hard face, softened only by grey whiskers attempting to fashion a beard around slackened jowls. He sat nursing that cigarette for almost an hour without speaking or moving except to relight and lift his hand to his mouth. A cowboy who was not in a hurry.
I didn’t get to hear him play. As the warm sun dipped below the horizon casting it’s golden glow across the water I left him there, listening to the fiddler, as the tourists and the fishermen hurried home. A cowboy at home on the coast.