Iowa Writes

COLT L. AMBORN
Servile Sellout


I stood kicking rocks, and spitin on the ground out at bus stop waiting for Doc Golbert. I was workin for my work release program and Doc was sposed to pick me up for my first day out at his veterinarian clinic. Of course he was late to pick me up. He finally pulled up in a full size truck pulling half a load of cattle in a trailer. "Sorry there isn't enough room in the cab. Yer a going to have tah ride in the back half of the trailer. There is only a half load so y'll have the whole back half all to your self."
        His extended cab pickup probably had room in the back seat, but maybe he had too much tack or gear laying there.  It was totally possible an all, but my money's on that Doc probably knew I ain't exactly look like a Rhodes scholar. And that I am an ex-junkie. Musta saved him at least 20 minutes of awkward small talk with a felon.

I stood kicking rocks, and spitin on the ground out at bus stop waiting for Doc Golbert. I was workin for my work release program and Doc was sposed to pick me up for my first day out at his veterinarian clinic. Of course he was late to pick me up. He finally pulled up in a full size truck pulling half a load of cattle in a trailer. "Sorry there isn't enough room in the cab. Yer a going to have tah ride in the back half of the trailer. There is only a half load so y'll have the whole back half all to your self."
        His extended cab pickup probably had room in the back seat, but maybe he had too much tack or gear laying there.  It was totally possible an all, but my money's on that Doc probably knew I ain't exactly look like a Rhodes scholar. And that I am an ex-junkie. Musta saved him at least 20 minutes of awkward small talk with a felon.
        Ya never realize what a suspension does for a motor vehicle until you ride in a livestock trailer that doesn't have any. I wasn't sure whether to keep my legs straight to see up through the panel outside or bent to absorb the shock. It would just be nice to just be able to see the bumps and dips that were coming. I decided to see how the cows dealt with it. The young ones bounced back and forth trying to anticipate the next jar, but there just ain seem to be no rhythm, no pattern to the two lane country road. The older heifer just stared forward numbly adjusting herself appropriately as if saying "aww hellwit it anyway" even as the young ones spatted about and bumped into her. I thought that may be the best idea, cuz the only thing we could tell about the outside world was feel of the terrain beneath us. There was pavement, gravel, dirt . . . finally, a driveway.
        Doc came round the back of the trailer to let me out. "Sorry" he said. "It musta been a bumpy ride. But it must be good to get out the half-way house." 
        Which it was. It's always . . . GREAT to work for someone that insists they are just doing you a favor, by allowing you a chance to work amongst honorable and industrious men, such as themselves.
        Most assume that since you're a former junkie and all, you'd have a weak stomach for the un-pleasantries of the business. But as a junkie, I figured I seen some pretty unpleasant, gnarly sights and smells. One just had to acquaint oneself to the unique un-pleasantries of the assignment. But oh, how the old farmers'd get a chuckle out seeing my stomach turn as they'd watch me toil, saying: "Was da matter boy? You ain't never seen/touched/smelled no dead possum, or hog placenta. . . ." Plus, to them, you're just a lazy bastard, have a fundamentally poor work ethic. However I have worked jobs with such dedication and fervor that make a lesser man's eyes bleed. Even awful, back breaking, shitty jobs, and still asked for more. Until I had enough money to get high again. But no more.
        Ms. Thrasher called Doc, something about her horses. "So what are we doing with the horses Doc?" I asked.
        "Geldin them I said. You don't know what that is. Ohhh crimeney who am I working with here. It's Castration. Crimney! What do they teach you kids in school now a days?"
        "I'm sorry. I most have cut class on the horse castration topic day." Then I added: "Sir." When you're a former junkie, you gotta be a cut above in the way of manners. Though I wish so bad I could've said, You're a smart guy, Doc, don't be lazy. You can think of more creative insulting things to say.
        "Yeah. . . . well just go on," he said, "An I'll call you when its time."
        Ms. Thrasher tugged her rickety ride up the vet clinic drive. I fumbled through an ad-hoc system of rope, twine, and bent levers to open the trailer door. I asked Ms. Thrasher about the horses' ages to distract her from my inadequacy of not being able to open a simple hillbilly rigged door. Never mind cutting—castrating—them.
        She told me they were about two years and, "Yeah," she said, "they're broke to ride enough for now, but can't trust them on the trail. We gotta get them cut. They might get ornry."
        I said, "But why the need castrate them? Can't you trust them until they show signs of getting . . . ornry?"
        Still, I did as I was told, ignoring my opinions as much as they. When it was over, I wanted to vomit. Ms. Thrasher said, "It must have been a long day for you, dear. Why don't you jump in the truck, and I'll take you back into town? There is a couple cans of pop in there if you want some." 
        "Aaah . . . nehh. Thanks, though, Ms. Thresher. I'll just ride in the back of the trailer." And as I unraveled the twine wrapped around the trailer door handle, I realized I'd become a servile sellout, as much of a junkie basher as Doc and the rest of em.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


COLT L. AMBORN

Colt Amborn was raised by his single mother who ran a small ranch in southern Iowa.  After fleeing to the military, he became a student at the University of Iowa.  Using his studies in sociology and statistics, as well as life experience, Colt's writing focuses on the conflicting roles of masculinity.

Colt wrote Cutting the Stallion of which Servile Sellout is an excerpt, for a fantastically fun-filled but nevertheless inspiring non-credit weekly workshop on Friday afternoons at UIowa's The Writing Center.

This page was first displayed
on July 16, 2014

Find us on Facebook