The ranch we were headed to was located in the Santa Ynez mountains north of Santa Barbara.
Although they weren’t the biggest mountains we had seen, they were big enough to kill me if I’d been made to walk up one. …and as Angela had already demonstrated, that wasn’t out of the question.
The ranch was called the ‘Circle Bar B’, which I thought was where you bought beer at Hull New Theatre.
The ranch’s web site said a number of celebrities had visited it. One of them was Sigourney Weaver, who is best known for her ability to kick the crap out of big scary aliens…
Funnily enough, the area looked like the type of place where people claim they’ve been abducted and anally probed – although usually after visiting a bar.
Was there something scary they were not telling us about the area? I started wondering if Sigourney was there as a guest …or as a consultant?…
I really like Sigourney, I often dream about her coming to Hornsea to rescue me from a scary alien – although she’d need a way bigger gun if she was going to finish off Angela.
The road up to the ranch was a long winding dirt track that didn’t appear on the satnav. We were a little early, so we stopped the car and had a walk around.
There were no houses, no signs, and no phone signal. Even the plants looked bored. It was the perfect location to bury a body or cook up some crystal meth.
There weren’t any cows either – come to think of it, why the f*** would you stick a ranch half way up a mountain? I haven’t seen mountaineering cows before – Can cows even use carabiners?
It suddenly crossed my mind that I might wake up in Mexico missing an organ. Maybe they weren’t cattle ranchers… Maybe they were kidney farmers! I kept expecting a bloke in a sombrero and surgical gown to pop out from behind a cactus and shoot me in the arse with a tranquilliser dart.
Just to be safe, I tucked my shirt into my jeans – yeah, that would definitely stop a rogue surgeon from nicking my kidney… (It’s a bit like pulling the duvet up higher when you think there’s a monster in the house. It’s a blanket, not a force field dumb-ass.)
That would have been an interesting conversation with the emergency services the morning after…
911: “How can I help you?”
Angela: “Tell them where we are…”
Me: “We’re on an unmarked road, on a mountain, somewhere not near Hornsea…”
Angela: “Tell them what’s happened…”
Me: “I’ve got an IOU for a kidney, a big f*** off scar, and I feel lighter…“
Back in the car (and with the doors locked), we drove two more miles before reaching the ranch. I was pleased to find the proprietor was dressed in cowboy gear, and not scrubs.
The ranch turned out to be quite a posh hotel, although the stables did smell like Ross’s bedroom.
The man in charge was referred to by the ranch hands as “Boss”. I’m guessing he owned the most firearms. He seemed cheerful enough, and even greeted us with a cheesy “Howdy Partner”. Hearing him say this pleased me immensely, it ticked yet another box along with “Yo dude” that we heard from a surfer near Pismo beach.
The Boss made us sign a disclaimer form full of the usual legal babble that no one actually reads… ‘Not liable’… blah… ‘Injuries’… blah… ‘Organ donor’… blah… The last column asked what my blood type was. I couldn’t remember, so I just put ‘4.5% by volume’.
I started to get concerned when he announced that we didn’t need riding helmets – In my case he was right, that particular horse has already bolted, but that’s beside the point – we’re half way up a mountain, about to ride a random horse, with an armed bloke in a big hat. Oh yeah… and now we’re told we don’t need safety equipment either.
Hmmm… What’s the worst that can happen?… The boss introduced us to his crew…
A cowboy walked up towards us. I had my back to him at first, but I knew I was in trouble when I saw the rapturous expression on Angela’s face. The last time I saw that, she was looking in Tiffany’s store window.
He was wearing a white Stetson, Raybans, and cowboy boots with spurs… He couldn’t have looked more cowboy-ish even if he tried. He was also good looking. Angela’s grin was so wide I’m surprised her face didn’t fall in two. (This guy must have been conjured up by her fairy godmother)
Even Amelia was transfixed and strangely silent – and that really disturbed me…
He looked like he could lasso a cow whilst sat on a wild stallion, and he’d still not break into a sweat… Whereas I still can’t chew gum while I’m tying my laces.
He announced that his name was Hank. A familiar voice next to me whispered “Hunk more like“… I hated the bloke instantly.
Then there was an old guy. If anyone remembers the cowboy films where the old prospector is killed off in the first reel, this was him… He looked like Tutankhamun’s granddad, or maybe ground zero for a zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure what skin lotion he was using – but I’m guessing it was Domestos.
I didn’t catch his name… but I wanted to call him ‘Polo’ because of the shape of his legs, plus he had holes where his teeth should have been… However, due to the random curly hairs sticking out of his face I will refer to him as ‘ballsack’.
If Ambre Solaire ever wanted a poster boy – ballsack was their man… We all simultaneously put sunscreen on…
Another cowboy appeared, and his swagger shouted that he should be called ‘Tex’ or ‘Buck’, or something wild west-ish. Alas… he was just ‘Bob’, and he was going to be our guide.
He was wearing a black hat, and he jingled when he walked. My first thought was ‘love eggs’, until I realised he was wearing spurs.
He was an imposing bloke, and certainly not someone I wanted to annoy… He looked fit enough to outrun me, and big enough to ensure I’d regret saying something daft… I stayed politely shtum – I didn’t fancy ending up hog-tied and branded.
Thank God he was normal looking – Angela might have got pregnant just looking at Hank.