The ranch we were headed to was located in the Santa Ynez mountains somewhere 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 until this point was where I thought you bought beer at Hull New Theatre.
The ranch’s web site had said a number of celebrities had visited. One of them was the actress Sigourney Weaver, who is best known for her ability to kick the crap out of big scary aliens…
Funnily enough, the surrounding area did look a lot like the places where people claim they’ve been abducted and anally probed – although usually after visiting a bar or two.
Was there something scary the ranch owners were not telling us about the area? I started wondering if Sigourney was there as a guest …or a consultant?…
I really like Sigourney, I often dream about her coming to Hornsea to rescue me from a scary monster – although she’d probably need a way bigger gun if she was going to save me from the wife.
The road up to the ranch was a long winding dirt track that didn’t appear on the satnav. We were a little early for our session, so we stopped the car and had a walk around.
There were no houses, no sign posts, 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 cowboy 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 a big f*** off scar, and I feel about a kidney lighter…“
Back in the car (and with the doors locked), we drove two more miles before reaching the ranch, where I was pleased to find the proprietor dressed in cowboy gear, and not medical scrubs.
The ranch turned out to be quite a posh hotel, although the stables did smell a lot 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 was a cheerful chap, 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, a brain injury wouldn’t make much difference, 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 Angela’s jaw drop. The last time I saw that expression, 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 enormous, and she subconsciously started playing with her hair. (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… at first 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 for the dangers of UV radiation – ballsack was their man… We all simultaneously reached for the sunscreen…
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 on the route up the mountain.
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 anything daft… I subconsciously asked my dark humour Tourette’s to keep 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.