Billy Joe Bob was distraught. All he’d wanted to do was help the pooka, but now his plans were dashed. When he’d seen the creature jump from the back of the trailer, he had stepped hard on the brakes, leaving a smoking double line of black rubber on the West Texas asphalt.
He’d stepped out of the cab and called to the pooka, which was now in a rather disturbing shape of a two-legged goat, but the pooka, after glancing back once, started to run down the highway, and the last thing Billy Joe Bob saw of it was when it jumped a barbed wire fence and disappeared behind a rocky outcropping.
Billy Joe Bob was torn. He wanted to pursue the pooka and perhaps coax it back into the trailer, but he also knew that he was supposed to meet a bunch of druid hippies in Muleshoe, and they would be justifiably angry if he didn’t show up. Finally, it was Laurel who made the decision for him.
“Billy Joe Bob, sweetcakes, you know you can’t catch that dreadful thing, let it go. And besides, you said we were meeting people in this Muleshoe place, perhaps even CelticDao.” She batted her eyes at the cowboy. “We can’t disappoint all those people now, can we? Besides, we may be asking them to give us wedding presents some day soon, right?”
“Well darlin’, you’re total right about that of course,” said Billy Joe Bob, “But I just hate leavin’ that pooka feller. He ain’t from around here, and, well, he’s probably skeered and maybe he’ll get lost or sumpin. All he wants is a lady pooka, and o’ course I know how he feels, on account of he feels just like I felt a-fore I found you.”
In his heart, Billy Joe Bob knew that Laurel was right in that he couldn’t track the pooka, not with the pickup truck. He decided his best course was to go ahead and go to Muleshoe, but first he used Laurel’s cell phone to call Crow. “My old buddy will help us out, Laurel, just you wait and see,” he’d said before making the call.
The cowboy and his beautiful girlfriend drove on to Muleshoe, where they waited outside Moe’s Diner, which also served as the Greyhound Bus stop. It was a place like many others in that part of the world, with a large neon sign that spelled “EATS,” with a smaller sign underneath that read, “We sell home-cooked food, hunting licenses, cold beer, and barbecue.”
It was getting late, and Moe had just turned off the neon lights for the night. Billy Joe Bob was fiddling with the radio in the truck, but all he could pick up was a 250,000 watt station in Juarez that was playing a steady diet of Mexican music. Laurel was again complaining about being uncomfortable when they heard the crunching gravel sound of a Jeep Cherokee entering the parking lot.
There under the light of a full moon, Billy Joe Bob and Laurel met Selene, Kat Lady and Saille, and none of the women were happy.
“Well I’m mighty glad to see all of ye, I was gettin’ plum worried, and on top o’ all my other worries, I was about to have a conniption,” Billy Joe Bob said.
“It’s been a long day for us,” said Selene, the moonlight gleaming off her pumpkin medallion. “Now maybe you could tell us why we are all here.”
“He lost his horse, oh, I mean his goat,” said Laurel before Billy Joe Bob could begin his tale of woe.
“Naw honey,” said the cowboy, “It ain’t a horse and it ain’t a goat. It’s a pooka, doncha unnerstand? And well, she’s right about one thing, the pooka really did run away.”
“You mean you called us all the way to this godforsaken place to hunt a runaway pooka?” asked Kat Lady.
“What about me?” wailed Saille. “I came all the way from Amsterdam!”
“Naw, that ain’t it atall,” said Billy Joe Bob. “Well, mebbe it is now, but it weren’t a-fore when I called ye. I called ye on account of I’m tryin’ to find the pooka a lady pooka, and …”
“You’re pimping for a pooka?” said Kat Lady.
“Now wait just a galderned minute,” said Billy Joe Bob. “This is total clean and ain’t nothin’ dirty like yer makin’ it sound. Pookas need love too, and there just ain’t that many lady pookas around, and I thought my feller might need a little help findin’ one, and that’s when Patrick McGillicuddy down at the feed store back home tolt me about comin’ to Muleshoe to maybe find a lady pooka. But even if I’d a found a lady pooka here, it ain’t as simple as all that, and so I sent invitations to a bunch o’ ya’ll hippies to come on out here and hep me, and besides, it’s a chance for ya’ll to get away from them citified places ye live in and come on out here to God’s country and git some fresh air.”
Selene, practical as always, took over the questioning and eventually the story became clearer. After all, she was an administrator.
One day during a trip to the local feed store, Billy Joe Bob had talked with the proprietor, one Patrick McGillicuddy, who had moved to Texas from Ireland some 40 years ago. About a week before, McGillicuddy had been passing Billy Joe Bob’s pastures and had spied what appeared to be a horse, but to his Irish eyes was obviously a pooka. And so the old Irishman had talked with Billy Joe Bob about a pooka’s needs, and had learned that the creature was growing increasingly restive.
McGillicuddy had correctly surmised that the pooka needed a mate, and that was when he told the cowboy that the one thing female pookas cannot resist is shoes.
Billy Joe Bob went back to the ranch and he sat and he thought and he thought and he thought. And then when he thought he was finished, he thought some more.
“And after I sat there for hours and hours, then the idear just come on me clear as a bell,” Billy Joe Bob said, responding to Selene’s pointed questions. “Most of the time them pookas look like horses. And if a horse needs shoes, then natural it’d be a horseshoe, and that’s when I thunk of a little town not too far a piece down the road, and that would be this place, Muleshoe. Now I know it’s called Muleshoe and not Horseshoe or Pookashoe, but I figgered it was close enough, and they’re just bound to have some kinda shoes here that a lady pooka won’t be able to resist, and that’s why I figgered I’d call some of my frens here to help me find one and then help me get her in the trailer and truck her on back home with my feller. But now he’s gone, and I don’t know what we’re a-gonna do!”
Selene just shook her head, wondering how she’d been drawn into a situation like this. But now that they were here, there was no going back. She reached into the Jeep Cherokee for her laptop, switched it on, and wondered what would happen next …