The magic ring
One last time the widow leaned down to kiss her husband as he reclined in his casket at his church funeral. As her bulky necklace dangled over the edge of the coffin the dead man’s hand suddenly reached up as if to grab it. When the widow saw his hand levitate above his body she let out a scream that would have shattered glass.
Ghosts were not responsible for this bizarre phenomenon and I assure you that I am not under the spell of the occult. Let me explain.
Why they called the dead man “Governor” has always been open to conjecture. After all, to the best of everyone’s recollection he had never held a political office of any kind, let alone a governorship. (A previous felony or two may have prevented his candidacy.) He may have been called Governor because he had a “full-of-himself” politician’s bearing, or more likely, because he was about as honest as a WWF wrestling match. The Governor was the kind of guy who would steal a poor man’s shoes.
The Governor was built like a bucket of KFC and had more grease on him than the Grand Champion Steer at the Chicago International in 1952. He wore a 100x Silver Belly hat and his fancy boots were so shiny he could see himself in them. That is, if he could see over and around his quite significant tummy.
Now, after being on both ends of buying and selling cattle for decades I will be the first to admit that there is a fine line between thievery and what some folks will do to eke out a profit on a set of cattle. For example, in my opinion having a cowboy whoop and holler and wade into a set of steers just as they are about to enter the corrals so they have to be gathered again, is not criminal. Neither is a butcher keeping his thumb on the scale. After all, we are just talking small “steaks” here. (Pun intended.) Unethical actions? Sure they are. But not go-to-prison types of crime. Ditto salting a set of cattle and then letting them drink right before they are weighed. Or leaving them on feed over night when they weren’t supposed to be. These are just tricks that buyers and sellers use to counteract the tricks you know the other guy is trying to cheat you with. But what the Governor did was criminal. He not only crossed over the line, he got so much chalk on his shiny boots that he obliterated the line between right and wrong.
The Governor was able to make old Fairbanks Morris work in his favor with the aid of a huge wedding ring he wore on his right hand. (That he wore it on the wrong hand should have been the first clue to his larcenous nature.) By holding his right hand over the beam of the scale, as he waited for it to settle, he could pull it up, and by keeping it under the beam, he could pull it down, depending on whether he was buying or selling cattle at the time. This was not magic, my friends, but pure physics. You see, in that grotesque ring he wore on the wrong hand was a very strong magnet.
The trick worked every time, although the Governor had to be careful where he put his right hand at all times. Put it in a pocket and when you brought it out your car key’s and any old steel pennies would be attached to it. Get it too close to the steel cream pot at the coffee shop and it would soon be inching towards you.
Naturally, when the Governor died all three of his sons wanted to follow in their father’s crooked foot steps. But to do so they needed that ring. Wifey number three was unaware of the ring’s special powers and did not understand the strong “attraction” the three boys had for it. So she decided the only way to handle the situation was to bury the Governor’s ring right along with him. And that is how the very dead Governor reached out to his wife while reclining in his coffin. It’s also the primary reason why, ever since the ranching community witnessed that miracle in church, they have sent their cattle to the auction, instead of selling them off the ranch.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News