Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop" - No. 33
The Runaway…

Act 1, Scene 1:

Beautiful fall afternoon at Johnson Farms. Horses saddled, campfire burning off to the side, cowboys standing by mechanical steer, (played by
veteran mechanical steer, Buford). Temperature is a bit chilly, but warmed just right by soft November sun. Miguel, played by grizzled veteran character actor, M.L. Johnson, (as usual playing the old washed-up calf-roper type) is seen talking to male lead, handsome Ken Kirkpatrick, cowboy hero.

“Perfect day to practice,” says Miguel.
“Couldn’t be better,” agrees Ken. “Let’s get to it.”

Sequence of roping action shots follow showing the two cowboys working on rope delivery, horse position and technique, interspersed with scenes showing beautiful female lead, (played by America’s sweetheart,
‘Becca Jan Johnson) videotaping for later replay and study.

“Keep ropin’, Ken,” says Miguel, (always the first one to quit) “I’m headed to the barn to build us a fire in the wood stove, and rustle us up something to drink.”

“Okay,” says good person and good parent, Kenny, “but I think Derek wants to ride a little.” Miguel, (thinking about only himself as usual) notices “the kid” played by 14 year old veteran child star Derek, standing off to the side, portraying his usual shy self.

“You can ride Shine if you want to, son,” says Miguel.
“Well…okay, I guess,” responds Derek quietly. Shine, perfectly cast as a good looking gray gelding playing a “green eight year old,” snorts and prances with anticipation. Derek mounts the big gray…

Act II, Scene 2:

“Betcha’ can’t get him to lope,” calls ‘Becca to Derek, as he begins to trot away on Shine. She wants to encourage him to improve his horsemanship skills, and like most kids, he can’t stand to refuse a dare. Derek turns and smiling over his shoulder, gives Shine a little kick, just a little kick, in the tummy. (Camera shot changes to s-l-l-o-o-o-w-w motion, you know, that thing they do when something really bad is going to happen.) Miguel turns as if in molasses, and produces a guttural and tortured, “N-o-o-o-o!”
Miguel begins to run toward the boy, “Don’t kick that hors…” Too late.

Act III, Scene 3: Camera shot switches to inside Shine’s head…(the Shine-CAM.)
Neurons are firing, electrical impulses are flyin’, and Shine’s voice over says,
“When my daddy, Miguel, touches me in the stomach like that, he wants me to run as hard as I possibly can.” In a nano-second, Shine ignites. Startled Derek impulsively grabs saddle-horn in death lock grip. (Bad move.) Reins are shown slapping loose against Shine’s neck. Derek’s legs flap uncontrollably against Shine’s sides. (Worse move.) Shine’s voice over says, “When my daddy doesn’t pull on my reins and kicks my side, I am to run!” Afterburners go to full-throttle, and in a span of three seconds, potential disaster has come from that place all accidents are born…out of nowhere. One minute, a family and a friend are enjoying the sun, the next…a deadly, dangerous and sickening sight.

Billy Wayne, played by one of the Lord’s many angels, watches the scene below.
Partner and friend, Joe Bob, sitting at his side says, “Yep, there he goes. That is definitely a runaway. How long have we got?”
“Plenty of time,” says B.W. “Shine doesn’t make his turn for another three seconds.
You want a soda-pop before we go?”
“Naw, I like to go down there. I like the geese over on the neighbor’s pond. Besides,
it’s better to be early. Let’s get movin’.”

Act IV, Scene 4: Cowboy hero, Ken Kirkpatrick is running hard desperately thinking of what can be done. The only thought he can conjure is, “Lord, take care of him, this is bad. Catch him some way.”
From the rear of the barn, ‘Becca bolts, and cries inside, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, help him, help him, don’t let me be the cause of this.”
Miguel, in his typical ‘freeze-in-a-crisis’ fashion just stands there thinking, “The best thing I could do is go get the cell-phone because seconds might make a difference here in terms of the ambulance call. Lord, don’t let one of those steel fence posts get him.
I’ll take a few hundred stitches from the wire, oh, and take care of his legs. He’s just a kid. If you angels aren’t too busy, we need some help here.” Then as he watches the big gray reach top speed, a thought seeps in… “Man… that horse can really run!”
Mental note: Do not write in column that when your kid was about to get the bejeebers knocked out of him, you noticed how fast your horse could run.

Act V, Scene 5:
Shine now at Warp-9. G-Force has Derek’s eyeballs in back of head, death grip on horn still locked. Shine approaches five-strand barb-wire fence, and makes laser-like, UFO left turn. Unfortunately, Derek does not.
“You got him?” asks Billy Wayne.
Joe Bob turns from the geese and says, “Man, those things are pretty. Huh?
Oh yeah…Derek…yeah, I got him. I’m gonna’ let him hit a little hard ‘cause we don’t want any of them to forget the lessons of this day, but I got him.”
In the dusk, light and fire explode. That little scene doesn’t make sense to any of the witnesses. (Later they would realize when a kid hits a barb-wire fence that hard, belt buckles and steel wire create quite a light show.)
Kenny gets to him first. The kid is so awfully still.

“Derek, don’t try to move son. Try to breathe. Take a minute and just try to breathe.
Can you breathe son?”
Seconds melt, eternity slows to a crawl. Finally, a slow nod.
“Well, that’s good,” says Kenny softly. “If you can do that, let’s see if…(pause)…let’s see if you can move your legs. Can you move your legs for me?”
First one boot wiggles slowly, then the other. Joy…joy. Relief, tears…and gratitude.
“Well, well,” smiles Ken. “If you can do all that, maybe you’ll let me help you stand up?”
Derek nods and with Kenny’s help rises on shaky, but still working legs.

“Don’t be mad at Shine, Dad,” were his first words. “It wasn’t his fault. I just didn’t know what to do when he ran that hard. It wasn’t his fault, it was mine.”
“It was mine,” sobbed ‘Becca.
Miguel looked away. He knew whose fault it was. The daddy of the farm. The one who should have had the energy out of a green horse before he let a green kid get on him. “When will I ever quit making stupid mistakes?” he thinks to himself.

Kenny helps a badly bruised Derek to the barn. ‘Becca brushes and blinks away tears as she builds a fire in the wood stove. Miguel walks to the corner of the pasture where Shine stands trembling. The big horse, trusting a scent he knows, lets him approach in the dark. He rubs him softly on the neck, and whispers, “It’s okay. You only did what you had been told to do. Nobody’s fault but mine.” Shine follows him to the barn.


The cast is seated around the wood stove, and life at Johnson Farms is back to the place it was earlier in the sunny afternoon. The mood alternates between silly giggles at a classic wreck that will be retold endless times, and quiet periods of misty eyes and silent prayers of thanks. ‘Becca gets the guitar and strums between the conversation of the men. Softly she begins to sing a little tune, and even the baby kittens turn their faces to her as the strains of Amazing Grace fill the barn. And everyone…everyone knows how real that grace is and just how lucky we all were.

Miguel…………………………Michael Johnson
Kenny …………………………Kenny Kirkpatrick
‘Becca………………………….Rebecca Jan Johnson
Shine…….……………………..Imp’s Bandino Blue
Angels………………………….Billy Wayne and Joe Bob
Kittens…………………………Johnson Barn Cats
Raspberry, Pierre, Manx, Smudge and Momma Miss Kitty
Horses in stall………………….Bud Wiser and Little Blue
Big dog constantly in the way…Poochie Johnson

Johnson Farms would like to thank all those who helped in the production of this event. Special thanks to those who provided spectacular stunts, Derek, Shine, Billy Wayne, and Joe Bob.

Rating: *** PG-- Some violence.



Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

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