Oct. 3rd: 1830 hours
"...This old steer was so big! I knew that---if he could break the girth strap on my cousin's saddle---he could do the same to mine. So I quickly wrapped a couple of coils of my rope around a scrub oak, to use it as a stubbing post, and braced my horse. Just as old Son-Of-A-Gun ran past me, I swung my rope. I never was much good at dropping a loop on a steer, but this was Brian's only chance."
Lieutenant MacAllister talked to the officers who were sitting around the table. She took another swallow from her water glass before resuming her story.
"Luckily, I had managed to heel him---to catch him by the hind feet. Cutting horses are trained to take the slack out of a rope---no matter how much the steer tries to move against it. Belle was a good cutting mare. As soon as my noose was on the steer, she started backing up."
"The trouble was, she was standing on an sandy incline. She was back-peddling vigorously---trying to regain her footing---but I could feel her legs slipping. I knew she was going to fall. I was standing up in the stirrups, ready to push out and away, so I wouldn't be caught underneath her."
"About that time, that longhorn hit the end of the rope. The impact jerked him to the ground. My horse stumbled. And I was sent flying over her head. I landed in the grass and tumbled over several times before I could stop."
"I was groggy but I had to find where Son-Of-A-Gun was. To my left, I could see Belle struggling to get back on her feet. To my right, I could see Brian. He still hadn't moved since he hit the ground. In front of me, I could see the steer."
"Surprisingly, the loop was still over his hocks. As soon as my horse could stand, I knew she'd start taking the slack out of the line again. I just had to stay out of his way in the meantime."
MacAllister was an excellent storyteller. Her gestures and descriptions were drawing her listeners into her tale. Others in the club were listening, as well. The tension was building.
"Son-Of-A-Gun was getting to his feet about the same time I was getting to mine. He seemed kinda dazed, too. Shaking his head, the steer looked at Brian. He looked at Belle. He looked at me."
"He decided on me."
"With a bellow, he charged. I staggered up and managed to dodge his horns. He swerved. And came at me again. I dove through an eagle's claw bush. I didn't even feel those thorns."
"Just as I landed, he broke through the brush and tried to hook me. I rolled. He came after me again. Somehow, he stepped on my ankle. I heard, and felt, this CRUNCH! And this ‘fireball' hit me right smack dab between the eyes! After that, I didn't know anything!"
"I'm not sure why he didn't stomp on me while I was out. I think Belle must have been pulling on the rope by then. Either that, or my guardian angel had decided to step in."
"Some time later, I woke up with something licking my nose. I remember thinking: Oh great! A coyote is going to eat my face!"
"Turns out, it was one of our dogs." She grinned at the sighs of relief.
"My brothers were rounding up cattle in another part of the ranch. They knew something was wrong so they came looking for us. When they found us, they loaded us up in the back of the pickup truck and headed for the hospital."
Sarabeth paused and grinned. "Come to think of it, that wasn't the first time that I've been thrown in the back of a truck with the other wounded. It's obviously a reoccurring pattern in my life."
"Anyway, that's how I ended up with a built-in weather forecaster, Major Houlihan. I can feel the rain coming before I can see the rain clouds. However," MacAllister shrugged, "I've learned to live with it and to take care of it. But, when you're running for cover because someone is shooting at you, you forget little things---like babying an ankle."
"My goodness, Lieutenant." Father Mulcahy responded. "It certainly sounds like you had quite an adventure!"
"Oh, that was nothing compared to some of the medical disasters we've had, sir." The Texan answered. "With seven of us kids, and numerous cousins roaming the ranch, there was always some thing going on."
"Seven kids?" Captain Pierce asked in astonishment.
MacAllister nodded. "I had six older brothers. We're all one year apart: we all have red hair: we all have green eyes: and we all are left-handed."
Colonel Potter smiled. "Like peas in a pod."
"Six other MacAllisters." Major Winchester absorbed this information. "No doubt you and your brothers are similar in demeanor and temperament, as well."
"We are all...determined." She replied. "A rather formidable thought, isn't it?" Sarabeth grinned at him. She gathered her crutches. "Fellow officers, I thank y'all for the privilege of buying the first round. I realize that it is not that late. However, I'm going to follow my doctor's orders and get some rest. Good night."