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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)

TITLE: Justin Time
By Shirley McClay
04/22/09


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I hitched my hat lower over my eyes and pulled the tied bandana over my mouth and nose. The dust swirled around us in a cloud. I leaned on the fence as the horses milled around the corral. My grandson climbed up and sat on the top rail. A sneeze nearly toppled him into the pen and under the shuffling hooves. I resisted the urge to hang onto his belt. He was nearly sixteen, after all.

I waited quietly, watching the horses, noticing their movements, quirks, and personalities. Chad glanced down at me and busted out laughing. “Gramps... I thought those were just for show… or to be ready to hold up a stagecoach or something.”

Smark aleck kid. “Notice who’s got the runny nose, kid. It ain’t me.” He sneezed again and wiped his nose on his shirt sleeve. Disgusting. “Don’t s’pose you got a hanky in yer pocket, boy.”

“And what... wipe my nose and stick it back in my pocket? Gross.” The corner of his lip raised in a sneer.

“And havin’ a slimy sleeve is better?” That got a hint of a grin. Maybe I’d get through to this rebel city kid after all.

“How bought that one, Gramps.” He nodded at a shiny black.

“He might be purty to look at but he ain’t sound, boy. He’s got a clubfoot. See how he walks?”

“Well, how about that palomino?”

“Ain’t a palomino... it’s a buckskin. An’ notice how long her back is… won’t hold up well. She’ll be swayback in no time.” At least the kid was taking an interest. It was a good sign.

“Gramps… you sure are picky. They’re all just rescues. You aren’t going to find another Justin Time here.” I noticed he hadn’t used his usual cuss words in spite of the attitude.

I grinned and hitched my hat back on my head so I could squint at him. “Take a gander at that mare there, boy… no, the one with the scar on her shoulder. And that gelding... the sorrel with the roman nose. And that stallion with the snotty nose and eyes.”

“You mean the fat mare, the ugly gelding, and the sick stallion. Yeah, I see them, Gramps.” Another sneer. I pulled out my wallet and handed him a picture with worn and curled edges.

“Yup... this horse looks about as attractive as those.” He handed me the picture back but I waved it away.

“Take a closer look, kid.”

He studied it for a minute and I saw the moment he recognized my ranch stallion. I rubbed my hand over my mouth to hide the grin that was busting out. Chad turned those big brown eyes on me and stuttered… “That’s Justin, Gramps! What happened to him?”

“Same as what happened to these critters. He had a hard luck life until I found him. Justin Time was a gangly, undernourished, uncared-for stallion. That was the beginning. It took a lot of healing, a lot of patience, and a lot of years to get him healthy and trained.”

“And a whole lot of food from the looks of him.” Chad chimed in and we shared a chuckle.

“Yessiree... he could put away the food… still can, as a matter of fact.”

“But Gramps… he’s amazing… I mean… you do reining demos on him without bit or bridle. He’s won championships…” His eyes shifted back down to the photo.

“It took work, boy… like these are gonna need. l look at this herd and see the potential. That mare with the scar has common sense and intelligence. The gelding is butt ugly but he’s built for the long haul and ain’t a bit flighty. That stallion… now he’s the best of the bunch. Some medicine and rest and he’ll be my replacement for old Justin.” I could feel excitement building up as I watched Chad turn back to the herd with a thoughtful expression.

“Reckon that’s why I asked ya here, Chad. I see good stuff in ya but you’re like these horses. Yer life’s been rough from the get-go but I see a kid that needs rescuin’, carin’, healin’, an’ time. In the end… you could be a real cowboy with a purpose in life. That’s God’s goal for us, boy. A bond with our Rescuer so’s we can serve Him with abilities He’s given us.”

Chad shifted in an attempt to hide tears. “So I’d kinda be God’s Justin Time?”

I fumbled for my hanky. Dern dust.


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This article has been read 925 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 04/23/09
The dialog between Gramps and his grandson was believable as the story flowed and merged into a wonderful lesson. Thumbs up on this one.
Lori Othouse 04/24/09
Great message and one to be remembered, whether we are a Gramps or a Chad. Nice!
Loren T. Lowery04/24/09
This story rings so true. I've seen it with so many horses that others would give up on, but given time, love and hard work they are given the chance to become the champions that lies inside of them. This lesson of course easily transfers itself to ourselves as well. Great way, excellent story to bring this out.
Joy Faire Stewart04/28/09
You're a gifted story-teller using very realistic dialogue. My kind of story and great message, too.
Dena Wilson04/29/09
A great story. I like the name Justin Time. It reflects how we find God just in time, or a great grandpa that will pick us up and dust us off.
Betsy Markman04/30/09
I liked this. There was a point where a POV shift confused me, but other than that it was a smooth and enjoyable read. And I LOVED that last line!
Joshua Janoski04/30/09
Wow. First of all, any entry with the words "butt ugly" in it is great.

Second (and in all seriousness), I think you shine the most with your horse entries. You definitely are able to take your knowledge of horses and use them to tell stories that are not only engaging but that also demonstrate Biblical truths.

I loved the way this ended, and it reminds me how God takes the broken and transforms them into greatness...with a lot of hard work of course. :)
Lollie Hofer 04/30/09
What a wonderful story full of love, compassion and hope. I liked the emotional responses from both of them at the end of the story. (I'm not very sentimental but it certainly works here.) Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition.
Holly Westefeld05/05/09
What they all said.
I love the pun in the title, as well as the excellent atmosphere and characterization. Congratulations!
Kathy Gronau05/13/09
You're good!
I like your story.