One Last Ride – Olivia Miller

The clock hit eight seconds and the buzzer sounded. “Next up, Parker Jones riding Kicker,” the judge announced. Parker buttoned up his shirt on his way to the dirt. He fixed his hat and tapped on Bobby’s shoulder.

“I’m ready,” he boldly stated. Bobby nodded, and he and the rest of his crew lifted Parker up onto Kicker. The bull jumped and kicked in an attempt to throw Parker off before the gate opened and the clock started, but Parker was determined to hold on.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” one of the judges began. “Please welcome Parker Jones and Kicker!”

Parker wrapped his right hand around the strap, and took a deep breath. “Let’s go!” he called. The gate opened automatically and the clock began counting. Kicker flailed around and did his best to throw Parker off, but Parker wanted one thing and one thing only.

Parker kept his right hand wrapped around the strap, and his left hand up in the air. Before he knew it, the clock read eight seconds, and Parker hopped off Kicker. He smoothly landed on both feet, and strolled back towards the barn. Another eight seconds was under his belt, and he had nothing to lose. After he changed and headed on his way to his little S-10 pickup truck, a reporter stopped him in his tracks. “Parker Jones,” she began. “How are you feeling after this very successful ride?” She shoved the recording device in his face.

“Well, I uh,” he stuttered. He was a smooth rider but his conversation skills needed a little touch up. “I obviously feel great. It was a smooth ride, and I can’t wait for next week’s,” he began to step away in hopes that the vertically challenged reporter would accept his answer.

“Any comments?” she pushed.

“Today’s ride was just to get me to my next. Next week, I take on Slugger, and Slugger, well, he’s my last hope. I made a promise to somebody very important, that I would be quitting after this year. All I want is to be on the Top Five Riders in the Country list. That’s all I’m asking for, that’s all I have ever asked for. With Slugger being my last ride of the season, I’m thinking more about next week, than today.”

The reporter looked taken back. “Well, I am shocked!” she spoke into her device. “Parker Jones rumored to be quitting after Slugger. Will he follow through?”

Parker hopped in his truck, letting out a huge sigh of relief. “Good job Parker,” he said to himself sarcastically. “Now the media knows about your upcoming retirement. You messed up big time dude.”

The next week, Parker followed the same pre-ride ritual to prepare for his ride on Slugger, except this time, he called his mother immediately before heading to the arena. “Mama?” he responded after she answered in her raspy voice. “I’m about to head to the arena. I’ll call you when I get back.”

“Parker,” his mother chided him. “I know you want to be in the top five and everything, but I really need you back home in one piece tonight baby.”

“I know mama, but I need this win. I promise you, I’ll be home in one piece, right after this ride.” Parker hung up the phone and headed on his way. Little did he know, that promise to his mother would be broken.

Parker held on to Slugger like it was his last ride, because it was. All eight seconds were filled and Parker hopped off. With pride in his heart, he ran around the arena cheering and jumping, celebrating his victory. I guess you could say Slugger was not too happy about his defeat and decided to take it out on Parker. Without hesitation, Slugger charged towards Parker, head first. He lifted the rider up with his horns and threw him backwards. If that wasn’t enough, Slugger then turned around  and proceeded to stomp on Parker, sinking his twentyfour-hundred pounds into the innocent rider’s body.

Fans rushed to the dirt but security stopped them in their tracks. Luckily, medical staff were on duty and by Parker’s side in seconds. Parker was placed on a stretcher and rushed to the nearest hospital.

“Ms. Jones,” one of the nurses spoke. “The doctors are not ready for you to see him yet. Please, have a seat and they will be right with you.”

“I’m his mother!” Ms. Jones shot back. “If the doctors are in the room with him, you better believe I will be too!”

She pushed through the wall of doctors and nurses trying to hold her back and began roaming the hospital hallways in hopes of finding her son. Before all the staff that was chasing her could catch up, Ms. Jones reached a door with a sign that read ‘Jones (head Injury)’ Without skipping a beat, she spun the doorknob and stepped in. A very bandaged up, and injured Parker rested in the hospital bed.

Ms. Jones stopped in her tracks to take it all in. In seconds, she was kneeling by Parker’s bed with her hands folded, assumed to be praying.

“Ms. Jones,”  one of Parker’s doctors bravely interrupted. “In minutes your son will be waking up from a very heavy coma. He is going to suffer memory loss and potentially require being raised all over again.” Ms. Jones lifted her head from her clenched fists. “Are you ready and willing to take on this major challenge?”

“How. Dare. You.” she managed to pull out. “If there is any doubt in your mind, or any of your minds, that I would ever even consider rejecting my child, my son, just because of an injury caused by something I gave him permission to do, than how dare you.” Several of the nurses watching from the door decided to step away and get back to work.

Parker began to twitch. Ms. Jones heard the ruffle of the bed sheets and spun around to see her almost conscious son waking up. “Parker?” she questioned. “Remember me sweetie?”

Parker had to take more than one look at his mother to recognize her. “I-I think you’re my mama.”

“That’s right honey.” she smiled. “Guess what. You beat Slugger.”

“Slugger?” Parker chuckled. “Who’s Slugger?”

Ms. Jones turned to Dr. Carlisle for support, who was the only staff member left in the room. Dr. Carlisle shrugged his shoulders.

“Nevermind,” she answered Parker. “Listen sweetheart, the doctors say that you should be home by next Wednesday, as long as everything goes as planned. When you do get home, mama’s gonna take good care of you, and then were gonna begin job hunting. Deal?” she stuck her hand out for a handshake. Once again Parker looked confused and his mother realized that maybe that was a piece of his life he may have forgotten. She closed her hand and decided to pump her fist in the air for encouragement.

“Okay,” Parker answered. “But I wanna watch the latest episode of Nashville before anything. By next Wednesday, I will have missed an episode.”

“Understood.”

As planned, Wednesday of the next week, Parker was lying on the couch at home catching up on Nashville with a ginger ale in his hand. Before long, Parker had managed to be hired as a local mail man delivering mail to fellow patrons. His mother decided to get a part time job herself as a hairdresser at their local beauty salon. Not every story ends with a happy ending, but this one does.

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