We never know what we'll see along our Hill Country roads. One night in June, we were driving the farm-to-market road on our way to our Texaversary dinner. Denny drove and I looked out the window, hoping to see my favorite cattle. What, you don't have favorite cattle? I know you're not a Texan.
It's not a sure thing, seeing the small herd of longhorns in their pasture next to that two-lane road. I'm tickled any time they're out. They all sport horns, some flaunting a span of 7 feet or more. I think of Queen Elizabeth when I see them, how much stamina it takes to hold up a heavy crown.
I've been waiting for the day when the longhorns are near the fence, with the sun casting a golden glow, and I'm set with the camera.
I had the camera in my lap. The sun was perfect gold. And I'd put Denny on cow-alert for a possible sudden stop. So I was longhorn-ready, my eyes searching the roadside ahead when a syncopated vision appeared on the shoulder of the road a few feet from my window. A guy in a starched white shirt, bow-tie, and Harley-logoed black suspenders clipped to black tuxedo-striped pants. Riding an electric blue Harley, wind streaming his long black hair and beard. Passed us like we were waltzing and he was an Olympic sprinter.
A man on his way to his wedding, late, ring in his pocket, fear in his mind. She'd walk out if he didn't make it to the ceremony before starting time. He knew it. She wasn't the kind to put up with sh*t. He wouldn't have fallen for her if she had been.
He passed us and was gone four cars ahead before my brain caught up with the story. And I raised the camera too late.
It might have been too late for him too as the railroad crossing arms fell and traffic stopped. I could see him ahead, one foot on the pavement, hands clutching the handlebars. I was tempted to jump out and run up and take his picture and wish him luck. But who knows how long a train will cross a road. And drivers get frustrated and it was Saturday night when some folks start drinking early. I didn't want to hold up traffic.
The crossing arms lifted, the Harley roared, traffic began moving. As our car pressed forward, I looked back and realized we'd passed the cattle while the rider's story was playing out. I missed the perfect picture.
The longhorns have been out by the road a couple of times since. Now when I pass, if I squint just right, I see Queen Elizabeth off to the side, and with her, a lonely black-haired Harley rider.
Stranger things have happened in the Texas Hill Country.
Copyright 2009-2010 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.