Joe the Ragman was an unshaven, musty smelling, gnome-like character who wore a long gray, tattered coat buttoned at the top, and a trivial matching hat with a visor. His horse drawn cart was laden with stacks of rags that smelled of the dampness of a cellar. Squeaky wheels carried it down the street. His nasal twang… “Rrraggs, rrraggs,” gurgled in a voice almost too low to be heard.

“Up here, up here,” the residents responded from their windows. And up the stairs he went, plodding on worn dirty boots, empty satchel over his shoulder, gathering rags along his way.

One day, while he was away from his horse, one of my older buddies said, “I’m gonna ride that baby.”

Kinda Like Joe’s Nag

“Ride her? No way. Are you crazy. You can’t do that,” I blurted as I looked around.

“Yep, I’m gonna ride her.”

He rubbed his hands, hoisted on the metal step, stood on the seat and jumped on the back of Joe’s dirty white, droopy horse. She might have been a nag when she pulled the cart, but not so when she was jumped.

Her eyes widened, her ears stood up and back, she raised her head, reared up on her hind legs, threw him off and came crashing down with powerful hooves just missing his head as he rolled away. Yikes, he could have been killed.

I never was quite so venturesome.

On occasion, when I felt a sting of bravery, I hitched a ride on the back of the wagon, but the memory of a crazy nag, Joe’s musty mumble and a few snaps of his whip warded me off.

© July 2018

Rag and Bone Man