• Keri Heath

The Treasure Tinaja


It was the first time Grigs had met a jackalope and that's what he said to the jackalope when he met him.

"Really?" the jackalope said. "You don't say." The rabbit reached up a big brown hind leg and scratched behind its antler, which would have knocked out anyone else. His antlers were tall and proud in spite of the spider web string hanging off one.

"I sure do," Grigs said. He tipped his hat back so he could get a better lock at the jackalope. "Most of the other boys on this drive have seen one at least once. But you're a first for me."

The jackalope leaned around Grigs, a tall, lanky guy who still had spring in his step, and peered at the cattle herd drinking from the river just beyond the fence line. A few cowboys on horseback hovered around the herd, drinking from canteens and looking over their shoulders.

"Well," the jackalope said, "you got any whisky on you?"

Grigs stared for a second. "Whisky? Like to drink?"

"No, to message my feet," the jackalope said. "Of course to drink. Didn't your fellow hands tell you anything about a jackalope's thirst? I could drink a river dry I've got such a thirst."

"Oh, of course." Grigs reached for the back of his belt, pulled out his flask and handed it over to the jackalope.

The rabbit picked the spout of the canteen up between his teeth and took a long swig before he lowered it back to the dirt.

Grigs smiled and the jackalope raised an eyebrow, and odd expression for a jackalope.

"What?"

The cowboy scuffed his boot on the ground. "Well, I was thinking now you could show me to the treasure tinajas."

The jackalope chuckled. "Is that so?"

"That's what Dave Elliot told me," Grigs said. "If you find a jackalope and fulfill their request, they'll take you to the closest treasure tinaja."

The jackalope cracked a smile. "That's what Dave Elliot said, is it? Well, all right then." The jackalope turned around and started hopping away. "Well, come on. I'm going to lose you before too long."

Grigs galloped after the jackalope and followed him across the rocks and mesas and wide plateaus. Once or twice, Grigs looked back at the other cowboys and the herd, and asked the jackalope how much farther.

"Oh, just a little bit more," the jackalope would call.

Well, they walked on for the rest of the day and into the night and then for another day and night again. And by the time they got to this tinaja, Grigs was so tired, he just about dropped right down there on the stone.

"There you have it," the jackalope called. "The nearest treasure hole."

Mustering his last strength, Grigs pulled himself up and peered over into the big hole scooped out of river-carved rock. He peered down, down and he jumped into it and felt along the sides, but there was nothing there.

"Come on now," he said to the jackalope. "Where's the treasure?"

The jackalope grinned. "Oh, the treasure. All you did was tell me to take you to a treasure tinaja. You didn't say anything about there being actual treasure in it."

Then, the jackalope hopped off, leaving Grigs to find his way back to the herd on his own and singing loud. If the ocean was whisky and I was a duck, I'd dive to the bottom and n ever come up.

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