"It was purely heart wrenching," Grant says, sitting on the tailgate of his blue Chevy pickup, next to the arena in Cowtown. He does do a little pickup riding because, as he says, "The only thing God put on this earth better'n women is bucking horses."
He laughs, climbs into his pickup and drives off to check on the rodeo bulls and horses he raises for Cowtown and for shipment out West. One of his bulls, 018 Cowtown, was named Professional Rodeo Cowboys' Association Bull of the Year in 1985. And it was also voted the best bull by the American stock contractors in 1984 and 1985. That is how far things have come since Stoney Harris's early rodeo days, when the idea of raising rodeo bulls in New Jersey for shipment to Texas and Oklahoma would have seemed ludicrous.
Stoney is proud of his grandson, but the old man is just a spectator now at the rodeo. On a recent Saturday night, he sat in his traditional seat near the bucking chutes, unnoticed by the 3,500 fans packing the arena and by the announcer who repeatedly encouraged the crowd to applaud Grant for running the show and Howard for helping out on the bucking chutes. He did not mention Stoney.
A couple of bulls later, the rodeo ended. Stoney picked up his cane and slowly climbed the steps toward the exit, watching the ground so he wouldn't trip. It took him a long time to make his way out.
"Don't be surprised," he says quietly, sitting in his backyard the following afternoon, "if I sell every damn thing I got, one of these days, and go get myself some good-size ranch out West. I want to be out where a handshake's still a contract, where things are still like they used to be. Hell, I might just do it yet."
His good eye is red with a powerful anger. He looks up at the severed head of Playboy. He studies that grin.