We left not too long after that and stopped at the rack to get our hats. J.B. took his down from where he knew he'd left it. But he just stood there, holding it in his hands and staring at it. I'd wondered what his reaction was going to be when he got his real hat back, but I hadn't counted on the way Player had been working on him.
After a long moment J.B. said, "This ain't my hat!"
Player said, "Sure it is. Look at it. Ain't it got that silk lining and that M.L. Leddy Supreme tag in it?"
"This ain't my hat!" J.B. said louder.
"Hell, yes, it's your hat."
Then J.B. said, in a loud voice, "This ain't my hat. Somebody stole my hat."
I was standing right beside him and I saw little drops of sweat suddenly come out on his forehead. Player tried to say something reassuring to J.B., but he suddenly yelled, in that high voice of his, "Some son of a bitch has stole my hat!"
There was a party of four men eating at a table pretty near the door. One of them was a pretty good-sized old boy with a bald head. J.B. suddenly launched himself at that man and began beating him over his bald head with that $90 M.L. Leddy Supreme, screaming, "You stole my hat!"
I rodeoed off and on for six years and I got my share of injuries. I had a broken neck and a broken leg and had both my collarbones broken twice and had several broken ribs and have bone chips in the elbow of my riding arm to this good day. And I'd seen a bunch of injuries that were comparable or worse. But I never saw a man as broken up as J.B. Kingman was over the recovery of his hat.
We were lucky that it happened at the end of the season, 'cause after we got J.B. out of jail, we didn't have enough money to go on rodeoing.