Out of Nowhere

By Tom Word

    He appeared out of nowhere, driving a battered five-year-old F-100, pulling an ancient single-horse trailer. A pointer sat alert on the seat beside him. He’d called in his entry, and drawn the fifth brace. The pointer would run mid-day. No one at the trial knew him—he looked up Dr. Hawthorne and introduced himself as Barry Hyde. Doc took his cash for the entry fee and asked, “Where you from?” He answered, “I spent the summer over by Rugby.” The plates on his truck were North Dakota. He looked to be about twenty-five, stood five-ten, raw boned, cold-eyed, but clean-shaven.
“Have you got somebody to help you?” Doc asked.
“No, sir,” Barry Hyde answered.
“Any of the boys will be glad to,” Doc said.
When his entry was called to the line, Barry Hyde still hadn’t asked anyone to scout for him. Billy Wayne Morton volunteered, and Barry said, “Thank you.”
Barry’s entry was a white and liver-headed pointer male, registered name, Out of Nowhere, call name, Buck. He left like a rocket and pointed chickens twice with good style and manners and on the limb, first up by the Lutheran graveyard, second beyond the flat grain field. He finished his thirty minutes with a big cast to the front out of sight. He’d set a mark, and when the derby stake ended next morning, no one disputed Buck had won first.
Barry took the check, gave Billy Wayne his share in cash, thanked everyone quietly and drove off. Doc called the Field and punched for the StudBook, asked for the facts on Out of Nowhere. “Owner, Barry Hyde, Rugby, North Dakota. No wins recorded.” He was a derby, and his sire and dam were unknown, with no wins or winning progeny. Their owners were also unknown to Doc.
“Has he been DNAd?” Doc asked.
“No sir,” said the voice from the Field.
That derby is going to win some more, Doc thought. I’ll bet it turns out both his sire and dam are dead and left no DNA.

    That was in early September at Columbus, North Dakota. Barry and Buck next appeared at the Continental Derby Championship.
Billy Wayne was present and again offered to scout. Barry accepted. Buck went down mid-week and again ran an ideal race and found three coveys with good style and acceptable manners. He was named runner-up. Buck’s sire and dam were reported dead, so the only DNA available on Buck was his own, which Barry had submitted to the Field before the Continental and had a certificate for, so his check couldn’t be held back. Barry left with his check and his horse (a good one, folks remembered), his dog, and his battered F-100 after paying Billy Wayne in cash his part of the purse.
“Where you going next?” Billy Wayne asked. “Don’t know,” Barry answered and disappeared down the entrance road of Dixie Plantation.
Doc’s prediction proved correct. Now the Internet and telephone gossip swirling around field trials went to work. No one knew Barry or Buck. Google produced no hits on them.

    All the pros at the Continental were licking their chops to buy Out of Nowhere, a.k.a. Buck. They called their best owners and asked for a budget. Most got authority, but how to make an offer was the problem. Where was Barry? He had to have been somewhere nearby, for Buck had obviously been worked in piney woods country. Someone had written down Barry’s truck tag number, but it came back as off a long compacted wreck.
The Field was swamped with calls about Buck’s DNA. No one believed his parentage to be as registered. But once Barry had certified the sire and dam dead and the Field had cross-checked his DNA sample to a few prominent sires, Chicago was silent. The Field had quickly figured looking too deep through DNA samples was a mare’s nest—dogs registered with the same parentage where parental DNA wasn’t available often came up obviously misrepresented (not close kin), but which claim of parentage was genuine (if any) and which false? The Field couldn’t tell.
Speculation was that Barry and Buck would show up at the National Derby Championship, but it didn’t happen. Out of Nowhere had disappeared into nowhere. Still, the rumor mill buzzed. Who was Out of Nowhere? Who was Barry Hyde?
* * *

    A week after Buck’s appearance at Dixie, he was in a box in a hunting truck parked outside a truck-stop restaurant at Rachal, Texas, waiting for his hunting party to finish their breakfast Rancho Huervas. Barry Hyde sat behind the wheel of the new F-350 diesel, enjoying the AC, sipping coffee, and plotting his hunting course for the morning on the Mary East Ranch, adjoining a branch of the King. It was a good year for South Texas quail, albeit a good year too for rattlesnakes, javelinas, and feral hogs. The derby that had electrified the field-trial world would today point birds for men so rich they couldn’t keep track of their wealth—except in “Units,” Texas for $100 million. These hunters wouldn’t care about Buck’s class, that rarest of bird-dog attributes that had got him a moment of fame in the mysterious world of field-trials. These Texas Lords of the Universe would only care about numbers—how many birds Buck pointed and held, how many quail they shot over his points. Only two persons present on this hunt would appreciate Buck’s class, Barry and the man who held the hunting lease, an octogenarian former field trialer whose stash of frozen semen stolen from a rival owner’s sire long dead had produced Out of Nowhere, out of an unregistered South Texas truck-dog bitch, blind in one eye from a cactus tine, tough as a pine knot, and with love for nothing save the scent of quail. Today, she occupied the box next to Buck in the hunting rig, and she growled at her him every few minutes as he moved, trying to get comfortable on the plywood floor of his cramped welded cage. It had all been a private joke for Buck’s owner, one he would enjoy more than his next “Unit” that the price run-up for sweet light crude would soon bring him.