King is the first to admit that a lifetime in drug sales doesn't exactly prepare you for roping and riding. "I'm not a cowboy. I don't purport to be one," King says. "I can ride a horse, though."
King decided a few years ago that being able to saddle up and having a passion for Robert Day's 1977 novel were enough to back up a fresh run. The idea was to honor the 30th anniversary of the novel, which chronicles a trek from northwest Kansas to Kansas City, Kansas. But when King took some cattle out for a practice last September, he found the bovines difficult to wrangle in real life. Maybe it gave him some insight into how those parents who came to him for Ritalin must've felt.
He still can't say for sure how many cows were lost that fall day. "We were in an uncontrolled environment," King explains. "And we hadn't scouted all the roads. And the cattle hit a road where the fence was down. Anyway, they went into a milo field, and four or five of them disappeared."
Any good rancher would go after his cows. But King didn't go charging into the herd, lasso in the air. In fact, he doesn't even know what happened to the cows. When asked if they were recovered, he says, "I hope. I'm not sure."
King reasons that it's not uncommon for the cattle to roam around fields at will, waiting for ranchers to pick them up when needed. For a guy who had access to morphine, he's pretty comfortable with unguarded product.
Anyway, by the time this story hits the streets, King will be on the second and last day of a drive at the Dickinson Ranch in Gorham, Kansas. Accompanying him will be Day, the author and as many as 50 other riders who agreed to pay $300 to push these hamburgers-to-be around the ranch's field. The proceeds will go to 4-H Clubs in Ellis and Russell counties.
King is convinced that this run will be more successful, if considerably less rustic. "This is a controlled environment. We have gravel roads down through the pasture, so the cattle getting lost shouldn't be a problem this time."
Of course, that's if the ranchers don't lose the cows before King gets there. As of last Thursday, he still didn't know what kind of herd to expect.
"Last time I talked to [the rancher], he said there weren't any in the pasture," King says. "He's got them within a mile, though, so I'm sure he'll just run them into a trailer and truck them over."
Yippie-kay-yay, Dr. King.