The desert is a hot, dry place and sand and sunshine are everywhere.
And the desert is the best place to get dessert, all kinds of sweets can be found there.
You’ll find Cactus Cakes, Tumbleweed Twists, Melted Ice Cream, Butter-brickle Brambles, and Dusty Cup Cakes.
And no one made better Dusty Cup Cakes than ol’ Toothless Jeb of the Okie Dokey Corral.

“Toothless” was a bit of a misnomer. You see, Jeb had plenty of teeth but when you’re an alligator like Jeb, 43 teeth doesn’t seem like a lot.
Each morning Toothless Jeb would set out his daily batch of Cup Cakes on the window sill of his store and open the window to let the wind sprinkle them with the sugar dust that blew in across the Pixie Dust Prairie.
Well, one morning wouldn’t you know it, along came A Cupcake Thief who called himself Cowboy X and Cowboy X stole those Cup Cakes and took off screaming “Cowboy X Yeee Haaw!”

A few miles down the road, Cowboy X came across what looked to be a mound of rags on the side of the trail. But it began to move! And low and behold it stood up and it was a person! A Cowgirl named Barstow Barbara, a wallaby.
“Well, howdy partner.” Barb said. “I’m Barstow Barbara. Or, that’s the name I go by. My name is Magill, I call myself Lill, but everyone knows me as Nancy. Nevertheless, the name I go by is Barstow Barbara.”
“Well, that’s clear as mud.” Said Cowboy X. “All around town my name is Mudd. But I go by the name of Cowboy X. You can call me X.”
“Well, X, I’ve been out on this here trail for a mighty long time. It seems since early this morning anyway, and I sure could use a nice refreshing Cup Cake. Could you borrow me a Cup Cake there partner? Whattya say?”
“Well, you mean will I LOAN you a cupcake.”
“I’m pretty sure what I meant,” said Barbara, “and I guess you got the gist of what I meant but what’s the difference?”
“Well I would do the loaning and you’d do the borrowing.” Said X.
“That’s great! Thanks.” Said Barbara.
“Now hold on a right darn rootin’ tootin’ New York Minute there, Ms. Magill Call Yourself Lill Everyone Knows You As Nancy and Goes By Barstow Barbara! I didn’t agree to any sort of loaning agreement by any means or terms between myself or any such party.”
“Look here X, I never did once celebrate anything nor have I partook in any party in my life. Not even one of my birthdays of which there have been several. All I wanted was for me to BORROW and you to LOAN me a Cup Cake. And that’s the end of that. Whattya say?”
Cowboy X scratched at his scruffy beard.
“Well, Barbara. I wish I could. I do. But the way I see it, for me to loan you a Cup Cake would require you to then give me back that same aforementioned Cup Cake. The self same and identical Cup Cake. Being the case that you would like to eat the Cake in question,”
“The Cup Cake, yes.” She interrupted.
“That is correct. The Cup Cake. Being that you would like to eat the Cup Cake. I don’t see how any lending would be possible in this here instance. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.

A short distance later, Barstow Barbara ran up alongside X.
“Sir, if I might borrow a moment of your time.” She said.
He glared at her.
“I’m sorry, X. I mean: if I could have a moment of your time…..”
“It is granted. Speak.” He stopped.
“How about we find a middle ground. A compromise as it were.”
“I’m listening.”
“How about if we agreed for you to GIVE me a Cup Cake.”
Cowboy X considered for a moment then said,
“That would lessen my number of Cup Cakes by one.” He said, doing some math in his head.
“Your number would decrease, X, yes. This I do not debate. However, the total amount of Cup Cakes in general would remain the same.” said Barbara.
“The logic is sound.” Said X, “yet still my access to that particular Cup Cake would certainly diminish to the point of absolute zero as you ate that Cup Cake!” He said feeling quite satisfied.
“But, dear sir, you would still have all of your remaining Cup Cakes. From your perspective you would have 100% of the Cup Cakes and as I finished my Cup Cake not only would I have none of your Cup Cakes, I wouldn’t even have any of my ONE Cup Cake any longer. I would have no Cup Cakes and you would have them all.” She cleared her throat. “The bottom line Mr. X, is that in this scenario you would come out on top and in the end I would again have nothing but the rags on my back.” She folded her arms feeling quite accomplished.
Mr. X stood silent deep in thought.
“Aha! I’ve got it! We’ve been so bogged down in the specifics of who gets what and whatnot that we’ve completely overlooked the idea of you buying a Cup Cake from me.”
Mr. X exclaimed.
“Well, how much would a Cup Cake cost?”
“Actually, they’re not for sale. Sorry. It was just an idea. No harm in sharing ideas!” He said.
“Absolutely. No bad ideas in a brainstorm, that’s what Lill always says.” She said.
“Who’s Lill?” Cowboy X asked.
“Me. I call myself Lill.”
“That’s right. I’d forgotten that. Strange that everyone knows you as Nancy.” He stared off into the distance.
“Oh, that’s just because I look like my twin brother Nancy.” Barbara said.
“Nancy huh? And what does he go by?”
“He doesn’t. He’s largely unknown. He’s a struggling artist, writes anonymously, is often misquoted, dresses in disguises, is largely forgettable, and his cooking is terrible. All in all, Nancy is hardly a Nancy or any other name at all.”
“I see.” Said X. “Well, nice to have met you. Good day.” And he walked away.

A short distance down the road Barstow Barbara ran up alongside Cowboy X.
“Pardon me, X, but you said your Cup Cakes weren’t for sale.”
“That is correct Ma’am.”
“Well, how about trading?” She asked.
Cowboy X stopped. “A trade you say?”
“Yes. A trade. Fair and square. I’ll trade you a dollar for a Cup Cake.”
“Trade me a dollar for a Cup Cake huh? That sounds a lot like a retail transaction. Are you speaking of a purchase per chance?”
“I suppose you could look at it that way.” She said. “But that would only be if you wanted to use the dollar as a dollar. If you just wanted a piece of paper to turn into a paper airplane, a dollar bill would suffice and no ‘money’ would have exchanged hands. Suffice it to say, money that is not used as money is just a thing. A thing you could trade.”
“So,” X stopped walking, “If I wanted something shiny to look at and you gave me four quarters for a Cup Cake that would be a trade?”
“Absolutely.” She said.
“Okay. Let’s do it!” X said and held out his hand. He loved shiny things.
“Actually, I don’t have four quarters. I just have this dollar bill.” She held out her stiff crisp new dollar bill, just ready to be made into a paper airplane. “Do you have change for a dollar?” She asked.
“No!” He exclaimed. “I’ve only got my one quarter. It’s the last one I got!”
“Wow.” said Barbara staring at the quarter. “That is pretty shiny.” She liked shiny things too.
“Now, if you don’t mind…I’ve got to get moving along Barbara. You see, I’ve only recently stolen these Cup Cakes and I need to high tail it along the dusty trail before the sheriff comes looking for me.” Cowboy X turned to leave. “Oh, Barbara, before I leave: why do you call yourself Lill?”
“It works whether I’m talking to myself or talking to myself in the mirror.” She said.
“Because Lill is Llil backwards.”
“That’s right!” She said beaming.
“I think I’m beginning to understand you, Barbara. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.

Finally Barstow Barbara caught up with him again.
“You again!?” X said quite exasperated. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because I am really very hungry! I haven’t eaten all morning!”
X looked at his watch. “It’s only 9 O’Clock!”
“Yes, but it’s late afternoon in France.”
“But we’re not in France!” Yelled X.
“Very convenient for you, isn’t it?” Barbara said flatly and crossed her arms.
“You’re full of nonsense!” Cowboy X grumbled and pulled his cowboy hat over his ears.
“My empty stomach stands in direct contradiction!” She answered and was so pleased with herself that she shook her rags and did a deep curtsy before finishing with a pirouette.
“I will not loan, sell, or trade you any of these Cup Cakes! Not one, not some….and not all!…I know you’d ask.” X hitched up his overalls and spat on the sugary ground for emphasis.
“How about a bet?” Barbara offered.
“Hmmm. What do I get if I win?”
“All of your Cup Cakes.”
“What if you win?”
“I get one of your Cup Cakes.”
“I like those terms. What’s the wager?”
“That you can’t guess what day my birthday is on.”
“Well, let’s see here. There’s 365 days in a year and one of those days would have to be your birthday….I like those odds. Okay.”
Cowboy X set down his Cup Cakes and they shook on the bet.
“Well,” X said. “Using logic, I may be able to figure this out. Let’s see: you’ve already told me that you don’t celebrate your birthday and you don’t seem to be celebrating. However, subconsciously you may secretly want to somehow recognize that it’s your birthday…perhaps by eating a Cup Cake…and you certainly have been showing interest in my Cup Cakes today. And you seem to be the sneaky kind of wallaby that would choose a bet like this on her birthday just as a joke to herself…So…Using logic, reason, the power of deduction and insight and powered by intuition and my knowledge of you…I’m going to guess that your birthday is today.”
Barbara raised her eyebrows. “Cowboy X…It is indeed my birthday…BUT! But the question was ‘what day was my birthday?’ so what day is it today?”
“Uhhhh. Wednesday.”
“Nope. Today is Tuesday.”
Cowboy X threw his hat on the ground. “Dagnabbit!” He yelled. “This week has been going by so slow!”
Barbara laughed and laughed and held out her hand, very satisfied with herself.
Cowboy X thought quickly. “But! Wait! What about we go double or nothing. If you win, you get two of my Cup Cakes and if I win, I get to keep all of my Cup Cakes.”
“I like the terms.” Said Barbara. “What’s the bet?”
“That you can’t guess any day of the year that is NOT my birthday.” Said Cowboy X.
“Well, there’s 365 days in a year and most people I know, wallabies or not, are born only on one day…So…I like my odds! You’ve got a bet!” And Barbara shook X’s hand.
“I will guess that your birthday is not today.”
“Sorry.” Said Cowboy X. He yanked the Cup Cake back from Barbara and walked away.

A short distance later, Barbara ran up to X.
“Okay, X: you won’t lend, sell, trade a cup cake. And I’ve tried my best at betting you for one. How about I EARN a cup cake?”
“Well, that would depend on what you would do to earn a Cup Cake.”
“I could teach you how to climb a cactus!” She said.
“Well, that would be a very valuable skill to acquire. For, high atop the lofty cactus I would be able to espy the afar Sheriff on yonder and then turn and high tail it in the opposite direction, thus putting space and hence time between us. Bottom line is: I hire you for the wage of ONE CUP CAKE and by extension buy myself freedom AND the rest of my Cup Cakes.” Cowboy X tugged at his beard in thought. “Okay. You’ve got it Barbara. Teach away. I am your pliant and willing disciple.”
Barbara walked X to the base of the tallest cactus in the Dessert Desert, just West of the Pixie Dust Prairie.
“This here cactus will serve as our classroom.” She said and took out a small notebook and a big pencil. “What you will want to do is grab your arms around the cactus and slowly shimmy up it until you get to the very tippy top and then sit down.”
“By the sounds of it, that will be very difficult, Barbara.”
“I never promised you a rose garden, X. Now get going. Class starts now!”
And Cowboy X grabbed onto the cactus “Ouch!” and started climbing “OUCH!” and kept climbing “Ouchyouchyouchyouchyouchy!” until he got to the tippy top and sat down.
“Very good, X! You get an A Plus!” Barbara yelled up and grabbed her Cup Cake.
Before she could take a bite, X called down: “How do I get down?!”
But he was VERY HIGH UP and it was hard to hear what he said.
“WHAT?” Barbara yelled back up to him.
“HOW DO I GET DOWN FROM HERE?” He yelled very loudly.
Barbara yelled back very very loudly: “YOU JUMP!”
And Barbara laughed and laughed and laughed. She was about to take a bite of her delicious Cup Cake when all of a sudden: SPLAT!
Cowboy X jumped down from the tippy top and landed on all of his other Cup Cakes which broke his fall quite nicely because there were a lot of Cup Cakes and they all had a lot of very fluffy frosting on them.
Barbara was a bit surprised. “X, you look very happy!”
“Of course I am happy!” He said. “I got to see the most amazing thing ever. It was just amazing……”
Barbara was silent for a while and was about to take a bite out of her Cup Cake when curiosity got the best of her.
“What was it?”
“Well, I can’t really describe it. You’d have to see it yourself.”
“Well show me it!” She said excitedly. She hoped it was shiny. Barbara really liked shiny things.
“I wish I could. But you can’t see it from here. I could only see it from up there.” Cowboy X pointed up.
“Up there?” Barbara questioned questioningly.
“Yup. I could only see it from up there. And it was pretty amazing. Really.You may never have seen it yourself it all your life.” Cowboy X said as he brushed off the fluffy frosting from his coveralls.
“Well I want to see it!” Barbara exclaimed.
“Well get on up there then!” Cowboy X encouraged.
“Will you hold my Cup Cake?” She asked.
“You won’t eat it will you?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“It’s just that I earned this Cup Cake. I earned it fair and square through work, okay? It’s mine. This Cup Cake is my wage. I don’t want to have a labor dispute with you. I like you Cowboy X, I do. You’re professional, you’re a natural leader. I wouldn’t say you’re a friend per se, but as much as you were my student you were my boss. And I think that we had a good rapport as a supervisor and employee.”
“I agree, Barbara. I totally agree.”
“So please. Don’t sour this experience for me okay? I’ve wanted a Cup Cake all morning and this solitary and singular Cup Cake is all I want in life right now. It’s the only thing I’ve got going for myself. Look at me. I’m covered in rags! And this notebook and pencil are really just props. The notebook doesn’t have any paper in it and the pencil is really dull–they’re just for show, you know…To make me look the part of a teacher for when I teach people how to climb cacti. You know. So please. Cowboy X….don’t…just…please don’t eat my Cup Cake.”
“Sure thing Barbara now climb up that cactus.”
She handed X the Cup Cake and started climbing.
It hurt. It hurt really bad.
And as an aside, just me to you: don’t ever try to climb a cactus. It is horrifically painful and possibly life threatening.
When Barbara got to the tippy top and sat down she looked around.
“Cowboy X? What was it? What was it that you saw up here? That I had never seen before and you could only see from up here?”
“The top of your head!”
And Cowboy X laughed and laughed and laughed through a mouthful of Cup Cake.
“Cowboy X! Yeeeee Haaaw!”
And Cowboy X ran away across the Dessert Desert.

After a couple of hours Barbara saw two figures coming from a long distance away, their shadows laying long ahead of them. In a couple more hours, the Sheriff and Toothless Jeb stood at the foot of the cactus.
“Who’s up there?” Toothless Jeb yelled up.
“It’s me! Barstow Barbara!” She yelled down.
“Oh. That’s the girl named Magill who calls herself Lill but everyone knows her as Nancy.”
Said the Sheriff.
“Whatcha doing at the tippy top of that cactus?” The Sheriff asked.
“Don’t ask!” She called back down.
Thankfully Toothless Jeb had brought a basket of Cup Cakes that he laid down so that Barbara could jump down into them. They were very shock absorbent.
“What are you two doing way out here in the Dessert Desert anyway?” Barbara asked thinking she was pretty lucky they came along.
“Oh, we’ve been looking for a Cup Cake Thief.” The Sheriff said and he pulled out a Wanted Poster with a picture of Cowboy X on it. “His name is Nancy, he calls himself X, and all around town his name is Mudd.”
Barbara scratched her head. “Not a bad looking guy, is he?”
“Meh. His looks are pretty forgettable.” said Jeb.
“Yeah,” said the Sheriff “and his cooking is terrible.”