Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e10
I was in my private stable enjoying my daily brush down when a grey car I’d never seen before pulled up the gravel road to the barn. My human put the brush aside and stepped out into the sun to greet the driver. My human seemed perplexed, like he didn’t expect to any visitors that day.
Two other humans got out of the car, both of them plain-faced, dressed in drab suits. The driver showed my human a fold of paper from her pocket and for an instant my human, who should have been inside finishing my brush down, looked terrified. He tried to hide it but one of the female’s eyebrows shot up on her hairless forehead and she moved past him into my stable. Her friend followed behind her, watching my human with a skeptical and threatening expression on his face.
The female came up to me and let herself right into my pen, easy as that, and stroked my long neck with calloused fingers. She and my human exchanged some words that I didn’t understand, though in the burble I caught a few friendly expressions such as “beautiful horse” and “thoroughbred” (which I was, thank you very much). My human told her my name and she repeated it to me in a cooing voice suited more for a foal than a mare.
The human with the heavy brow folded his arms across his chest, said a few words, and my human’s face went white as the splotches in my coat. My human was shaking his head and hands, evidently pleading with these two drab strangers.
The female moved behind me; a dangerous place for any human, known or not. She slapped my flank lightly and my leg flew of its own will. I can never control it when strangers are about. I heard the sweet crunch of cracked carrots, and then she was screeching, clutching her broken and bleeding hand. The folded paper dropped from her pocket as the other humans rushed to help her. The letters printed on the paper went like this: “I-R-S”, but I didn’t understand what they meant.
I was giving Nell her daily rubdown, cleaning her soft coat with a mole-hair brush, when a boxy grey sedan pulled up to the barn. A man and woman stepped out and I set the brush aside to go and greet them.
The driver flashed a badge and said they were with the Internal Revenue Service, and my face must have fallen. She exchanged a glance with her burly partner and asked me if she could take a look around.
I stammered yes, which I realize now I shouldn’t have done. She moved past me into Nell’s private stable – she’s a sweet horse, but prickly with strangers – and greeted the old mare with a fussy, mama-to-baby tone. Her partner stood back and watched my reaction.
“She’s a beautiful horse, Mr. Gardner,” the agent said, patting Nell’s neck. “I’ve spent some time around horses myself, when I was a girl. She a thoroughbred?”
“Her name’s Nell,” I said, hoping she wouldn’t catch such a transparent dodge.
“Nell. You’re a beauty, aren’t you? Such pretty eyes.” The horse stared ahead as though unconscious of her admiring visitor. “Can we see her papers, please, Mr. Gardner?” The agent didn’t look up, just kept patting the horse. She moved around to inspect Nell’s flank.
“I’m sorry?” I shot a nervous glance over my shoulder at her partner. He hadn’t moved.
“Her papers. Fine horse like this, you must have them? We’d like to take a quick look, that’s all. You’re okay with that, huh, Nell? Yes you are.” To emphasize her point, the agent gave Nell’s flank a light slap. Well, that horse is awful cagey around strangers, like I said, and her back leg came up in a flash and caught the agent square in the hand. Broke it, too, in a couple places.
In the end, they caught me on my taxes, but I got off having to pay the medical bills. Still, I had to sell poor Nell to cover what I owed. Now the private stable out back stands empty.