Horse_ebooks glanced down at the cover of the months old copy of Women’s Day on the side table next to him.
“What to do in an emergency. (Page 117) What to do if your ferret starts to sneeze. (Page 119)” he read aloud, as an old woman struggled to get past him up to the front desk.
“Mr. Ebooks?” a nurse called from the doorway “The doctor will see you now.”
Horse_ebooks barely squeezed by other nurses in the hallway as he was lead to the examination room.
“The doctor will be with you in just a moment,” the nurse said, closing the door behind her.
Horse_ebooks stared at the old painting on the wall. After a moment, he shook his head. Soon, the door swung open. An old man walked into the room, with a stethoscope around his neck wearing a white coat. “Hello Mr. Ebooks, I’m docto-”
The doctor paused at the sight of a ray-ban wearing stallion standing in his examination room.
“Ask your dumbass friends if they know of a reputable artist.” Horse_ebooks sneered, eying the painting hanging on the wall across from him.
“Thanks, I-I’ll do that. Now you see, I don’t normally treat horses, but apparently an exception has been made. So tell me about your medical history.”
Horse_ebooks stared wistfully at the wall. “I have been in the deepest, darkest valleys of bodybuilding hell, and on the brightest mountain peaks of glorious bodybuilding success. I” Tears started welling up in his eyes, he couldn’t finish.
“I see,” said the doctor, beginning to lose his patience. “So what brings you in today?”
“my greasy ham” replied the horse.
“Your… greasy ham?”
Horse_ebooks clumsily turned around to show his glistening hindquarters to the doctor, knocking over a glass container of cotton balls in the process.
“NO-ONE should have to go through what I did just to build a simple koi pond”
“I see. Well, I don’t know if theres much I can do about your greasy ham, Mr. Ebooks. I think our time here is done. Please go to the front desk to discuss payment.”
Confused, Horse_ebooks walked up to the receptionists desk.
“How was your session with the doctor?” she asked, not looking up from her paperwork.
“it was absolutely useless. Thanks”
“Oh, well. I’m very sorry to hear that. Payment is due at the time of service. Will you be paying with cash or credit, Mr. Ebooks?”
Horse_ebooks looked down at the $500 bill. He looked back up at the receptionist.
“If you suffer from bad credit, you have 3 options: do nothing” he yelled, galloping out the front door.
Horse_ebooks glanced down at the cover of the months old copy of Women’s Day on the side table next to him.
It was a normal day at Walmart in Normaltown, USA. I had gotten a great evening of rest and I was ready to restock the infant section. I had just finished tagging all the new Infamil when I felt hot breath on the back of my neck. Turning, I was face to face with a large, Chestnut horse. He looked curiously at me and cocked his huge head to one side.
“Hi, how can I…help you?” I asked. The horse blinked.
“Where Do I Find Ghosts,” He queried. He cocked his head a bit to the other side.
“I’m sorry—what are you looking for?” The horse couldn’t have just said ‘ghosts’…?
“82. Pluto Coffee 83. Praline Coffee 84. Turkish Coffee…” Grabbing a piece of paper from his large, horsey fanny pack, he let out a great big shudder as he mumbled and read.
“Oh, coffee. That’d be aisle 4 with the tea, coffee, and other beverages. Right over near the front of the store.” I smiled and turned back towards stocking.
“You are smiling.” The horse said. Weirded out, I stepped a bit away from the be-speckled stallion. He stepped towards me. I stepped to the left. The horse mirrored my movements. “Is the dance floor calling? No.” Did he just sass me?
I took a deep breath. “Is there something else I can help you find?”
“CHOCOLATE SYRUP REFRESHING DRINK FOR SUMMER.” Horse_ebooks yelled as he read off his list. A woman pushing a child in her shopping cart sped away with widened eyes.
“That would be in the same aisle as the various coffees, sir,” I stage whispered, hoping to draw attention away from us. I saw my manager watching us with curiosity. The horse leaned close to me and his mane brushed against my cheek, falling over my shoulder and his flapping horse lips grabbed at the ends of my coif.
“our hair…” The horse whispered, staring with large, black, emotionless eyes.
“Excuse me, who do you think you are and what do you think you’re doing?!” I stepped back and knocked over the row of Infamil I had just stacked. The horse looked nonplussed.
“Freudian analyst, paint pictures, dance, do bio-energetic exercises and yoga, meditate, levitate, pray, and commune with nature on peyote—” With that, the horse threw back his head and laughed. “I Laughed Out Loud…Now I Know What I Have To Do.” Horse_ebooks spat out ominously and dropped his shopping list. He turned tail and galloped, swerving, through the front entrance, kicking displays and knocking over Faded Glory clothing racks as he went.
My manager came over to me at a good clip. “Damn meth heads. I have kicked that idiot horse out of here three times this week. He came in here yesterday screaming for PUMPKIN PIE and DELICIOUS MUD. He’s cranked out. You ok?” I nodded and picked up the shopping list he had so unceremoniously let flutter to the ground.
It wasn’t a shopping list at all. It read simply, “I AM THE UNDISPUTED KING OF CASH AND I AM UTTERLY FREE” written in oxidized blood. In tiny lettering that looked fecal, I made out the words, “To have my throat cut across… My tongue torn out by the roots… And my body buried in the rough sands of the sea.” That night I lost the use of my legs. To this day, hair grows on my tongue.
The woods stretched on up the hill and all around them like a deep, rolling ocean. The night brought a cool air that hung heavy and dense and tasted green. It was a welcome respite from the earlier heat of the hike. Rebecca rested for a moment next to Thomas and their eyes met. Electricity sparked inside Thomas. Was this the night? The night he’d finally tell her how he felt? A windfall of images from the last 10 years flashed before his eyes and overwhelmed him. Playing in the creek as kids. A clandestine, shared cigarette on the roof. Barefoot summer nights and that time he carried her home drunk after prom. He hadn’t seen her in months, and this camping trip was just what he needed to finally open up. A few of their friends walked ahead with some people they invited from work that Thomas had never met. One was a tall, muscular stallion with an ebony mane and a pair of sunglasses he hadn’t taken off since they had embarked and wore even now in the twilight.
“There are over 34,000 documented and named spiders in the world? You won’t be able to get away from them, but you…” Horse_ebooks’ voice carried softly back to Thomas through the pines.
Now that he thought about it, Thomas hadn’t heard Horse_ebooks stop talking since he had had a tough time getting over the slippery rocks in the river at the start of the trail. All the better to distract the others while he told Rebecca how he felt…
From up ahead, Thomas heard Horse_ebooks yelling amongst the others. “Hey Teens, Let’s Stop.” The group dropped their bags.
An hour later and the friends had made their campsite, put up their tents, and were busy lighting some kindling. Thomas and Rebecca were searching through the nearby brush for more dry wood and he saw his moment was finally here. He took a deep breath and tried to quiet the nervous ringing in his ears that swelled up suddenly.
“Some of the old camping spots were barren or covered in trash,” Horse_ebooks clopped right up to Thomas and Rebecca and stood right next to them.
“Yeah, you picked a good spot,” Rebecca said and gave the horse a pat on his neck.
‘What was that?’ thought Thomas, his mind racing to find a way to get Rebecca alone again. “Hey man, can you go ask the other guys what sort of wood we should be looking for?”
“Pine.” Horse_ebooks answered almost before Thomas was even done talking.
“Horse_ebooks teaches a few classes at the community college on wood studies,” Rebecca smiled and stooped to pick up more kindling.
“Characteristics of Trees — Naturalness of Tree Worship — Origin of the Worship — The Tree of Life — Ancient Types — A Tree as a Symbol of—” Horse_ebooks started, but Thomas cleared his throat to stop him.
“You guys…know each other?”
“Yeah, Thomas…I was going to tell you earlier but Horse_ebooks was having trouble on the wet rocks—”
Horse_ebooks interrupted: “It’s almost a bit weird having completely dry feet at all times!” Rebecca and the horse started to laugh.
Thomas turned red. “Tell me what?”
Rebecca answered, with Horse_ebooks interjecting every step of the way: “Well, I was in Horse_ebooks’ Naturalness of Tree Worship class this semester and one day, I stayed late to ask a question—”
“Suddenly and without warning,”
“And he had begun to hint about if we could perhaps become—”
“—And I had said, well you’re a teacher…and a horse…so maybe we should weigh the pros and cons—
“—I started looking at my options and I mean ALL of my options,”
“—Which led to us, well, Thomas, we’ve been dating for two months!” Rebecca leaned over and kissed Horse_ebooks on his forelock.
“I have problems,” Horse_ebooks said, “constantly.”
“What do you mean?” Rebecca asked.
“The rock-hard thighs of a God.” The horse said, lowering his voice. Thomas groaned. “Everyone else gets big slices of PIE all over their faces?” The horse peered over the top of his sunglasses and gave her a long, deep stare. “PUMPKIN PIE?” She burst out laughing.
“You are SO naughty! Who would have thought? We’re so in love! We’re even getting matching tattoos this week!” She continued to giggle and Thomas felt the forest spinning around him. He almost felt like he was going to vomit. His Rebecca…and Horse_ebooks?! Matching tattoos?!!
“Ask your dumbass friends if they know of a reputable artist.” The horse pushed his glasses back up on his face and whinnied slightly. “What is important in a tent?” Horse_ebooks asked Thomas as Rebecca wrapped her fingers into his silky mane. It wasn’t really a question, but sounded more like the start of a crude knock-knock joke.
Thomas hesitated. He didn’t want to play into this. He wanted to get the image of Horse_ebooks and Rebecca’s pie out of his mind. He wanted to go back and start the hike over and push the horse down the slippery river rocks and—-“What is important in a tent.” Horse_ebooks repeated, slower and more dangerously.
Thomas could only shrug.
“Let’s just call her THE MONSTER.” And with that, Rebecca hauled herself up on the back of the horse and they trotted back towards camp. Thomas could only watch in despair as the happy couple left him gasping for air and composure in the mossy undergrowth, arms full of sticks, gutted.
“Tree Tree Tree Tree Tree Tree Tree “Stop “Stop “Stop “Stop “Stop “Stop “Stop traps, traps, traps, traps, traps, traps, traps,” Horse_ebooks’ voice carried through the trees and echoed into the night.