Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Runaway Horse

Daddy rented a very old house in the country for twenty dollars a month. The setting was fifty yards back from a red, dirt road—Georgia clay—that was bordered by deep ditches. The big yellow school bus rolled down that road each morning to pick us up. When it rained, the road turned treacherous, making the ride fun for us while the driver fought to keep it between the ditches
In the spacious front yard of the house was several enormous oak, maple, pine and hickory nut trees. During the daytime, the old house looked like most old houses that were built around the turn of the century—tin roof, no paint, unusually large windows, and a front door that opened with a skeleton key—but after dark it took on an ominous appearance. The trees cast long and frightening shadows, aided by the moon. The wind almost talked as it blew its way through them. Mostly, we stayed out of the dark if possible, the exception being a mad dash to the outhouse occasionally when necessary.
Not many people lived close by, therefore imagination was a good playmate. There was an exception however. A boy named Terry and his sister, Janice lived across the watermelon patch, about a half mile away, as the crow flies. On one occasion they rode a huge plow-horse across the field to see us. It was a friendly gesture because they offered to let us ride the horse whose name, like mine was Sam. I liked that.
When I was a young boy on the mill village, I rode pretend horse—made from chinaberry limbs, trimmed with Daddy’s pocket knife—around the village, as did most of my friends. I never had the opportunity to ride a real horse.
When they arrived in front of our house, Terry was riding, with Janice close behind him on the massive animal’s back. Sam was huge—seemingly as large as a Budwieser Clydesdale horse—yet he appeared to be gentle enough. Janice slid off his rear end, and Terry walked him out to the edge of the road. Seemed simple enough! Janice rode next with the same result. They offered my brother, Billy a ride. He had never ridden one before either, yet he seemed to know what he was doing. On his return, they asked me if I wanted to ride Sam. I recall that I did not want to appear afraid, so with a boost, I found myself on a real horse for the first time. As he walked slowly to the road, I thought a saddle would be nice, nevertheless so far so good. Once he made the turn, Sam had a different idea. He broke into a dead run past my friends and brother. They yelled loudly, and I yelled even louder. “Whoa! Whoa, Sam,” I yelled. “Please whoa!” As I lost my grip on his reins, grabbing him around the neck, he ran faster, jumping a small ditch—it seemed like a cavern—rider still in tact, yelling all the way. When he arrived at his house, he ran up a small hill and stopped, allowing me to slide down.
The three kids in hot pursuit arrived, out of breath, obviously concerned for my safety. Thoroughly, shaken from the ride, I vowed never to get on another horse—a vow that I have kept so far—and now I am too old to break it.


Shannon said...

you know, daddy, we are no good with animals, our family. Might I pull your mind back to incidents such as Robert the bull, hambo, and catching varmints with pots and plates?

gigi said...

Funny. I think I've read or heard you tell this before :)