Excerpt from Chapter 5

I’ve been struggling with some issues lately and haven’t had time to post regularly, so I thought I’d share an excerpt from a novel I wrote called Between the Dash.  I don’t think this particular passage requires back-story.  I’ll get back to my normal posts soon.  I hope you enjoy this.  Here goes:

I took another Pall Mall from the pack on the desk and fired it up.  I needed it to get through this.  I smoked it hard like the way Sean Penn smokes.

“Okay,” I said, “Mom was bleeding like crazy and shaking.  Her eyes were rolling but it seemed like she was trying to tell me something.  Artemus was talking super fast in Spanish and English at the same time, which was something he couldn’t help when he’d get real excited.  Nothing he said made any sense.  I just couldn’t comprehend anything at that moment.  Seconds seemed like hours and at some point Artemus stopped talking and looked painfully into my eyes.  He had this ability to speak to me without words.

Suddenly a childhood image flashed before my eyes of a time when I was at a horse race with Artemus and my Mom.  Two horses collided during the race and one fell.  The one that fell — a beautiful pitch black Arabian with crimson and yellow silks and a braided mane– crashed into the fence and its’ leg got broke that instant.  I was close enough to hear it snap.  I’ll never forget the sound – just like a dry branch breaking.  Crisp.  The jockey was thrown but not badly hurt.  The jockey got up, ran to the horse and the horse tried to keep running.  I just got sick looking at the horses’ leg broken like a chicken bone — clearly in two pieces, just dangling instead of holding straight — unable to support the weight and will of the body it belonged to.  It was a pathetic and profoundly pitiful sight.  That majestic animal was reduced so quickly to a helpless creature in the matter of seconds.  The jockey stopped the horse and got it to lie down on the ground.  Two men and a woman ran over to the horse.  The horse fell on its’ side shaking, trying to get up and it was breathing and snorting really heavy.  The loose red clay kicked up from the other horses on the track made a thick dust cloud, but I could still see.  The jockey laid on the horses side to keep it from trying to get up and kissed the horse over and over and kept stroking its’ head.  One of the other men held the horses’ head down with his knees to keep it from struggling.  The woman started crying hysterically and running in short circles on the track — first one direction, then another.  She was wearing a white dress with big blue polka dots.  Her hair was braided too and she had a ribbon that matched the horses’ silks.  Her hands alternately covered her face and pushed fists violently towards the ground.  She let out a desperate cry to the sky.  One of the two men took the saddle and the blanket off of the horse and covered the horse’s head with the blanket.  The horse was calm at this point.  Next thing I know I hear “Bang!” then “Bang!” again. One of the men stood over the horse with a smoking pistol in his hand.  The horse twitched for a minute and then lay still.  The jockey patted the horse’s dead body and then walked away without looking back.  I could literally see a tear fall from the jockey’s cheek and hit the red clay on the track.  I thought of that image as I held my mother in my arms.  It was a horrible memory.

Mom’s body continued to twitch violently and her black hair was getting thick with blood even though I couldn’t really see the color of blood in the darkness and the rain.  I took my hand and brushed her hair out of her face and gave her a kiss.  She stared at me.  I could tell that at that moment she was alert.  She forced a smile at me as if to say “yes, and I love you.”

I had to stop talking for a moment to catch my breath.

“Forgive me,” I whispered to her.  I held her close, kissed her on the cheek, her forehead and softly on her lips.  I held her for a moment and saw one of my tears land on her cheek.  Artemus stroked the tear from her cheek, and then kissed her hand.  I watched her squeeze his hands tightly at first, then relax.  She took a very deep breath.  Then I took her head and twisted as hard and as fast as I could.  Her neck snapped and it was over.  The suffering was over.  Her body fell limp in my arms.  Artemus and I both sat in the rain for about a half hour— just sobbing.  All three of us just held each other.”

I looked at the Judge and said “Judge Jones.  Do you know why they killed that horse?”

“Of course I do Thad,” he said, “They loved it.

That’s it.  Uplifting, huh?

Cheers!

Jim

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