Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Owl and The Polo Pony, Part One

There is a field very far from here. Its near a road that sometimes can go as far as the big highway. A river of some distinction dissects the field. No one has ever counted the acres within the fence, but a cow once walked the entire fence line, beginning at the big red gate and stopping for a drink at the river before she crossed it and returning to red gate exactly 12 hours later, she did not graze along the way, or make conversation with the crows who frequent the grove of walnut trees on the western side, and so this proved to be some measure of the field to those who were concerned with such a thing. Many have lived in the field -- a long horn bull who bragged he once traveled with a Mexican rodeo, a goat with only three legs, the county’s largest snapping turtle (this fact was determined when he was captured by two boys who ventured into the field looking for snakes, they killed the snapper, and promptly had their picture in the paper with said turtle), a parade of angus steers, one holstein cow who could not produce milk anymore but was so favored by the farmer for the pattern of spots on her brow, she was sent to live out her years in the field and yes, she is the one who walked the entire line of fence in those 12 lonely hours, and a small herd of old fox hunting horses—three to be exact, who spend much of their time regaling the days of glory in blood sport and comparing old arthritic injuries, and finally, a barn owl, who talks too much.

One very cold night, not long ago, a noisy horse van came up the road, its gears grinding, its headlights flickering and it came to a stop at the red gate. There was some commotion over a lock on the chain that kept the gate closed, but tools were dispensed and men’s voices murmured and a ramp was lowered and the sound of hooves on the ramp suggested to everyone in the field that a new horse, one who was light on her feet was arriving. The gate swung noisily, and the stars admired this dapple gray mare led by the men. The moon was not as bright as her white sides. The men shut the gate, one of them threw a rock and hit the mare square on her rump, she squealed and bucked, but did not run, she was unfamiliar with this field—it was unkempt and wild with hills. “Adios she-devil!” the rock throwing man called as the van roared off into the night, back to the highway, where it would travel til dawn and come to run out of gas near the border.

Owl: Hiya Toots!

Polo Pony: I beg your pardon? (she swings her head and sees Owl sitting on a low branch of the old white oak)

Owl: I beg YOUR pardon, I’m kinda the Welcome Wagon around here. I was only trying to be friendly-like.

Polo Pony: oh, well, I’m hardly in the mood right now. Is there somewhere a girl can get a drink around here? Without being asked alotta questions?

Owl: Sure Toots, sure. Just follow the cow path to the river and take a right, there’s a barstool with yer name on it, but don’t expect alotta solitude around here. There’s gonna be curiosity ya know.

Polo Pony: Well, I can do without rubberneckers. Oh, my achin’ feet.

Owl: Been on the road long?

Polo Pony: Three, maybe four days. Last place I remember is Albuquerque.

Owl: You don’t say! I gotta cousin there.

Polo Pony: Yeah? Well, I didn’t meet him.

Owl: If I was to go out on a limb Toots, which some say I gotta habit of doing, I might say you got a real chip on yer shoulder.

Polo Pony: Listen Chief, I’m cold, I’m tired, and now I seem to have landed in a one-horse town with a chatty owl, and all I want is a drink, and some sleep. If I get some shut-eye, I might be able to come up with a plan.

Owl: This ain’t no one-horse town, we got three over there, see?

Three Foxhunters: Hello, Hello, Hello!

Polo Pony: You call them Horses?

Owl: No, I call them Scout, Drummer, and Joe. If yer nice to them, they’ll let you in on a mean game of Gin.

Polo Pony: I don’t play cards . . . not anymore.

Owl: Say, what’s your game anyway?

Polo Pony: Polo. Straight Up.

Owl: No kiddin’

Polo Pony: Did someone around here say Gin?

Owl: we never had a Polo Pony around here. Yer real high class!

Polo Pony: On the skids is what I am, Chief.

Owl: Listen Petunia, we’re all on the skids out here. You’ll see that when the sun comes up. Belly up to the bar with goat for a night, he’ll tell you stories that’ll raise the hair on yer withers.

Polo Pony: I’m not interested in socializing. I’m in need of a plan. (Heads down the cow path, stumbles on a rock) What a dump!

Owl: Yeah? Well, there’s worse places to end up! (Owl takes flight and follows Polo Pony to the bar)

Bartender: What’ll ya have Polo Pony?

Polo Pony: How’d you know who I am?

Bartender: Word travels fast around here.

Polo Pony: Gimme a Gin and Tonic --- and make it strong.

Bartender: You got it Good Lookin’

Polo Pony: Everyone’s a real joker around here.

Owl: Say, why’d that Mexican call you She-Devil?

Polo Pony: Boy, you really got some manners!

Owl: Bartender! I’ll have the usual!

Bartender: Yeah, and whoooo’s payin’ Owl?

Owl: You know I’m good for it!

Bartender: Your tab is as long as the river Owl. (slides a Guinness down the bar, Owl stops it just before it goes over the edge)

Owl: Now where were we Toots? Oh yeah, that Mexican, he called you She Devil. What for?

Polo Pony: Its a long story . . .

Owl: I love stories!

Polo Pony: Look, don’t ya get it? I’m a girl who’s down on her luck. I don’t need any bedside manner. I’ll be gone when the sun rises you hear me?

Owl: Where exactly are you gonna go?

Polo Pony: Just because a girl lost a game, just because a girl killed a man, she ends up on Skid Row. It ain’t fair I tell ya, life ain’t fair.

Owl: Killed a man?!!!

Three Foxhunters: Killed a man?!!!!

Bartender: Oh boy, and I thought it was just gonna be another Thursday night.

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