Writing the Ride

Candace Carrabus Books


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G is for Gross

Malcolm hired me to replace Norman. But Norman had one day left when I started, and he was supposed to show me the ropes.

He motored in on a four-wheeler at eight-thirty. Talk about duded up. Fake alligator shit kickers with chrome toe guards and skin-tight Levi’s hugging a barely-there ass. The pearly snaps of his plaid shirt were left open too far down revealing a totally naked and pale chest, and the straw ten-gallon boater on his head could rescue a family of five. His beady eyes darted around the barn.

“You’ve been busy,” he said.

“Yeah. So, who are Cheyenne, Honey, Oreo, Brownie, and Kismet?” I rattled off the names on the list. “I have Smitty and Fawn groomed, but wasn’t sure whether they go English or Western.”

He hesitated. “Uh.”

Which didn’t tell me much. He retrieved the list, moving fast. Maybe Norman had some get-up-and-go after all. Shortly, we had them all ready, although Norman’s grooming skills left much to be desired. He went through the motions, but barely removed the sweat marks still left on some horse’s backs from Saturday, and although he picked up each hoof, I think all he did was clink the hoof pick against their shoes. When he went to get saddles and bridles, I redid his job.

The tack was serviceable and plain and in need of saddle soap and neatsfoot oil. The polyester sheepskin pads were glazed with dried dirty sweat.

“Is there a washing machine around here?” I asked Norman.

“Yeah, sure.” He led me to the back of the feed room where he pushed a plaid horse blanket on the floor. I opened the washing machine and closed it just as quick. There was something in there, something that had been there for a while and had mildewed beyond recognition. I thought I caught the flicker of a smile skitter across Norman’s narrow face

“Gross,” I said. “What’s in there?”

He shrugged. “Leg wraps, maybe. Don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember.”

His shoulders hitched again and he gave me a “tell it to somebody who gives a shit” face, and turned on his heel. “Gotta make the coffee. Always have coffee when they get here.”

I followed him into the tack room where he pulled a Mr. Coffee machine from the cabinet under the sink, then filters and a small can of coffee.

“What, exactly, is your job?” I asked him.

“Head wrangler. This is my last week. I’m moving on, you know, bigger and better things.”

Whatever. Wrangler? Where did he think we were, Wyoming? “Are there assistant wranglers?”

“A couple kids come after school to help out sometimes.”

Oh, boy.

I turned to the washer, twisted the knob to hot, stood back, opened it, dumped in bleach, and dropped the lid.

No one can blame me for being cranky. No one.

Join me on Monday for H is for Henry.

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One Response to G is for Gross

  1. Gross is right. Sounds like it will be “good riddance” to Norman. 😉

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