Every day closer to moving day just got better, and I knew today would be no exception. I got up to tackle the barn chores earlier and earlier each day. Kimberly and I were still juicing veggies, though I think our increased energy was due to pure excitement. We’d been looking at homes in Wilson County not far from the farm, and we’d found a few good ones.
I’d been feeling so good I even agreed to watch one of Kimberly’s movies with her. We watched Atonement last night. Movies that are adaptations of books usually worry me. Nowhere in me was the urge to watch this particular movie, but Kimberly and I do about everything together, and I didn’t want to set a precedent unless it was absolutely necessary. I enjoyed sitting with Kimberly, and the movie didn’t cost me much of my masculinity, as far as I could tell.
When I entered the barn just after sunrise, our former barn helper, Patti, was leaning on Vander’s stall door and stroking her chin philosophically.
“I’m still looking around, but I know I’ll take this one,” declared Patti, gesturing at Vander, who snorted and shook his head.
“Come again?” I asked.
“What?” Patti responded.
“What do you mean, ‘I’ll take this one’?” I inquired.
“Oh, Rachael said you were closing up shop, so I thought I’d take some of the leftover horses. I’m going to flip them,” Patti responded.
Patti was not a horse person when she first arrived at the barn several months ago. She isn’t one now either, but she’s closer. Patti was getting better with the horses until she befriended our landlady, Rachael. After that, we seldom saw her except when she drove past the barn to visit Rachael on the weekends. I guess she gave up on being an animal psychic communicator. Honestly, she has enough trouble communicating verbally.
“You’re going to flip horses?” I asked.
“Yep,” Patti answered, smugly. “I heard there’s a TV show about it: Flip that Horse. You can make a lot of money.”
“Do you mean ‘Flip that House’?” I asked.
“No, that’s different. When can I pick them up?” Patti asked, scanning the stalls. The horses stood motionless, staring at her. I think they were a little scared.
“Well,” I said, “actually you can’t, ever. These horses are closing up shop, too. They’re all leaving. All of these horses belong to people.”
“Oh,” she responded quietly, looking at her feet.
“But look,” I said, “I can ask around in case anybody wants to give away a horse or two.”
“Really? That’d be great! I might even ‘cut you in,’ you know.” Patti said, winking. “Just call me.” She waved and headed down the gravel drive toward Rachael’s place.
I got all the horses fed just in time for the boarders to arrive for the big move-out. Many had packed up their tack and supplies earlier in the week and had only to load everything in their trailers along with their horses. Most received the announcement of the barn closing rather well. Except for Mike and Delores, I couldn’t really tell if anyone cared. Everyone had found other barns they liked, though they were all more expensive. It wasn’t until the boarders were moving out that they admitted that we had given them a good deal.
Cowboy Jack and Candy each arrived early and had loaded up the last of their things before lunch. Candy got Boo and Tully on her pink trailer with no problems. Jack was loading his Quarter Horses, Jiffy and Spiffy, when Candy walked toward me from the feed room. She looked a little misty-eyed.
“Hey,” she said, “I think you liked these more than Tully or Boo ever did.” She handed me a full tub of mint and molasses treats. I gave her a big hug. I love mint and molasses.
“Well, buddy,” Cowboy Jack said, walking up to us, “good luck to you and that beautiful wife of yours. If things don’t work out with you two…”
“Then I’m all yours, Jack,” I said, winking. “Don’t you worry.”
Despite my reassurance, he still looked worried. Jack awkwardly tipped his hat to Candy and walked briskly out to his truck. Candy burst out laughing. She gave me another hug.
“Don’t be a stranger, okay?” she said, sniffling and dabbing at her eyes with a tissue. As she drove away, she honked and waved until she was out of sight.
Then Mike and Delores arrived to take Cracky and Boomer to their new home.
“Well, guys–” I started.
“DON’T EVEN TALK TO US, YOU, YOU BENEDICT ARNOLD!” Mike screamed before stomping into the feed room. Delores smiled weakly and shrugged her shoulders in a silent apology. They loaded up Cracky and Boomer and left without another word. I walked to the feed room to survey our progress. Only Page and Janet’s feed bins remained. They had already packed all their stuff, though I’m not sure when. I hadn’t seen them since move in day just less than a year ago. They were our favorite boarders. Their Hanoverians, Prince Charles and Page’s horse with no name, stood in their stalls, waiting. I looked at Prince Charles and looked at the other horse.
“You ever been through the desert?” I asked him. He just stared blankly at me. “Sorry, bad music joke.” I gave them a couple of the mint and molasses treats. Page and Janet walked in as the horses finished chewing. “Page, you ever been through a desert on your horse with no name? Come on, you two. (singing) It felt good to be out of the rain…” Janet and Page just stared blankly at me. Boy, it sure was a tough crowd today. “Anyway, jokes aside, you guys were our favorite boarders.”
“We only came to the barn twice, and you weren’t even here,” Janet said.
“And you paid on time every month,” I responded. “For that we will always love you.”
Janet and Page just looked at each other. The silence was painful. I guess I’m just no good with goodbyes. They silently haltered Prince Charles and No-Name, loaded them and the feed bins on their trailer, and drove off. I was walking toward Vander and Ellie’s stalls when I noticed something near the barn’s office door. It was another tub of treats, with a note. “Sorry and Thanks!” it read, in Delores’ handwriting. I’m not as big on the carrot with apple flavor, but that was thoughtful of her. Maybe I’ll share them with Vander and Ellie.
Speaking of whom, Ellie has a vet visit tomorrow. It’s time for a sonogram to see if the insemination took. I’m a little nervous. I mean, I’m certain she’s pregnant, but Kimberly and I need to know for sure. I joined Ellie and Vander for a few treats. It was nice–the three of us standing by ourselves in the barn, munching away. Kimberly walked in just as I stuffed another treat in my mouth.
“What are you eating?” she asked.
“Nuffing,” I managed with my treat-stuffed mouth and crumbs falling to the floor. Kimberly furrowed her brow as I chewed and swallowed. “Want one?” I asked, offering her the half-empty tub.
“How about we go for a trail ride?” I asked.
“We’re moving in four days,” Kimberly said. “Does that mean we’re done looking for a home?”
“That place we saw Wednesday needs a little love,” I said, “but it’s in our price range and it has a barn. I think it’s perfect.”
“Me, too,” she said, smiling.
We saddled up and headed out through the woods. We rode for a couple of hours before starting back home. I hadn’t realized it until we were almost at the barn, but Kimberly and I were silent for the entire ride. If you’ve met us, you know that’s a rare and amazing accomplishment. I could tell we were both relaxed and comfortable with where we’re heading in our life together.
Now that I think about it, I probably should have talked a little bit more during the trail ride, if only to warn Kimberly. I wonder if she’ll be relaxed and comfortable when I tell her I rented Caddyshack?
Jeremy Law and his wife, Kimberly, live on a small farm in North Carolina.
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