Thursday, May 6, 2010

Scared or Mad/Tally

Tally was back in the broodmare pen when I came to work. She stood huddled in the middle of the mares. Her bright bay coat was streaked salty white with dried sweat.
I walked up to the main house. My Corgi/Jack mix ran ahead, growling with excitement. She just loved hanging out with the Boss’s pack of dogs.
I walked around back so Carolyn would see me walk by the window.
“C’mon in, the coffee’s on!” She hollered.
I knocked once and stepped inside. The boss slapped his knees and my little dog Dinah jumped in his lap.
“You are such a nut,” he said as she wiggled with excitement.
I sat down at the big table in the kitchen. Carolyn handed me two mugs of strong dark coffee. The sun streamed through the windows and against my back, warming the room enough for me to shrug out of my jacket.
She sat down across from me and I slid her coffee over to her.
Carolyn looked tired and old. Her normally bright eyes were dull and her smile was forced.
“How’s Bill?” I asked.
“He’s hurt really bad,” she told me.
I took a sip of coffee and tried to hide my wince at the bitter brew.
“Do you know what happened?” I asked.
“Not really,” she said, “his horses all showed up at the neighbors and they drove over when Bill didn’t answer the phone. Tally was the only one saddled. When they went up to the place they found Bill.”
Carolyn’s eyes started to fill.
“He’s all broken up. He’ll be out of work for months.”
“Why is Tally here?” I was afraid to hear the answer, but figured I’d better ask it.
Carolyn nodded towards the front room.
“He says he’s digging a hole and putting her in it.”
I sighed and looked down at the table. I traced a horse head in a puddle of coffee.
“Hey boss, have you got a minute?”
I refilled my coffee as I walked into the front room.
Dinah lay on her back in the boss’s lap. She turned and gave me a goofy dog grin as I came in. The boss wasn’t looking at me. His face was grim but he gently rubbed Dinah’s dainty white paws between his fingers.
“Why don’t we talk about this,” I started.
“There’s nothing to say,” he told me, “the mare is crazy and she needs to be put down.”
“How about if I buy her from you?”
“I can’t afford to get you hurt. We need you to ride.”
“Maybe she needs a different approach.” I said.
The boss finally looked at me. His dark eyes were impossible to read.
“What can you do different?”
The air lay heavy between us. My coffee was cold but I made a show of drinking it while I thought about what I should say.
“The exact opposite of whatever Bill did,” I finally said.
The Boss snorted and looked out the window.
His face lightened just a hair.
“I’m telling you that horse is out of the Hoop,” he said, “she’s broken inside.”
“Don’t go all Lakota on me Boss,” I said, “you know I can’t win an argument once you go there.”
He barked a single sharp laugh and a slight smile softened him further.
We sat in silence for several minutes, the only break came when I went to refill my coffee. Carolyn gave me a worried look and I shrugged. There was no way to tell where the boss would go on this one.
“I don’t want to be responsible for you getting hurt,” he finally said.
“If you don’t give me a chance it will gnaw on you,” I said, “the weight of this will get you, you know it will.”
“OK,” he finally said, “but you have to promise me you won’t get busted up, the weight of that would kill me.”
We settled on a price of $500, a fraction of what they had paid for her.
Of course I was quick to point out, a horse out of the Hoop wasn’t worth anything more.


  1. woohooo!
    Tally wins the horse lottery!

  2. I didn't think it was possible, but you've got me more hooked on this story than ever!

  3. Huge sigh of relief. Although if you hadn't been there, a hole really would have been the best place for her... and through no fault, really, of her own!

    Thanks for the post, add me to the crew clamoring to hear more of these stories of Tally and the Cupcake! Every time I check the blog and there's a story, I'm so happy!! =)

  4. Whoa....didn't see THAT coming......

    I was afraid Tally's luck had run out.
    I was wrong.

  5. Well...We know Mugwump is still kicking, and that this may have been Tally's last chance. But we still need to hear the rest of the story...Soon!

  6. Phew! Can't wait to hear the rest, I was holding my breath waiting...


  7. wee-haw!!!! I was so worried that Tally would never be seen or heard from again! Talk about being in the right place at the right time and making every word count. Good for you, well, good for you and thinking that it's all gonna be okay :)

  8. What a great post! It'a like reading a favorite novel that you don't want to put down. Come on, come on, gives us more!!! What happens next?

  9. I agree, it's like reading a great novel, except you are forced to wait between chapters! This is agonizing! I want to hear more!

  10. This is the first time I've had hope for Tally. There may not be a butterflies and unicorns ending but at least she has a chance.

    Great stories Mugs!

  11. This is shaping up to be even better than Sonita. And I loved the SOnita stories!

  12. Mugs, you're really a fantastic writer... you know that, right? I mean, do you REALLY know that? You use silences in your scenes better that anyone I've ever met. I started feeling like a voyeur, watching this situation between you and your boss! :)

  13. now we get to hear what happens next!! HURRY please

  14. Oh, thank goodness. I was hoping you would get a chance at her. Love your stories more every single time, mugs.

  15. How far apart were the Cupcake/Tally stories? Just curious.

    (Add me to the list of impatiently waiting for more!)

  16. Yes, good writing! But what REALLY impresses me is that you were able to keep quiet for that long!!

    Maybe it just means I can't keep my mouth shut...but I admire your wisdom and ability to wait out your boss's answer. I couldn't have done it - I'd have filled the silence with mindless chatter.

  17. DeeDee ( 7, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    OMG! The Perils of Pauline! and the Perils of Cupcake!

    So glad Tally was recued from being tied to the railroad tracks. Right in the face of the oncoming 9 o'clock express. Nick of time!
    Mugs, you go girl.
    What agony we would miss if this was a book we stayed up all night reading - skimming the pages to get to the conclusion. And what extrordinary writing we would miss. Thanks for torturing us. makes each piece so much sweeter!

  18. Excellent series. Add me to the list of those who want books.

    Old cowboy trick - salt in the coffee takes the bitter away.

  19. Phew - finally!

    So glad she's in good hands 'now' - can't wait for what happens next.

  20. Ugh. You and your gol-danged cliffhangers! GRRR!!

  21. lazy shamrock- AHA! You see the method to my madness. 10 years...
    nicole - widom? not so much....inarticulate? very much.
    AKpony girl- we still get together for coffee once in a while. I'm going to try the salt, cuz' it still desolves the enamel off my teeth.

  22. Sigh of relief. For Tally, and me. I got to read Mugs' writing today. Not an everyday treat! Thanks. Can't wait for next installment. Didn't Dickens write this way?

  23. No kidding - the horse out of the Hoop fell into a pretty good bucket o' shit I'd say... :) Thanks for posting, always so good!

  24. Bravo, Mugs. Excellent storytelling.

    What does "out of the Hoop" mean, though? It seems significant...

  25. What a wonderful story. You must collect your Sonita/Mort/Tally/etc stories in a book and publish them. I'd tell everyone to buy it.

    Heehee - I had a gut feeling you were going to buy her, but I didn't want to comment, in case I was right, in which case I'd feel bad for being a spoiler.

  26. Check this out, Mugs. :)

  27. Can't wait to hear the rest of this one.