Short Stories 

 

 

 

Friday
Oct142011

Short Stories by Warren Bull, Raymond Baird and Jerry Rogers

Warren Bull

The Note

 

     The smartest crooks steal identity, credit information and money from computers. I pick pockets.  The police and FBI have task forces of bright young specialists that search out and destroy the high tech criminals.  My opponents are the old police bulls who’ve been around long enough to recognize what I do and the low tech ways I do it.

       Any gang is only as strong as its weakest member.  Marlene and I have been partners for many years in every sense of the word.  She’s gotten me through my dark hours and I’ve gotten her out of a jam or two.  Even in an open setting, the act itself is as simple as making a sandwich.  Marlene stops suddenly in front of the mark to look at a clock or a map. The mark bumps into her.  While apologies are being exchanged, I relieve the good citizen of a wallet or a purse using a newspaper or a coat to cover my actions. Then I continue on at a normal pace. Discovery usually isn’t made until later.

      We don’t stay too long in any one place.  Too many thefts reported in a short time span might trigger memories of past events. We don’t like to remind police departments we are still in the business.

       Bus stations are easier than are airports, fewer guards, but the bus riders usually have less money.  At commuter train stations everyone bumps into everyone else. It’s easy to switch lines, levels and directions. Libraries where people concentrate on their work, not their backpacks are easy pickings, especially during finals week. Unfortunately, most students are poor.  My particular form of enterprise follows the same rules as every economic endeavor. Higher risk yields the higher rewards.

       Marlene and I have learned ways to blend into the scenery.  She frumps herself down until she looks middle aged and matronly. I have always been of average build with a forgettable face.

       We were working the Washington D.C Metro, the Blue line, when I noticed a well-dressed man who looked particularly oblivious, carrying a brief case and hanging onto a strap with his other hand.  I’d never noticed that government bureaucrats were especially enthusiastic about their work. This man dressed like he was at a supervisory level but his attention was clearly not on what was going on around him.  Disinterest squared.

       I stood up from my seat and moved unsteadily down the aisle as we approached the Metro Center where Orange, Red and Blue lines transfer.  He didn’t notice when I bumped into him. I could have untied his shoes, but I settled for taking his wallet from his hip pocket.  I got off the train.  Marlene did not follow.  I left the station without attracting attention.  She would follow the mark for a few more stops to see if he began searching for his wallet.  She’d told me she might sightsee for a while after the job.

       I got back to the hotel room first, pulled the window curtains closed and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.  I didn’t need to turn on the overhead light. I took out the wallet and spread the contents on the desk.  Karl Griffith had American Express platinum, a Master Card gold, a generic L.L. Bean and two bank executive Visa cards.  What were the odds he could cancel them all quickly?  We had a contact who would pay for freshly stolen plastic and proof of identity.

      Griffith had cards for insurance and dental coverage, triple A auto assistance plus a Maryland driver’s license showing, as usual, a lousy photo. He lived in Silver Springs.  There was not a gym membership or a fraternal organization card, no photos, but he had an assortment of business cards including his own.

       As always, cash is king.  He carried three hundred and fifty three dollars.  That’s much more than most men carry to work when they have a wad of credit cards.  Among the bills he had a neatly folded piece of paper.  I unfolded it and read the meticulous handwriting. “I blame only myself.  My life has no meaning. The emptiness and pain will not end unless I end it.  Eventually I will kill myself. Don’t bother to look for a murderer.”

       I don’t know how long it was before Marlene found me, head in hands. sitting on the side of the bed in the darkened room.

       “Headache, again?” she asked.

       I shook my head and pointed toward the note unfolded on the desk.

       She turned on a desk light. I winced.  She read it slowly. Then she sat down beside me.

       “What are you going to do?”

       “I don’t know,” I answered, tracing the razor scars along my left wrist.   Both wrists reveal my history.  Three attempts over the long years.  Three failures.  Close calls. Marlene stuck with me. She got me through it. I still have down days, shadows engulf me from time to time, but it’s never like the hopeless, helpless unending hell I went through for years.  I sat. I remembered...

 

      The next day I saw Mr. Griffith on the platform at the Metro Center. I walked up to him and handed him his wallet.

       “I think you lost this.”

       He looked at me, startled, and put up his hands to ward me off.

       “How? Why?”

       “You don’t know me, Mr. Griffith.  I haven’t done anything in my life I’m particularly proud of.”

       He stepped back and looked around him with an air of desperation.

       “Please listen to me, Mr. Griffith. I’m not a nut. I don’t want to sell you anything. I’m not trying to bring you to Jesus.”

       “I’m not Griffith. You’ve got it all wrong.”

       I took a deep breath and stepped toward him. “It’s just that I’ve been where you are now.  I know how it feels.  I don’t know any answers, but something, somewhere is better than killing yourself. I found it for myself, eventually. You can too.”

       Griffith stared at me.  He grabbed me by the lapels.

       “You meddling idiot,” He hissed at me.  “I’m not Griffith.  I was hired to take him out.  With what I had to do to him to get him to write that Goddamn note, I knew they’d at least suspect foul play from the injuries.  After I dumped his body I found out he had no billfold. No wallet. No suicide note.  I returned to the hotel room and searched frantically until I found it. The hero managed to take out his wallet and toss it under a couch before he died.”

       He pulled me against his body. People started to look at us.  “I was so worried they’d find the corpse before I could plant the wallet that I let a two-bit crook pick my pocket on the way back to his grave.  Now you want to give it back to me?  It’s cursed.”

       I felt the narrow blade slide into my stomach and my blood start to trickle down under my shirt. Holding my shoulder, he walked me to a bench and sat me down.

       “Scream and I’ll finish the job,” he said.

       He disappeared into the crowd.  I stared at the wallet still in my hand as the world faded out of focus.

 

Warren Bull is an award-winning author of Abraham Lincoln for the Defense, (Smashwords, 2010 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/13700) and Murder Manhattan Style, (Ninth Month Publishing Co., 2010 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/13700) as well as more than thirty short stories. His new book, Heartland  will soon be offered in paperback by Avignon Press.

 

Raymond Baird

The Crookedest River in the World   

 

Man, I hate it when the veins on his neck stick out like that, thought Armando.  It looks like he’s going to rupture something and die on me.

The captain, who was unaware of Armando’s thoughts and who wouldn’t have cared anyway, continued:  “The newspaper is shredding us on this – the headline is ‘Cartel war spreads.’  Now the copy cat talking heads on the evening news apparently smell ratings so they’re parked out front, interviewing anyone who has a burning desire to be on television.  You’re the lead investigator on this.  Make sure I am up to speed.  Shit rolls downhill, and I just know the Mayor or someone is going to be on this telephone any minute now, demanding an update and action.” The Captain continued without interruption, as if he were so wound up that he had no intention of letting his underling interrupt him. “ Here’s what I think I know. Some shooter, who may or may not be part of the Juarez familia walks across the bridge, gets in a car, drives a few blocks into downtown El Paso, parks his car – illegally, I might add, from all we can piece together – waits for the head of the Mexican Government’s anti-cartel task force to come out of the Federal Building where he’s been in a very high level hush-hush meeting with his counterpart on this side of the river, who flew in from Washington for the occasion.  Then as the guy comes through the door, our visitor shoots him down, shoots him repeatedly, in fact, with a long magazine Glock, purchased on this side a week earlier by a woman who has since disappeared.  Cool as a cucumber, the assassin leaves the gun – with no fingerprints, of course – walks to his car and drives away.  Is that a good summary of your findings so far?” 

 

First clearing his throat, Armando replied in the affirmative. 

“But I see that there is more, and the newspaper reporter doesn’t know the rest.” the captain continued.  “The entire crime, from the time he parked the car to the time he committed the murder took place in front of an eyewitness.  Right?”

“Yes, that’s technically correct,” Armando agreed.

The captain continued without giving any sign that he was aware of Armando’s carefully hedged answer.  “Our witness, I find in your report, runs a newsstand about 10 steps from the entrance to the Federal Building.  When we, the good guys, questioned him we learned that he thinks the bad guy hung around for several minutes, and that his car was probably parked just a few feet away.”  The captain paused for effect.  “But as I read on I find that the witness can’t describe the car, and he can’t describe or identify the assailant.  Why?  Because he’s blind.”  He paused for effect again.  “Now that fact probably saved the witness’s life.  The fact that he’s blind means that there is one less loose end for the gunman to tie up, it you take my meaning.”  Another pause.  Then, with resignation, he concluded his monologue:  “It’s like somebody or something is teasing us – you have a witness but he can’t help you identify this asshole and take him off our street?  So our only hope of getting a conviction basically is that the gunman gets religion, turns himself in, and confesses. Right? And a child of three would know that just ain’t gonna happen.” 

“Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the extent of it, unless….”  Armando’s voice trailed off. 
            “Unless what?”

“Unless there’s more to this witness than meets the eye.” Here he paused, expecting some sort of reaction, even a bad one, to his play on words.  Nothing happened, so he swallowed his disappointment and continued.  “When we brought the witness in to talk to him, he did all the right things.  He has the white cane, the black glasses, and all that.  But I noticed something.  Somebody left half a cup of coffee on the floor in the interrogation room.  So we come into the room.  The witness is holding onto my shoulder.  When we get to the table, I tell him there’s a chair and he starts swinging his cane back and forth.  He whacks the table, the chair leg, the wall behind the chair, but he misses the coffee with the cane.”

“And this means what exactly?”

“Well, it’s pretty far out but it may be possible that the guy can see.”

The captain showed a noticeable increase in interest but his head was cocked over to one side and his arched brows signaled a profound skepticism.  “Ooooh-K! Talk to me.”

“Well this guy is a veteran of the second Iraq War.  He’s got some sort of certificate about that hanging there in the news stand; I saw it when we picked him up.  Maybe he was wounded in the head or something.  If there’s a service-connected disability, that’s probably why he gets to operate that newsstand in that location in the first place.  Now what’s interesting is that once in a while, these guys are just psychologically blind, there’s nothing physically wrong with their visual system. ” 

“Well, I’ll be.  You mean the witness is faking blindness?”

“Probably not ‘faking.’”  Here Armando put air quotation marks around the word “faking,” for emphasis.  “To begin with, there may be some physical damage to the eyes or brain and for that matter, his missing the coffee cup may have been an accident.” 

“Well, hasn’t the VA or someone checked this guy out?  They’ve got tests for this, right?” 

“Yeah.  Most of these cases, the vast majority, have a physical cause.  But one or two percent, maybe a few more, have ‘medically unexplained blindness.’”  Here Armando again used his index fingers to put quotation marks around “medically unexplained” in the air.  

“OK, so those guys are faking, right.”

“Not necessarily.  They might be but we’ve known about ‘functional disorders’ like this for a long time.  Some of these guys seem to be genuinely blind even though there is no physical cause that anyone can pinpoint.”

 

“I don’t think I swallow this mumbo-jumbo.  Either the guy is blind or not.  I want you to find out if he really is.  If he is, there’s a medical reason for it.  And that means he’s gonna be no help to us at all.  If he’s faking, then he might have information we need.  So go talk to his doctors and find out.   But be careful.  If he’s faking and knows something, we still need his cooperation and we don’t want our buddy from across the river to get wind of it and come back over here to eliminate this problem.” 

Sus deseos son ordenes.”

 

 

Armando parked the car in a red No Parking Zone nearly a block from the Federal Building and turned to his rookie partner.  “Here’s how it’s going to go.  We’re going to enter that building through the side entrance on Silver Boulevard.  We will go to the main entrance, which you can see right down there.  I’ll stay in the building and you will go up to the newsstand and buy a magazine or something.  You will hand the vendor a dollar bill and wait for your change.  When he gives it to you, you say something to the effect that you think you gave him a five.  Don’t be pushy about it but be serious enough that he takes it seriously.  Just gauge his reaction, take the newspaper, and walk on down the street to the car.  I’ll join you in the car in a few minutes.  Any questions?”

As Armando watched from behind the dark reflective glass of the door, the scenario played out exactly as he had anticipated.  The blind news vendor made the change and when he was challenged said, “No, it was a single.”  Removing it from the till, he held it up – “here it is, right here.”  The young officer spluttered, sounded embarrassed, apologized to the vendor (which was genuine enough because he really was embarrassed to be trying to stiff a blind guy even in the line of duty), and walked away.  Armando returned to the side entrance and joined the rookie in the car.

“OK.  Do you think we proved anything?”

“Not really.”

“You’re right.  We didn’t conclusively prove anything.  But we did establish that he has some mechanism that keeps him from being ripped off by the unscrupulous among us.”  He paused to let that sink in, then resumed. “It can’t be based on smell, taste, touch, or sound of the money because the bills of different denominations smell, taste, feel, and sound the same.  There are only two possibilities left – ESP and vision.  I’m putting my money on vision.”

“But he’s blind.”

“Yeah.  That’s what he says, and the VA agrees, but let’s put it to a test.  When we get back to the office, have a couple of uniforms bring him in.” 

 

 

In the interrogation room, Armando began questioning the vendor.  After a few preliminaries, he began to talk about the vendor’s blindness.   Confirming what Armando had pieced together from his talk with the head of the vision clinic at the VA hospital, the blindness was the result of an IED explosion one of the die-hard Saddam supporters touched off as a convoy of Humvees came by.  A couple of his buddies in the same vehicle had been killed, and the vendor, who was sitting on the side of the vehicle farthest from the device, had sustained several injuries.  His vest had protected his vital organs but he sustained facial lacerations and a concussion.  When he regained consciousness he was blind.  The vendor did not seem to be as interested in talking about it as Armando thought he would.  In fact, he seemed to display almost no emotion about the fact that he was blind.  Armando asked, “do you have any vision left at all?”

“No.  The wounds all healed but I can’t see.” For emphasis, he added, “I can’t even tell night from day.”

“Do you mind if we test you?  Sometimes loss of one sense improves another sense.”

A few seconds passed before the vendor replied – “This is about that shooting, isn’t it.  I already told you once:  I can’t identify the guy because I’m blind. I’ve got the papers to prove it.”  And for the first time he showed a bit of emotion – it wasn’t clear whether it was anger, bitterness, or relief.

“Yeah.  I know.  But I’d still like to try, because I’m not going to test your vision.  OK?”

“Go ahead – knock yourself out.  But make it snappy – I’ve still got to make a living, you know.  My pension doesn’t go as far as I’d like.”

“Fair enough.  Here’s the deal.  Do you remember about two hours ago, a guy bought a newspaper and said he was given the wrong change.”  The news vendor nodded.  “Well, I took a bunch of pictures of him in the past two hours with my cell phone.  I’ve printed them out along with pictures of a lot of other guys.  I’m going to show you pairs of pictures – one will be him and one will be someone else.  Feel the two pictures with your fingers and then guess which picture is him.” 

“OK,  but I can tell you right now….”  The vendor’s voice trailed off. 

Armando put the first pair of pictures on the table, with the picture of the rookie on the left.  “All right, which one is him?” 

The vendor briefly touched each of the two pieces of paper then, pointing to one on the right, he said “this one.”  

The process was repeated for a total of ten pairs, with the rookie’s picture sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left.   

“That’s all for the moment.  You relax and I’ll be right back.  Do you want some coffee or a bottle of water when I come back?”

“No, I’m good, thanks.”   

Armando then left the interrogation room, shutting the door behind him, and entered the observation room next door.  “Well, as we suspected, our blind witness can see,” he announced to the captain who was sitting in the semi-darkness, leaning back with his feet propped up on the sill of the one way mirror screen. 

“So he was able to identify the rookie with his fingers?”

“No.  He never correctly identified him, not even once.” 

“Wait a minute.  If he never identified the rookie, that’s ten errors in a row.  Doesn’t that mean that he is blind and that his sense of touch didn’t compensate?” 

“Nope, exactly the opposite.  First of all, his sense of touch is irrelevant – I mentioned that just to keep him cooperating.  Nobody believes that touch could offset loss of vision.  But if I had told him I was doing a vision test he would have fought back and maybe even refused.  This was really a vision test.  If he truly couldn’t see, he would have to guess on each pair.  He would get some right just by guessing.  In fact if he were guessing, he’d probably be right about half of the time and wrong about half of the time.   He wasn’t.  He has to be able to see to do that badly.  And another thing:  did you notice he didn’t even ask how he did?  He already knew how poorly he did. ” 

“Well, I’ll be damned!” the captain growled.”  “So the little liar could see all along.”  He rose from his chair, and headed for the door.  “That is enough of this crap.  When I get through with the little jerk, he’ll identify the shooter, and then we’ll see what we can hang on him for using his ‘blindness’ to get permission to set up that newsstand.”  Copying Armando’s earlier move, he punctuated the sentence with a set of air quotation marks around the word “‘blindness.”  “And I’ll just bet that the VA will want to talk to him about making a fraudulent claim to collect a pension for a service-connected disability.”

Armando stopped the captain in the hallway before he got to the door of the interrogation room.  Noting that the veins on the captain’s neck were distended again, he framed what he was about to say very carefully.  “As Joan Rivers used to say, ‘can we talk?’” 

The captain paused – he had worked up a full head of steam and wanted someone to blow up on.  “What, then?” It was more of a comment than a question.

Armando began.  “I don’t think we ought to confront him.  His value to us is that he can identify the killer.  It’ll take some time but we can probably find out who that cabron was.  We’ll put pix of the Federales’  list of suspects in front of him.  Our witness will consistently fail to identify the real killer, because it is in his interest to fail to identify him.  He doesn’t want to be the guy that fingered a morally-defective  asesino who shot down a cop over here in broad daylight.  Pictures of other guys, he could care less, because they aren’t a threat, so he’ll pick among them in a comparatively random fashion.  So over a lot of pairs of pictures, it’ll play out that one guy will never be chosen.  Everybody else will be chosen some of the time.  Our assailant will be the pinche culero who’s never chosen.” He noticed that more Spanish was creeping into his speech as he went along.

The captain shifted from one foot to another as he pondered this development.  “So, we can get an ID without confronting this newspaper seller.  I’ll grant that you might pull it off – it’s consistent with what we saw a few minutes ago – but isn’t going directly at him a more efficient way?” 

Armando cleared his throat and began to answer the captain.  “Put yourself in his shoes.  Confronting him will only result in him becoming more defensive.  Remember, this is a guy who believes that he really is blind.  This is how he gets through the day.  It won’t matter how many times you yell at him that he can see, it isn’t going  to convince him that it is true.    Everything he can tell us has to come out indirectly, without him knowing he’s helping us.  If he even suspects he’s been ‘found out,’ he’ll ‘sull up’ just like a donkey and we’ll never land our guy.” It was now Armando’s turn to draw attention to certain words by enclosing them in air quotation marks. 

The captain was quiet for close to a minute.  “This psychological stuff always leaves me cold, but as I said a minute ago, it might be right.  There’s only one problem with your plan, if this is really a plan.  If he doesn’t know he’s helping us identify the killer, what happens when we get into court – isn’t he going to have to testify then?”

“That’s a matter that concerns me.  You’re right on target when you say that to get this guy convicted, the vendor’s gonna have to testify, and if he does, his world comes crashing down around his ears.  The assassin will be after him, and we know he won’t hesitate to kill him if he gets half a chance.  And, even if we could put the assassin away, his friends from across the river might decide to seek venganza.  And even if they didn’t, the guy stands to lose his pension and his newsstand.  Bottom line:  he’s never going to cooperate.”

The captain’s anger was turning to frustration.  “Where’s this story leading?”

“Well, I think he can help us accomplish some of our goals without his ever knowing it.  If he identifies the shooter, we put out a BOLO all along the border.  Most likely that has the effect of keeping him on the other side of the river.  I don’t know about you, but I’d consider it a good thing if we keep this fight in someone else’s back yard.  Keeping him away is not the same as putting him away, but it is a step in the right direction.  Even more, it might lower this guy’s standing in the familia.”

“So what?”

La familia has been really careful so far to not get crossways with authorities on this side.  Some of them even send their families up here to keep them out of harm’s way.   My guess is that they are not happy that he decided to do the dastardly deed on this side.  From their point of view, the bad news is that he came close to upsetting the apple cart.  The good news is that he only took out a Mexican official and that we don’t know who the shooter was.  If something or somebody disturbs the equilibrium, the modus vivendi,  the big shots on the other side aren’t going to be pleased.”

“So your bottom line is, first, the vendor can’t or won’t help us convict but, second, without knowing it he can help us restore some semblance of peace in our territory.”  As he spoke, the captain used his fingers to count off the elements of the summary.

Si, senor.”

“Well, I think you’re right.  It stinks but it may be the best we can do.  I got over being too principled a long time ago – you sometimes have to hold your nose and do what you can.  Go ahead and do your thing.  Don’t spread it around what we’re doing.  If we get a break, we can re-open the case.”

Sus deseos son ordenes.” 

 

 

Two weeks later, just after shift change, Armando stuck his head in the glass cubicle that passed for the captain’s office.  “Captain, you got a minute?” 

“Yeah. What’s on your mind?”

“Did you hear about our latest homicide?  It’s got some features you might be interested in.  First of all, it has some of the trademarks of the cartel, the main one being that the victim was beheaded.  We don’t know where the rest of him is.  His cuerpo may turn up but I’d bet against it.  Why? you may ask.   I think the head is a message.  They found it in a box on the step of the Federal Building.  The victim looks a bit like the BOLO we put out about two weeks ago.  And no one has paid much attention to it but it was wrapped in an old newspaper.  The headline reads, ‘Cartel war spreads.’”

 Raymond Baird is Professor of Psychology and Senior Associate Dean at the University of Texas, San Antonio. He specializes in psychology and the law, including research on memory errors of witnesses to crimes. His previous writing has included published research articles, paper presentations for scientific conferences, and the occasional bit of poetry

 

 

Jerry Rogers

Finally, to Ride a Horse

 

When I was 11 years old I lived in a fantasy world of cowboys and horses. I had a friend who was in my class at school and had horses. He invited me over one day to ride. I was thrilled and when I got there the horses were saddled and ready to be ridden. I got on my horse and it took off running across a field. All I had to do was hold the reins with one hand and the saddle horn with the other hand.

I pretended I was a pony express rider and held onto the saddle horn with both hands while standing beside the horse. The horse took off running and I lifted my legs so my feet were off the ground. Then I let my feet hit the ground and I was thrown up on to the horse perfectly into the saddle as the horse ran across the field. I did this several times. Wow, just like in the movies! I hadn’t even had a remote thought that I wouldn’t be able to do the pony express mount, absolutely not an ounce of fear. Pure elation!

We rode for only a short time and my parents came to pick me up. I wanted to show them how I could ride a horse. The horse took off running in the dirt along the side of the road. As my friend and I approached a corner on our running horses, mine slipped on solid concrete where a gas station used to stand. The horse fell with me still in the saddle. The full weight of the horse landed on my left leg. The horse managed to get up quickly and I was able to stand up but my left leg really hurt.

We let the horses walk back to my friend’s house where my parents were waiting in their car for me. I told them that the horse fell on me and my leg really hurt. I can’t remember what they said, if anything. I do  remember them looking at each other with a shocked look on their faces. When we got home my parents had me lie down and elevate my leg. I was in bed about two days when our landlord came to visit us. The landlord walked with a stiff leg. He found out what had happened to me and warned my parents that if they didn’t get me to a doctor I might have a stiff leg the rest of my life, just like him. We were poor and had no medical insurance but the next day my parents took me to a doctor and he X-rayed my knee.

I didn’t get enough riding. All my life I wanted to ride again. At my young age I knew that I couldn’t ask my parents for anything (we were living in a garage, we were so poor). Anything I wanted I had to find a way to get it myself. We moved to a new town only a few months later and that ended my horse days.

I knew that if I wanted to ride a horse again I would have to buy a horse ranch. That seems a little unrealistic to an adult but to it child it was the only way I thought I could ride a horse again. This immature thought stayed with me well into my adult life, in fact, until a month ago. I finally thought more adult-like and said to myself – self, just find a horse to rent with a guide. I found a lady who, for a set fee, would show me how to get the horse ready to ride and would take me for an hour ride along the Santa Ana River bed. She would do this if she had two paying riders. I negotiated with her, and she agreed to take only me if it was during the week.

Here is how it went: I arrived and had to sign some release of liability forms. Then I met the horse, “Toby.” First I had to get into the corral with Toby. The instructor showed me how to put a temporary halter on Toby and tie him to the corral fence. I had to use a curry brush on the entire horse and then afterward brush him with a soft brush. Then I had to clean Toby’s hooves. One at a time, I lifted Toby’s legs so that I could dig the dirt from each hoof. After that I put the saddle blanket and the saddle on Toby. Then came the regular riding halter with a bit.

All the time I was preparing Toby to ride, my instructor was getting her horse ready. We hand-led the horses about 200 yards. I was told to walk at least even with the horse’s eyes or in front of him. If not, Toby would have thought that he was going to lead, to be in charge. We used some wooden steps to mount the horses. We began to walk the horses toward the Santa Ana River bed. At one point we had to go up a short steep hill. I was instructed to lean forward until the horse got up the hill. Toby walked slower than the instructor’s horse. So she told me I was going to have to tell Toby to trot. Well, I said, “Toby trot! Toby trot!” Finally, Toby decided to let me be the boss.

The ride lasted for an hour and a half. When we got back to the corral and dismounted, I had to unsaddle and brush down Toby where the saddle had been and take the bridle off and turn Toby loose to just be.

I have now fulfilled my fantasy without having to buy a horse ranch. The dollars that I spent are immaterial. The experience was priceless. Now when I think about riding a horse it’s very realistic.

 

Gerald “Jerry” Rogers died August 8, 2011. He was a friend to many, especially in the mental health field, where he not only received help, but gave it to many, many others. He was a teller of stories and this reflection, which he wrote, is reminiscent of the stories he told, which were personal, interesting and wise.

 

 

 

 

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