Hooves, hooves hitting dry, baked earth carries further than any sound, registers to those, even, who report, with confidence, “I heard nothing.” There was no sound this time.” Some of them say, “There was some sort of noise, or static.” Another predictable subset makes stabs at identification: “I heard something like a waterfall,” “Cheering,” “A factory .” One person said, “a machine gunner wiping out an enemy platoon.” Another suggested, “It sounds like beating eggs in a metal bowl, but from the other room. Someone else is making breakfast.” No one said, “galloping, it’s a pony on the move,” which is good, because then the data would be no good, the manipulation not subliminal.
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We didn’t even have to wait for the stars or the moon to tickle our eyes. George, Rubens, and the rest of the gang must attend their nightly meeting. They call each other to the usual spot just outside the city limits of Bigfoot. The evening sky seemed to choke:
What is the itinerary for tonight? Some bunny play, gopher play, maybe house dog in the middle. Or egg hunting, that is always a fun one. Digging, we must do some digging. Even if we don’t have much to talk about, we need to hang out quietly to make the meeting seem long and important for those brave souls who dare to play during our time. My friends, you know the drill.
By now their presence slips our mind. We have Prometheus going quite strong after the typical nightly scare that he might decide to bail on us (more on Prometheus in an upcoming feature). Our attention crawls towards Club Bubbly. We love the lighting there and all the various stimulants that line the walls. The type of relationship we have with Club Bubbly executives is unlike any other. We can walk in any night we please regardless of the capacity. There is always a private booth waiting for us with a constant flow of drinks, none of which we need to pay for. This relationship is not the superficial type one might think of at most clubs where a regular client’s obese wallet is the reason for pseudo-royal treatment. The moment that wallet gets its physical condition in check, the relationship is dead. Nor are we celebrities who’s presence is appreciated due to the draw of social peasants the celebrity status seems to create. No no, my friend, once that celebrity status slips from A down to B, and from B to C, and so on, the relationship is dead. Our relationship is unlike any other. It exists because we are loved, and we love. Our performances at the Poplar Ink tournaments prove nothing less. This relationship, unlike any other, cannot be taken away under any circumstances.
The excitement and anticipation of Club Bubbly is interrupted by the signal of the Coyote meeting coming to an end. They get on their way, howling, yelping, trying to out-do and intimidate other gangs. We sit and listen though. We try to interpret their games, but it’s impossible with the chaotic back-and-forth calling. It’s distracting, dizzying, and causes our logical, structured minds to fall unbalanced. We have to give in to primal urges that we have tucked away in deep dark closets never to be seen by societies high standards. We fall to the earth. The same place we came from. Our spirit leaves us, and the Coyote move in.
Pogo looks back at me warily. I suck in my cheeks and grimace, determined if not confident.
“Oh, Pogo, we’ve got to go. It’s cold out and storming, no night for travel, I know. Come along, Pogo, let’s go.” Pogo snorts and shakes his mane, sending a spray in the last of the firelight.
We set off, clippity cloppity. Clippity cloppity. Every now and then thunder overcomes Pogo’s hooves, so it’s clippity cloppity BOOM BOOM clippity cloppity, clippity cloppity, clippity clop-BOOM BOOM. And lightning slashes through right before these big sounds, bright and close.
“C’mon, get along, Pogo!” I urge because Pogo seems to shy and lurch. Mesquite shadows reach out for Pogo’s hocks every time that lightning strikes, twisted and thorny. “Come along, buddy!” And we go, clippity cloppity, clippity cloppity over the cold, scraggly waste, running with rivulets.
This rain hardly falls, it lashes about in the wind. It comes from the east, from the north, from the west, not from straight up. It falls in early summer, it’s for the ground. This rain just hisses in from the north then goes wild, stinging faces and beating at the sides of things, like cows and courthouses and jails. I think I see the hills, but it wasn’t the hills in this dark, not yet. The feeling that I’ve been staring with the devil creeps all over me. “Get on, Pogo.” Pogo clip clops along, looking down and abused.
Clippity cloppity. Clippity cloppity. Clippity cloppity. BOOM BOOM. Clippi- “Ho-a, Pogo.” In the flash, the closest oak had stood skeletal, stalwart in the storm, fanning out for centuries. Slowing, we approached the thick cover of the blackjacks, clip clop, clip clop. Under the canopy, the wind and rain dissipated, replaced by a closer mess of hooves pushing through leaves. Looping vines and low branches strike out in a quick flash. BOOM BOOM. The storm is outside now, really. So, we go slow. Clip clop. Clip clop through this oak stand, where mesquite and cacti rarely grow.
When we reach a clearing (for it’s clear that the oak forest reaches further on), it’s apparent that we’ve passed the storm. It’s clear, the sky swept clean and the moon bright, the air a thrill. “See, Pogo,” I chatter, slapping down his neck with a good rub, messing his mane. He shakes his forelock, excited. “Hey, look, ol’ pal!” There’s a cabin and shed tucked into the northwest corner of the clearing. We clip clop right up, and I slide down, leaving Pogo to stomp and snort. I want to check things out.
This is good! As good, no, better than it looked. “Pogo! There’s hay, hell, fresh grass and grain! Good water, and wood cut and dry. I think there’s food for me, too, buddy. This could be the best of luck!” I set about getting Pogie ready for rest, and have just got a well-placed stove in the barn roaring when it occurs to me that there might as well be whiskey in the cabin. Hunters stash whiskey, there sure as hell is whiskey in there!
Sure enough, there is. A fire cracks and exhales just right at my feet, and I hold the bottle to the darting light. I see wonders. The shadows across my face, I can nearly feel them. Sudden panic tears at my gut. Pogo! My eyes dart about, then settle under their lids. “Oh, Pogo is wonderful, like me.” I see him, munching away, fresh hay twitching out of both sides of his demurely gyrating jaw. I lean back, creaking in the leather-upholstered rocker. I blink at the ceiling-beam. My body tingles like I’ve been brushed by the devil. I lean forward, jabbing a poker into a wandering log. Little sparks gather and whirl up the stovepipe.
My coat is still on, so is my hat. Noting this, I stash the bottle under the chair and clammer outside. Opening the door, a big silence stands in my face. I noisily, on purpose, noisily, shuffle to the shed and duck inside. Pogo turns to face me, the picture of contentment. His tail swishes this way and that, slowly, nothing to bat away. “Howdy, Pogo.” Since everything is in order, I just say, “Just wanted to say, howdy.” I’m looking down, but I look up at the “howdy.” Suddenly I’m back at the door to the cabin. I go in quickly.
I make cornbread because everything necessary is there. While it cooks, I shove the little cot closer to the stove, displacing the rocker, but not the bottle because I’d already removed that. I settle in, the cornbread within reach on the rocker, and start to slowly feed myself. Between mouthfuls, I recite something I’ve got memorized. It’s always Second Timothy. I learned it as a child since was one of the shorter gospels.
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful. He cannot deny himself.
I kept on with the rehearsal, but I was thinking of Jesus and his burro. I thought of Pogo, my pony, and I. I wondered if we’d feel kinship, Jesus and I, because of Pogo and the burro. “I don’t suffer,” I say, looking around. I’m not sure if I’m denying Him, though. I’m chomping on some cornbread when it occurs to me that I’ve stopped the recitation, and I mull over the implications like I’m chewing a cud. Inevitability and fate cover me like a blanket, and the sheltering forest and warm accomodations reach out to assure me. “Out of such a storm!” I think, bunching up around the pillow, “such bliss.” Comforted like Timothy, I know communion with Him is peace and warmth despite the cold and the rain, despite the terror and horror of the flight. Pogo sleeps well, a sure and protecting hand resting on his heart like mine. Sleep envelops me like peach cobbler around a gnat.
The next morning is bright and only slightly brisk. Dandelions and bluebonnets cover the clearing, marked here and there with bunches of indian paintbrush. I take several deep breaths, looking about and gleaming, before I go to check on Pogo. He’s doing well. He tosses his head, and a quick look at the feedpan and leaf of hay confirms that he’s had breakfast and more.
“Pogo!” I scratch between his eyes and blow into his mane. “C’mon, little fellow!” I open the gate to his stall and out he goes, clip clop clip clippity cloppity into the clearing, tail just sticking straight up. He traces a tight, barrel-racing circle and lets loose a few bucks on the straight-away back towards me. I’m laughing. I feel like Pogo, we’re both so happy. I give him a rough and loving brush-down before slapping his haunches and sending him off for another run. I chuckle and head back towards the cabin, thinking, “there’s no sense leaving here until tomorrow.”
Inside, I find dried beans and chillis. After poking about a bit, I find everything I need and compose a nice pot of chili. Setting it on the stove, I wander outside, rolling a cigarette as I do so. I light up, looking about for Pogo through half-closed eyes. Not seeing the pony, I saunter around back of the cabin and look around.
“Pogo!?” But no sign. I start following the edge of the clearing. Close by, in the northeast corner, I see a hoof jutting into the sunlight. A sweet panic comes over me, and I call out, “Pogo!” knowing full well that ponies don’t nap in the shade. I rush to Pogo, but I startle back. The pony looks in agony, twisted from the inside. “Pogo,” I whisper, leaning but not moving forward. I stand and stamp out the cigarette. I look about. I scan the tops of the gathered oaks. They’re full of buzzards. I vomit and weep.
Back in the rocker, the bottle has melted. I’m sweating and it’s getting hotter. It gets hotter and breathing is just like drinking whiskey, and I’m tired, but by this point I’m sure I’ll not be sleeping. Not ever.
We all know not to trust European pop music, or we should. As the finals for the 2009 Eurovision contest, to be held in Moscow this year, draw near, Americans should take note not only of their inability to influence the outcome but also of the true impact of Eurovision on our communities and lives. Although we should all be quite used to facing the consequences of ‘democratic’-type processes, Eurovision poses a special threat. It can summon the forces of nature. It has before, and it will do it again. There is an eight-year lag, so sometimes the connection is hard to make. So, I’ll leave you all, doubters most of you I bet, with some pretty legit proof:
1997 Eurovision winning group: Katrina and the Waves…flash forward eight years: