User:Erastus/Serving the Sentence - Part 3
Serving the Sentence - Part 3/14
In her slow, plodding walk, the mare made her way down the ravine. David was hungry, but had nothing with him to eat. After twenty minutes by his watch, the mouth of the ravine appeared. Beyond it was an empty rolling plain.
Shortly after the horse stepped into the plain, a man came riding up up to David and the horse, shouting as he came. He was obviously a local, though dressed a bit fancier than most of the local men with his horse decked out with similarly fancy trappings. This one definitely had a saddle, not like the one David was riding. David didn't understand what the man said as it was all in Mongolian.
As the man got close, David decided it would be better to be on the ground. He managed to slide off the horse's back, but didn't nail the landing and ended up on his butt. Ah well, he was off. He got to his feet to face the man as he set the radio back on his head.
Much to his surprise, the man didn't approach David. He got off his own mount and faced the horse that David had ridden. It sounded as though the man was gearing up for a mighty argument with hands gesturing wildly and an aggressive stance. But with a horse?
Much more to David's surprise, the horse talked back! It was a sweet, rich feminine voice that seemed to manage the Mongolian language effortlessly. A horse that talks? Whatever she was saying, she said it with as much vigor and volume as the man. She pawed at the ground as if to emphasize a point or two and her ears went back and her tail swished wildly. If David hadn't been hearing the voice come out of a horse's mouth, he could easily have imagined the two were husband and wife in the moment before the dishes started flying.
David's radio crackled. Amos was saying, "... there? David! Come in please! Are you there?"
As soon as Amos took a breath, David said, "I'm here."
"Good to hear you. What's your GPS?"
"Hold on." David pulled his locator out of its holder and read off the coordinates.
"Got it," said Amos. "We're still above the escarpment. There is a road nearby that will get us down. We should be there in a few moments. What's all that racket?"
"You're just going to say that I'm now hearing things. You know, a bump on the head? You might as well wait and see for yourself."
The man turned to face David, though he stayed near the horses. He began to sing. After a moment, David decided it wasn't quite singing, it didn't exactly have a melody. It seemed somewhere between song and chant. What is this? Am I trapped in some kind of Mongolian musical? The man won his argument and now gets to sing about it?
It became almost hilarious as it appeared the horse wasn't quite done arguing and kept interrupting the song. The man would have to break off singing to answer her.
David heard the jeep approach and turned to see it come along the face of the escarpment. He waved and turned back to the singer.
The jeep pulled up alongside. Piet was driving this time. "Come on, David. Hop in."
David leaned over to peer in. "Hi guys. Glad you found me. This is incredible," he said, waving towards the man and horse. "That horse can talk!"
"Sure it can," said Jack. "You've obviously been out in the sun way too long, not to mention delusional from a head wound. Get in the jeep."
"No, no. The horse really spoke!"
"Come on David," said Zane with exasperation, "the sooner we get you in the car, the sooner you can get treated."
"I keep telling you I'm fine!" David backed up when he saw Zane's hand come toward the window. They'd have to get out of the jeep now.
"That does it!" Piet yelled as he shut off the motor and yanked off his seatbelt. A moment later, Piet was standing beside the jeep with his mouth hanging open as he stared at the horse.
The horse really was talking! Actually arguing. Right there, just a couple meters in front of the jeep. The man's song had been interrupted again. It soon resumed.
Now that the engine was off the others could hear it too. Amos and Jack got out of the far side of the jeep to listen and Zane came up beside Piet. All four mouths hung open.
"See? I told you I was fine!" said David.
"We're still gonna get your head checked," said Amos, absently.
They listened for a few minutes. "Anybody have an idea what the words mean?" asked Zane.
"The only one that knows Mongolian is Chaz," said Piet.
They listened for another moment. "Just think kid. You get to hear a real slice of Mongolian culture." said Amos.
"It's kinda neat," said David. "I wish I knew what it meant. I wonder why no one heard of Mongolian talking horses before."
"Is that all you have to say?" asked Jack. "It's kinda neat? Your brain has truly been fried. This is a talking horse! Start talking to agents! Get them on David Letterman as a Stupid Pet Trick! Fool kid." Jack muttered several profanities.
"We need to be getting back to camp," said Piet. "Rose will have lunch ready soon. Her food is so much better hot than it is cold."
"And leave a Talking Horse meal-ticket just standing there? Where's your phone?"
"It's not going to be that simple," said Piet. "What agent is going to take your word for it? Besides, you can call from camp."
"We at least have to take a picture of this guy so we can find him again. Then we can get Chaz here to talk about coming to America."
Amos took several photos of the man and the two horses. The man had stopped singing and had a wolfish grin on his face. The five of them got back into the jeep with Zane moving over to make room for David.
As soon as David grabbed the doorframe to get into the jeep, the Mongolian started shouting and walking towards the jeep. The horse also stepped forward and tripped the man, sending him sprawling against the hood and bumper. David froze halfway in, eyeing the man carefully. The man recovered his balance and began to climb onto the hood and began to sing again. The menace in his eyes frightened David who quickly climbed in and shut the door.
To their amazement, the horse began to sing too! The Mongolian turned to her and waved and shouted, but she ignored him. After a moment, he returned his attention to the men in the jeep and his own eerie song.
Piet started the motor, but was unsure what to do next. The Mongolian merely knelt on the hood and sang. It wasn't really a good idea to put the jeep in motion with the man kneeling there, but the menace Piet saw was spooking him.
"How could this guy not feel the heat from the hood?" said Amos. "Is he that intent on his song? I don't think he's singing about the joys of Mongolia."
"Let's get out of here," said Jack. His tone implied he felt it too.
Piet didn't want to hurt the man, so started backing up slowly. The Mongolian kept his position for a moment, then slid off. He didn't interrupt his song. Neither did the horse.
Once the man was off, Piet gunned it. Their backward motion kicked up sand at the Mongolian who kept right on singing.
It was obvious they were not going to be followed, so Piet spun the jeep around and took off along the escarpment.
"Man, that was weird," said Amos. He turned so he could see Jack. "Still want to get an agent for this guy?"
"No," was Jack's quick reply. "He's way too creepy even for me."
Amos looked over at David. "You OK kid?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"Maybe that'll get some sense into that thick brain of yours," said Jack. "Keep you from doing fool things like wandering away." Jack continued on his tirade, to which David rolled his eyes and then tuned out.
After Jack wound down, the conversation ran on for a few moments about talking horses and creepy locals, then slowed to a halt. Amos put the topographical map back across his lap and tapped their position with a finger. It started to rain, developing quickly into a downpour. "I thought Chaz said it wasn't going to rain today," muttered Piet as he turned on the wipers.
Zane glanced at David, who looked completely lost in thought. "Hey kid, what are you thinking about?" asked Zane.
"Huh?" said David. His mind was obviously a million miles away.
"Are you sure you're OK? Not suffering from too much sun or that bump on the head?"
"I keep saying I'm OK," said David. "Nobody listens."
"So what were you thinking about so hard?"
"Clydesdales," David said absently.
"Clydesdales?" asked Zane, surprised. "The beer commercial horses?"
"After spending the morning on that black and brown mare, you are thinking of Clydesdales?"
"They were my favorite horses when I was little, not that I ever got a chance to ride one. Today was the first horse ride of my life," said David. "I think I got the hang of it by the time I got off."
Zane wasn't quite sure what to ask next and within a few seconds, David looked lost in thought again. "So," said Zane. David glanced at him. "Do you think lunch will be any good?"
"When was the last time it any good?" growled Jack.
The question didn't seem to penetrate David's brain. The zoned out expression continued. "David?" prompted Zane. Maybe the bump had affected his brain in spite of his protest to the contrary.
With effort, David roused himself. "I think what I like best about Clydesdales is the shaggy hair around the hoof." David was quiet for a second. "That and how the shaggy part is white in contrast with the rest of the body."
It was time for another tactic, thought Zane. "David, can you tell us anything about the ravine? Was there much water in it?"
David looked at him strangely for a moment. "Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a horse?"
"Can't say that I have," said Zane.
"Cut the foolishness kid, we need to know what that ravine is like!" said Jack, his voice getting loud.
David ignored him. He didn't even roll his eyes. Zane said, "Cool it Jack. Something strange is going on here. This isn't a good time to hassle the kid." Zane turned back to watch David.
Amos pulled out his phone and dialed, "Ah, Rose. Amos here. I think David is beginning to suffer from his head wound. Could you ask Lily to be available to meet us when we drive up? Thanks, dear. Bye."
"A horse is so big and strong," said David in a dreamy voice. "It can gallop so fast. I wonder what it would be like to be that big and strong."
"You can get to be strong by playing a sport like a real man,' said Jack. "A runt like you will never be big."
Zane put an edge in his voice. "I said cool it!"
Jack had a frown on his face and was ready with a comeback when David spoke again. "Have you ever wanted to gallop into the wind with your mane and tail flying out behind you? Just enjoy the freedom? The exhilaration?"
David paused for a moment. Zane glared at Jack. Jack glared back but kept his mouth shut. The wipers, even at top speed, seemed to do little against the rain. Amos could see the concern on Piet's face in trying to decide between hurrying for David's sake and driving safely.
David said, "Since I told you about my favorite horse, what's yours?"
"Thoroughbred," blurted Piet. He seemed surprised. A moment later, with much more deliberateness he said, "Yeah, Thoroughbred. I hadn't thought about it in years, but I was fascinated by race horses when I was a kid." He paused. "Thanks for reminding me, David." Another pause. "I think the kid is right. Galloping across the plains sounds pretty good right now. It would sure beat being stuck in this old jeep bouncing along on this excuse of a road and trying to see through this rain. Chaz really missed the weather report this time."
After a long silence, Zane said, "I've been thinking about how much I liked the stately quarter horse, the noble mount of the American Cowboy. A real man's job." He smirked at Jack. Jack frowned back. Zane paused for a moment. "I wonder what it would be like to be harnessed to a stagecoach? I'd use my strength to open the prairie."
"You guys got it all wrong," said Jack. "Ain't no horse better than the Arabian. That one has them all beat on strength, speed, and style. Ya need a horse bred by those noble men of the desert."
Zane said, "No, Jack, you're the one that's got it all wr-" About then, Zane saw the look in Jack's eyes. Jack didn't care if his claims were accurate, but he was quite willing to defend his views. Zane wasn't interested in a fight, even a verbal one.
They were all quiet for a moment, listening to the rain.
"Guys, this is really weird," said Amos. "I barely knew what a horse was as a kid. I've hardly seen one since. I've never had a favorite breed and don't know any of the ones you all have mentioned. I do know the beer commercial horses, but didn't know the name. In short, I know next to nothing about horses and don't care to learn. So why is it ever since Piet started talking about his favorite I've had an image of a black and white horse floating behind my eyelids? I never knew horses were colored like that. I'm sure I've never seen one."
"You mean a zebra?" asked Piet.
"Nah, not stripes. This horse has splotches."
"Sounds like a Pinto or a Paint," said Zane.
"I've heard of a Pinto car," said Amos. "There really is a kind of horse called Paint?"
"Sure is," said Zane.
Amos closed his eyes for a moment. "Yeah, I can see it. I see a white horse that looks like it was splattered with a can of black paint." He paused. "Or maybe it's the other way around." He paused again. "But that still doesn't answer my question. I didn't know this kind of horse exists. Why do I see it in my head?"
No one had an answer.
"We're not just talking about horses to humor David, are we?" said Amos with a bit of alarm. After a pause, when no one commented, Amos went on, "I wonder what it would be like to have a rider?"
"That sounds way too kinky. A real man would not let himself be ridden," said Jack.
Amos pounced on an opportunity to tease Jack. "Maybe so, but I think you would look great wearing leather straps." He winked at David.
Even David laughed at that one as Jack bellowed, "That's not funny!" They laughed a bit harder when Jack got a strange expression on his face that seemed to imply leather straps wouldn't be so bad, come to think of it.
The laughter subsided and the jeep became quiet. Even the rain had tapered off.
Then Jack said, "The Arabian is still the better horse."
Lily was waiting when the jeep pulled into camp. David knew it was futile to evade her, so went to the medical tent willingly, avoiding rain puddles along the way. The rest of those in the team followed out of concern and were soon joined by Professor.
Lily examined David's head as she said, "So what happened that made Amos so concerned?"
"He didn't believe me when I told him a horse found me in the ravine and started pushing me around and then when I told him the horse sang and also when he thought I was daydreaming about Clydesdales."
Lily glanced at Amos. He nodded. Lily said, "I understand his concern. There aren't any bumps or scratches on your head. We had better check reflexes." She got out a penlight to check for proper dilation in his eyes. "Did the rest of you hear singing?"
Piet glanced at the others before daring to answer, "Yeah. Female voice out of a horse." Jack looked like he didn't want to admit it, but he nodded with the others.
Lily checked David's knee reflexes and a half dozen other things as she asked, "And the daydreaming?"
David jumped in. "I don't know why they were picking on me 'cause Piet thought pretty hard about Thoroughbreds, Amos thought about Paints, Zane thought about quarterhorses, and Jack thinks the Arabian is better than the others."
Amos said, "So you were paying attention, kid." David nodded.
"I don't see anything wrong," said Lily, "though you might want to take it easy this afternoon." She turned to the other men. "If you heard a horse sing too, I had better check you over as well." She saw protests start to develop. "But it can wait until after lunch."
"I think," said Professor, as the group turned to go, "you had better take a moment to tell me all about your little adventure."
Amos sighed and began to talk.