My Mother the Horse-Horse

By Craig J. Clark

Mother always loved her horses. And as with her sons, she always had a clear favorite among them. Having a favorite, however, didn’t preclude her from buying new horses whenever the mood struck her, as it often did.

An acquisitive person by nature, Mother was fortunate in that she had married early to a man of considerable wealth. That he met his end while out riding in the country one day didn’t hinder her horse-purchasing habit one bit. It did put a crimp in her son-siring habit, though.

From a young age, I understood that as a mere bipedal creature -- even if I were her favorite bipedal creature -- I would never hold the same place in her heart as her ever-growing stable of horses. That’s why I took to animal cruelty so readily.

My brothers didn’t join me in my exploits, but they knew of them and since they never told Mother I always took that as a sign that they tacitly approved, that they too tired of taking second place to our equine siblings.

Yes, Mother referred to her horses as our siblings, much as a matron of more modest means would refer to the family cat or dog. In one sense it unnerved me, but in another it galvanized me as I conjured up petty tortures and arcane acts of cruelty. After all, one has to expect a little sibling rivalry in a family as large as ours.

I reserved the most vicious attacks for Mother’s favorite, however. His name was Charles. I once asked the stable master how old Charles was and was struck to the core by the answer. In all my years I had thought the horse had been named after me, but it turned out to be the other way around. This revelation made me hate it all the more.

I would recount all of the suffering that I visited upon my namesake, but I realize there are laws and the statute of limitations probably hasn’t run out on some of my crimes, even if the beast itself has passed on. That wasn’t my fault, though, much as I would like it to have been.

I was away at college when Charles was put down. A broken leg, I heard. I also heard that Mother insisted on shooting Charles herself. If I had known about it, I would have had one of my brothers videotape it for me. As it is, I have to imagine the agonized thrashing, the deafening gunshot, the dull thud as Charles laid his head down on the ground for the last time.

Everyone but me predicted that the death of her beloved would turn Mother away from horses, that she would sell the stables and its occupants. I knew better. In fact, I’ve heard that she recently purchased a young stallion that she has taken to calling Charles II. The next time I’m home for break, we shall have to get better acquainted.


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Disturbing story.

Animal cruelty always struck me as being utterly disgusting.
Hypocritically of me, I still eat meat!
Yay meat!

I think that a description or a glossing over of one of Charles' (the biped) cruel acts would have pushed his hatred/contempt for horses a bit more to the forefront. I was asking myself, 'what exactly did he do?'. If he would have broken the horse-Charles' leg, that would have been interesting. I'm not one for animal cruelty, but Charles is, and he seems proud of it, so maybe a little bragging of his deeds or feeling he gets from doing such acts would have made him more unlikeable. I like unlikeable characters.

That being said, the prose is quite smooth, and your word choices click and fit nicely.

Carnivores unite!

I thought about having the narrator describe one of his acts of cruelty, or maybe even just list them, but decided to leave them up to the reader's imagination.

As for what he has in mind for Charles II, remember he says they'll get acquainted "the next time I'm home for break."

That's the most serious and disturbing thing I've ever read by you, Craig. It still has its funny moments, but it's a bit harrowing. I like the idea of the character being named after the horse. It makes the mother seem all the more insane.

I wonder what drove the mother to this brand of insanity. That itself would be another interesting story.

Yeah, I don't know where exactly this story came from, but when I delve into the dark side of human nature, I don't just dip my toe in. I also wanted to keep it short and to the point, so I deliberately avoided dialogue, which is where my more overt humor generally resides.

I like the idea of a story about the mother, but I'll have to think on it first. In the meantime, I'm formulating one from the perspective of the second son. It will probably also be a little dark.

Hey, this story, though imaginative, leaves a lot for the reader to infer. I didn't get a clear sense of the reason why Charles was fixated on abusing his mother's horses or who his mother was to deserve such treatment. Also, it would have been helpful to have described atleast one of the abusive incidents as Charles' methods of torture would have given a vital window into his character which is lacking at this point. What it actually felt like to me was that you were just testing the water with something "terrible" and "shocking" in order to divine the consequences of revealing your own dimented thoughts. The thing moves along as if it were a coffee shop annecdote without really exploring the gravity of Charles' jealously or his mother's passion for creatures which she could mold into beings devoid of free will rather than her sons which would remain human no matter what she did. I actually had a hard time feeling anything about the mother. She is never described in anyway that makes her seem out of the ordinary. There are hints that she may have an unhealthy way of handling the world, but they are never explored. This makes the readers unable to hate the mother and reduces Charles to someone much like a nervous little boy who secretly masturbates under his blankets every night simply because he knows his parents do not approve. However, I do like the almost clinical feel that this story is approaching. The violence here as well as Charles' indifference to what happens to his namesake suggest a medical perspective on violence, which I thoroughly enjoy. To clarify my meaning, violence that is described in a clinical manner is described with the detachment and precision with which a doctor might describe the victim of some accident. Clinical descriptions of violence are a great way to convey dementia and instill a sense of foreboding in the reader. Try reading Choke, by Chuck Palahnick, for a clear idea of what clinical/medical descriptions of violence look like.

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This page contains a single entry by Craig J. Clark published on October 13, 2005 7:40 AM.

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