This is Part 2 of 4, and the beginning of the story entitled Horse of Daydreams, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. For Part 1, and the backstory, click on the link below:
Horse Of Daydreams (Beginning)
Call me lazy and you’d be hitting square on the horseshoe nail. Oh yes, I’m a lazy horse. A son-of-a-bitch, that’s what my master used to call me. A lazy, no-good-for-nothing, son-of-a-bitch, jughead horse, to be more exact.
I ain’t ashamed. I can’t help being lazy. It’s not my fault. I guess I was born that way. For as long as I can remember I’ve had lazy tendencies. Even the brand on my ass is lazy. The “Lazy-J.”
I grew up on the Lazy-J ranch. Raised to be a cuttin’ horse, so I could go out and help round up cattle. Boy that was miserable work. But lazy as I was, I’d still put energy into it. In my younger days, that is. But as I grew older these lazy bones solidified into a kind of stubbornness, and purposely I became worse and worse at cuttin’ cattle.
So more and more the cowboys would leave me with the remuda and use the younger, more go-gettin’ type horses. They’d use me as only a last resort, when all the other equines were tuckered out. Which suited me just fine.
I liked nothing more than just to stay in my corral, chew hay, and think. Daydream is more like it. What a daydreaming horse I was, too. I daydreamed about most everything. My mind would take me across deep grassy meadows, through water-bubbling creeks, into craggy canyons—anywhere. Anywhere, as long as it was far away from the Lazy-J and those stinking cows.
To me, that was the meaning of life. To enjoy it. And daydreaming brought me the greatest enjoyment there seemed to be in life. It’s like my brain was the greatest organ of pleasure I had. Well I was a gelding, so I wasn’t aware of any other organs of pleasure.
But to daydream . . . that required hardly no effort at all. And it made me smart. Got me out of cuttin’ cattle, didn’t it? To become smart without hardly any effort at all—what a deal.
I found that when I turned my brain loose to thinking on a subject, it would wander all over the countryside of my memory. It would gather a little bit of information I’d once learned here, a little bit there, then without my even trying it would put all the pieces together for me. From this I would have the solution to a problem. Or an inspiration for a new concept.
And I would have the joy of learning.
My daydreaming brain was my greatest teacher. And learning from daydreaming brought me the best enjoyment I’d ever known. I don’t know what there is about learning that brings me such joy, but maybe it’s because variety is the spice of life. Perhaps it is that comprehending a new concept brings variety to my mental frame of mind, and this variety makes life seem fresh and new.
Whatever the case, this learning was done without hardly any effort at all on my part. My brain would just work all by itself. It would daydream. And automatically teach me wonderful things, that would bring me joy.
When I discovered this phenomenon about daydreaming, I was about five years old. That’s when the stubbornness started to come out in me. The lazy stubbornness that the cowboys began to curse me for. I’d miss a cut on a cow, and it would get away. I’d pull up short too quickly when a loop soared over some horns, and a lassoing cowboy would topple off my back. When he’d try to get back on, I’d take off at a dead run just at the point when his leg was swinging over my back. And off he’d go again.
All this got me exactly what I wanted. He’d lead me back to the corral cursing and take a different horse. And I’d be left alone to daydream to my heart’s content. It was a perfect system. Soon after I started this I was almost never picked to cut cows. It always seemed to be another horse. And I’d get to stay behind. With my wandering mind. My teacher. My great source of pleasure.
One day when I was daydreaming I began to wonder why none of the other horses were like me. Why didn’t they resist like me? Why, in fact, did they hardly ever seem to want to daydream? They were suckers, in my view. They’d try hard at their jobs, spending an entire day in the hot sun faithfully cuttin’ cattle to the best of their ability, and all they’d get for it was a friendly pat on the neck from an appreciative cowboy. At the end of the day they’d be led back to the corral, heads hangin’ down, dirty dried up rivers of sweat matting up their backs, and ribs showing hunger.
They’d eat like horses all evening long, sleep like dead clods of dirt, then go wearily back to work come sunup next morning.
I observed this with horror, because I knew it was the kind of life I had only recently been living. A nothing existence. No time to daydream, hardly. No time to hardly even think. Just work, work, work. I concluded that their problem was the same one that had once made me like them. They were just ignorant. Plain old ignorant. Ignorant of the enjoyment daydreaming could bring them. Ignorant of learning. Ignorant of life.
So I tried to teach them. In the evenings before they’d nod off to sleep, I’d talk with them. I’d tell them of the great joy I’d found now that I had time to just stand around and think all day. I’d nicker that they too, could find the same kind of happiness. It was to be found in their minds. And all they had to do was to resist the cowboys, just like I had. And soon the cowboys would have no horses to cut cattle with. We’d all be left in the corral to just daydream our lives away. And to enjoy ourselves to our heart’s content.
But the horses never listened to me. Incredible, it may seem. Here I was offering the answer to all their problems, yet they refused to learn. They continued to be good at cuttin’ cattle and lousy at enjoying their own lives. I couldn’t believe their stupidity.
One evening I was trying to teach my ideas to a chestnut gelding. He was one of the hardest working, most skilled cuttin’ horses on the Lazy-J, so I figured he needed help the most. What does he do, he turns on me and whinnies, “Get out of here with that horseshit! You may want to be lazy and worthless, but not me! If we all did what you wanted us to do, you think they’d keep feeding us hay and oats? Heck no, they’d sell us all for dog food. Which is exactly what they’re going to do to you if you don’t shape up and start working hard again. You’re going to become food for our master’s dog!”
So that was it. They were afraid to daydream because they were too scared of the consequences. They wanted that daily ration of hay, and they were too afraid it would stop if they stopped working.
And when I thought about it—when I daydreamed about it—I knew that chestnut was right. I was treading on thin ice acting the way I was. Daydreaming sure was fun, but it was also dangerous. I shook with terror when I thought about being inside a dog food dish, being devoured by those German Shepherds my master kept. And I began to worry that perhaps I’d taken a wrong turn in life when I’d turned to the joys of my mind.
But I was mistaken. It wasn’t a wrong turn after all.
A few days later, while I was standing alone in the corral trying to figure out how to get out of my mess, my master came sauntering up with a stranger. They both came inside the corral and looked me over real thorough-like. Then they talked a lot. The stranger kept looking at me, all the while talking with my master. Then he threw a saddle on me and rode me around the ranch for a little while.
Remembering the dog food dish, I was careful to be a very obedient horse. I stood still when he wanted me to stand still, walked when he wanted me to walk, and trotted when he wanted a trot. I was every bit a tame horse as I could be. I’m not saying I liked it any, but it sure beat going to the dog dish. Then the stranger pulled a few green dollars out of his wallet and gave them to my master. He rode me out of the ranch that day, and I never saw the Lazy-J again.
My new home was some miles away, at a small ranch tucked away up against the mountains. And my new way of life—well it sure beat things at the Lazy-J. The ranch was just a small spread, where my new master raised a few chickens, some pigs, and even a few vegetables. But it was nothing that really required the help of a horse. The only reason why he had bought me was so he could go hunting on horseback whenever he was of a mind to, up in the mountains.
But usually he wasn’t of a mind to go hunting, so I got the chance to just stand around in my corral all day and daydream to my heart’s content. It was truly a good life, the days I passed away at that ranch. I’d stand around, daydream, swish my tail at flies, daydream, blink my eyes at flies, and daydream some more. In the evening, my master would throw me a block of hay, and it almost felt like stealing. But I never let myself feel guilty about it. After all, isn’t the meaning of life to enjoy it? And doesn’t daydreaming bring the greatest enjoyment? So I was just fulfilling my meaning of life. The whole reason why I’d been put on planet Earth.
But there was something about that block of hay every evening that bothered me. And I found myself daydreaming about it more and more all the time. It was a problem I had to resolve, and not an easy problem. The problem was, that block of hay meant life to me. I had to have that block of hay every day, or I would die of starvation. I was dependent on that block of hay. Which meant I was dependent on my master, who provided the block of hay. It meant I had to do anything my master wanted me to do if I wanted him to keep giving me hay.
And that bothered me.
I was always a reluctant horse to do anything. I always preferred to stay in the corral and daydream. But nonetheless, I needed that block of hay to continue daydreaming. To continue living to daydream. And now and then I’d have to work to earn that block of hay and go on living. Work meant no more daydreaming. Work instead meant concentration on the job at hand. Work meant no fun.
So the problem for me was, to figure out how to provide my own block of hay every evening, without the help of my master, so I wouldn’t have to work for him anymore. Then I could be an independent horse. Free to do whatever I pleased. And free to daydream as much as I wanted. It was truly a puzzle for my mind to figure out. A big puzzle. But that’s what daydreaming was for—to figure out such puzzles. While at the same time to provide the best enjoyment life had to offer.
About twice a week my master would take me out and train me to be his hunting horse. This was always a real pain-in-the-ass because it always seemed to interrupt a real good daydream. I’d have to turn my attention to him and do whatever he wanted. It was either that or no more hay. I’d go to the dog dish. So I was careful to pay close attention and be very obedient.
The first time he fired a gun off my back, it scared green liquid manure out of me. I jumped, farted, bucked, shied, and bolted. Not on purpose, as part of a plot, but just because I was scared to death. I wasn’t used to guns being fired off my back. I’d heard them from a distance before, but never as close as the top of my back.
But after awhile, and a lot of patience on my master’s part, he got me used to it. Finally I got to the point where he could discharge a gun off my back at any time, without any kind of warning, and I wouldn’t even flinch. Sure, my heart would skip a beat, but on the outside I’d show not a sign of fear. I’d act like I didn’t even notice it. That’s how my master seemed to like it, so that’s how I gave it to him.
End of Part 2. Come on back tomorrow, for Part 3.
Categories: Series (Stories): Go West Or Go Weird