Maggie Estep: Where The White Horse Lived
(For Joe Andoe: 2001)
She came out of her front door wearing cut offs and a painfully red halter top. She got in the car and grinned at me, Hi Jack, she said. She didn't touch me, but I could feel her. I'd met her two days earlier and I'd lost a lot of sleep since then. She had a job washing dishes at Cappy's Restaurant on South Main. I was in there with Terry, the girl I'd been seeing for close to a year. Terry was a lanky red head with some devil in her. Right then, Terry was mad about something, I can't remember what. We'd eaten already and Terry was busy pouting when we heard this godawful shattering sound coming out of the kitchen and then this laugh. The most incredible laugh. Sounded like it came out of one of those enormous but sort of sexy Mediterranean women. Terry and I looked over towards the kitchen and I think we were both bewildered to see that the laugh was coming out of a petite girl with very long black hair. She was holding a broken dish and the cook was laughing with her, holding another part of the broken dish. They both seemed so damned happy the girl had broken the dish. Like it was the best thing that had ever happened to either of them. That was sort of it. I paid the bill and Terry and I went outside and got in my car.
I asked if she wanted to come over but she was still mad about whatever it was, pouting about it so I took her home. She slammed my car door getting out. I looked at her ass as she stormed over to the front door of her Ma's house. It didn't look that good to me anymore. I drove back into town to get back to Dowell Road where I lived in a little green house my uncle Edgar owned. For some reason, when I drove back by Cappy's Restaurant, I slowed down. Ended up going into the parking lot even. Then sat there not sure what I was doing. Next thing I know, I'm back inside Cappy's, at the counter, ordering coffee even though their coffee was like Drano. Had to drink three stinking cups of the stuff before I caught another look at her. She came out from behind the kitchen partition and took off the apron she was wearing. A filthy navy blue apron. Underneath, she was wearing cutoffs. Her legs instantly drove me crazy. They didn't go on for miles like Terry's did but they were gorgeous. Generous thighs, good calves, and tiny delicate ankles. She caught me staring at her and grinned. No bullshit. Just grinned, glad to be appreciated. I don't even know what I asked her exactly. But, miraculously, she said yes. I felt drunk as I got up from my stool. Had to hold onto the counter a second to steady myself.
"My name's Lola, by the way," she said, laughing a little. I just nodded.
Now it was two days later and here she was, in my car, smiling at me. She had lovely teeth, full lips, and dark brown eyes. Her hair was so long it fell over her modest chest and, in the back, came close to her ass. I just started driving. Otherwise, I'd have started shaking. We didn't talk that much but it wasn't awkward at all. Right away, I felt completely at ease with her. I was half insane with desire but, on a deeper level, at ease. She wasn't going to be pouting over incomprehensible shit. She was just there, radiating something I wanted badly.
"Where we going, Jack?" She said eventually.
"I don't really know," I told her. She laughed.
"I know," she said, "I know where to go."
She directed me out past Miller's goat farm and onto Little Egypt Road. "Pull in there," she said, indicating the gate to a yellow pasture that seemed to go on forever. "Okay," I said, nosing the Chevy up to the gate. "Hang on," she said, jumping out of the car and going to unhitch the gate. She motioned for me to drive into the pasture. I did it. She closed the gate and got back in the car. Her mouth was open partway, showing her small white teeth and the tip of her very pink tongue. "What are you staring at?" she laughed. I smiled. "Just a little ways on, there's a pair of old gnarled trees that look like monsters," she told me then, "let's go there."
I drove forward, a little worried about the vehicle on this bumpy terrain but nothing I couldn't forget about if I just sniffed the air and smelled her in it. "There!" she said after a few minutes, "the monsters." Sure enough, the trees looked like huge gnarled gnomes. They were magnificent and horrible. I pulled the car up close to them and turned the engine off and I leaned over, took her face between my hands and kissed her hard. She let out a little moan and her body seemed to melt into mine. I pulled her over on top of me and her black hair fell in my eyes. I held her hips but I couldn't keep them still. She had electricity in her body. In a minute, she'd pulled my T-shirt up and was lightly kissing and biting my stomach.
We were both pretty far gone when we felt it. Something thumping against the car, rocking the car. "What the hell?" I said, scrambling to look up from under Lola's body. There was a huge face staring at us. A horse's face. I sat up. Lola did too. "They're here," she said, like some long awaited visitors had suddenly materialized. "What?" I said, staring from the horse's face to hers. "This is what I wanted to show you," she said, rolling the car window down. The horse stuck his long nose in the car and bumped against her forehead. "A friend of yours?" I asked. She laughed, "I come here some nights. Just by myself. I lie by the trees and they come. The horses." She said scratching under the horse's long white forelock. "Look, they're all here," she said. Sure enough, there were maybe ten or twelve horses, all standing around the car, all seeming to gravitate to Lola. Most of them were brown or reddish but the one bumping noses with Lola was white.
Lola got out of the car. Pulled her shorts out of her crotch and went to drape her arms around the white horse's neck. Her long black hair blended with the horse's white mane. Behind her, the pasture stretched out, desolate and yellow. I just sat there, my heart beating like a jackhammer.
Later, she had to go to work. I dropped her at Cappy's and then I just went home. I was supposed to do some work that afternoon too. Build a chicken coop for Mrs. Cooley down the road. But I was incapacitated. Everywhere I looked all I saw was Lola, her black hair against the white horse's neck. I picked her up that night when her shift ended. We went to where she was living in this long blue trailer adjoining her Ma's house. Her Ma had mental problems and Lola had wanted to leave town for a long time but felt too guilty leaving her crazy mother alone. So she lived in a trailer. She had a narrow little bed. Not that we made much use of it. She'd barely pulled the trailer door shut behind us before I had her shirt off. She didn't have a bra on. I bit her nipple hard and started jacking her shorts down over her hips. She unfastened my jeans. I turned her around and bent her forward, ran my hands over her rounded white ass, tugged on her hair slightly as I entered her from behind. She already owned me, but once I was inside her, it was all over. I'd have followed her off the edge of the world. For the next three weeks, we spent most of our time together. And much of it with the monster trees and the horses. We'd park the car and savage each other until the white horse got impatient and started leaning all his body weight against the car, demanding that Lola get out and pay attention to him. We didn't even know whose horses they were. As far as we could tell, they just lived, half wild, existing in that big yellow pasture, grooming each other, galloping, grazing.
One day, Lola tried to get up on the white horse's back. She'd been standing there with her arm draped over the top of his neck and he seemed so at ease with her, had even groomed her head a little, like she was a horse too. "Give me a leg up," she said, turning to me. "What?" "Help me climb up on his back." "I dunno if that's a good idea. Doesn't seem like anybody ever rides these horses." "He's my friend," she said firmly. "Okay," I shrugged. I put one hand under her foot and another under her ass and hoisted her onto the animal's back. The horse didn't like this. He reared, sending Lola flying, landing with a thud on her back. I was terrified. The horse cantered off, taking all the other horses with him as I crouched down near Lola. Her eyes were open but she didn't know what the hell to do. Then, she let out a low groan. She was okay. Just took all the wind out of her. As she sat up, apparently intact, the white horse trotted back over then stood about ten feet away with his head low, looking at Lola, seeming to feel badly. "It's okay," she said to him. He seemed to understand. All creatures seemed to understand Lola. She was a universally appealing soul.
About a month into this, this thing, this love, this whatever it was we were having, Lola's mother killed herself. Lola found her hanging on the back of the bathroom door. By a bathrobe belt. When Lola told me, I held her but nothing I did or said seemed to really reach her. She'd glimpsed something awful and it had changed her. I tried to be useful as she tended to the rituals of death. I felt weird around Lola now. I guess I'd been a jerk with some of the women I'd been with and I just didn't want to make any false moves with this girl. Especially not now. She was so sad and thoughtful and had permanent blue circles under her eyes. I bought a suit for the funeral. I held Lola's had as they lowered the coffin into the earth. She put her head on my shoulder but she didn't cry. That night, I brought her over to my place for the first time. We'd always had to stay in her trailer in case her mother had an episode in the middle of the night. Lola was zombie like. Walked in my front door and then just stood there, mouth partially open. I didn't know what to do so I started to touch her. Tentatively at first. She seemed to be coming to life now. Like what I felt for her was making her blood run through her veins again the way it was supposed to. She kissed me savagely then put her hand down the front of my pants. She was still wearing her black dress from the funeral. I hitched it up over her hips and slid her panties down to her knees and entered her. She came in about thirty seconds, shuddering so hard I thought she was going to break.
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