Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jack Flannery Will Not Bring Us With Him

2. When Papa Shot Cuchulain

A blur of night sky on a bright afternoon, a mantle of crow's feathers lifting it above life as we knew it, flying faster than algebra or divorce. The perfect mount for Molly, hair the same color and texture, legs more muscle than meat just like her. Maybe it would have been me instead of Jack that lay her down in the hay and made her a woman if I was brave and strong enough to take to the air like the pegasus Cuchulain, the most perfect beast I ever laid eyes on.
Unemployed and stinking like a pig washed in a moonshiner's bathtub, Molly's father was Cuchulain' s very opposite. He had legs like two pale punching bags and stomach that rendered even the baggiest of shirts futile. He hated the horse for being able to fly when he couldn't even run very well and for making his daughter proud when all he brought her was shame. While I wasn't fat or drunk and had a fine job for a fifteen year old in delivering groceries, I too felt jealous of Cuchulain and could understand the man's pain, though he was unmoved by the pegasus while I was awestruck.
There a came a day of course when Molly's father had enough. The night before when he was at the pub, he met a man from the dogfood factory. Money was tight and he hated Cuchulain, so decided he would catch the horse and bring it to the factory to be made into mush. This would not be easy, for as much as he hated Cuchulain, the horse hated him more. When he approached Cuchulain, reeking of liquid courage and trying to bribe him with a carrot, the animal rebelled. I wasn't there, but I imagine the bastard endured a kick to the head or two before the horse took to the air. There was no way in Hell he could make Cuchulain come willingly, even if he had all the carrots in the world.
Molly's father got his rifle and, screaming and cursing for a great while, fired on the horse. While I didn't get to see how it started, it certainly got to see how it ended, since I had the misfortune of seeing the luckiest shot in human history bring the pegasus down over my front yard. I considered going out there and teaching the bastard a lesson, punishing him for putting an end to the thing the girl I loved loved most, but there were a lot of factors keeping me from acting on my violent desires. First of all, I was a coward. I still sort of am. Second of all, he was drunk, had a gun and before my eyes had brought down the fastest moving target I ever saw, lucky shot or otherwise. Lastly, my muscles were numb, my heart was clenched tight as my idle coward's fists and it took all of my willpower to prevent myself from weeping out every drop of dignity inside me on account of the realization that so much magic had disappeared from the world for good.
I've been told the dead pegasus fetched quite a price from the dogfood factory. Being mythical and capable of flight, it was considered a real treasure. It was pretty surprising that the citizens of our little town could afford the batch of special gold label dog food that became of it. There was a huge run on the stuff, figuring that it would lead to a town full of superdogs that could outhunt and outrun any game we could find.
They hadn't counted on just how good this batch of dogfood was, nobody could have seen the results coming any more than they could have foreseen a flying horse itself. The dogs ate up the pegasus meat and they began to float. Those that were inside flew through windows at breakneck speed, cutting themselves and causing a lot of injuries from flying glass. Once outside they joined their brethren who had been lucky enough to have been outside when they started to float and began to fly toward freedom. It should have been a beautiful thing, but nature had never meant for dogs to fly. Confused, they zoomed through the air, trying to sniff each other, chase birds and follow the scent of anything edible. High speed collisions ensued, and the poor unfortunate mutts splattered against each other. That day was henceforth remembered as "the day it rained dog guts". I lost my dog that day, but all I could think about is how much worse it was for Molly. My dog couldn't even fly well.

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