About a young woman who finds life/love for her and her son. (work in progress)
It was a cold winter night when my fiancé took me to the hospital. I was eight months pregnant and my water had just broke. Danny Matter, my fiancé, kept trying to drive like a mad man but with a little coaxing I was able to calm him. I remembered going for this exact ride when my mother had given birth to my brother. I knew all to well that if he hurried there was major risk of an accident and the last thing I wanted was to loose my baby. I moaned trying not to scream as another contraction shook my body. They were now only minutes apart. My body kept telling me it was time but my mind held onto the reality that I did not want to have my first child in this old beat up truck.
Just as I was about to give up we pulled into the emergency entrance of Grady County Hospital. Thank the heavens Danny had called the ER when we left the house. A nurse rushed out with a wheel chair as he helped me out. They got me settled in and rolled me to a delivery room at the end of the emergency wing. The nurse wanted me to fill out the paper work and get me signed in but all I could do was shake my head and muffle agonizing screams. The contractions were now less then thirty seconds apart.
It was time.
The poor nurse must have caught the idea. Before I knew it I was in a gown, in bed, and the doctor was rushing into the room. They kept telling me to breath and that I was doing well but all I could think of was the little boy I was about to bring into this world. After what seemed like an eternity of pushing and breathing the doctor finally announced that he could see the head. I faintly remember him, the nurses, and Danny speaking to me but I could not think or register what they were saying.
At exactly 6:04 a.m. Ace O’Connell arrived in my life…
It was a warm spring morning as I sat on the front porch thinking about the day Ace had been born. It had been the best day of my life and the worst. Danny had told me he was going to the store and would be back in a bit. He never came back. He had abandoned my son and I. So only one week after we were released from the hospital I packed and moved us to Texas. I had no family, except for my brother, whom lived just four hours east in Lawton, Oklahoma. With a sigh I got up and went in the house to get another cup of coffee. I glanced at the clock and it was already five in the morning so I decided to get to work.
As I walked down the hall I peaked in on Ace. He was still sound asleep so I decided to get dressed and go work the horses down in the lot. From the day my parents passed away, when I was only sixteen, I had worked my life away saving up money and raising my brother. Even after Ace was born I worked two jobs just to give him the life he deserved. Now at twenty nine I had two thousand acres and was starting my own ranch. Unfortunately I still had to work the two jobs to support us.
“Only for a while longer. Just until I get the ranch off the ground.” I muttered to myself as I pulled my boots on. Quietly I slipped out the door and walked down to the barn. The neighing of the horses put a smile on my face. I got the five in the barn fed and walked out to the pasture. With a shrill whistle and a little coaxing my prized mare, Apache Sunrise, came charging to the fence. Being a gorgeous dun overo Paint mare standing at fifteen three hands high she towers over me. She was bred to work cattle but unfortunately her previous owner let her run wild and then beat her when he brought her in to break her. It had taken me almost a year just to get her to let me near her. Now after three years of hard work we are inseparable. Even Ace, whom is only eight years old, can climb all over her and do as he pleases
“Good morning sweet heart.” I whispered to her while stroking her muzzle. She softly neighed and shoved her head against my chest. “You ready for your work out this morning baby girl?”
I could not help but laugh when she threw up her head and nodded as if to say, of course I’m ready! Walking side by side we went down to the barn. She stood in the isle as I went and got all the tack I was needing. When I came back she was still standing in the same spot awaiting my return. Quickly I got her brushed down and saddled her up. We walked down to the riding arena and I climbed on. We did our paces and went back to the barn. After getting her unsaddled and washed down I put her in the stall and fed her.
Once I finished exercising the other five I went back to the house. It was now eight o’clock; just about time to get Ace up. Quickly I fixed breakfast and got the table set. Just as I was putting everything on the table Ace walked in. He already stood shy of five foot. Although he had been born a month early he had surpassed kids his age by the time he was three years old.
“Well, good morning sunshine.” I said as I hugged him.
“Morning mom.” Ace mumbled as he sat down at the table. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Lets see here. Were having pancakes, eggs, bacon, and toast.” I put his plate in front of him and sat down myself.
He perked up a bit then. “Can I have some orange juice please?” He said giving me a corky smile and cocking his head.
I laughed as I said, “Of course you can baby.” I fixed him a glass and got me another cup of coffee.
As soon as we were finished eating Ace helped me get the dishes done. Heading for the door I noticed a truck coming up the driveway. Ace gave me a puzzled look. We have lived here for going on four years and not once had we had a visitor. As it got closer I noticed that it was our “neighbor”, and my boss, Jet Durant. He lived five miles down the road and was the closest thing to a neighbor we had. Ace quickly ran out the door as Jet’s dog Alice bounded out of the bed of the truck. He loved that dog and it got me thinking that it was about time I got Ace one of his own.
I stepped out onto the porch just as Jet got out of his truck. “Morning Jet.”
“Morning Miss. O’Connell.” He tipped his hat and smiled. “By chance have you seen that crazy black stallion of mine running around here?”
“No I didn’t see him anywhere when I was out riding this morning. That’s the third time he’s gotten out this week.” I said with a frown on my face. Last thing I wanted was for that wild ass of a stallion to get in with my mares. Although, I was almost positive his actions were due to a beating before Jet had bought him.
“I need to get him found. Got a man coming to look at him this afternoon.” He said as he turned around and scanned my pasture. “Mind if we saddle up a few of your horses and have a look around?”
“We?” I asked with a quizzical look on my face. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go riding out with the likes of Jet. Now don’t get me wrong he is a great man and very good looking. Then again that was the problem. I sure the hell didn’t need another Danny in my life. Not that I’m saying Jet is anything like him.
“Miss O’Connell? Did you hear me?” Jet said looking at me as if I had disappeared for a minute.
“Sorry I was just doing some thinking. What did you saying?”
“If you don’t mind helping me Id like you to ride out and help me look for that stallion. Need to get him sold. He wont let anyone at the ranch get near him.”
“How do you know? Hell, you haven’t even given me a shot at him. How much is the guy offering for him?” I asked curiously.
“Told him I’d sale the bastard for five hundred dollars if he wants him. I just want him gone. Now about you taking a shot at him. There is no way you’re getting near him. He’d wind up killing you.”
“You don’t know that. Has that guy headed this way yet?”
“No he isn’t supposed to be here until around four this afternoon. Why?” Jet looked at me as if he knew why I was asking.
“Well, I need a stallion for my mares. I’ll make a deal with you. If I find that ass of yours and get him caught I can buy him for half of what that other guy is offering.” I said with a smirk on my face.
“Now hold on just a minute Lacey. Like I told you just a minute ago…”
“I know what you told me a minute ago,” I said interrupting him. “And don’t you start scrutinizing me just because I’m a woman. You know I have a mare down in my barn that was twice as wild as that stallion of yours and now look at her. Hell, Ace can ride her!” I said trying not to lose my temper.
“I wouldn’t know that. I haven’t seen that idiot since you bought her. I know there is no way in this life or the next id let Ace on her if he was my son.” Jet said with frown on his face.
“That was three damned years ago Jet.” I said trying to reign my temper back in. “Let me go call Mrs. Durant and see if she can come out here today instead. If so ill help you find that stallion if you agree to the deal I offered. Oh, and you better still be paying me for this.” I turned on my heal and walked in the house.
“Ugh! One of these days I’m going to knock the shit out of that man.” I grumbled to myself as I dialed Mrs. Durant’s number. When she picked up I said, “Hello Mrs. Durant its Lacey.”
“I know who it is dear. You fixing to head this way with Ace?” Mrs. Durant asked.
“Actually, I was wondering if you could come over and get him. Jets damn stallion got out again so he needs my help looking for him.”
“You know I would love to Lacey. I love that boy as if he’s my own grandson.” She said. “By the way can you tell Jet that dinner will be ready at one today instead of noon? I have to make a run into town and do some shopping while I watch Ace if you don’t mind.”
“Thank you Mrs. Durant. I trust you to go anywhere with Ace and I’ll let Jet know what you said.” I said with a smile.
Just as I went to hang up Mrs. Durant said, “Make sure your here for lunch as well. There is no need for you to go back and forth on your lunch hour.”
“Of course ma’am. I’ll be there”
We said our goodbyes and I went back out the door. “Your mom will be here in about ten minutes for Ace. Also, she wanted me to tell you that lunch will be at one today instead of noon because she has to do some grocery shopping.” I said and then turned to my son. “Ace come here babe.”
He trotted over with a smile on his face and Alice by his side. “Yes mamma?”
“Mrs. Durant will be here in about ten minutes to pick you up. Jet and I have to go out and look for his horse. Can you go get your stuff together while we saddle up?” I said and then kissed his forehead.
“Yes ma’am. Can Alice go in with me?” He asked as he gave me his puppy dog eyes.
“Of course baby.” I ruffled his hair and he bounded in the house with the dog right behind him.
Without even glancing Jets way I headed for the barn. How could he even consider that I would let me son near a mare that wasn’t tame? I fumed just thinking about it. He doesn’t know a damn thing about me if he thinks that. The more I thought about it the more I fumed. Walking faster I clutched my fists and thought about decking him.
“Hey wait up Lacey.” Jet said as he jogged up beside him, his spurs clanking with every step.
Ignoring him I went into the tack room and grabbed my saddle and Apaches bridle. When I turned around Jet was standing in the doorway. With a glare I shoved past him. Walking up to Apaches stall I started whispering. Knowing she could sense how upset I was I tried to control it. I pulled open the stall door still muttering to myself. “Hey Apache. Sorry I’m so upset. Jet is just being… Well, Jet I guess. Anyways it has nothing to do with you baby girl. Now lets get saddled and get going.”
I threw the saddle on her just as Jet walked up. “Which mare do you want me to ride?”
“Ole Blue.” I huffed. “She’s gentle but a bit fiery. Just watch her right side. She is very touchy about it.” I turned away from him and went back to what I was doing.
I crooned and praised Apache as I tightened the girth of the saddle. “You know girl some men are just frustrating. I mean how could he think I would let my son near you if you were crazy? You’re a very good little girl and we’re going to prove it today.” Once the bridle was on her I led her out of the barn and waited. I had my arms crossed and was tapping my foot by the time Jet came out with Blue.
Raising his eyebrows he said, “What is the matter with you?”
I just grunted and swung into the saddle. Turning Apache towards the gait I clicked at her. She took off in a lope. We got to the gait and I pulled her up beside it. After getting it swung open Apache side stepped through the gait. Knowing Jet would get the gait behind him I asked Apache for a gallop. We got about fifty yards from the gait when I noticed there were no hoof beats behind us. I reined Apache in and she pulled up to a stop. Turning around I saw Jet plodding along at a slow walk looking down at the mare.
Apache started dancing so I quietly spoke to her. “Just a few minutes baby. We have to wait on Jets slow ass.” All of a sudden Apache reared and let out a scream. Instantly I knew something was wrong. Without touching the reigns I spun her around. There coming at a dead run was Satan himself, the black stallion Arrowhead. Apache reared again and I gouged her side. Without touching the ground she bounded. Barely missing us Arrowhead shot past.
“Jet look out!”, I screamed as the wild stallion ran towards him, ears pinned and teeth bared.
Jet looked up just in time to see the stallion barreling toward him but he couldn’t react quick enough. Ole Blue tried scrambling out of the way but she wasn’t quick enough. Arrowhead smashed right into them and kept going. Blue jerked sideways and tried to hold her balance but was unable to. She hit the ground right on top of Jet. I could hear the crash and Apache was in a dead run before I could even make a move. Blue struggled to her feet and I saw Jets foot caught in the stirrup.
Right when the mare went to dart I yelled out as loud as I could, “Whoa!” Blue halted and danced but Apache kept going. Now I thanked the heavens themselves I had taught her to respond to easy and leg motions instead of whoa. She was the only mare on the place that didn’t know what the word meant. Within seconds we were almost on top of the two. I whispered easy and sat back. As soon as Apache hit her haunches I baled and was on the ground by Jet.
He was out cold. I pulled out my cell and called the house. When Ace answered I told him to get Mrs. Durant and get to the east pasture. Jet was down. I waited until I saw the truck at the gait then hauled myself back on Apache. That bastard Arrowhead was mine. One thing I could not stand to see was a horse hurt a human on purpose. I spun her around in a roll back until I spotted him. Without a word or motion Apache shot forward.
As soon as Arrowhead saw us coming he reared and took off. I bent over my mares neck and whispered, “Let’s get him girl.”
With two hard leaps, enough to knock anyone out of the saddle, she was in a dead run. I could hear Mrs. Durant hollering at me to stop but I couldn’t. I had to keep that stallion from hurting anyone else. We were gaining on Arrowhead fast and I could see the fence just ahead. Instantly I sat up knowing what he was going to do. As if sensing what I was thinking Apache shifted gears again. Speeding up instead of slowing like most horses would have.
Arrowhead cleared the fence but almost went down when he hit the other side. After a few yards he began to slow and limp. Without thinking I leaned low into Apache and encouraged her. This was going to be a neck breaking jump but one thing I had learned in my life was to trust the horse under you. Especially one that had once been wild. She barred down and slowed, but only a stride. It was just enough to judge her obstacle. With one leap she was over the fence. I reigned her in and whispered, “Easy now girl. That’s good, that’s good.”
She slowed and trotted toward Arrowhead. For a minute I was positive he was going to run, but for some odd reason he stood and dropped his head. Grabbing the rope from my saddle I twirled it eyeing the stallion. He jerked hard but didn’t take off. I swung the rope around his neck and sat back in the saddle. Apache came to a stop a few feet from him. We both stood and starred at each other. I turned Apache and slowly we worked our way back to the pasture.
By the time we got back to the barn Jet was sitting up on the tailgate of Mrs. Durant’s pickup. I veered Apache away from them to keep Arrowhead from acting up again. I dismounted Apache at the barn and led the stallion to a stall. After putting him up I took care of Apache and fed her a little grain to show my appreciation. Slowly I walked to the tack room thinking about what had just happened. Upon entering it I began to relax a little realizing that it was all over. For now at least. I grabbed some supplies from my vet cabinet and went to the stall I put Arrowhead in.
At first I didn’t see him until I opened the door. He was down and breathing hard. Then I saw his leg. He had broken the bone just below the knee and I could see a small piece protruding through the skin. Quickly I pulled out my phone and dialed Dr. Manning’s number. As soon as he answered I rushed through the details quickly
“I will be there in about twenty minutes Lacey. Just keep him calm and do not allow him to stand. Can you do that?” Dr. Manning said sounding a little concerned.
“Yes sir I can do that. Don’t worry about me just please get down here.” I said trying not to let the stress show in my voice.
As soon as I got off the phone I went into Arrowheads stall. He just laid there and looked at me, his eyes full of pain and sorrow. Slowly I moved over to him and sat down at his head. After placing his head in my lap I started stroking his neck and singing to him. He began to calm and his breathing slowed. Still singing I started making slow gentle circles on his neck with my left hand and stroking his head with my right. Looking up I saw Jet standing at the stall door. Continuing what I was doing I just watched him for a minute and then turned back to stallion. He had almost completely calmed and his breathing returned to normal.
When I heard footsteps coming up to the stall I quickly looked up. “Dr. Manning, thank goodness you’re here.”
Slowly Dr. Miller walked into the stall. He kneeled down next to Arrowhead trying not to spook him. “Alright let us have a look at his leg. Lacey I was you to keep his eye toward you and keep him calm. I do not want to tranquilize him right now unless I have to.”
After examining the leg he looked at me with sorrow in his eyes. “Lacey he needs put down. His leg is never going to heal properly.”
With a sigh I looked at him. “It’s not up to me Doc. Arrowhead is Jets horse.”
We glanced up at Jet. He wasn’t paying us any attention just staring at the stallion who had been so wild and now unmoving. “Jet?” I said trying not to tear up. The last thing I wanted was to see this animal put down. “Doc needs to know if you want him put down.”
Jet looked at me then at Dr. Manning still not saying a word. “He has broke his cannon bone and it has completely pierced the skin. He is never going to properly heal. He needs put down before he suffers more.” Dr. Manning said.
“He’s Lacey’s horse now not mine. We had a deal.” He said looking back down at Arrowhead.
“Alright then Lacey what do you want to do?” Dr. Manning asked looking at me with a frown on his face.
For a minute I couldn’t do anything but stare at the helpless animal I was caressing. Then I remember a horse my father used to own. Everything was a little fuzzy, I was only ten when the horse had been hurt, but I distinctly remember the horse breaking his cannon bone. My father had refused to put the animal down and had rigged a harness so the horse could heal.
“No I wont put him down.” I stated determined not to let them under mind me. “My father once owned a horse that broke its cannon bone when it was about three years old. He had the vet reset the bone and put a cast on the leg. Then using a leather harness and pulley he anchored the horse off the ground. Over time the horse healed and was able to walk. We never were able to do a lot of riding on him but he lived to be twenty years old. I want to do the same with Arrowhead.”
Dr. Manning sighed. “Lacey I have heard of people doing that but it only worked one out of ten times. There is no grantee it will work and he probably has only a ten percent chance of getting better.”
“Doc I respect you and the fact that you’re a vet but he deserves a chance. If he doesn’t show signs of getting better in the next month then I’ll have him put down.”
“Alright Lacey. Let me run to the clinic and get my supplies. Ill be back in about an hour. We’ll see what we can do.” Silently he got up and left the stall.
Currently this is a work in progress so spelling, punctuation, etc... may not be correct at this point.