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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/590012-Zoie-and-Midnight
Rated: E · Short Story · Fantasy · #590012
A story of a young girl on a 3000 acre ranch and her love of Wild Horses
Zoie and Midnight


It was an early Spring morning and Zoie looked out her upstairs bedroom window.
She declared life wasn't fair. First of all, her parents had named her Zolinda
Marie. Her dad had called her Zoie ever since she could remember. When she
started school, she told her teacher her name was Zoie. The second thing that
bothered Zoie was the fact that she lived on a three thousand acre ranch with
horses and beef cattle. You'd think she'd have the fastest and most magnificent
horse on that whole ranch. She'd think, No, not Zoie. Zoie is a girl. She
may get hurt. It wasn't her fault that fifteen years ago her uncle (her
dad’s little brother) was thrown from a wild horse and trampled and
killed. She thought, I was only three years old. Then when she was four,
her real mom died. That’s when her Aunt Mary moved in to help out. Aunt
Mary was her mom now. When she was six her, dad and Aunt Mary got married. She
knew her mom would like the idea of her little sister taking care of her and
Dad.

There was a knock on Zoie’s door. “Come in, Mom.”

Mom came in and sat beside her on the bed. “What’s a beautiful
eighteen-year-old girl doing sitting in her room on such a pretty day?”

“I give up, Mom. I’m not going outside. I may fall down and get
hurt. I like being alone so I can think.” Mom took her hand in hers, then
she kissed her cheek.

“Zoie, you look more like your mom every day. Dad sees this. He loved her
very much; I can accept this because Marie Kay was my sister. He loves me now
for who I am, and I know this. You’re his little Zoie and even though
you're eighteen now, you look more like Marie than I do. Please
understand.”

“I do, Mom. I love my old horse, Nails, but she was Dad’s first
horse. I want my own horse, so I can feel the wind in my hair. I could ride
Buck and get there faster."


Buck heard his name, rose up from beside the bed and walked over and laid his
head on Zoie’s leg. Zoie patted him and said, “Buck and I want to
run fast, Mom. He's a German Shepard and needs to run. He won’t run ahead
of us like he should. Buck is a lot like Dad. He won’t let me out of his
sight. All males are alike. They think we can’t do anything without
getting hurt. Dad doesn’t understand. I love fast horses.

"Please, promise me you won’t tell Dad that Buck and I like to go deep in
the canyon and watch the wild horses. Dad has looked for years for the entrance
to that canyon, but neither he nor anyone else can find it. Mom, Midnight
showed Buck and me the way. I’ll never tell or show anyone the way.
That’s the one place I can go and be alone. Mom, I’m the only human
Midnight will let in that canyon. He finally let Buck in one day and now all
three of us are the best of friends. I'd be there now except one of the line
crew is close to the entrance, and I’m afraid they'll see me enter. Mom,
I go there and paint pictures of Midnight.”

Mom nearly passed out from fright. “Zoie, please promise me you'll stay
out of there! Your dad would die if he knew you were even in sight of that wild
horse you call Midnight. Dad says he's a killer. It's in his blood. He's out of
the bloodline from the horse that killed your uncle.”

Zoie looked at Mom and pleaded, “Please, don’t tell Dad. Mom,
Midnight is not like that at all. He's like me. He likes his privacy. He lets
me rub his nose, and I give him a lump of sugar. He even lets Buck smell his
nose. He's so beautiful. He throws back his head and runs off about twenty feet
and goes up on his two back legs for a few seconds. Mom, I looked right at him
and said, 'Midnight, you're a fake. You don’t have a mean bone in your
body.'"

Mom was speechless. She pleaded with her, “Please be careful of that
horse. I won’t tell Dad, but if something happens to you, I'd never
forgive myself.”

Mom then took Zoie by the hand. “Darling, your nineteenth birthday will
be next week. I told Dad you were going through a rough time and I was going to
give you one gift early. I told him it was a girl thing and a man
wouldn’t understand.” Zoie eyes sparkled and she couldn’t
wait.
Mom looked into her beautiful eyes. “First, we need to talk about
Trampis.”

“You mean Tramp?”

“Oh yes, I forgot. You call that 21-year-old hunk Tramp.”

Zoie gave her a funny look, then said, “Mom, he's okay, but I don’t
have time right now for boys. I want to paint every horse in that canyon, and
Midnight is my favorite.”

“I know, and your secret is safe with me as long as you're careful and
talk to Trampis today. He won’t bite you.”

“Mom, Trampis thinks a lot like Dad. He thinks I’m a sissy and
can’t do anything by myself. He asked me last week to ride to town with
him for supplies. I was so excited about riding into town with him on horseback
with two pack horses to carry our loads. When I found out we were going in the
Cherokee, it didn’t sound too exciting anymore. He said, 'We'll ride with
the windows down and turn off the air-conditioner.' I told him I hated to miss
a trip like that, but it would have to wait.”

“Zoie, he wants to be alone with you. You're either in this room or out
on the ranch and no one can find you. It's as if you disappear into thin
air.”

Zoie smiled. ”Thanks to Midnight. Buck knows where I am, and he's not
talking.” She smiled that mischievous smile and pushed back her
coal-black hair. It hung all the way to her waist.

“I almost forgot. Dad and I know how you like to get away and be alone to
draw and paint your pictures. For the last few months, while you were at
school, we fixed you your own little world. I didn’t know you were going
into the canyon alone.”

“Mom, I’m never alone. Buck is with me always.”

“I know. At least I know Buck is watching over you.” Mom got up and
went to the door. She opened it and picked up a box out in the hall. Zoie
opened it and inside were all the painting supplies any artist would ever need.
She was speechless. ”If we knew you were going into that canyon, we'd
never have bought this stuff.”

“Thank you, Mom. You're right, I need to get out of here for a
while.”

“I'll go with you if you like.”

“Good move, but it won’t work. Buck and I'll take a little ride,
and we'll be fine."

“What about Trampis?”

“Trampis is on the West Point riding, looking for stray calves. I promise
I'll talk to him when I return.”

Mom wanted so much to follow Zoie that day. As hard as it was, she let her ride
off alone. Mom knew if anyone was around when she was close to the entrance,
she'd ride on to the edge and look over. A lot of her paintings were done from
the rim of the canyon, but a lot more were from the bottom. Mom and dad just
thought that was how she pictured it in her mind. Never would they have thought
she had been there. There was an old Indian tale of an entrance to that canyon,
and everyone knew there had to be because Midnight and a small herd used that
canyon.

That afternoon Zoie rode closer and closer to the entrance and saw no one
around. She rode up a rise where you could see for a mile in any direction. Not
one person was in sight. She whistled for Buck and the three went down a
dead-end gorge to a small band of trees. At the end, there was a rock wall. She
rode right up against it, like everyone else had done for years. Zoie and
everyone else could see it was a dead-end, so no one took that narrow path down
to the bottom through the little brook and under the falls. Today, like many a
day, the falls were not running, but it just looked like a dead-end. Zoie kept
going through about four inches of water and the bottom was solid, smooth
limestone. There were no tracks left, no matter how many horses entered. Zoie
disappeared into the rock wall.


Once inside, she lit a candle and the walls and ceiling reflected off that
little light as if they were lined with rows and rows of lights. The Indians
referred to this stone as a glow stone or camp-fire rock. It was as hard as
tungsten carbide. Soon she was at the end and rode into the most beautiful
canyon you could imagine.

Midnight stood with head perched and watched as she rode nearer and nearer.
Never would Midnight let any other person ride up on them like that. He would
have made one whinny and in every direction, horses would fly. He stood still
and the horses went back to grazing as if no one was around. Zoie stopped and
slid off Nails. Buck lay down beside her and Zoie talked to Midnight just like
he was a person.

“I brought you something, Midnight. May I walk up to you, boy?” She
held out an apple she had quartered for him. Midnight blew and snorted through
his nostrils. He could smell that apple, and he raised his head and watched as
she slowly approached him. She got within ten feet and stopped. She held out
the apple. ”You come the rest of the way, my friend, if you want
it.”

It was as if he understood her words. With his head held high, he walked right
up to her and took a piece of apple from her hand. She held out her other hand.
“I want to rub your neck, boy. Please, don’t be frightened.”


Midnight stood and let her rub his long, muscled neck and shoulder. She talked
to him while he ate his apple. When he finished, she gave him one more rub and
said, ”Thank you, my friend.”

Slowly, she backed away, then turned and walked back to Nails and Buck. She
removed her easel and paint supplies and started painting Midnight. She'd
whistle and he'd raise his outstretched head and pose for her awhile. Soon she
removed a large hunk of salt block from her saddle bags and placed it on the
ground. Midnight didn’t wait until she moved away this time. He walked
right up to her and licked the block. She patted his neck and shoulders again.
“Midnight, I'm going to tell on you. You're a pussycat. You’re as
gentle as a lamb.” She thought for a minute and said, “I’m
sorry, boy. I’ll never tell. If they knew what I know about you, you
wouldn't be free. Your secret is safe, I promise. Can I come back tomorrow and
finish our picture? I think you'll like it. You're in the center and all your
fillies are around you.”

She walked back to Nails and mounted her, pulling the reins toward home. Buck
was up and several feet ahead of them. Zoie noticed Midnight following them to
the exit. All his fillies were around the salt block. Zoie wondered why they
didn’t follow Midnight, then realized he didn’t call them. He
didn’t neigh when he walked off. They knew he was just a short distance
away and would return. Zoie marveled at the communication system these horses
had. No one would catch any of them unless they wanted to be caught. When she
reached the entrance, she stopped and said, ”See you tomorrow, my
friend." She disappeared and Midnight returned to his fillies.

Zoie exited the gorge, making sure no one saw her come out. Soon she and Buck
were back at the ranch. She went in and let her mom know she was back, then
went to her room to shower and wash her long, beautiful hair. After she
dressed, she and Buck left the room to find her mom. She liked for her mom to
help brush out her long hair. It was so long and thick and hard for her to
manage alone. She found her parents out on the porch. They were talking to
Trampis.

When Trampis saw her, his eyes lit up. She had her brush in her hand and when
she sat down, she removed the towel from her head. She put her head forward and
her hair almost touched the floor. Mom knew what she wanted, but before she
could say anything, Trampis said, “Zoie, that's the most beautiful hair
I've ever seen. I'd kill just to get to brush it out for you.”

”I don’t know. I don’t usually let anyone touch my hair. I'm
the only person that can brush it out."

“She’s right, Trampis. It has to be done just so."

“I would love it if you taught me."

”You may change your mind when I tell you it'll take an hour to brush it,
then I have to roll it.”

“What size rollers do you put in it?”

Before she could answer, Mom said, “ Tell him, Zoie. Trampis sounds
interested. Why don’t you show all of us how you brush it?” Then
Mom said, “ That won’t work.
Darling, may I brush it for a minute while Trampis watches? Then he can brush
the rest. If we do it wrong, just let us know.”

“Thank you, Mom. I owe you one now, don’t I?”

”Big-time, little girl.”

Mom brushed a few strokes and handed the brush to Trampis. “I think
that’s right, isn’t it sweetheart?”

“That's the way it’s done every time.”

“I thought so. I think I know where you keep your rollers. I’ll go
get them while Trampis brushes”

Dad just sat there and admired her beauty. “Little girl, you're getting
all grown up. What if Mom and I started calling you Marie instead of
Zoie?”

Mom heard this and stopped and closed her eyes. She couldn’t wait to hear
Zoie's response to that. Zoie said, “Okay, if I can call you the old man
and Mom the old woman."

“Old man, you've let your mouth write a check your butt can’t cash.
Right, Zoie?”

“That’s right."

Dad said, “Sorry, girls.” He looked at Trampis. “I've taught
you a valuable lesson on purpose.”

”Dad, you’re smarter than a hog.”


“Boss, you better quit while you’re ahead. These two are pretty
smart for girls,” Trampis said.

Dad got tickled by that. “We showed them, didn’t we?”

Trampis continued brushing Zoie’s hair. Dad smiled and said, ”Mary,
our little girl is a beautiful young lady. Just look at her frame.”

Zoie looked up and gave Dad a funny look. Then she smiled and her beautiful
white teeth and brown eyes sparkled. “Dad, I love you and Mom so very
much. Will you talk to Daddy for me, Mom, and teach him that a girl
doesn’t have a frame; a frame goes around a picture.”

Dad smiled. ”I know, sugar. A very beautiful picture. Just like you,
sweetheart.”

Zoie blushed and went to Dad and gave him a kiss. “When will I learn that
daddies are the smartest people in the world?”

He was so proud of her. “Would you do Daddy a big favor?”

“Anything you ask."

“Will you show Trampis how beautiful the sun sets behind the
corral?”

Before she could answer, Trampis said, “I could only dream of how the
moonlight would reflect off your beautiful hair and eyes.”

She blushed. “I'd love to show you, but do you mind if my hair is in
rollers?”

“As long as it's you, I don’t mind what you wear or how you
look.” She raised and put out her hand to him. Zoie looked at Mom.
“You have a pretty sharp guy. He gets smarter every day. Dad, what time
do I need to be back inside?”

Dad looked at Mom and she smiled. “You'll know without us telling you.
Will you kiss us goodnight now, just in case we're in bed?”

She hugged and kissed them both and reminded them once more how much she loved
them.

Zoie put out her hand for Trampis. He rose from his chair and took it. They
left the porch hand-in-hand. Trampis was so nervous it showed right through to
Zoie. She looked into his eyes and said, “You're trembling, Trampis. I
won’t hurt you.”

“I’m sorry. I'm so afraid I'll say the wrong things and you'll
leave. I want this moment to last forever.”

She didn’t know what to say, so she took both his hands in hers.
“Don’t worry, just be yourself.” She looked into his eyes and
realized that until that night, she'd never noticed just how brown and sparkly
they were.

“You're just too beautiful for me to touch. I’ll say something
crazy like your Dad said when he mentioned your frame.”

“That's rancher talk when you buy a horse. If you want to buy me, or
check me out like a horse, you have to touch my legs and feel my back. You have
to check my mouth and teeth. I’ll help you.” She put her arms
around him and kissed him very passionately on his lips. Trampis’ heart
fluttered. She released him and asked, ”Is my mouth okay? If it is,
let’s go to another place.”

Then without a word, Trampis took her back in his arms and kissed her one more
time. ”Mouth is good and teeth are fine. I need water fast.”

Zoie was confused. “Are you thirsty?”

“Oh no! I need to sit in it awhile. I need cold water.”

She hugged him again and they both laughed. For the next two hours, they talked
and shared things with each other. Things like Zoie going to the local college
in town two days a week. She found out Trampis did also, but on different days.
He asked, “Zoie, can I change my two days to your schedule? We could ride
together.”

”That'd be great. I'll finally get to ride in that Cherokee with you and
have the windows down.”

“It’s your lucky day, girl. I'll unbutton the top button on my
shirt."

Zoie looked at him. “You’re a dog, you animal.”

Trampis grinned and kissed her forehead. “You’re crazy!”

“You’re running a close second.”

That night Zoie fell in love with him. He found out he loved her even more than
he thought. They'd spend many an evening at that corral fence just talking and
spending time together. The days Trampis worked the range, Zoie spent alone
with her paint brush and her friend Midnight.

One such morning Zoie was up early and had her supplies all ready and Nails
saddled when Trampis came into the barn. She kissed him bye and he said,
“Please, be careful of that crazy horse.”

“I will, my love, I promise.” She never told anyone but Mom how
close she and Midnight had become. Now when Zoie and Buck reached the trees,
Midnight was waiting for them. She would ride up and give him a lump of sugar
and say, “Lead the way, my friend.”

Midnight would throw back his head and blow and snort and off they would go
into the canyon. Once inside, Zoie would unsaddle Nails and let her graze with
the fillies while she painted. She would lay her saddle under the trees and
spread out her blanket. There was water, food and a few apples for Midnight in
her bag. He stood close by her while she quartered the apples. When she did
this, he knew it was time to pose for his pictures. Zoie decided that today she
wanted to go back against the cliff walls and paint Midnight with the stream
and canyon wall in the background.

She spotted a little overhang on the cliff about twenty feet above her head.
Zoie wanted to climb up there with her supplies and paint Midnight from that
direction. She strapped all her supplies and her easel on her back and
proceeded to climb up the cliff. Midnight was having a fit. He would rise on
his hind legs and whinny as if saying, “Please, don't go up
there!”

“Don’t worry, Daddy Midnight, I won’t fall.” In a few
minutes, she reached the overhang on the cliff. Midnight was more nervous and
frightened than she had ever seen him. He wouldn’t be still. Then she
noticed a cave in the rocks. Two blazing eyes were coming very fast towards her
from the cave. In seconds, the largest cougar she had ever seen was right on
top of her. Zoie had two choices: stand her ground or jump. She knew if she
stayed there, she'd be mauled to death. She jumped with all her equipment still
on her back.

When she hit the ground, she heard and felt her leg break. Within seconds, the
cougar was over her. All she could do was close her eyes and await her fate.
Then she heard a thud and a painful cry come from the cougar. Midnight was
standing over Zoie. He had kicked the cougar and it landed several feet away.
Midnight put himself between her and that cougar. A few seconds later, Buck was
rolling on the ground with the cougar. He was doing well for a while, but the
larger cougar was just too much for him. Midnight planted his rear feet no more
than a few feet from Zoie and with his front feet, he pawed the cougar until it
lay lifeless on the ground.

Buck lay a few feet from them, but he was still alive. All the fillies,
including Nails, had huddled together, awaiting the outcome of the fight. When
Midnight was sure the cougar was dead he turned and with his nose, kissed Zoie.
She was crying. “Thank you, my friend, for saving my life."

Zoie looked over at Buck and pleaded for him to come to her. He whined, but
could hardly move. Then she realized her death could be near. No one knew where
she was and even if they did, it'd take hours to get to her. Not even a
helicopter could land in that canyon, even if they found her in time. She was
afraid she'd be dead by morning. There was no way she could survive the cold
night with no cover, food or water. All her supplies were too far from her to
get to them. For the first time in her life, she was scared. She had to think.
She unbuckled her backpack. She broke her easel in two pieces with the
intentions of making a splint. Then she realized her backpack didn’t have
enough straps to go around her legs.

Once more she had met her fate. With tears in her eyes, she looked at Midnight
and said, “If you could only bring me Nails' saddle, I might be able to
find the things I need to splint my leg and try to crawl out of here.”
She bowed her head. “Oh Father, do you have just one more miracle you
could send me?”

Then she realized Midnight had Nails' saddle by the horn and was dragging it to
her. He put it right beside her and then gently kissed her cheek. She patted
his nose and looked toward heaven. “You don’t fool around, do
you?” She took off the blanket straps and buckled them around her
splinted leg. Then she realized her water and food was on the blanket under the
tree. She wasn’t much better off. Her leg hurt so much and she was so
thirsty. Then Midnight went back to the spot where she first quartered his
apple. He picked up a piece and Zoie told him,. “Enjoy it, Midnight,
you've earned it today.”

Midnight turned toward her and when he was over her, he dropped the piece of
apple in her lap. He made two more trips. He gave her the last three pieces of
the apple. Then to her surprise, he went to the tree where the blanket was. He
took the corner and very slowly dragged it to her. The canteen and a sack with
a few pieces of chicken wre on it. Zoie broke down in tears and thought, Oh
Daddy, if you could only see this killer horse right now. Please God, watch
over Midnight when I'm gone. Always keep him free like you made him.

Then she noticed Midnight nudging Buck toward her. He could walk, but very
slowly. He crawled next to her and lay his head on her. She patted him and
said, “Buck, we have spent our lives together and I guess we'll die
together.”



Midnight had done all he could for them that day, but he never left
Zoie’s side. His eyes were on the cliff and his feet were ready to send
anything flying that approached Zoie or Buck.

Back at the ranch, her parents knew something was wrong. Trampis was pacing the
porch. Dad said, “I just know that killer horse has hurt her.”

“Darling, Zoie has to be okay,” Mom told him.

“Can we go search for her?” Trampis asked.

“Yes," Dad said, "saddle Mom a horse.”

“I'll saddle us all one. I'll get some guys to help us look. It'll be
dark soon and when the sun goes down, it'll get cold.”

It was almost dark when they reached the edge of that cliff. They
couldn’t see any horses or any movement at all from the position they
were looking from. Dad said, “She has to be between here and the
ranch.”

They left, not knowing that Zoie and all the horses were at the bottom of that
cliff. Soon darkness was upon them. Zoie covered herself and Buck with the
blanket and moved as close to him as she could. The heat from his body would
help keep her warm. The next thing she knew Midnight and all the fillies were
around them in a circle.. Midnight made sure nothing would get to her.

Trampis and Zoie’s parents sat in the house that night waiting for
daybreak. Minutes seem like hours. Finally Mom couldn't stand it anymore. She
broke down in tears. Immediately, Dad and Trampis were next to her. Dad took
her in his arms.

“Please, forgive me. If anything has happened to Zoie, it’s my
fault. I've caused you to lose your daughter. I knew she was around Midnight,
but I promised her I wouldn't tell. What kind of mom am I? Marie would not have
let this happen.”


The words would not come from her mouth anymore, only tears from her eyes. She
whispered, “Pleases, Trampis... Carson... forgive me.”

Dad kissed away her tears. She touched and wiped away the tears on his own
cheeks. “Princess, you haven’t called me Carson since Marie died. I
love you so very much. You haven't done, or caused anything, to make this
happen. What do you mean you're not a good mom? Just look at our little girl.
Marie cared for her for only four years. You have had her fifteen years. Then
to make matters worse, I became part of the package.

"I want to tell you a story. Trampis, you listen to, if you want. About twenty
years ago, a man met the most magnificent girl in the world. She gave him a
beautiful little girl. Then God called her home. This man was ready to give up.
He couldn’t care for himself and now he had a three-year-old daughter to
take care of. He looked into heaven and asked, 'What do I do, Lord? Why even
try to go on? I don’t want to be here anymore. Give me just one reason
for living.' Then he felt five little fingers in his hand. Those five little
fingers hadn’t been there before. He closed his eyes, then opened them.
There was his little girl, and next to her was a princess. The princess picked
up that little girl and she asked that man to sit down. He did and they took a
seat beside him.

"She said, 'You have so much to live for and you're not alone. You be the dad
you've been for the last four years and let God do the rest.' For the last
several hours, all three of us have prepared ourselves for the worst. We'll
face this when and if the time comes. It's almost daybreak Let’s bring
Zoie home.”

Trampis took each of them by the hand. ”Sir, may I ask a question before
we leave?”

“Sure son, anything you want."

"Everyone on the ranch calls you Boss. Your beautiful wife is known as Mom.
Even the old guys here call her Mom like Zoie does. I know you call her Mom,
and she calls you Dad. Did you have a name for her when Zoie was just a
baby?”

“Yes, I haven’t called her that for years. She called me Carson
awhile ago. That's my name. I called her Princess, just like Marie did before
she died.”

“I thought so. Thank you for the story. Can we go get Zoie now?"

“You can count on it. She may put up a fight, but I think the three of us
can take her.”

When Mom, Dad and Trampis got to the barn, Ram Rod had their horses saddled. He
said, “Sir, I want to send six guys with you, and all the rest of us will
stay and watch the ranch. If Zoie beats you home, I'll call you on your cell
phone.”

“Make it happen," the boss said. "We're going back to the rim of
Midnight’s canyon. Mom thinks she's in there. If we haven’t found
her by lunchtime, find me a crane with a 50 foot boom and 500 feet of cable.
We'll have to lower a basket down to the bottom. A helicopter can't land and a
climber can't climb the face of that cliff. It's slag stone and the walls are
not safe.”

Soon they reached the canyon. ”We'll split up into two groups," Boss
said. "We'll circle this big hole in the ground and meet on the north edge. I
think that's as close to the bottom as we can get. We can stay in touch by the
phones. I wish Zoie would pack her phone, but if she's in this canyon it won't
pick up anyway.”

About an hour later, they all met on the north rim. There was no sign of Zoie
or any of the horses anywhere. Trampis pleaded, “Please Boss, tie a
safety rope around me and I'll lean over the wall as far as I can. I’ll
use binoculars and if she's there, I'll find her.”

“Be careful,” Mom said.

Trampis tied a safety rope around him and the other end was tied to a horse. In
a few minutes, he said, “She's there. I see her.”

“Tie a rope around me, I want to see,” Mom said.

In a few minutes all nine people were looking over the edge of the cliff. All
had a safety rope and the ends were hooked to their horses. They were used to
this, but today instead of calves being roped, it was their riders. They
couldn’t believe their eyes. There on the ground lay Zoie. A few feet
away was Buck, and three feet from Zoie’s head stood Midnight. Then they
saw the dead cougar.

“Oh God, he's going to trample her right before our eyes,” Dad
said.

“What can we do?" Trampis asked. "We can’t shoot that crazy horse.
He's too far away.”

“Pray," Mom said. "Please, pray for a miracle.”

Everything was quiet. Then they saw Midnight walk even closer than before. He
went down on his front legs. They all watch as Zoie took hold of
Midnight’s mane and pulled herself onto his back. While she was holding
on, Midnight stood up with her on his back. Very slowly he turned and walked
toward the south end of the canyon with her. Everyone watching was in shock,
even Mom. Zoie had said they were best friends, but never in their wildest
dreams had any of them thought that crazy, wild horse would let anyone ride
him. But they had watched him kneel, so she could mount.

Dad said, “If we only knew where they'll exit out from that big hole in
the ground....”

“Call it a woman thing, if you want," Mom said, "but call 911 and have a
chopper land at the main entrance of the Rocking Z. That’s where Midnight
will take her.”

Dad called 911 and gave them that information. Then he asked, “Can you
land and cut the engine? You'll have to be on the ground and in the chopper
when that black stallion gets there. You'll see nine riders on horseback when
you arrive. Your patient will arrive a few minutes after you land. She's a
nineteen-year-old female. We've only seen her from the rim of a cliff. She's at
the bottom. It looks as if she has a splint on her lower left leg. That's all
we can tell you.”

The chopper was only thirty minutes away. It'd take hours for a ground
ambulance to get there. Dad’s next call was to the ranch. “We found
her, and she looks okay. When we know more, you'll know more.”

When they reached the gate, the chopper was hovering over them. He set it down
and killed the engine. Dad explained about Midnight. “I don’t know
what he'll do when he gets here. He may be terrified of this chopper.”

Then Trampis saw them through the binoculars. He wanted to ride out as fast as
he could toward her, but as hard as it was, he sat there.

“I can’t stand this,” Mom said.

“I know. So you, Trampis and I will ride out about 100 feet and
wait.”

Soon Zoie was in talking distance. She was rubbing Midnight’s neck and
saying to him, “It's okay, boy.' He obeyed her every command. He'd raise
his head high and blow through his nostrils. Midnight was frightened, but he
cared more for Zoie than he did his freedom.

Mom shouted to her, ”Are you okay, sugar?”

“Yes, I broke my leg.”

Very cautiously, Midnight approached them. They let him come to them. He stood
still as they helped her off. Mom was crying and Zoie was crying. Dad and
Trampis wiped their eyes, then Dad took a lump of sugar from his vest pocket.
He held it out for Midnight. Midnight thought for a few seconds, then took the
sugar. Dad said, “Thank you, boy, for bringing our baby home. You and
your girls are welcome on this ranch any time.”

Trampis had Zoie in his arms. He kissed her and asked, “Did I tell you
how much I love you?”

“I think so, but tell me again.” He did, then he helped her toward
the chopper.

Soon they had her on the stretcher and examined her. Midnight stood at his 100
foot distance and watched. They heard another chopper overhead. Dad’s
phone rang. It was Ram Rod. “We're going to set down beside you. Which
side do you want us on?”

“Keep us between you and Midnight.”

“Ok, Boss. I canceled the crane and ordered the chopper. I knew you'd
want to go to the hospital. I'll take the three horses back, and you, Mom and
Trampis follow Zoie."

“Thank you. I never thought about the hospital being hours away by
car.”

A short time later Zoie and all her family were in the emergency room. She had
a broken leg about halfway between the knee and ankle. She got a cast and soon
they were ready to leave. Mom and Zoie talked while Trampis and Dad conversed
to the helicopter pilot. Dad said, “Trampis, we need a chopper with a
3000 acre ranch. If you'll learn to fly, I'll buy one.”

Trampis grinned and the pilot just looked at him. Before anyone could speak,
Trampis said, “It'd be cool if I could learn and we had our own
chopper.” Then he looked at the pilot and winked.

Soon Mom and Zoie were ready to leave. Trampis and Mom finally got her in a
wheelchair and they left for the private landing pad at the hospital. They
loaded Zoie and Trampis said, “Mom, you and Dad ride back here with Zoie
and I'll sit up front. Ok?”

Dad grinned and he told Zoie, “Trampis wants to play helicopter pilot."

He helped everyone get buckled up. Then the pilot got in on the wrong side.
Trampis got in the pilot seat. He put on a headset and started the chopper.
While it sat there and warmed up, he was on the radio asking for permission to
take off. Soon he had clearance and they lifted off. He took the headset from
one ear and asked, “Mom and Zoie, what color chopper do you two like? Dad
has promised to buy us one.”

They both said, “Red!”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I forgot to tell you I was in the military just
before I started at the Rocking Z. I flew a chopper the last twelve months.

“Thanks, son. My mouth just cost me $140,000.”

“Daddy, I can’t believe I’m saying this but you can herd
cattle with a chopper. Trampis can take the left flank and Midnight and I can
take the right.”

Dad smiled. “I can write The Red Dawn off on taxes if we use her to herd
cattle. Zoie, you're right. I'm pretty smart for an old guy.”

“And you're HOT too!” Mom said.

The helicopter had been up only a few minutes and they were already over
Rocking Z land. They approached the main gate where they had last seen
Midnight. Trampis turned toward Zoie and said, ”Look out your
window.” She did and a smile came over her face. In fact, all of them
looked below as Trampis hovered for a while. Midnight’s head was up and
he watched as the helicopter hovered there.

Trampis turned to Dad and said, “I have five dollars that says he'll
follow us to the ranch house.”

Midnight came through that gate and never let the chopper out of his sight. Dad
asked Trampis, “Can you push in the clutch once more and stop up here for
a minute?”

Trampis and Zoie grinned at Dad and he eased back on the joystick. The
helicopter hovered. Dad was on his cell phone. He called Ram Rod and said,
“We'll be at the ranch house with Zoie in a few minutes. We think that
crazy horse might follow us to the house and check on Zoie. If he does,
don’t let anyone bother him.”

Ram Rod said, “Don’t worry, Boss, that horse is miles from
here.”

Dad looked out the window and when the helicopter stopped, Midnight stopped.
Zoie had a grin from ear-to-ear. Dad replied back to Ram Rod, “I have a
ten dollar bill that says when we land, the midnight horse will be
there.”

“I'll take your ten, Boss." Mom gave Dad one of those looks.

“Well, Trampis did it to me, and it cost me $140,000. Ram Rod got off
easy,” Dad told her.

“I’m sorry, Dad," Trampis said. "I'll split the ten dollars from
Ram Rod, if you like. I’ll take five and you take five. Will that make
you feel better?”

“That’s a start." Zoie and Mom got a big kick out of this one.

Then Zoie asked, “Dad, how did we ever come to own a 3000 acre
ranch?”

“Hard work,” Dad proudly answered,

“You see," Zoie told Trampis, "you don’t need brains to get ahead,
do you Mom?”

Mom shook her head no. “Dad is living proof.”

Minutes later, they had the house in sight. Ram Rod and all the guys were in
front of the bunkhouse.. Midnight was under the helicopter. Trampis hovered and
turned the front to face Midnight. He lowered the front and raised the tail of
the chopper high. Zoie was beside Trampis with her face against the bubble.
Midnight saw her. He stood still, and very slowly Trampis backed away about 100
feet. Midnight never moved and was still watching Zoie’s every move. As
soon as they were down, Trampis cut the engine and the blades slowly came to a
stop.

Trampis got out, and Zoie couldn’t wait to get her feet on the ground.
Soon she was there and had her crutches under her arms. Midnight blew and
raised his head high. Dad told Zoie, “Go on, darling, go to your
friend.”

She took off as fast as she could. Midnight met her halfway. She hugged his
neck and rubbed and patted him. He was as happy to see her as she was to see
him.

Then she placed her hands on the sides of his face. She looked into his big
eyes and said, “Thank you, Midnight. You saved my life. Please promise me
you'll come back to this ranch. I promise you no one will try to hurt or
capture you or any of your fillies. My home is your home. If you return
tomorrow, bring your girls with you. I'll have a very pleasant surprise for
you.”

She rubbed his nose and searched her vest for a lump of sugar. She had one
little piece left in a zip-lock bag. She placed it in his mouth.
“Good-bye.” As she backed away, she said, “See you tomorrow,
my friend.” When she was about twenty feet away, he stood on his hind
legs. He came down on all fours and ran away.

Zoie went back to her dad and asked him if they could put a hay-feeder out from
the corral for Midnight and his fillies. Dad said, “Of course we can, and
a trough for water. I was wrong about your Midnight. If I hadn’t seen
this with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. I'd like to talk to
you and Trampis after supper tonight. I have to talk to Mom first, then both of
us will talk to you two.”

“This will work out perfect," Trampis said. "There's something I have to
ask you and Mom and tonight I'll do that also." He looked at Zoie. “You
must be worn out. I'll walk you to your room if you'll take a nap.”

She smiled at him. “Do you still love me even if I'm crippled?”

“Yes, forever and always.”

They started toward the house and once inside, she sat down and asked,
”Trampis, will you wet a cloth for me so I can wash my face?”


He did and when he returned, he insisted on washing her face while she relaxed.
As he wiped her face, he said, “I need to ask you something,
Zoie.”

She crossed her fingers. “What is it?”

He looked into her big, brown eyes. “Will you marry me?”

“YES! YES!”

“I was so afraid you'd say no.”

She kissed him. “Are we going to finish school first?”

“We'll see what Mom and Dad think. I just want to start taking care of
you as soon as possible. Please, try to rest awhile. I'll be back later and
we'll talk to your folks.”

A few hours later, Boss told Ram Rod to send Trampis to the house. Zoie and Mom
wanted him to have supper with them. Trampis got his message and dressed in his
best outfit. When he got to the house and Boss saw him, he said, “I bet I
know what you're going to ask tonight. There has been more squeals and hugs
from Zoie and Mom tonight than on Christmas morning.”

Mom and Zoie entered the room, and Mom hugged Trampis Then Zoie kissed his
cheek. Trampis insisted Zoie sit with Dad while he helped finish supper. Mom
said, “It's almost ready, so both of you sit with him.”

“Yes, son, have a seat and tell me what kind of helicopter we
need.”

“We need one small enough to herd cattle and large enough to carry six
adults, counting myself as pilot. There'll be Zoie and you and Mom and that
will leave room for two more.”

“That was easy enough. I’ll make some calls tomorrow and you can
pick it out. Zoie, would you like to spend the day with your man and your Daddy
tomorrow?”

”Sure!”

“Mom, would you consider making it a double date?” he asked his
wife.

“I'd love it. Zoie and I have to come along so we can make sure we get a
red helicopter.”

“Red is a must. Now we got that out of the way, let’s go to the
next thing.”

“We'll finish talking at the table,” Mom said.

They were all seated and Dad said the blessing. As they passed the bowls
around, he said, “Trampis, tell us now what you need, and I'll go
last.”

“Yes, sir.” He took Zoie’s hand. “I've asked Zoie to be
my wife, but only if I have your blessing.”

Mom was up and had her arms around Trampis and Zoie before Dad could speak.
“I guess that answers your question. Yes son, it'd make us proud to have
you as our son.”

“Have you set a date? We have a lot to do," Mom said.

“No Mom, not yet. When Zoie says so, we'll do it. We have to figure out
what to do about school. With us going two days a week, it'll take awhile to
finish. I’m fine with us going married, if that's suitable with
you.”

“Mom and I have already talked tonight because we prayed this was what
you wanted to ask. We have decided to give you a wedding present early. If you
and Zoie would like to get married soon, that's fine. Mom and I want you to
finish your schooling five days a week. Both of you can go full-time. We'll pay
for each of you, and neither of your salaries will be affected. You'll own the
Rocking Z some day and when you graduate, each of your salaries will be
increased considerably. I'll tell Ram Rod to find a replacement for you,
Trampis, because I want you in the chopper. I want to see what 3000 acres looks
like from the air. In a few years I'd like for you and Zoie to call all the
shots around here. Mom and I will be consultants only if you need us.”

The next few weeks Zoie did a lot of painting and no riding at all. She wanted
that cast off so badly. It'd been days since she'd seen Midnight. If they'd
only deliver the helicopter, she could look for him from the air, but it'd be
weeks before that would happen.

Then one morning Zoie couldn’t believe her eyes. She saw Midnight slowly
walking toward the house and all his fillies were behind him. She picked up her
phone and called for Trampis to come immediately, then called her parents and
nearly scared them to death. In minutes, they were all there. She could only
point toward the horizon. They saw what she did. Midnight and all his fillies
were coming right toward the house. When they got a little closer, they could
see Midnight had a little foal with him. He was pushing him along. They could
tell he was just a few hours old.

Midnight made all the fillies stop at the feeder, then he continued on to the
barn. Zoie was up and after him. Everyone stopped about 50 feet from him, but
Zoie crutched herself right up to him. She hugged his neck and rubbed him.
Midnight wanted the foal in the barn. Zoie noticed the foal looked just like
him. “My friend, this has to be your son. Where's his mom? He has to
eat.”

Midnight blew through his nostrils. He wanted the foal in the barn. Dad said to
Zoie, “Slide open the door and let him in. Tell Midnight you need Trampis
and me to help you. We'll feed him with the bottle bucket.”

“Dad, I think that's what Midnight is trying to tell us.” Zoie took
Midnight’s head in her hands and said, "My friend, Dad and Trampis are
going to help me. Don’t be afraid, they won't touch you, I
promise.”

It was as if he understood, and Zoie said, “Dad, you and Trampis approach
us slowly.” They did and she talked to Midnight the whole time. He was
very nervous. Midnight watched as Dad and Trampis fixed a bucket of formula and
started to feed the foal. He was starved. Then the strangest thing happened.
Midnight tried to close the door with the foal inside. He wanted the foal to
stay.

They closed the door, and the foal didn’t mind at all. He wanted the milk
out of that bucket. Then Midnight knelt down on his front knees. He wanted Zoie
to get on and come with him. “I can’t ride with a cast. Trampis,
will you hook up the buckboard? Midnight wants us to follow him.”

In a few minutes, the buckboard was hooked to horses and Trampis helped Zoie
onboard. Dad said, “Get in, Mom. I got to see what this crazy horse is up
to.”

Trampis took off and Zoie said, “Lead us, Midnight." Midnight threw back
his head, snorted and off he ran. He would run ahead, then stop and wait until
they caught up. He did this a few times and soon they saw what Midnight was so
upset about. It was the foal’s mother. She was down and not moving.

Trampis and Dad were out of that wagon fast, checking the mare. Midnight stayed
by Zoie and when Mom helped her to the ground, Zoie approached the downed mare
with Midnight at her heels. As long as she was close, Midnight would approach
Trampis and Dad. This big horse felt secure as long as Zoie was between him and
any other human. Trampis looked at her and said, “The mare died during
childbirth.”

Zoie put her hand on Midnight’s neck and softly spoke to him.
“She’s gone, boy. I’m sorry, but don’t worry about your
new son. When he's ready, you come get him any time. Just bring him back at
feeding time.”

Trampis and Dad stood beside Zoie, and this made Midnight very nervous. She
talked to him and calmed him down. “Go, boy! Go back the barn!”
Midnight was off like a flash. He'd stay a little ahead until they got closer
to the house. Midnight saw riders, so he dropped back beside the buckboard.
They slowed and Zoie said, “It's okay, my friend. I promise no one will
harm you.”

They walked right to the door of the stable. This time Zoie didn’t wait
for anyone to help her down. She took Midnight by the neck and slid off that
buckboard. Trampis, Mom and Dad unloaded on the opposite side. Trampis slid
open the door and Zoie and Midnight walked right in the stable and up to the
stall.

One of the guys had given the foal a bath, and he looked so handsome. Zoie
patted the foal. “Midnight, can we call him Charcoal?” Midnight
blew as if to say okay. Zoie slid open the stall door, but Midnight put his
mouth on it and tried to close it. Zoie smiled and asked, “Do you want
him to stay here for a few days?” Then she hugged his neck.

All this time, no one else in that stable said a word. They were afraid they
might spook this wild horse. He'd let Zoie do anything she wanted because he
trusted her. He trusted her enough to walk into a stable. All the while, Zoie
kept on talking to her friend. She rubbed his neck and asked him to come
outside. Midnight followed her outside.

“The door will be open, boy. You can come and go as you please. When
you're ready to take Charcoal out, let me know. My cast comes off in a couple
of days and we can take him out together. Go, boy!”

Midnight backed away a few feet and reared up on his hind legs. Soon he was out
of sight and Mom said, ”I held my breath all the time that horse was
near.”

“We have nothing to fear from that horse as long as Zoie is close,”
Dad said. "That crazy horse will put himself between Zoie and a deadly cougar,
but he needs her between him and another human. Can you imagine what that horse
would do if someone tried to hurt you, Zoie?”

“We're friends,” his daughter said.

“I can tell.” He turned to Trampis. “Make sure everyone on
this ranch knows thst when that horse is around here to stay away from Zoie and
respect that horse’s every wish.”

Late that next afternoon Zoie had Charcoal outside and Trampis was
bucket-feeding him. She was giving Charcoal a bath. They heard someone say,
“You’re going to spoil that foal to death.”

Zoie and Trampis looked around and saw mom and dad. They had a big package.
Zoie dried her hands and her curiosity got the best of her. “What’s
in the package?”

“Mom and I wanted to get Midnight something for saving your life and
bringing you home to us.”

“Open it and give it to him for us,” Mom said.

Zoie’s cast had been removed that morning and she was jumping around and
couldn’t wait to get into that package. She tore it open and
couldn’t believe her eyes. It was the most beautiful black saddle she had
ever seen. It was made of leather as soft as a big leather chair. It weighed
almost nothing. With it was a matching halter made with a very thin and soft
strap. At the nose, on each side, was a place for reins to be attached. There
was also a black saddle blanket.

“The blanket is made of special material just for wild stallions," Dad
said. "He'll never know he has on the saddle. He'll just feel the weight of
your body against him. The saddle was designed only for your bottom and no one
else's. I don’t think we have anything to worry about, because Midnight
won’t let anyone else touch him, let alone get on his back.”

Zoie laid the saddle down and hugged and thanked both of them. They looked on
as she combed and brushed Charcoal while Trampis fed him supper.

They heard a horse neigh in the distance. Looking toward the gate, they saw it
was Midnight. Zoie whistled and he came toward them as fast as his legs could
carry him. He ran straight toward Zoie and placed his big, long neck over her
so she could pat and rub him. Trampis was within two feet of this wild horse,
but Zoie was next to him. Trampis never spoke a word, he just held the bucket.
Zoie was so excited to see Midnight.

“Midnight, my cast is off and I have a surprise for you.” The horse
had already spotted the package and the black thing in it. “Don’t
be alarmed, boy. Check it out.”

Midnight walked right over to it and smelled it. Then he gently took it by the
horn and pulled it toward Zoie. Dad very softly said, “Zoie, he wants you
to ride him.”

She rubbed and hugged Midnight’s neck. “Is that what you want? Let
me show you all your stuff.” She walked over and took the halter. She let
him smell it first, then slipped it on his head. She adjusted it, softly
talking to him all the time. Midnight didn’t mind at all. Then she let
him smell the blanket, and she spread it over his back. He stood perfectly
still. Very gently, she laid the saddle across his back and reached under and
secured the cinch.

“Trampis, saddle up. You come with me so Mom won’t have a heart
attack.”

Mom just smiled. “Thank you.”

Zoie led Midnight around and let him get the feel of that saddle. Trampis
mounted up and said, “I’m ready when you are.”

Zoie took hold of the saddle horn and was on Midnight’s back in a flash.
He stood perfectly still and didn’t make a move until he heard the
command from Zoie. She had her feet in the stirrups and her knees dug into
Midnight’s sides. “Go, boy!”

He was out and twenty feet ahead of Trampis before you could blink. Midnight
stopped and Zoie eased up high on the reins and said, “Up, boy!”
Midnight was up on his hind legs. Zoie and Midnight were a team.

Mom and dad watched as their little Zoie rode off. Dad took mom in his arms and
said, “As hard as it is, we have nothing to fear. That horse and Trampis
would kill for that little girl. As long as they're with her, we have nothing
to worry about.

“Now that we're alone, I can ask your feelings about something I want to
do for those kids.” Mom looked into Carson’s eyes. “Princess,
would you mind if we deeded one thousand acres of this ranch to the kids? The
southwest portion. That’s where Midnight’s canyon lies. I know one
day it'll all be theirs, but I'd like for Zoie to have that canyon now.”

Princess gave him another kiss and said, “I think that'd make a wonderful
wedding gift. I hope Marie knows how happy her little girl is now.”

Dad grinned at Princess and looked into her eyes. “God alone made
Midnight and put the love in his heart for Zoie. I'll always believe Marie had
something to do with that. I believe God lets her watch over us all. Princess,
if not for you, I'd have given up. God put you in my life and I believe Marie
wanted this, just like she wanted Trampis and Midnight for Zoie.”



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