John A. Frochio
"The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears."
The large horse appeared one spring day wandering the popular and busy open air marketplace of our small town. Retired and alone, I had nothing else to do and nowhere in particular to go, so I decided to follow it. It was the lunch hour and the streets were overcrowded with harried and hungry hurrying people. Though the huge beast appeared to be quite docile, most went out of their way to avoid it. It discreetly ate of the spoils dropped by clumsy shoppers and negligent vendors on the streets and sidewalks, moving in and out in a leisurely fashion so as not to scare anyone with its massive presence.
I continued to follow its rambling course. Throughout the day, it roamed the streets, never accosting anyone, never causing any damage, never approaching anyone too closely. True, it did cause some significant traffic snarls on occasion, but that could happen on any day for any ridiculous reason.
Since the large horse moved slowly and deliberately, I was able to keep up with the animal easily and at a safe distance. I intentionally did not get too close to the creature. I didn't want to provoke it to any form of agitation or aggression. As a soldier in my past life, I understood the importance of cautious surveillance.
I studied the beast as I followed it. I estimated its height from hoof to mane at twenty-five feet. Its fur was a fine and beautiful golden hue. It appeared well-groomed, as though it had been well cared for by a loving trainer.
Many thoughts muddied my mind concerning the large horse.
Who indeed was its trainer? Where was its master? Who would let such a fabulous beast wander freely, clearly so far from its home? And indeed, where was the home of such a magnificent creature? I speculated about a mythical homestead in an alternate universe. My theories frequently went far astray of sense and reason.
As the afternoon sun dropped, I followed it into our tiny park across from the municipal building. It stopped when a small child approached. I caught my breath. This could end badly, but it was too late for me to intervene. The boy, no more than six years old, held out his tiny hand, offering the horse an apple, which had one small bite taken out of it. Before the boy got too close, his mother snatched him away. The apple dropped to the grass as the mother and boy hurried away quickly. The horse cautiously sniffed, then ate the apple.
Eventually the horse lay down, covering nearly half of the park's expanse. It appeared to go to sleep. I continued to stare at the magnificent creature, still astounded at its beauty and sheer size. After a while, I realized I hadn't eaten since breakfast and so I left, certain I had some still palatable leftovers in my small refrigerator.
The next day I heard the large horse was found dead in the park. After they examined the body, they systematically carved it up. They gave horse meat to the homeless shelters. They donated its fur to cancer hairpiece organizations. Other parts were given to medical research labs. A taxidermist preserved its head and placed it on a pedestal at the center of our park.
I visited the park often after that. I would sit and contemplate many things while gazing upon the monument of the large horse. I came to realize its life and purpose had ultimately been fulfilled in a beautiful way. But I continued to wonder where it had come from, and why it had come here of all places, a place where no one appreciated the constant sacrifice of everyday heroes.
©John A. Frochio 2017 All Rights Reserved
Date and time of last update 10:50 Thu 24 Aug 2017
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