Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pegasus by Marilyn Holdsworth @m_holdsworth

at 8:15 AM


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Gravel sprayed from beneath the tires as the truck pulled onto the open highway. Buddy Winters jerked the wheel to the right and headed toward Southern California’s I-5. He pushed his cowboy hat back and cursed as the pounding hooves in the horse van behind jolted the cab. He swore as he accelerated, “Goddamn Hammer Head.” He’d had trouble loading him in the first place. It took a blindfold and a rope around his rump to haul him on board.

“Jesus, what a pain in the ass this trip is gonna be with him stompin’ and yellin’ all the way,” he muttered. ’Course the pay was good, mighty good for only hauling three, but that Hammer Head made a dozen all by himself. But Vince Rossi was in a hurry to move him, so he’d come through with the cash, half up front and the rest when Buddy delivered. Buddy patted the wad of cash in his jeans pocket. Old Man Rossi would turn over in his grave if he saw how hard his son was pushing those animals. Buddy scowled at the memory of the senior Rossi. Never let me transport any of his horses, not after that bay cut her leg and came in lame, Buddy thought bitterly. Hell, not my fault she pitched the whole way.

“Enough to drive a man crazy, and now this nag today is every bit as bad,” he grumbled as he stomped on the gas. ’Course if he tossed him about a little to shut him up, the nag couldn’t talk. Even if he could, where he was going nobody would be listening. So what if he played with him a bit? Shouldn’t be shrieking like a banshee back there, stirring up the others. A crescendo of whinnying drowned out the twangy country song on the radio. Again Buddy cursed, and this time he hit the brakes hard, accelerated, and then hit them again. He repeated this three or four times. He heard the horse slam against the side of the van. “Shut up back there.” He turned up the radio. Yes, siree, he’d make good time and collect from Rossi, maybe get a little extra if he was ahead of schedule. Never could’ve worked with the old man. Hell, he expected you to go slow with them, treat them like royalty. Seemed like he wanted you to stop every couple of hours, shovel out the shit, and feed them sugar lumps laced with champagne. But not Vince. He was a gambling man and knew how to make money out of these hay burners. Just like he’d do if he owned them, Buddy acknowledged approvingly. Make the money and head for a tropical island with girls in the sun. Buddy smiled at the thought of girls. His expression soured again when he remembered he’d asked Millie to make this run with him, only to have her turn him down. Damn lonely out on the road. She should have come.

The truck picked up speed as it moved into the flat country. Buddy watched the rearview mirror carefully; no need to get pulled over. After all, he was after a bonus for early delivery. The miles fell away as the day wore on, interrupted only by the stomping of the horse in the van and Buddy’s violent stop-and-go driving. He’d known that horse was going to be trouble as soon as he’d looked at him. The sleek chestnut coat had shone in the sunlight, glistening like it had been sprinkled with gold. Never before had he seen a horse that color at the track. Most were bays or dark sorrels with an occasional gray, but this one had a different look and a different temperament to go with it. Defiant and proud, he dared anyone to try to beat him. Guess that was what Vince Rossi saw in him, too. The way he ran him, most horses would have broken down. How many races had he put him in one right after the other? Jeez, the guy was sure out to make the money, use them up, and get rid of them.

The van lurched again, this time smashing Buddy against the steering wheel, and he swore again. He checked the time and his location. Hell, just over the next ridge was the Quick Stop Café. Maybe he’d do just that, make a quick stop. And if he was lucky, that Tammy would be there serving the food and drinks. Tammy - what a dumb name for a kid stuck out in the sticks with no future and an old man about as dumb as her name sounded. With a name like that you’d think she was in the movies or on TV or something. But hell, she sure seemed friendly last time he came through. Maybe he’d get lucky, real lucky, this time. Like maybe her old man was out of town—that kind of lucky. Buddy smirked to himself. He prided himself on knowing women, and this little piece looked like she could use some action. Jeez, that tight little T-shirt was stuck down in her jeans so far that her tits poked out like buttons. He squirmed at the thought of Tammy and her T-shirts. Yeah, he’d make a stop. And if he got real lucky, like in-the-sack lucky, he’d make up the time by taking a shortcut he knew. Not a very good road, but it sure would cut off the miles, and a few bumps and grinds would do that old Hammer Head in the back some good. Yeah, he’d look in on Tammy.

Buddy guided the van into the parking area, where a few semi-trailer trucks were already scattered across the dirt lot. He climbed out of the cab and headed for the café. The restless pawing in the van made him hesitate for a moment. Maybe if he pitched them a little hay they’d settle down. But hell, he didn’t want to stop for that, and besides, no way did he want to give old Hammer Head more energy.

* * *


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Genre - Adventure / Romance

Rating - Adult

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