It really seemed like my horse was telling me he liked Beethoven, so, figuring what the hell, I went to the shed, dug out the ol’ Victrola, and set it up by the stable.
“Symphony or sonata?” I asked, flipping through dusty records in an old pine box. The horse just twitched its tail. I didn’t find that to be entirely scrutable, so I put on the 9th, because what the fuck, might as well start with the classics. I got it going, then went back to sit in my chair beside him and look down the field to the river.
There we sat, listening to the 9th while the day started. Sun was good, bright and warm. I put my hand up on the horse’s neck, gave it a solid pat because I was feeling better and better about this new and extraordinary friend of mine and the time we were spending with ol’ Ludwig. Marveled again at the feel of horsehair on horsehide–warm and complete beneath a hand with a real meant-to-be feel to it.
My horse let me know he was having a great time. I let him know I was, too. Pretty perfect way to spend a morning, we both agreed.
Later on, Mavis came by. “You listenin’ to Beethoven?” he asked.
“That we are,” I said.
“We? You mean, you and … you and your horse? You and your horse are listening to Beethoven?”
I pointed at the horse. “He likes it. Ask him.”
Mavis sort-of laughed, like he thought I was kidding, or making some joke. He ran his finger along the Victrola. “Where did you find this old thing?”
“In the shed. Don’t touch it,” I said, and the horse whinnied and shook its goddamned head right in Mavis’s direction. I couldn’t stop laughing about that. I couldn’t stop feeling like me and that horse, we were gonna be in it together, riding down the dust until all the sun was gone.
Well, Mavis took the hint and shuffled off. I heard he started calling me an asshole sometime after that. Might’ve asked him about it, but he stopped coming around, anyway.
Me? Shit, to this day I can’t listen to the fucking 9th–or anything else by ol’ Ludwig, for that matter. It still hurts, what happened later.
I still miss those mornings.
I still miss that horse.