Clifton was a man of a
small stature who found his roots somewhere out of the hills of Kentucky
and that was after his ancestors had left Scotland. All his life he lived
and grew up in the oil patch of Oklahoma where his father worked the crude
fields. Education was one thing and that was brought about by the schools.
The strong culture of the hill people was another matter. Clifton lived
his life vacillating between these two cultures. To complicate things even
more he married into a mixed Native American culture who knew of their
Welsh, European roots too. Even if the man was an anthropologist he
probably would have been at risk to understand what he couldn't
Deep within him were the
strong work ethics and this was the total loyalty he held. Friends,
family, religion, and recreation with all but the dutiful attendance to
the local bars was pushed aside. Who knows how much his anger, fears, or
slights were sanded and shellacked away by the dark womb like interiors of
the places where he found comfort up until late hours. How the lonely,
quiet, silent man could sit for hours sipping one after another tall one,
got up, got into his truck and drove the distance to his bedroom and bed
was anyone's guess.
Pride of his possessions
had been a mare he called Lady Scot. She was beautiful in every way as to
the make up of a horse. Her slight red color made her outstanding on the
race track. Run her heart out. She did. The wins she stacked up for her
owner became evident and was to make her popular for breeding stock. Colt
after colt she produced up until all horse flesh lovers knew she should
have been put out to pasture. The lure of the sweet young colts with her
blood made them a cherished possession as to sales and was just too much
On the day Lady Scot was to
produce a colt the women in the family stayed in the house. Things were
not going well. The vet had been called and it was evident on his face and
movements he was at a loss for what to do. Clifton was away and not
available so the vet was making all the decisions. Pacing up and down the
floor Clifton's wife was weeping. She paced, swung her arms as if she
wanted to make some changes in what was happening. “Where is Clifton?”
She repeated over and over.
As an on looker one of the
women, Mira, felt she should do something but what? She slipped out the
back door and walked quietly behind where the men were working. They were
so intent on trying to help the flailing in pain horse there was no
interest in the woman who was watching and listening.
“She's not going to make
it.” The vet was heard to say.
“I know it.” His helper
was squatting beside the horse. No amount of his trying to comfort the
mare helped though. She swung her head up in a regal effort to rise above
her pain and then flopped it down again. Legs flailing about too made the
men know they were in a crisis.
“The only thing I can do is
a caesarian.” The vet made a grim faced decision.
Mira returned to the house
where the women were. “They have made a decision to do a caesarian. What
do you think? Don't you think Clifton should know?” Mira knew what a
treasure as well as loved animal was and how the man held it dear to his
heart. The beautiful young colts were such a thing of beauty anyone would
have had to be blind not to see the man's love for his inheritance from a
father who had nurtured the animal as well.
Clifton's wife was weeping
audibly now. “I don't know where he is. I don't know where he is?”
Clifton's mother sat with
an angry grim looking face. “They better not do that. Clifton won't like
Mira kept quiet. She had
delivered the message and now she was at risk of that old adage, “kill the
The position of the horse
in the barnyard was in full view of the house where the women watched
through the wide picture window. The colt was delivered but a huge scar
swiped across the belly of the beautiful Lady Scot. No sooner was the
operation completed when Clifton drove in the drive way. He was out of
the truck much like a man was off a cutting horse to tie a calf. His quick
stride brought him in an instant to where the mare was on the ground. Like
an animal stalking another animal, he walked in a crouched way around the
horse as if to see the wound better.
Somehow or another, the
men were able to bring the mare to her feet and they walked her up a ramp
to the vet's trailer where she was loaded. It was the strangest site to
watch the other horses. They had all been standing, front legs spread
apart and heads hung down. As soon as the trailer pulled away and was out
of sight they began to frolic and play, almost like children who were
rejoicing because the horse was still alive. The blessings of a beast's
love was there in that they would not know Lady Scot later died.
Clifton never got over the
loss of the beautiful mare and maybe these were some of the shadows to
dance across the walls of the near dark at the local taverns.