The key was in the shed lock when I passed to dump organics in the compost bin. I sighed as I unlocked.
Mitchell, of course. Wreathed in habitual smoke.
“I read where this stuff slows tumor production, and give the Aids victims a healing appetite.”
“Why are you here—why are you telling all this stuff!?” I put down the empty organics tub.
“So we can go public,” He nodded at the unfinished sound booth in the corner, “We can get this stuff on the radio.”
“What?” I wasn’t shifting mental gears fast enough, “What radio!?”
“You have a radio station, Not for Profit Educational Community Broadcast, right?”
“Wrong.” I grumped, “We have a Construction Permit, like near-license, but....”
“What?” He as honestly not interested.
“The DOC didn’t get their budget, so our start-up grant went bust and this community is over its head trying donation-support school sports and a bunch of other needy projects.”
“So, no money for a transmitter, tower, all that fiddly stuff that makes a radio station so functional!”
“No need to get grumpy.” Mitchell lit up again, filling the room with Cinderella 99 smoke, a fine local product, “So we’re stuck with the cyber-squawk.”
“Which nobody is ever going to see.” He sighed, a twin to mine when I realized it was story-time.
“In 1961 after I became a 12 year night killer, my Dad died, came back a spy, carved the desk so I would know, I moped around our brand-new house until Karen, my age, got me outside again and up on a chestnut gelding to ride with a rope halter, nothing else (She sneaked the horse out from the farm beyond our creek and woods). For the next year, school day afternoons and most of the Saturdays we rode until dark, not knowing we were doing Natural Horse-Manship.” He eyed me. “Do you know the term? Not breaking horses, like my grand-dad, but gentling them in a 6000 year old Asian method called ‘The Gentle (or Open) Hand Technique and adopted by Xenophon’s troops some 3000 years later. Today it is called Natural Horse-Man Ship®, thinking like a horse, rather than Normal Horsemanship, thinking like a predator-human.”
“And the Natural method requires quiet patience, love and enjoyment.” Mitchell smiled softly, “Perfect for tormented renegade pre-teen Special Ops, and Karen somehow knew this, gently calming me into just riding, running, jumping....”
I waited. Finally....
“Over the years I’ve always found solace, peace and affection with horses, horse ladies, most of the horse folk, the bulk of it in the Rockies. It requires a quite mind and gentle strong hands, but firm intent and joyous acceptance of the unexpected. Physically demanding but rewarding more than anything except making love. But I will never forget Karen....”
“What about magic doorways—Portals—you said you were going to tell—”
“Another time, when you’re ready. But here’s a picture of me and a horse. I’m the one in the hat.” He tossed me a picture and left, but as always, stuck his head in again, “Dedicated this to Karen, may she ride happily forever.”
MITCH AND A HORSE 1985 (Mitch is in the hat—the male guy in the hat )