Jennifer Lewis

May 2003

All Your Horses Someday

     It is the day after Christmas and I think we might be moving. I'm playing in my toy closet while Mama takes down the tree. When I bring my new dinosaurs out to play in the living room, the tree is all gone and mama yells at me, "Julian, go back and play in your room! Do I look like I'm trying to get things done out here?" I wanted my T Rex and my Long Necks to finish their fight in the long green clumps of pine needles that have fallen from our Christmas tree, but Mama is trying to clean. My T Rex is going to eat my long necks, one by one. He's going to surprise the mamas and the babies while they play in the grass. Except Mama won't let me play in the grass. I have to stay in my toy closet or my bedroom this morning.
     I think we are moving because my mama only puts things away when we are about to move. Right now, she's piling all of our things, old clothes, new clothes, our pots and pans from under the sink, our boxes of Pokemon macaroni and cheese, all of it, into big brown boxes that have started to show up around our house. I want to play with all my Christmas toys one at a time, but she is packing those away, too, and then taping up the boxes. Mama was doing it when I got up this morning, and while I ate my cereal, and she's still doing it now. My mama never cleans the house. Not like this.
     "Mama, why are you putting all my toys in the boxes?" I say. She's taking down all of our moons and stars off the walls and tossing them into boxes with some clothes she picked up off the living room floor. She sings to herself and kind of walks around slowly. She takes a long time to answer me. "Mama, how come?" I ask. "We are going to live some where else for a while, somewhere far away," she says. "Baby, remember how I told you that your Daddy lives in North Carolina?" I nod. "Well, we're going to go there for a little while. You can meet your grandma, your uncles…" She stops packing for a minute and comes to sit on the floor with me. "Hey, little man," she says and lifts my chin up so I am looking at her. "It will be just like in all the stories of your Daddy and his five Indian brothers on their horse farm. How does that sound to you?"
     "Okay," I say. Mama goes back to her packing, mixing my toys in with her clothes and our movies and her stars and moons from the walls. I wander off to a brand new patch of rug that I have never seen before. It no longer has clothes piled up on it. I find an old Cheerio and put it in my mouth while Mama is not looking.

     At night sometimes my mama tells me stories about my daddy. He is an Indian without a reservation. Mama says the government is bad and won't let Daddy and the other Lumbees have their own reservation, which I think is like a big Indian playground with campers and trailers. That's what it's like on the Penobscot reservation where I play during pow wow season.

     So, my daddy is Charlie the Lumbee Indian, with one side of his face painted like a warrior. He lives in a trailer during the day where he paints pictures and plays guitar and tames horses. But at night the side of his face painted like a warrior begins to look more like a bird, and he becomes like the super heroes in Justice League. He rides on the greatest, biggest of all the horses all over Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he doesn't have a reservation. He can make the biggest horse fly and he goes where he's needed. That is how he came to my mama. He saw her swimming at a lake one day, and at night he could hear her crying. So, with his face painted like a warrior and himself looking like a bird, he made the horse fly over Fayetteville. He was higher than the stars, and he looked like that time that the cow jumped over the moon, or when people count sheep. My daddy was so powerful that even if he fell, he wouldn't get hurt. He was an all-powerful warrior. He flew to my mama's yard and the horse touched down with its feet thumping and it sounded like thunder. Just then, he rode through the one window of the basement apartment. He looked like Charlie again, not a bird. He saw her crying alone and asked what's wrong. Mama was lonely and tired of people coming over that she didn't like. They came around giving her gifts and magic dusts and drinks of poison to try to make her happy and all it did was make her sick. But my daddy took her away that night. He took her away from the basement apartment, and when the bad people came around, he and Mama just rode away across the stars for a while. He played his magic guitar and painted his pictures, until she was almost happy. She was his queen for a while, but my mama belonged in a far away land with snow and Christmas trees, so she brought my daddy north. But daddy didn't belong there. It was too cold for a dark bird to live, and there were no horses for him. So, sometimes Mama visited Daddy, and other times he appeared to her as a bird, just for a little while, far away up north where she was. And when my mama was almost all better, he pulled some dust from the stars and made me. Then he got on his horse and rode away. Mama got in her car and drove north to have a baby and was all better again. And now we are both happy, and Charlie the Indian rides around the world at night, pulling dust from the sky, singing songs, painting pictures, and just being a bad ass Indian Warrior like an Indian Batman.

     My mama's name is November, just like the month. She has yellow hair and when I draw pictures of her I color her hair yellow and her skin orange or pink. I have been coloring pictures for a long time, because Mama and me have been riding in her truck all my life now. She came and picked me up from kindergarten while I was playing in the snow with my friends. She came over as soon as she'd packed the truck up, and all the boxes with my toys are in the back. There are trash bags tied up and I can see some of my stuffed animals poking through. They get to ride in the back of the truck. Sometimes people call mama "Nova." That's not a month at all. It's a kind of car one of Mama's men used to drive us to the movies in.
     Mama told me to say goodbye to my friends and my teacher, and then we got my lunchbox and my painting and got in the car. I will miss my friend Eedy, but I'm going to marry her someday. She is a Passamaquoddy Indian and I am a Lumbee one. One time we got caught at my house with our underpants down, because we were looking at each other's penises. Eedy didn't have one, though.
     Every time I wake up, Mama tells me that we're in a new state, and tells me how to say it. I ask her, "Is this one North Carolina, yet?" "Tomorrow," she tells me. We pee at gas stations and sleep in hotel beds and eat hot dogs that she buys at the gas stations. Mama's truck is full of all the boxes, but I can't see my new Christmas toys anywhere, even though Mama tells me they are there. I keep looking back at the garbage bags of my stuffed animals. I worry that the wind will make the bags and boxes open and all of my toys will fly out the back, and land on the side of the road for some other little boy to find. I worry some other little boy will have my Christmas on the side of the road.

     I am sticking my hand out of the window and pretending to catch all the different signs and telephone poles on the side of the highway. Mama is so quiet and so boring sometimes. She's listening to her rock and roll music and smoking a black cigarette that smells like peppermints. I watch her yellow hair fly around her face out of its ponytail, and the fringes on her brown jacket fly around, too. I pretend like they are tiny, stringy people who are standing on her chest and arms, dancing.
"     Mama, tell me a story about Charlie the Indian and his five Indian Brothers," I say, catching another telephone pole. "     Tell me a new story, Mama, not one of the old stinky stories." Mama is singing loudly. When the words to the song stop she says, "Shhh…wait until the song is over and then I will." She sings loudly, "Hey, hey, what can I do…" I breathe loudly so she can tell I want my story right now.
     "Okay," she finally says. "Let's see…a new story about Charlie and the Uncles. Hmm."

     "One afternoon, little man, when your mama was still just a young girl, she was sitting on the floor of the trailer and playing solitaire. Charlie was sitting on the couch with his face half painted, singing a song and playing his guitar. 'Darlin, it's an awfully hot day,' he said to your mama. 'Let's go for a swim.' So your mama agreed. They put on their swimming clothes and walked way out behind the trailer, and behind the horse barn. Your daddy used to tease me, and say I'd better not get caught behind the barn with an Indian. And when I asked him what if he caught behind the barn with a white girl, he said they'd sings songs about him in the hills."
     I like the way Mama talks about her and my daddy as if they are really in a story. Sometimes she forgets, though. Like now, when she is quiet for a moment while she's talking about him. It's like she forgot she was supposed to be telling me a story.
     "Where was I, Julian? There were chickens and dogs that ran around with the horses. Your mama and Daddy stepped over them. They walked all through the woods past the garden of collards and spinach and carrots, and eventually they came to a lake. This lake had a special rope swing hanging down on it and the rope swing had been there longer than some of the trees, some of the flowers, and some of the people who now use it. The rope was as thick as your mama's arm.
     "Now, as you know, your mama is a girl from New England. And she's used to swimming in lakes and oceans and swimming pools. This was a creek, and you could not see to the bottom of it. 'Is it safe?' she asked Charlie. 'It looks like Alligators and snakes could live in there.' Charlie assured her it was perfectly safe and not one reptile had ever been seen in all the years he'd swam there."
     "Mama, were there frogs, there?" I ask. "They aren't dangerous. You know, Iguana man- the super hero nemesis-he could have lived under the water! He eats alligators! But then, Ulysses the water king would come eat him and keep you safe!"
     Mama continues on with her story. "So Mama and Charlie swam. Charlie, with his warrior powers of turning into a bird, could do the most amazing tricks from the rope swing. He was like an acrobat up there. He'd fly forward by one hand, and jump off in a somersault. He'd skim the water with his foot and make magical rippling waves. He'd dangle by his feet and grab your mama by the wrist, and then she'd be skating across the water. In this way, he could make her fly, too.
     "Now, Mama and Charlie never went anywhere without at least one gun between the two of them. And while Charlie was dangling by his feet, Mama was standing on the creek bank drying off. Just then, she thought she saw something under the water. In fact,
     She thought she saw one big eye looking right at her!"
     I covered my mouth to hold in a scream! "IGUANA MAN! IT WAS IGUANA MAN! Wasn't it, Mama? Was he down there ready to eat up Charlie like he eats snakes and alligators?"
     "No, It was not iguana man, Julian. Mama thought it was probably an alligator looking at Charlie's brown hands and thinking about them for lunch. So, Mama grabbed the gun. She fired it into the water just once. And then, slowly, something started to come out of the water."
     "What was it, Mama?"
     "When the creature stood up, it was no reptile at all. It was only your old Uncle Buster who'd been swimming down the creek and had swam over under the water. And when he stood up, Mama and Charlie could see where the bullet had taken the hair off the top of his head."
     I laughed. "That was a funny story, Mama." She turned the radio back on. "Oh! Fuck! The Rolling Stones are on!" she shrieks and then sings along. I put my face toward the wind and started to go to sleep thinking about Uncle Buster under the water where Iguana man could have eaten him.

     When we get to North Carolina we are not in a new house or an apartment. We park the truck in someone's yard where there are horses walking right by. Mama gets out of the car and opens the gate and then drives through the horses. "Julian, this is going to be your very own horse farm, someday."
     "Is that why we came here?" I ask her." So I can live here and be the king of my own horse farm?"
     "No," she says. "We came here so they can see you. It's time."
     "Time for what?"
     "No matter what, you are Charlie's first born son, and someday you will be put first. Don't forget that." I hear her breath deeply and we start walking past the horses. I can't stop staring at them, they are so much bigger than I thought they would be. I make out the shapes of some of them, even in the night. One is grazing in the grass and I think he can see me out of the side of his giant eye. Some more are standing together in a group nearby us. Mama walks without even looking at them, not even impressed at all. I can't stop looking at how big they are. They are such nosy animals that they follow us the whole way to the door of the trailer. One is walking right over me, and I wonder if he's going to bite my head or kick me in the bottom with his hard round foot.
     The trailer sits in the middle of the horses' yard. Mama talks to me while we walk to it. She keeps telling me all about how this horse farm belongs to my daddy's Grandpa Roy, and these are all their horses. She tells me, "Julian, these are all your horses someday." The trailer is dark when we walk inside, but the door is unlocked. I can see the outline of a person sleeping on the couch. A few dogs lift their heads from the rug and look at us curiously, and then go back to sleep. "Mama, do they know we're here? Where is my daddy and his five brothers?" I ask. "Shhh…everyone is sleeping now, Julian. Don't worry, he'll come to us."
     "Is that my daddy on the couch?" I ask. "No," Mama whispers. "It's your Uncle Mouse, he probably left a bed free because he knew we'd be here tonight." Mama finds an empty bed in a small room next to the door and we climb in it together. "Mama, don't the Lumbee people want to see me?" I ask, "Why do we have to wait until morning?"
"Hush, child." She says, "Try to get some sleep. Your daddy is out riding his horse across the sky. You need to let him be to do his things." She rubs my back and we snuggle on the bed. I can see the stars out the window, and the horses walking by. Every now and then I hear a noise close to the trailer. "You hear that?" Mama asks me. "That's a horse rubbing against the other side of this very wall because he has an itch." I go to sleep looking at the stars with one eye open for my daddy in the sky.

     My new Uncle Mouse is a crazy looking man, and I can't stop watching him. He is a Lumbee Indian, like me. We are both brown. He is so crazy looking and I am afraid that when I grow up, I will look like that, too. He has curly, fuzzy gray and black hair and green eyes like the Incredible Hulk. When he walks, his jeans look like there are almost no legs in them because his legs are so skinny and small. He is not much bigger than my mama, but somehow I know that he is an old man, even if he isn't anyone's daddy or grandpa. When I woke up that first morning, I stood over him while he slept on the couch. He wears blue jeans when he sleeps instead of pajamas. When he opened his eyes he looked back at me for a minute and said, "I bet you is Julian. I seen your pictures." Only he said it "Julie-Anne" like a girl from my old school. I don't like to be called names and Mama won't let anyone call me Jules, because she doesn't like the way it sounds. "I'm not a girl," I told him. "I'm Julien!" He laughed and said, "I hear you, boy!" Then he got up and went into the bathroom and left me standing there while mama was still asleep in the back bedroom. I could hear him peeing. It sounded like he had to go for a long time.
     My new Uncle Mouse is the oldest of all my daddy's brothers. They all lived in the yellow house next to this trailer when they were little kids like me. They all rode the bus together and came home to ride all these horses that belonged to all of them. My daddy did, too. I haven't seen him yet.

     My other new uncles are Ronnie, Buster, Lennis, and Bill. Lennis is a policeman, and Bill is in jail. Ronnie rides a motorcycle and Buster watches TV in the trailer most of the day. Sometimes he goes outside where Mouse is working with the horses and helps ride them. Buster and Mama are both inside all day, but they don't seem to talk to each other much. When I met Buster he was standing at the microwave in the kitchen. He leaned over and looked at me real close. He said, "Well, I'll be damned if it isn't Charlie's boy. I'm your Uncle Buster, boy." Then he made a big fuss over my curly hair. He took off his hat and I could see he was bald on top with silver and black curls on the sides of his head. Just like in the story where Mama shot him! He said, "You see this hair, boy? This is curly Lumbee Indian hair, boy. You got it, and you damn sure didn't get it from your mama." And then he opened a beer and took his TV dinner to the couch. I didn't ask him what happened to the top of his hair. I already heard that story.
     Uncle Mouse is always at home. He lives in the trailer where we sleep. When I am done with breakfast in the morning I ask Mama if I can go to the barn and see the horses. She says that I can, but I have to stay near Mouse, and that I must never, ever stand behind any of the horses. All of the horses are dangerous, even the ones that Mouse has already tamed.
     When I am outside I disobey Mama. I don't stay near Mouse. I stand at the other end of the barn and watch him work with the horses. I snuck some of our Oreos out of one of the boxes Mama packed, and I've filled my pockets with them for the horses. I have a book about some horses that like to eat apples, but these are all my horses someday, and I know that they like will like Oreos.
     I know Uncle Mouse can see me standing over here. He doesn't say much, though. He just keeps feeding the horses and bringing big heavy buckets to each horse's stall. A stall is a horse's very own bedroom. I sleep in the same bed with Mama now that we are in North Carolina. At night I snuggle up to my mama and I say "Mama, do you remember when we both went to school together? Do you remember the coffee shop where we walked to get me cookies and hot chocolate? Do you remember the snow? Do you remember going to the Children's Museum on my birthday when I was 3?" We talk about these times late at night in bed. Before we came to North Carolina, she used to tell me stories about my Lumbee Daddy and His Five Indian Brothers on their Horse Farm. I don't know why we are here now, talking about our old house. Mama can't seem to explain it right, either.
     Uncle Mouse hops on one of the horses. "You staying there?" he asks me. I don't know what to say so I look at the ground and draw in the dirt with my sneaker. Uncle Mouse rides away from the barn fast. I stand at the end of the barn for a long time and then I start to walk down the middle of it. I'm trying hard to see the horses, but I can only see the bottoms of their feet and sometimes the top of their heads. I see one set of feet that are white and have gray spots, and I decide, "This is the horse I will feed Oreos to." I grab an empty bucket and put it over next to this horse's stall, his bedroom. I climb up on it slowly and look at him. He's much bigger than I thought he would be. I never knew a horse would look so big up close. I can see that the holes in his nose are wet and that his eyes are almost as big as my fists. He has a white and gray face with black and gray spots, just like on his legs. I want him to be my friend. I reach in my pocket for my Oreos. They are crumbles now, but I grab a handful for him and he eats them when I offer them, he licks my hand, too, and it makes me laugh. "You're my friend," I say and I reach up to pet his ears. They look so soft. We used to have kittens with soft ears before North Carolina. Mama gave them to my friend Eedy. I wonder if this horse's ears are like my kitties' ears.
     He moves so much faster than I knew he could. All at once I know I am no longer standing on the bucket, I'm dangling by my arm and this horse is biting it and shaking me! He's trying to eat me! I scream and cry bloody murder and I know I'm in trouble. "Let me go!" I scream at the horse. I am so sorry that I disobeyed my mama, and I know no one can save me from this horse! I fall to the ground with a terrible shaking thump.
     When the ground stops moving I stand up. I know my arm is bleeding. I can see big teeth marks in my arm, like a monster made them. The horse has eaten some of the sleeve of my sweatshirt. I look at the horse, still staring at me from up high. I move away from it and throw a rock at its door. "I hate you!" I scream. "You are a bad horse!" I yell at it.
I hold onto my arm, crying, and I walk out of the barn. I hear the sound of hooves behind me. I turn around, fast.      There's a man with wild hair up high on a horse coming right at me. I'm still crying and I can feel my nose running into my lip. When the horse gets closer I can see Uncle Mouse is riding it. He reaches down and grabs me by my good arm and puts me in front of him in the saddle. "The bad spotted horse tried to eat my arm!" I yell. I am mad at that mean horse now, but I am still crying. Uncle Mouse just laughs. "You'll be okay, boy. Your daddy got bit by the same horse few years back." He ruffles my hair and holds me close to him with one arm. He makes a clicking noise with his mouth and the good brown and white horse we are on starts to run. I sniffle a little bit and we ride towards the trailer to my mama.

     When we get back to the trailer, I'm afraid to go in. Uncle Mouse gets me down from the horse and says, "Go inside, boy. Your mama'll fix you up. Tell her I said you gonna be okay." He makes the clicking noise with his tongue again, kicks the horse's belly with his feet and rides away. I sit on the stairs of the trailer holding my arm. Mama will be mad at me for disobeying her. I can blame Mouse and say he left me alone, but I still wasn't supposed to go near the horses.
Mama throws open the door to the trailer and snatches me up. "Oh, baby boy! What happened!" She doesn't sound mad at all. She sees all the blood on the shredded sleeve of my sweatshirt and hugs me. "Oh, my poor little man!" I am so glad that she isn't yelling at me that I cry on her shoulder. She holds me for a minute and looks me in the eye. "I know who can help," she says. "How would you like to meet your grandma, MaryBelle?" I nod my head. "Don't worry, monkey," she says. "Your grandma has helped many a little boy who played with horses when he wasn't supposed to."
     "See that big yellow house there? That's your Grandma MaryBelle's house," Mama says. I already knew that. Mama told me that Grandma MaryBelle and Grandpa Roy are very, very old and they live in a yellow house right next to their horse farm. You have to open a gate to get out of the horses' yard and then you are in Grandma MaryBelle's driveway.      Grandpa Roy is never home because he owns a pool hall called Little Reno's. He works behind a bar and talks to other old Lumbee men all day, and Mama says that they all wear cowboy hats. Grandma MaryBelle has programs that she likes to watch on TV, and she cooks and then goes to church.
     "Lord Alive, It's Charlie's Young'n," says the old woman who answers the door. This must be her. My very own grandma, my own daddy's mama. She is really small, I know I'm going to be bigger than her soon. I always thought my Indian grammy would look like the old Indian ladies on TV. But she doesn't, except she is very brown and has lots of wrinkles. She doesn't have braids or feathers or anything, and she's not wearing a dress. She's wearing a pink sweatshirt and blue jeans, and she has short white hair and glasses. She is holding a little dog and has a cigarette in her mouth. It is all white, and it doesn't have any brown on the end at all, like mama's do. She must know my Daddy more than anyone, even my mama. She bends down and gives me a kiss on my head. She holds me tight and says, "Boy, I hadn't seen you since you was a baby. I thought maybe I'd never see you again." She looks at Mama. "Looks like your young'n got into some trouble, Nova. C'mon inside."
     Grandma MaryBelle gives me some milk and cookies and takes my shirt off. "So, MaryBelle, it's been five years since I've seen you. How have you been?" Mama asks. "Well, I been going to church. I been feeding my young'ns when they too ornery to do for themselves. Other than that, things the same. I been keeping up with my programs." Grandma MaryBelle sits beside me and starts looking at my arm where the horse bit it. "Have you seen Charlie lately?" Mama asks her. "I heard he was around these days."
     I listen hard. I am eating my cookies and I see a picture of me when I was a baby up on a shelf in a silver frame. She has my picture from last Christmas up on the refrigerator, too. I like having a grandma. I never had one before, because Mama doesn't like her mama. She said they have "differences."
     "Sure," Grandma MaryBelle says. "Charlie comes around once in a while. He ain't stayed up in the trailer in a long time, and he don't stay here. But he comes around for dinner once in a while. I been trying to get him to go to church and pray to the Lord, but he don't go with me." Grandma MaryBelle pours something wet on my arm and it burns. It hurts worse than the bite. I cry and yell out, and she hugs me. "It's okay. I just cleanin' the wound. It's s'pose to hurt."      "Grandma MaryBelle, my Daddy is an all-powerful warrior, he doesn't get hurt," I tell her. She chuckles and puffs on her cigarette. "I seen him hurt himself a time or two," she says. "But he's powerful, right?" I ask her. "Course he is, Chile. He's made in the image of God the Father." She says to my mama, "You still looking for Chile support girl?" Mama doesn't say anything. "Well, I don't blame ya none. But chasing him around down here and shakin him down for money ain't gonna make him want to spend time with his young'n." "Be patient, Chile," she says to my mama. "He'll be around sooner or later."
     After Grandma MaryBelle bandages me up, I go outside to play for a while. We had to throw my sweatshirt away. So, I sit out on Grandma Mary Belle's front steps, outside of the horses' yard, and watch. Uncle Mouse runs the horses around for a while. He cracks a whip and makes them dance and run every which way he wants them to go. Some of them are baby horses, and they don't behave very well. They don't always do what Uncle Mouse wants them to do, because they want to play. I know what that's like.
     Uncle Mouse walks up to the gate and yells to me, "Hey, boy, you want to help me out some?" I shake my head no, grabbing my arm protectively. Uncle Mouse just cackles. "I don't blame you none. Don't worry, boy, I'll get Buster off his ass!" He walks back to the trailer. "Hey!" I yell at him. "Are the baby horses in trouble?" He just laughs. "No, the baby horses are just fine. I need help getting their daddy fixed up for the horse's sale tomorrow in Maxton. He's all broken in and ready to sell. Probably going to make us some good money, too. Sure you don't want to help? I got to put shoes on him, and you can at least watch." I tell him no, and stay on my stoop while he heads towards the trailer to get Uncle Buster off his ass. But these are all my horses someday, I think to myself. How coms he's selling one? How come he's selling someone's daddy away from the babies? Is that something like what happened to my daddy? If he comes back are they going to sell him away from me? What if I don't get to talk to him enough first?
     Grandma MaryBelle yells through the screen for me to come inside. She made us some sandwiches out of some leftover chicken she had, and mama and me watch her programs on TV with her. For a while there is a preacher on there talking about God, and sometimes people sing. Then we watch The Price is Right.
     I hear something loud out front, and I look out the window and see two men on a motorcycle. They come barging in the house, moving as fast as two lightning Pokemon, and they almost looked like the same person, except one is a lot older than the other. The both have black hair and their faces look the same. The older man is behind the younger man and hitting him with a hat and yelling at him. "I don't give a damn what you was doing! When your young'n is here all the way from damn near Canada, you can at least stop by and say hey to him!"
     "Hey Ronnie," Mama says. The men stop, and they both stare at us. "How you been Charlie?" Mama gets up and gives Ronnie a hug. Charlie comes over to me. He takes his brown cowboy hat off his head and puts it on mine. "Hi Julian, I'm your father," he says softly, like it's a secret just for me. Everyone can hear him, though. I look at him, unsure if I believe him. This is not a nighttime warrior. He is not carrying a guitar, paintbrush, gun, or any of those things. He has not been training horses with his brothers. He is just a normal man in front of me. But his face is like my own, with plain brown skin, big dark lips, and the curly Lumbee hair that everyone promised me he had, just like mine. Brown eyes like me. "Where is your face paint?" I ask him. "My what?" he asks. "I thought you were a bad ass Indian warrior," I say to him. "I thought you changed into a bird at night and rode horses across the stars. I thought you were as powerful as Batman." He grins at me and says, "I see you got your mother's mouth, boy." I am disappointed that he does not have half his face painted, and he's not much different than other daddies, except he's new. I don't know why Mama told me these things.
     "Well, I can't ride you on a horse across the stars, boy. But if your mama will let me, I can take you up the road to get an ice cream." Mama nods and tosses him her keys. We go outside and get into my mama's truck, just me and my dad. "I don't have a lot of time this afternoon, son. I got to get back to Charlotte. But I can spend a little bit of time with you today. And maybe I'll see you again sometime."
     Outside Uncle Mouse has the big daddy horse tied to a rope by its lip. It doesn't move very far that way, because when it does move it pulls on its lip and it hurts. I can see its teeth and it looks mad and sad at the same time. Uncle Buster holds the rope and Uncle Mouse is putting new horseshoes on its feet. My dad and I get in the truck and ride to the ice cream parlor. My dad driving a plain old truck, and me wearing his cowboy hat with my busted up arm.

Jennifer Lewis has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Southern Maine, where she takes classes in English just for fun. She lives in Portland, Maine with her five year old son, Dominic, and two cats, Iggy and Isabella.

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