Fast Fiction

Stupendo — by Jim Ruland

When it came to his attention that Neal Faggens, a groomer at the stables for over fifteen years, had never ridden a horse, the breeder decided to take action. He finished his grapes and bacon and sent word to have Stupendo readied for riding. Neal had many reasons for not wanting to ride a horse. When he was seven, his father, Frankie Faggens, three-time winner of the Cucamonga Cup, was thrown from a horse during an exercise session. Frankie seemed fine at first, but then his brain started swelling and they had to operate. Afterward, Frankie lost all enthusiasm for horse racing; but whenever he heard the song “Camptown Races” he could not restrain himself from singing the do-da parts at top volume. Mrs. Faggens filed for a divorce within the year. At the stables, Neal had been kicked in the head and bitten in the rump, but what groomer hadn’t? Being both small and wide, Neal preferred to stay as close to the ground as possible. There were no easy falls for Neal. The breeder, however, was adamant about getting Neal in the saddle. With a one, two, three, the stable hands hoisted Neal up onto Stupendo. Neal very much liked the view and he liked the fresh clean smell even better. He liked it so much he spurred the horse forward with a lusty, Heyah! The stable hands cheered as Neal rode the breeder’s best horse through the open gate and across the prairie and was neither seen nor heard from again.
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Jim Ruland
Jim Ruland is the author of Forest of Fortune and Big Lonesome. He is currently collaborating with Keith Morris on his memoir My Damage about his life in Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF! (Da Capo 2016). Ruland is the curator of the reading series Vermin on the Mount.