(For those who have read this before, I make no apologies. It deserves another airing! Enjoy. )
He had been left three horses, there was a letter, it had arrived in the morning post. The letter was from a firm of solicitors in London by the name of Snap, Frood and Schweckle. Quite a ludicrous group of names he thought, glancing over the thick high quality paper, he lifted it to the sunlight, beaming through his hall window. He could clearly see the watermark.
What on earth did uncle Silas think he was doing, first dying and then leaving him three bloody useless animals. Crumpling up the letter, he stuffed it into his jeans pocket. He was angry and at the same time, totally nonplussed at the idea that Uncle Silas thought he would want three horses. Where the hell was he going to put them.
Charley had bought Overwater Cottage two years previously, from a local farmer desperate to make ends meet, and who needed cash quickly. The cottage was a single story building complete in itself, but without any outbuildings.
He had some land, but not enough to support three grass eaters. He hadnt seen the animals since he was a child some twenty five years earlier. How old could these three be? Still he could and did envisage the huge vet bills his uncle saddled him with. There was an answer, he could sell them, yes, thats what he`d do. The animals were due to arrive that afternoon, two o`clock the letter said.
Charley contacted the Solicitors and managed to speak to Schweckle. The conversation was unusually short for such a talkative man. Charley didnt get anywhere with him, he told Charley that the will stated that, Charley had to receive the animals in person, and he, Schweckle, couldnt alter that. The Will was final.
The phone went dead. So there he was, waiting for the inevitable smell, horses. The smell of urine and hair, the pungent aroma of horse. How Charley hated them, he had since that day.
Charley had gone to see his uncle, his mother always took him on a Sunday afternoon. Silas liked the boy, he loved him. Silas was a recluse, his wife died in pain, left to die in a hospital corridor. She had died of cancer.
Since then, Silas had dedicated his life to the only thing that mattered, Charley. Unfortunately, Charley had grown into an ungrateful little child. Silas couldnt see it, and so showered him with anything and everything. Charleys mother was a caring type, full of the desire to bring a child to fruition and manhood. At least thats what she fully intended. But life has a way of throwing spanners in the works, and today was that day.
Charleys Uncle Silas, Charleys mother, and Charley stood looking at the three horses Silas kept. They were rather scruffy, short and rotund looking horses, more akin to teddy bears than equines. Still, they were no bother to Silas. Charley reached out to touch the nearest horse, his mother stepping slightly closer to allow Charley nearer. It was quick and painful for Charley, he still remembered the pain in his left arm, as the animal sank its teeth in. His Uncle Silas had remarked then, how unusually large teeth they had.
Charley shivered involuntarily, yes, he still felt the pain. Quickly he dismissed the whole episode from his mind, and making his way to the kitchen to make some coffee, he couldnt shake off the feeling that had been creeping up on him since the arrival of the letter, the feeling was fear.
Why, he couldnt remember, but it was there. He looked at his watch, a Tag Huer. He had bought it when he made his first million. Ten minutes to two, the ticking sounded loud. Charley was a practical man, he drank some coffee and wandered around the house waiting. He was feeling better.
The lorry turned into Charleys drive, a typical horse lorry, in need of a wash and brush up. The name on the side said, " Troopers Horses" , how apt he thought. Stopping in front of the cottage, a small rather tight lipped man of indeterminate age leapt from the cab, and ran towards Charley. He thrust a grubby paper into Charleys hand and immediately turned away muttering about the horses. He couldnt hear what the driver said, and to be truthful he didnt care.
"Where do ya want them then?" the driver asked, scowling. Charley was at a loss to decide. Three leadropes were thrust into Charleys hands and the lorry was gone. All to quick he thought.
The horses looked at him and he looked at the horses.
It was a sunny day still. Charley was thinking back, he couldnt help it, the smell of these beasts was to him awful. Totally gross, his mind went back to the day he got bitten, and how his mother tried to soothe the pain in Charleys arm. How Uncle Silas, had reprimanded the horses, and how they seemed to smile, he knew it was stupid, but he could have sworn they did. Uncle Silas was always telling his mother and him, how he had to keep having there teeth done. "Never ending", he said. Charley was pleased, imagine if his Uncle Silas hadnt had there teeth done.
He was brought back to earth with a bump! Literally. The hairy beasts had decided to bolt, and take Charley with them. Right across his new flower beds and through the neatly trimmed hedgerows of his garden, on and on they went. Of course he hadnt the wit to leave go! Finally he did, not through choice, more by design of the large stone in the rather well manicured lawn.
Coming round from the bump on the head, Charley sat up, and rubbing his forehead, he looked around for the beasts from hell, but was unable to see them. He stood up and staggered to the house. In the bathroom, he was washing his grubby face and removing soil from his ears. He stared into the mirror, and he wasnt happy with what he saw. He was a mess, there were age lines about each grey eye, and his cheeks were beginning to sag. He thought, " I look like my father." Indeed if he ever could remember his father, he did bare a resemblance to him. His mother oft chided him with this fact, much to Charleys annoyance.
Charleys father was a dealer in horses, had been long before the boy was ever thought of.
His father and his Uncle Silas often went to local horse sales and brought back steeds of varying standards, some good, some totally awful
Thats what they did, or at least they did until they fell out, he was still looking in the mirror, when he was aroused from his reverie by a loud banging, a continuous banging from his front door. Wiping himself down with a handy towel, he made straight way for the door, opening it, he was confronted by a lady of substantial proportions, indeed, it could be said of her, mountainous proportions! The lady was ranting in tongues, Charley looked around and behind her, but no horses, he was about to turn away and slam his front door in her florid face, when he caught site of a hairy arse moving along the far side of the remnants of his hedge. Barging past a startled barrel of lard, he made his way towards the arse in question. A head was raised, and one of the beasts glared at Charley, but now wiser after the event, he was not to be caught a second time. Charleys inbred hatred of the equine variety, didnt extend to brutality, no he was far more subtle, he pretended to ignore the arse, and moving slowly towards the rope lying on the grass, he scooped it up and with that, managed to catch the other two monsters ropes at the same time. Feeling pleased with himself, he started back to the cottage, the three horses surprisingly enough in tow.
The woman hadnt gone. She was waiting, in fact, she had been joined by a couple of other persons of varying shapes and sizes, but mostly female. He ignored them all, pity, he should have listened. He really should have!
Tying the horses to a nearby tree, Charley thrust his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels, he was pleased with himself, now all he had to do was sell the buggers. He had the feeling he was being watched, looking around he noticed he was alone, the large people had gone. Just him and the hairy beasts. So why did he feel so uncomfortable? He felt the rustle of paper in his pocket, the paper the driver had given him, "be a bloody bill," he thought. It wasnt, the unmistakable writing of his Uncle Silas was writ large and spider like across the paper. It read, " Do not leave them out after dark!" and was harshly written, most boldly. It continued, " they are special horses, and need careful handling." That was all it said.
For a man of few words, that was short. Charley sat down.
He glanced at his watch, "three thirty, " he muttered. He still had the problem of the horses, for now.
The smell was just as pungent. The funny thing was that for all these horses were old, they actually didnt look to old. They hadnt changed much at all, he was surprised, they looked just the same.
He withdrew the crumpled paper from his trouser pocket, he opened it up again and re read the words. Why would he write that? Stupid fool! His thoughts were interrupted by a small boy who had appeared by the drive gate.
He was dishevelled and looked in need of a good meal. But, he was no easy touch! He quickly made his feelings known, and shouted at the urchin to go away! Less politely, but thats what he did. Charley was that type.
Charley was making his tea, he liked chips and buttered bread, lavishly buttered! More like bread with his butter!
The three horses were still tethered to the tree, and Charley was not in the least interested in them! But this was to change, if he only knew.
The sun was beginning to settle into the western sky, its need to lower itself into the sea, it seemed, was urgent. But Charley was`nt aware of this, the horses were! They were restless, pawing at the newly turned earth, and snorting. The last glimpses of the evening sun and its rays were dipping below the horizon.
Charley, was taking the evening air, out on the porch. ............... His mind was on the money he was about to receive. Of course that was a bad move on his part, as he wasnt aware of the changes taking place around him.
No Charley was surely a man of his times, greedy and insensitive to everything, that is, except for the pain, the pain that had started to rip through his body, and as he looked down at his right arm, he realised that it wasnt there anymore! No, it had been replaced by a large toothy mouth, in fact three large toothy mouths, as he sank to the ground, Charley saw his right leg being gnawed on, the blood sprayed in every direction, curiously he was aware that his Femoral artery had just been severed, and that only gave him about 20 seconds of tenuous life left. But he didnt see what was next, no the teeth that began to crush his skull, were newly rasped and particularly sharp! As Charley gave way to the feeling of oblivion, his left eye popped out of its socket, and landed on the ground, only to go pop, as the hoof of one of one of Charleys newly acquired horses stepped on it.
The following day, Mrs Hardy, a lady of substantial proportions, and of florid face, visited. It was she who had called the authorities, it was her vomit on the drive. The local bobby, was in attendance, and was in the process of asking for assistance from the Murder Squad, when Mrs Hardy, asked, "So what do we do with those horses, they`ve been tied to that tree all night!"
One of the horses was pawing the ground, it seemed to be trying to remove something from its hoof, a gelatinous slightly squashed human eye, lay on the earth.
Still no one noticed that each horse looked remarkably well fed