Solomon's Porch

All God's Creatures

Horsing Around >> by Sean Bonniwell

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Copyright © 2012 Uncle Helmet's Music, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The long ride to the plantation gave me plenty of time to prepare for feeling completely out of place. I had been invited to an all-day party, and was told to bring my guitar. The Spanish moss, a drapery of thick, gray icicles, suffocated every tree; a beautiful necklace of death and a reminder that all was not what it seemed. I was not what I seemed. My gaze was the beneath of things. My view of the millions of molecules swarming within matter was simple; it was a wonderful illusion, held together by the power of man's collective reality: The physical universe is so because we think it is what it is when it is what it is. A fool on any hill thinks he's been chosen to enlighten mankind to the power of his higher mind, and he can do it without changing anybody's mind. As a devout vegetarian, I embraced the sanctity of all life. For me, killing anything, including insects, was murder. Eating dead cow (or dead anything for that matter) was eating death itself; a residue canopy of karma at death. With the possible exception of a turkey sandwich, any interjectional meddling with the life-to-afterlife process would likely result in retarded soul evolution! The persuasive power with which I convinced listeners of this grand madness was not well met by carnivores, but I could formulate complicated metaphysical belief systems with esoteric theosophy, interrelating them so compellingly it left me and the listener dazed with profundity. However, the following empty silence usually conjured up visions of countless millions sitting on their diapers eating cashews with chopsticks: Aaaah... the world a laboratory of souls, the mind all powerful on the altar of reality — and God smiling down benevolently on His children's docile, obedient transcendentalism..... Ooohmmmmmm...


I arrived at the party late that morning and was surprised by my tardiness. I made the mistake of taking my guitar with me as I walked up the path to the old-fashioned Southern ranch house. I looked to be special entertainment, which is no doubt why they completely ignored me. A few people said cautious hellos as if they suspected I was the one who put a shark in the bathtub, so I loaded up a plate of meatless food, and made myself comfortable in the main dining room. Someone had spent most of his life-savings on ammunition; all four walls from floor to ceiling were littered with mounted animal-heads — serenely staring in deathlike realism at each other's nonexistence. I lost my appetite, and began to investigate the potato salad for signs of recent death.


The party seemed to be as lifeless as the big, mounted moose head, so I got my guitar out and tried to join a small group of bluegrass pickers. When I started playing along, the music stopped, and I became a ceremonial soloist engaged by the Sierra Club to eulogize the moose. I pretended to be absorbed with playing my guitar as the reverent troupe took their axes and split the scene. I stayed there longer than most would do when playing to an empty room, and then wandered, completely unnoticed, outside, into an old-fashion picnic; where was William Holden and Kim Novac?


I was just in time for a rather strange annual event. Evidently they had this gathering every year, and every year at this time the hostess freed her pet Arabian stallion. This allowed the horse the pleasure of terrorizing children, relatives, friends and acquaintances — and he chased after young and old alike with tail up and nostrils flaring! He'd kick both hind legs at those foolish enough to flank him, rear-up, shake his magnificent head and then buck and bolt forward — a reveling avenger for all animals in captivity! In my mind I drew a circle around me and fixed it as a barrier approximately ten feet in circumference from where I stood. When, as I knew he would, the horse came galloping up the green slope toward my position, I stood my ground. His speed increased — he was now rushing straight for me! I didn't so much as flinch or act in any way as if I was undecided about moving. I stood relaxed, confident the stallion would stop at the barrier I had constructed in my mind. Twenty feet or so in front of me he spurted into a full gallop! The people in the area dispersed panic-stricken as the Arabian came thundering headlong, straight for my body. He came rushing up to the barrier, slid to a halt, shook his head and snorted, and then began to calmly graze close to my feet.


Just before the apparent impact there was a sudden hush of expectant calamity, but when the horse pulled up and became docile, the silence of the crowd was one of stunned amazement. The seconds ticked by as if we were all waiting for China to explode. When it didn't, and a Frisbee was launched into the sky, the crowd suddenly became animated again — pretending as if they hadn't seen what in fact few have ever seen: Transcendental animal control.


This episode did little to ingratiate me to these Carolina Southerners, if anything it seemed to confirm their suspicions that I was a Yankee party-pooper. I was much worse than that, I was a vegetarian from California. In as much as I'll be required to do so in the next life, allow me in this one to officially acknowledge the guardian angel who prevented my untimely death.

Sean Bonniwell