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(C)Copyright 1999 by Ronald Rand
All Rights Reserved.


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This is an account of the events that took place in the house of Yvonne Marie D'Allesandro on the Brinker Hill estate. I am recording the days' passages as clearly as I can remember. Some parts are taken directly from my journal.
Three years ago I was ousted from Yvonne's home, for reasons unbeknownst to me, and left heartbroken. We had no formal falling out of any kind I can remember. Rarely did we spat, having only the most trivial of quarrels that inhabit even the happiest of households. I later learned that her house had been bestowed upon me in her Last Will and Testament. I went back to her disheveled, unoccupied house alone, to ferret out the cause of her mysterious death. My only other ulterior motive was to unburden myself with an (admittedly masochistic) act of closure. I strongly felt that the only way I could put my mind at rest was to face the painful memories of Yvonne and come to terms with the fact that she was now dead.
When Yvonne drove me from her life, she asked me to keep her horse. She was feeling under the weather at the time, and she said she could no longer care for her beloved Scarlet. This favor, she asked, would be only temporary until she were more able. I knew she loved that horse, possibly more than she loved me, and that was all she asked of me in parting. I agreed, feeling it would probably only be a few short weeks until Yvonne were on her feet again, being the trooper that she always was. I cared for Scarlet tenaciously for Yvonne's sake alone. I paid the stable fee monthly and in person out of the goodness of my heart on my visits to Scarlet.
Yvonne loved to ride. When I would go to see Scarlet, I would wait until I was alone, and then I would talk to her as if she was my Yvonne. Yvonne once told me Scarlet had champion in her blood. I come from a family that never kept animals. I remember when I was four, I rode on a horse behind my mother, holding on to her waist for safety. We rode in a plain open field. A hawk was circling overhead. I remember watching that hawk and thinking about how beautiful it was, and the freedom it possessed, and the adventures it must have had. The hawk soared down out of the sky, perhaps to dine on a field rat, came down in front of my mother's horse, Sadie, who reared up. I fell off the back, unable to hold on any longer, hit my head upon a rock and lost consciousness. I suffered a twisted neck and wore a brace for weeks. After that I had no desire to ride again.
My mother was wild at heart. She'd been reared on a farm in Tennessee. My father was born into money and he tried to tame her, but it was all in vain. Mother was untamable. Once in a while, she would take me off somewhere and we would do all the things father forbade us to do and laugh about our rebelliousness. Mother had a sense of adventure that I have always tried to imitate. Perhaps that's what I was doing when I decided to move back into Yvonne's house. Yvonne used to ride Scarlet in the field behind the stable. She had the same grace as my mother. She also shared my sense of adventure. She was beautiful, elegant, and so free-spirited when she was alive and that's how I came to love her.
Two weeks ago, I was approached by a queer fellow with a face like a weasel wearing thick horn-rimmed glasses and a burgundy suit. He said I was almost impossible to find. I had to laugh at that. "And let me guess," I said to him. "You had this irrepressible urge to hunt me down and annoy me." I liked to be alone. Being hard to find was my goal in life. I had been living with another woman at her apartment for just that reason. Everything was in her name. I didn't tell anyone where I was going, and left no forwarding address. I was really surprised this man found me at all. Perhaps Yvonne told him, and if so, I am sorry that she had.
He found me chatting away with Scarlet like a couple of old ladies. He didn't say that. I'd have taken a poke at him if he had, but I can only imagine what he was thinking, a grown man at my age talking to a horse. I got instantly furious at this man's intrusion. Perhaps it was embarrassment that led me to feel that way. But only once a month did I get a chance to talk to Scarlet and vent my frustrations at her mistress for leaving me in such an awkward position. What, with only a horse and no other possessions to call my own. This man almost tripped over a bundle of hay as he entered. That brought a wicked smile to my face. Timidly, he introduced himself as Brett Octavian. I told him I didn't care who he was, and that he should turn around and leave me be. Maybe it was the lopsided knot of his tie, or the bashfulness of his voice that made me despise him, I do not know. I simply motioned for him to leave. I ignored him, but he kept talking, and I finally started listening when he mentioned Yvonne.
This is when I found out about the will. At the time when I met Octavian, I had not even known of Yvonne's passing. She had left to me her house on Brinker Hill and all of its contents. He also gave me a key and a sealed envelope to be opened by no-one but me. It said so on the envelope. I put the letter into my pocket, reminding myself to read it after Octavian was gone. I asked him how she had passed away, and he told me it was a mystery and the doctors were dumbfounded. I took the will from him and opened it. When I was sure of its contents, I chased him out of the stable, damning him and cursing him for being the bearer of such bad news. When he ran away, almost tripping over his burgundy, patent leather shoes, I suppressed an urge to laugh, for Yvonne at that moment might have been looking down upon me. And I knew how she felt about my hateful nature. Alas, she was the only one who could ever tame it. And then she was gone.
I sat for twenty minutes reading and re-reading the will and staring blankly at Scarlet who, at this point, was smiling at me. I tried to ignore her, but found it hard to do so. I put the will in front of my face, pretending to read, but then I curiously lowered it only to be faced once again with that fiendish smile. I dont know if Scarlet started the game or if I did, but at some point we had entered a staring contest. For forty minutes I wouldn't say a word, and Scarlet wouldn't whinny or nay, just smile. If you knew Scarlet, you would be as perplexed as I was. However, seeing Scarlet grinning was only the first of many oddities that I have witnessed, and so I won't go into much detail about that. I just wanted to mention it so you might understand that I realized how odd it was, and you might not think me so insane as I tell you more about my undergoing. I heard somewhere that you can't be crazy if you think you're crazy. When I looked at scarlet, with her muzzle twisted, and her yellow teeth bared in a crocodile smile, I thought for sure I was crazy. But if I am crazy now, it is only because of what awaited me on Brinker Hill, and not from any other experiences previous to Scarlet's ghastly smile.
Later that day, back at Eliza's apartment, we discussed my leaving. You have to understand my living situation with Eliza. I never loved her, nor did I ever pretend to. Eliza needed a man in her life, and I came along at just the right time. When I met her she was in need, and shortly after we became friendly, she asked me to move in with her and we would share everything. Imagine my surprise! "Share," I thought, "we'll share alright but her stuff." Inside, I was laughing. Because the only items I owned in the world were in a knapsack behind the seat of my father's Ford pickup truck. I was living in it when I met Eliza, and moving into her home only took me a few minutes. In my knapsack I kept some toiletries, pencil and paper for my journal, and a few damp changes of clothing. Needing a place to live, I accepted her invitation, feeling very fortunate to have stumbled upon such a needy person so ripe and ready to take advantage of. The whole situation suited me just fine.
Eliza didn't want me to leave. She screamed at me as I packed my things. The absurdity, I thought, that I should have no sympathy for one who wanted me so badly, yet Yvonne, whom I was so fond of, cast me aside like a tattered shoe. Inside the office, I locked the door. My office was a spare room of Eliza's where I did most of my writing. I packed into boxes all the possessions I had accumulated since I moved in with her. I could hear Eliza on the outside of my office door, beating on it with the cushions of her fists. She was crying and screaming at me not to leave. Going through my mind, as they often did in the last couple of years, were memories of Yvonne, and unanswered questions about why she left me. But now there was a new puzzle, Yvonne's untimely death. Once in a while, as I was throwing my things together, my thoughts were broken by choking sobs from Eliza. Still, I did not even pity her. Our relationship was never meant to last.
As I opened the door, Eliza, who was sitting in the floor with her legs folded beneath her, and wearing only a gown and slippers, looked up at me. I think she was trying to make me feel guilty about leaving. Her fists and the door were spattered with blood from a broken nail. Inside the office, lost in my own thoughts, I didn't even realize how hard she'd been pounding for me. Her eyes were flooded with tears, and for a moment I actually did feel sorry for her, but not enough to stay. Her eyes shut and a stream of tears drizzled from beneath her lids. When she opened them, she winced at all of my packages and belongings ready to go, and through her lips in a low, guttural voice, she wailed, "Why?!"

 

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