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Authors: Robert Klane

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BOOK: The Horse is Dead
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"No, he's a specialist His patients come to see him and he asks what's wrong with them." She stopped.

"Then what?" Nemiroff had to hear the end of this.

"Well, if the patient has a heart condition, my brother recommends him to a heart specialist"

"What if they have a stomachache?"

"Then he sends them to a stomach specialist. He has a very big practice." She got up and let Nemiroff's head slam to the floor.

"So please, Nemiroff, don't get yourself hurt I can't do a damn thing for you if you do."

Nurse Goodenow went back to her magazine.

Nemiroff looked at her for a few moments and then slowly crawled out of the office.

 

Nemiroff's home life left a lot to be desired. It w*s Nemiroff's parents that afforded him any kind of distinction. They were Jewish and they hated their son. That was fine with Nemiroff. The more his parents hated him, the less Jewish he had to be. He had dropped out of Hebrew school a few days after his fight with the ugly tough kid. His parents couldn't understand it, and eventually they gave up trying.

He would only rarely bring friends home for fear of being embarrassed by his parents' Jewishness. Only Jewish fathers kissed their sons on the lips.

 

"Why do you say those things, Mrs. Nemiroff?" he asked.

"Why? Why you ask me." She was pouring another cup of coffee. "I'll tell you why. Because you hurt people." She poured the coffee into Nemiroff s waiting lap.

Nemiroff got up and wiped the coffee away. "I just want to tell you something," he said, walking out the door. "You make lousy coffee."

 

Nemiroff was waiting for breakfast when he saw his mother approaching the table with a cup of steaming coffee. He quickly dropped his fork and reached down to cover his crotch, but it was too late. Every morning since he quit Hebrew school Nemiroff's mother spilled a hot cup of coffee on his crotch. She said she did it to teach him a lesson, but Nemiroff could never figure out what the lesson was supposed to be.

"Mrs. Nemiroff," he said, drying off his pants, "I'm going to be late for work."

Nemiroff s mother never let him call her Mom or Mother since he stopped being Jewish. "If you were Jewish, you'd be a part of this family," she'd tell him. "But since you think you're a gentile, then you certainly couldn't belong to the two Jewish people who live in this house."

"I'm going to be late," Nemiroff repeated.

"You'll be late?" she said. "The best thing you could do is kill yourself on the way to work. Give everyone a break."

 

Nemiroff arrived at camp just a few minutes before the first period began. He parked his car and remembered how surprised he had been when he was accepted as a counselor. His mother had called the owner of Camp Winituck several times, warning him not to hire Nemiroff. She really wanted to see him drafted. "They'll either make something out of you, or kill you. I don't have that choice," she had said.

 

After filling in the rest of the schedule, Nemiroff lined up his group and marched them over to the corral. Nemiroff walked twenty feet behind them, keeping a sharp lookout. He had stopped walking in front of them ever since the day he almost had his left ear pierced by a pitchfork.

 

Nemiroff took his time walking over to his group's lockers. Mr. Hartley was taking care of Nemiroff's group when he finally arrived. Mr. Hartley was glad to have something to do. Ever since the first day of camp, Mr. Hartley had been unable to locate the group that had been assigned to him. Rumors had it that the entire group had defected to another nearby day camp, where they were busy plotting a coup to take over Camp Winituck with the intention of killing Mr. Hartley the minute they were in command. It was supposed to be a mercy killing. A few of the parents had started to complain about Mr. Hartley's losing their children, but none of them insisted on an investigation right away. They did not want to risk finding their kids until the summer was over.

Nemiroff walked over to the daily bulletin board, where his group's activities were scheduled for the day. Nemiroff noted that the first period would be spent horseback riding, followed by swimming, arts and crafts, and volley ball. He saw that the dreaded daily baseball game wasn't scheduled until the last period of the day. Thank God, thought Nemiroff, this will give me time to find some more broken glass.

 

The corral at Camp Winituck contained five animals. Somebody had once called them horses, but you couldn't find anyone to swear to it. Above each horse hovered a small cloud of flies. As the days had passed, the cloud of flies had gotten smaller and smaller, and it was obvious to everyone that even the flies couldn't stand to be around those horses. The riding instructor did nothing to help his cause, insisting that the flies kept the horses on their toes.

"O.K., who wants to ride first?" Nemiroff asked. There were no volunteers.

Mr. Curtis, the riding instructor, wandered over toward the group. He was about five feet seven and weighed a good three hundred pounds. The horse he rode was permanently maimed with a severe sway-back. In fact, the horse's belly drooped on the ground. Mr. Curtis led the horse over. "C'mon now, everybody's got to ride," he said. The horse bumped into him. The horse was as blind as a bat and everybody knew it. Nobody wanted to ride him because the horse would get going full steam and run right into a pole. "All right, tell you what I'll do." Mr. Curtis walked over to one of the other horses and led him over. The body was too long for the front legs, and too short for the back legs. The horse could barely stand up.

"A real treat," Mr. Curtis went on. "Who wants to ride old Flash?"

"Wait a minute," Nemiroff interrupted. "Let me talk to them. You have to be gentle." He turned to the kids. "Now look, you're scheduled to ride this period. Your parents are paying for you to ride. And if five of you don't get on those horses right now, I'll kill you." Five of them climbed into the corral.

"O.K., that's settled. Mount up," cried Mr. Curtis. He handed the reins to the riders. "Take 'em around the corral a few times." The horses started out in a snakelike procession around the corral. One of the horses did not follow the others.

"Give him a few kicks," ordered Mr. Curtis. The boy kicked the horse. "C'mon, get him moving." The boy kicked the horse harder. He didn't budge. "C'mon, what the hell's the matter?"

The kid looked around helplessly. "He won't move. I think he's dead."

"What are you talking about? Kick him, he'll move." He started to walk over to the horse."

"I've been kicking him," the boy said. "The horse is dead."

The riding instructor came over for a closer look.

He put his hand on the horse's chest and looked into his eyes. "Y'know something? I think you're right. The horse is dead. Tell you what, just sit on him and jump up and down. It'll be the same as riding."

The boy sat there and kicked the horse and jumped up and down on him.

While the riding instructor was occupied with the dead horse, Nemiroff had snuck into the corral. He tore off his shirt and ran in front of the horses, yelling and waving the shirt. The horses panicked. Flash fell down. The other kids were soon thrown off and trying to crawl out of the corral. "Jump on their heads." Nemiroff was screaming like a madman. "Step on the little bastards." He ran around the corral, pointing out the kids to the horses. "Here. Here's one." He ran to another one. "He's gonna get out Get him."

The kids managed to scramble outside of the corral. Nemiroff fell on the ground, exhausted with pleasure. Jewish kids weren't supposed to ride horses. Jewish kids should ride Lincolns or something. He was so delighted with himself he didn't hear the horses coming until the first hoof was firmly planted in his head. As the horses thundered over him, Nemiroff wished he had never promised not to go back to the infirmary.

 

One thing that really bugged Nemiroff was Marshall Pace. He had a whole group of athletic gentiles. They won at everything. Nemiroff spent a lot of time talking to Marshall at camp, and they would usually meet at night before going out on their separate dates. Nemiroff figured if he hung around Marshall enough, a little gentleness might rub off.

Nemiroff was to meet Marshall at the local saloon before Nemiroff's date with Lynn that evening. Marshall had been out with her before. Marshall had been out with everyone before. He and Nemiroff spent hours talking about the women Marshall had been out with. It drove Nemiroff crazy.

"Hello, Marshall," Nemiroff said, walking up to the bar.

"Hi, buddy," Marshall answered. "Boy, did I have a piece last night"

"Shut your fucking mouth. I don't want to hear about it" Nemiroff got up on the stool. "What happened?"

"Well," Marshall began, "I wasn't really sure anything was going to happen."

Nemiroff clenched his fists. Marshall's stories drove him crazy. Why
the
hell should he get all the ass? Nemiroff didn't want to hear any more. "C'mon, get to the point," Nemiroff snapped.

"Well, we went down to the bay, you know, and she says let's take a walk."

He was going to drag it out again. Nemiroff wanted to punch him in the nose. He knew Marshall was dragging it out on purpose. Nemiroff told himself to get up and walk away. What in hell did he need with this nonsense anyway? "Get to the good part," Nemiroff yelled, grabbing Marshall by the collar.

"O.K., take it easy." He brushed Nemiroff's hands away. "So we start to walk down by the water and she says how about going for a swim."

Nemiroff hated Marshall's stories. But he looked forward to hearing every one of them. It was a form of self-punishment. Nemiroff was sure he could make out as well as Marshall if nobody knew he was Jewish. The strange thing was that Marshall went out with a lot of Jewish girls. He would tell Nemiroff about those big-breasted Jewish broads who liked to screw. Nemiroff had heard about them, but he was damned if he would ever get caught with one of them.

"So I told her I didn't have a bathing suit," Marshall continued.

Nemiroff wanted to choke him. He'd get up and leave right now. He wouldn't listen to this bullshit any more. "Then what happened?" Nemiroff drooled.

"Well, she says she doesn't have a bathing suit either, so why don't we just get naked and go skinny-dipping." Marshall took a long sip on his beer. Nemiroff swore he would kill him. "So we get undressed and run into the water." Nemiroff told himself that now was the time to leave. Don't listen any more. "If you don't hurry up, I'm going to kill you," Nemiroff said.

Marshall went on. "Well, there I am standing in the water up to my balls. And the water is sloshing 'em back and forth."

"C'mon, you bastard."

"So she starts to swim over and I start to swim to her." Marshall paused for another swig of beer.

Nemiroff knocked the glass out of his hands. "Finish the goddamn story," he screamed. He pushed Marshall to the floor and started to jump on him. "Did you lay her or not? I don't want the details. Did you or didn't you." He was punching Marshall violently in the head.

It always ended the same way. Marshall never got to finish a story. They would roll on the floor beating the hell out of each other until one of them quit, got up and walked out. Nemiroff had yet to hear the end of Marshall's stories.

Nemiroff could still hear the squealing from Marshall's tires as he picked himself up off the floor. His clothes were a mess, and he looked at the clock over the bar to see if he had time to go home and change before picking up Lynn. No, it was too late. He'd just have to go like this.

Nemiroff walked into the smelly bathroom at the far end of the bar. He had to step carefully to avoid the puddles of water lying on the floor. He bent over the sink and stared into the mirror. He wasn't exactly bowled over by what stared back at him. Nemiroff couldn't figure it out Sometimes he thought he looked rather dashing, and then just five minutes later the magic would disappear. Right now he was definitely a cat job. He combed his hair and left to pick up Lynn. If she didn't like him it wouldn't matter. Why should she be different from anyone else?

 

Nemiroff had heard about Lynn from Marshall. He had told Nemiroff that he had taken her to a movie, and that she cuffed him while eating a bag of popcorn without ever spilling one single piece. That was all Nemiroff had been able to find out because he had attacked Marshall before he could finish. But he had heard enough, and he later begged Marshall to arrange an introduction.

When Nemiroff was introduced to Lynn it was love at first sight. Nemiroff had been in love before, but as usual, he found a way to screw it up before he became too involved. But on meeting Lynn, he told himself it was the real thing. This time he wouldn't screw it up. He would go all the way. This was the girl Nemiroff would marry and have children with. She was perfect. She was everything he ever dreamed of. Blond, blue-eyed, a supple young body.

And according to Marshall, she put out for anybody. Nemiroff reminded himself not to mess it up this time. It was time he found someone to share his miserable life with.

Marshall had arranged the meeting between Nemiroff and Lynn at the local pub. Nemiroff was sure that she would be impressed by a guy who could really belt the booze down. He was right. He watched her face light up when he asked the bartender for double gin stingers. She was even more impressed when he threw it down in one gulp and ordered another before the bartender had had time to get more than three feet away. He took her hand and held it across the table, staring into her blue eyes.

The second drink arrived and Nemiroff knocked it down like the first one. His head was starting to nod just a little as he ordered the third round. He leaned way over the table and pulled her close to him. He was very sexy and he knew it. This time he wouldn't blow it. He really had her going. He pulled her even closer to him, tell they were just a few inches apart. Nemiroff put his lips close to her ear. He opened his mouth to say something very, very meaningful to her, and threw up in her ear.

Nemiroff had never been sick from drinking before in his life. And he was as surprised as Lynn was when he threw up on her. She tried to duck under the table to get out of his way, but he caught the back of her dress before she made it under the table. Nemiroff gave one last violent heave as the bartender arrived with the next round. "I don't think I'll be needing it, thank you," he said just before his head smashed into the table.

BOOK: The Horse is Dead
3.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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