April 05, 2011

Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault

Death of a Racehorse by W.C. Heinz

Usually, I wouldn't care, and seeing as how not many people read this at the moment, that I know of, I shouldn't. But just in case this blog should accumulate readers in the future, I'll considerately post the excerpt after my comments because I don't want to ruin the experience. In my opinion, for the end to be effective, the short story needs to build up to it. I finally decided to read this piece, which I only know because Chris Jones frequently mentions it's one of his favorites. This is weird but the first way I can think to describe the way it makes me feel is in Italian, "Mi colpisce." It hits me. It moves me. The last two grafs--so hard to read, but I still do over and over and they get me every time.

They moved the curious back, the rain falling faster now, and they moved the colt over close to a pile of loose bricks. Gilman had the halter and Catlett had the gun, shaped like a bell with the handle at the top. This bell he placed, the crowd silent, on the colt's forehead, just between the eyes. The colt stood still and then Catlett, with the hammer in his other hand, struck the handle of the bell. There was a short, sharp sound and the colt toppled onto his left side, his eyes staring, his legs straight out, the free legs quivering.

"Aw ----" someone said.

That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two vets removing the broken bones as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for the cover of the stables, leaving alone on his side near the pile of bricks, the rain running off his hide, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault.