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  • Sunday afternoon, we have a few guests from town around as we often do on the weekends. We have been out riding the pastures all afternoon and now we rest around the edge of the horse barn. Everyone is hanging around shooting the breeze, my father regaling us, putting away tack and brushing off his black stud horse Jake.

    It smells like horse manure, which actually just smells like fermented grass and summer.

    I am sitting on the rough edge of the doorway of the barn, watching. Dust clings to my brown skin. I am playing with Lorenzo, a yellow barn cat I love.

    It smells like horses, a kind of earthy perfume to my nose.

    Not much of a horseman, my brother had gone out target shooting earlier. Just back from shooting, he is lolling around outside the horse barn goofing off with some of his friends. He has left his rifle leaning up against the tack room wall.

    My father is not a man of strict guidelines, but he has a few rules around horsemanship and guns.

    "Did you unload and clean your gun?" he asks my brother as he has asked a thousand times.

    The cat rolls on his back and I rub his soft white belly.

    “Yes I unloaded it,” my brother looks him in the eye and says.

    Seemingly in jest, Dad raises the rifle to his eye and aims it squarely at our mama goat Scout as she lazily grazes on sweetgrass a little ways from the barn. His Stetson hat cocks back off his brow leaving a crease across his forehead. His black eyes and black eyebrows and black sideburns. His lanky legs in dirty Levis. His Tony Lama boots, recently resoled. The line of a muscle poking through a rolled up sleeve.

    He pulls back the trigger.

    The yellow cat scampers.


    It smells dry, like it never rains.
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