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  • It was almost midnight. All non-human and human co-conspirators of this present's tiny point were saved from the usual signal interference of the many man-made machines ubiquitous in urbanity. The only sound I could hear was the wind-monk-drone in C quietly roaring through the canyon, punctuated by an occasional cricket. I'd believe you if you told me that the big bright moon presiding over the crossed ridges in the inky sky was driving the whole thing, like it drives the tides, helped by Orion, The Big Dipper, and constellations I have never seen before.

    I'd half-drunkenly rooted around in the dark in the back of the '94 Chevy panel van for some old chopped carrots, in order to make quick friends with the horse and the donkey. It was past their bedtimes, but a carrot is as good at midnight as it is in morning. The horse sauntered up and crunched from my palm as the crickets did their thing.

    She tried my finger once the carrots were gone. She seemed to hesitate at first, perhaps out of confusion as to why it wouldn't give as easily as the carrots under the same force of teeth, maybe out of the moral question of whether you should bite the hand which feeds you. But I goaded her on, defiantly seizing my first opportunity to test one of my New Year's resolutions: Stare Down Fear. "Go ahead, do it," I whispered, as her upper and lower rack of teeth had the knuckle of my right index finger, the one I use to chop carrots for a living, in a formidable, purgatorial grip, a batter of her lipstick of spit, shit, sand and hay owning a gluey drip between my digits. She was waiting. "DO it."

    She chomped down harder, bearing her pink gums, and I could feel the chef's knife callus on my finger tear open. The moon shone bright on her teeth, which were stained brown around the edges, white in the center, a row of huge, broad tiles on top and bottom, so evenly queued like a little platoon with guns drawn, they looked like a perfectly mortared white wall, like the exaggerated teeth when horses guffaw in cartoons. She had no incisors, but I could feel her pulling back on her strength, and my knees started to shake. What's the difference between fibrous hay and a fibrous finger if your entire mouth is one big mortar and pestle with limitless saliva? I knew then that were it ever to come down to me or her, I would not be enjoying another Canyon Fugue in C again as anything other than her alfalfa compost.

    She inexplicably released my finger - maybe it was too much work - and I decided that was enough fear confronted for Day One of the New Year. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a half-rotten apple I'd sacrificed from dinner, broke off the rotted half, and offered her the better half in thanks. She grabbed it and sashayed away on a scratchy pillow of hay into the dark blue ink, crunching, her tail swatting the stars back and forth like a cheeky school girl's pony tail.
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