Throwing stones at horses by Martin Malone

Wouldj’a look…pegging stones!

‘G’way the fuck with ye, ye pups. What are yese doing that for?’
Throwing stones they are, at the piebald pony in the field. Sorry creature with the bones like accordion rills.  In the drizzle, in a field of thistles, in a muddying field.
‘Fuck off Mistah, wouldj’a ever. It’s not your fucking horse is it?’
A traveller’s horse, but it isn’t travellers pegging the stones so it’s not. Brat bastards from the estate is who. Clean clothed and well-fed. But no one in control of the sad little fecks.
‘G’way now,’ the Gunner says, ‘I’m warning ye. Or a root in the hole is what you’ll get.’
‘Make me, I fucken dar you.’
How old? 10 maybe. 11. Around that.
‘Make ye, make ye – why the bleddy hell are ye firing stones at the poor horse, what fucked harm is the poor critter doing ye, is what I want to know?’
‘You’re drunk,’ says one.
‘The stink offa ya, can ya not smell yourself?’ the other.
‘Why are yese throwing stones at the horse I astd ye?’
‘To get it to fucken move, Mistah, why else?’
The Gunner looked over the flattened wire fence at the horse, tied with blue nylon rope to a looped iron bar embedded deeply in the sodden earth.
‘G’wan home,’ he says, ‘or I’ll go this second to tell Mickey Connors that you’re tormenting his horse. He’ll fucken murder the two of ye.’
‘Ah fuck off, you smelly aul cunt.’
They bolt.
The Gunner studies the haggard horse, its head dipped, forelock rain slickened. A horse is supposed to have spirit, energy in the tips of its hooves. It stands there, in a pockmarked field, as miserable as a starving passenger on a coffin ship.
‘Yere like meself.’
Always feeling left outside of something.
The Gunner looks skyward.
Not even a vein of blue.
Recalls a time when he kept roses in a vase on a shelf in the kitchen, reds he had grown in his back garden.
All gone now, that.
Tonight? Where’ll the bed be found?
By the river, in the bushes?
No.
The hostel?
With the fucken druggies?
The pharmacy porch?
No.
There is where the bastards from the pub come over to piss on him. He used to wonder why. Now he knows.

They simply want to see him move.

Martin Malone is the author of 7 novels, a memoir, 3 short story collections and several radio plays. He has also written for TV and stage. His first novel Us won the John B Keane/Sunday Independent Literature Award and was shortlisted for the Irish Fiction Award. His latest work is a collection of short stories, This Cruel Station (Doire Press). You can find out more on his blog

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