A Horse of a Different Color Jun02


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A Horse of a Different Color

Featuring two little girls named Pamela and Bonnie, and a guy named Bill

Two very delightful and very bright children named Pamela and Bonnie each wanted a horse to call their own. That’s two horses you know.
No one ever told them they may have one. In fact they had been given dozens of reasons why they would not ever get a horse.
So being good children they went about growing up with plenty to do without a horse, but the horse always remained upper most on their minds.

Now and then they tried it out on a new person, a visiting Grandparent or Aunt and Uncle, even Santa Clause for several years in a row. Hoping someone might come through on a birthday or out of pity at Christmas.

Still a horse never appeared in their City home back yard. They didn’t live downtown in the city. They lived comfortably in a built up neighborhood with clever small yards that had little flower gardens in front, but only a small patch of grass in the back.
Always to them the garage seemed to them to be adequate for only two horses, if the car could be left parked in the driveway, where it was most of the time anyway. Still the empty garage remained horseless.
A couple of years passed slowly, as they only do for children, especially as Christmas or as birthdays get close. The children were now a very grown up six and eight year old. They were born two years apart, with Pam being the oldest. Sometimes they liked to play that they were horses themselves and they would run through the house and yard galloping and whinnying an annoying sound they imagined a happy horse would make.

In the horse mode they would promise each other that when they grew up and had children they would buy them all of the horses they wanted.

Happily many years from now one would do that and the other would not, but she had an airplane. So they could share and that helped a little bit because they remained friends who loved horses and flying both.

Meanwhile school and homework took up too much time to allow all of that galloping and they even forgot about the horse for awhile after the World War began. So many good things were missing and rationed, that they were sure anything as good as a horse must rationed, too.

Convinced that Santa Claus would not be sending his reindeer out to fly with all of those bombs and guns going off that they saw in the movie theater news reels , they didn’t expect much. And were happily surprised when the tree had lots of gifts under it war or no war. But of course no horses.

They learned to save scrap metal and even donated some perfectly good toy dishes with small matching pots and pans to the war effort because they were all aluminum. There were not so many things they actually could do other than give up bananas and ice cream like everyone else, unless you count wearing shoes that daddy had repaired by gluing rubber on the bottoms to cover the holes.

They were given a kitten though and they loved her dearly. Even more when she became a cat who had kittens for them to love and play with until Mom put a little sign on the front porch and they were all given away.

But Mother said not to worry she would have more next year. Next year? That was eons away…whatever eons were it was too long.

They were walking slowly together coming home from school one day, cutting cross a vacant lot, as they always did, to shorten the walk, when Bonnie saw something in the patch of tall weeds. She went closer to try to understand what it was.

“Don’t touch it it might be a bomb like on the news reels and might blow up.” Pam told her as they stood looking at the metal thing covered with grease or oil. Are there any more around here? Pam wondered as she began to pace the lot looking at all of the grass that was high enough to hide something like a bomb. She found more stuff but it was all different and all dirty with black gunk. So they didn’t touch it at all, even if it didn’t blow up, it looked yucky.

“Come over here! “ Bonnie called and right next to the fence there was a big, long, white thing, almost like a bed sheet but thinner and twisted about with enough string to fly two kites. They didn’t touch that either. It was too strange and looked different from anything they had ever seen.

At the back of the lot there was an old shed. It had been there for years at least all of theirs. It had one side kind of caved in and the roof falling over crooked, so they always avoided it because it was webby and might have Black Widow Spiders in it.
Someone had propped up the roof now and set an old piece of the broken wood where the door used to be.

Pam looked around it to try to see in without touching the dirty old wood, for fear of getting splinters . She could barely see in the darkness what looked like a man laying down looking like he was asleep.

“Someone is in here.” She told her sister in a soft whisper.

“Is he dead?” Pam asked first thing. They didn’t have much knowledge of dead people, only that they could be… like in the movies.

“I think he’s asleep.” Bonnie said, “He’s kind of breathing funny.”

“Oh that’s good.” Pam decided. She was the older by two years, so Bonnie would take her word for it. But Pam still came over to see for herself.

The man was old. Maybe as old as their uncle Bill, their Mother’s younger brother, who was starting college already, except the Army drafted him and he was away learning to fly airplanes now.

“Should we tell somebody?” Bonnie asked., wondering who would want to know. The shed was just there. No one used it for anything.

“I’m not sure.” Pam said, also not knowing who cared about this shabby thing. “He seems to be hiding in here. Let’s think about it.” Pam was trying to decide. If he was in trouble maybe he didn’t want to be found yet or…”

The man turned and began to open his eyes seeing himself under scrutiny, he pulled up his knees and sat back against the webby wall. Trying to decide what to tell these little kids, so as not to scare them away or send them screaming off.”

Finally in a very soft voice he asked them,

“Do you have any food or something to drink in those lunch pails?”

The girls looked down surprised. They were so accustomed to carrying them, they just held them as they went, never for a second setting them down where they might forget and go off and leave them.

Pam answered I ate most of mine, but you can have what’s here. Are you hungry?”

“Hungry as a horse and thirsty as two horses..” He answered.

“I ate my food, but I didn’t drink my milk.” Bonnie volunteered. She took her thermos out and handed it to him. He unscrewed the lid and drank the entire thing in one breath right out of the little thermos bottle.

Meanwhile Pam took out the half a peanut butter and honey sandwich and handed it to him. He ate that slower and they watched trying to decide what to do next.

Finally Pam decided and told him,

“Be careful in there. It might have spiders.”

“Thanks I swatted them already.” He sort of smiled and seemed kind of nic. So she asked him… “Do you want us to bring you something else? Or go get someone to help you?”

“I’ll be able to help myself pretty soon, so I don’t need anyone. But if I rest here for a bit more I could use some water.”

“I’ll get you some,” Bonnie told him. “ Mom has loads of little bottles of water.”

“We have lots of bread and stuff if you are still hungry. Look I have an apple in my lunch box, would you like that?”
 He held out his hand and she put the apple into it. “We have to go home now. But we’ll be back later.

“Would you like me to bring you your sheet?” Bonnie asked.

He looked confused.

“My what?”

“Isn’t that your sheet over by the fence?” She pointed.

“Oh my parachute. Yes that would be helpful.. Please.”

Bonnie dashed over and tried hard to bundle it up to carry it without dragging it in the dirt, but it was too big, so she ended up tugging it along to the shed. As soon as it was close enough he began to pull it in. That was when Bonnie noticed that he didn’t move one leg.

“Is your leg hurt?’ She inquired softly.

“Just a little. I landed on it too hard I guess. It will be fine soon. I’ll just sleep here tonight. If nobody minds.” He smiled again.
“We don’t mind and we won’t tell if you don’t want us to.” Pam assured him.

“Thanks.” was his only reply as he pulled the sheet up and rested his head upon it.”

The girls continued on their way home. Pam told Bonnie,

“We really should bring him his water this evening if he’s as thirsty as a horse.”

“And some more food. Boys eat a lot.” Bonnie reminded her. “I wonder how he got here?”

“He came down on that parachute I guess.” Pamela suggested.

“I wonder why. Did something happen to his airplane then? Is that what all of the metal bomb looking stuff was from… do you think?”

“That’s it.” Pamela decided, “That junk is from his engine and not bombs.”

“You must be right. Should we ask him?” Bonnie wondered.

“That might not be polite.” Pamela explained.

That evening they walked almost halfway back to school carrying a brown paper sack with some bottles of water two peanut butter sandwiches with strawberry jam in one and honey in the other, an apple and an orange, plus two oatmeal cookies. Pam worried,

“I hope this is enough to last until his leg is better.”

“We can always check on our way to school tomorrow” Bonnie reminded her.

Pam tapped lightly on the broken door board.

No one answered so she tipped the board and peeked in. He seemed to be asleep so she set the bag down softly and they slipped quietly back home.

The next morning they left for school a little early making Mother wonder why that was.

“Is something going on at school that you are doing today? “ She asked, Both just stared at her not understanding why she wanted to know, especially as there wasn’t.

“No.” Pam replied, “No just the usual.” Bonnie had a different idea, so she told her mother that she was going to stop and give the corner house neighbor’s dog some food from a bag they left for her to feed him for two days.

“You are?” Pam said in surprise. “I wondered.” Bonnie went on,

“I should take him some water too. If I can take a bottle from home I won’t have to go find their faucet when I get there.”

“Sure dear.” Mother said, “ That is sweet of you. I have a very nice bone from yesterdays roast. It still has a lot of meat on it. Maybe the pup would like to have that too. She wrapped it in a piece of waxed paper and handed it to Bonnie.

When they got to the shed with the water for their friend, he was awake and thanked them for last night’s things. Then he saw that they brought more water. And reached for it.

“What is that?” He questioned Bonnie about the wax-paper bundle she held. Bonnie just laughed,

“Oh this? I told mother I had to feed the neighbor’s dog on the way to school and she gave me this for the dog. She peeled back the paper exposing the large roast of beef bone. That smells good. Do you have to give it to the dog?”

“You are the dog,” Pam explained. “Sorry but the dog was just our excuse for leaving early.”

‘It looks good enough to eat. Look at all of the roast beef!” Bonnie handed it over explaining,

“ It was good last night hot with potatoes and gravy, but it’s cold now.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers and I am as hungry as a horse.”

The girls laughed and began to go, but the man asked them their names and they stopped again to introduce themselves and ask his name.

“Pretty names. My name is Bill.” he told them.

“Oh we have an Uncle Bill.” Bonnie exclaimed

“And he’s old too… like you.” Pam added. “He’s in the Army now.”

“I am too.” Bill admitted. “I can get them to come help me as soon as I can walk to a telephone.”

“I can phone them for you.” Pamela offered. “I will just need the number.”

“Have you girls found another old bag around here someplace. It came down with me… someplace.”

“What color is it and we can look for it.” Bonnie suggested.

“It’s the same color as my pants, kind of yellowish brownish green. It sure isn’t like anything in the rainbow that you might know.” Bill laughed.

The two began to walk around the lot and kick all of the bushes and weeds to see it was buried in something. At the side walk they headed back having not found anything but those metal parts.

Then back at the fence Pam stood on a rock and looked over it to the next yard and there it was. She ran quickly to the other side from the side walk and came back with it.

Bill dusted it off, unfastened it and took out a wallet and found a card. He handed it to Pamela with directions .

“Call this number and tell them Bill Alstrom, he pointed out his name on the card, is… whatever this street is called and the number on the curb. Then hurry to school before you are late.” Pamela agreed and repeated the number to him.

“I’ll be here watching for them. And if I don’t see you again, thank you!”

The girls raced straight to school. It would work better and quicker than going home to make the phone call .

At school Pam went into the office to ask permission to phone and she was shown the one to use.

It must have worked because on the way home that afternoon they looked and the shed was empty. They were happy for Bill but felt a little sad to lose him.

That evening they watched Mother as she wrapped a package of cookies to send to her brother Bill in the Army.

That gave them an idea. They packed up a can just like it. Mother saved cans and heavy small boxes for that purpose. They took theirs to their room and carefully wrote LT. Bill Alstrom on it and the same address as the one on the card. Then they offered to take Mother’s package to the Post Office for her and she hesitated, then handed it to them with a five dollar bill. You may each keep a dollar for your Saturday movie and popcorn.

After mailing both packages they had used one dollar for stamps on the two and gave Mother back her change of $2,50 and each kept 75 cents. That seemed to work alright. Now that they knew how to do it, they could send something to their friend any time they wanted to.

A month went by and then there was a letter addressed to Pamela and Bonnie Michaels. It had an Army Post mark.
Mother was curious so waited for them open it and read it. She stood patiently by as Pamela read it out loud to them.

It said,

Thank you sweet children for the cookies and the help when I was injured. I am fine now and back flying. If I ever have to parachute out again, I hope I land back in your neighborhood, or one just like it, with wonderful kids who were so kind enough to bring food and water to a helpless hungry horse.

It was signed… Bill the hungry horse.

Mother had to smile

“So that is where the bottled water and fruit went.”

They told her that they had copied her package of cookies to send to the address on the card he had given them that morning with his Army headquarters telephone number on it, so Pam could telephone them to come rescue him.

He called himself a horse because he told us he was as hungry and thirsty as a horse, so we brought water and food to him twice. It was kind of like taking care for a horse of our own wasn’t it Bonnie? Bonnie nodded.

Mother was torn between a lecture about strangers and hoping if her brother Bill had to bail out of his airplane, someone would help him, just like that. No questions asked. So she agreed that whenever they were putting together a package for her Bill , their Bill would get one just like it.

You are right girls, you always wanted a horse to take care of. Now you have one, but this is definitely a very lucky horse of a different color.


Beverly Mosier May 2014