Story Sent in by Amy:
Will wrote to me online, and unlike most of the messages I received, he was capable of stringing more than two words together into a complete thought. I don't even remember if it was that simple fact or his charm (likely both) but after a couple of weeks, he asked me out. It was my first date in two months, and I was glad for it.
He took me to a cafe with a small assortment of sandwiches and a wide variety of baked goods. He warned me, "Don't eat too much. We need to be limber, tonight."
Yuck. I thought what you're thinking, but I asked him, just to be sure, "What do you mean?"
His answer will haunt me until the end of my days: "I have a neighbor who dresses up like a horse. Every Friday night, he invites two other people over who dress like the same horse, and they sit in his backyard. You need to see it."
I bit. "He dresses like a horse?"
"Or she. You know, I have no idea if it's a man or a woman. I've never seen him otherwise. His house is all overgrown."
I asked, "Do they tramp around and neigh and graze?"
He became more focused on it, as if my own interest was a lightning rod. "No. They just kind of sit down around a table and eat. It's like a coffee party, but they're all in horse costumes, and almost every Friday. You in?"
Will lived on a quiet suburban street. We parked and he led me onto his second-floor back deck. It looked out over several backyards (two on either side and three behind him, those of the houses of a parallel street) but the one he had referred to was obvious: it was a fenced-in, tropical island of growth. Tall grasses, tangled trees, and, through the foliage, one or two ancient lawn ornaments.
There was no movement, as the sky darkened. Then, a light went on in the backyard, and then, someone stepped out of the old white house, into the yard. He wasn't in a full horse costume, as I had imagined, but he wore a horse mask (it was obviously a he), an undershirt, and what looked like black sweatpants.
The horse-man tossed his head from one side to another, then neighed. He slid a metal table and chairs out from around the side of the house, then sat in it.
Shortly thereafter, silently, another horse-person, this one in a similar mask, emerged from the house with a tray, bearing a teapot and cups. The second horse-person sat down, and then a third horse-person arrived, this one in a dress that looked like it was from colonial days. All three sat down at the table with the teapot and cups, and although no one drank, all three spoke in hushed tones.
Will gave me a look. I gave him a wide-eyed shrug. After all, what else could really be said?
Then, Will slid away from me, walked down the steps from the deck to his yard, and pressed himself against the fence, not too far away from where the horse party was taking place. Will then smiled up at me and nickered, like a horse.
All three horse people's heads turned in his direction. They couldn't see him, past the fence, but the first one, undershirt-horse, stood, picked up a broom, and crept closer to where Will stood.
Oblivious, Will neighed. He smiled up at me. I waved at him to move away from the fence. He either didn't see or was too invested in horsing around. The horse-man knocked at the fence with the broom, and Will scampered off.
The horse man glanced up at the deck, and although I was low to the floor, I didn't dare move. In retrospect, I'm not sure what he would have done that could've hurt me, but still, where I come from, one doesn't mess with a horse who brandishes a broom.
Will, who had apparently run inside through his front door, tapped on his back door and I rolled myself over to it. He said, "Date over. Good night." It might have been my imagination, but he had what looked like a dark stain streaming from the crotch of his slacks.
He closed the door on me, leaving me to wait until the horse-man returned to the table. I slipped downstairs as quietly as I could, hurried to my car, and left. Will never contacted me again.
Story Sent in by Amy: