Fiction: The Trouble with Dead Horses

Last week Buck was rebuffed by the girl of his dreams and now this . . .

“Sir! I’m ruined for sure! What should I do?” Streeter whispered, his breath moist against Buck’s face.

“What? Why are you bothering me? Where were you?” Buck asked.

“By the horses, sir! Oh, I am a fool!” Streeter cried and pulled at Buck.

“Let go, Streeter. What are you on about?”

“I’ve come to you because I have no one else to turn to. You’re decent and, truly, I do consider you a friend.”

“What’s happened, Streeter?” Buck asked, sitting up with bleary eyes.

“I’m a damned fool. The stable workers . . . the privates, they’re the only fellows that chat with me, but you, sir. And I’m very grateful for your bravery.”

“I’m not brave—“

“Never mind that now, sir. You have intelligence and that’s what I need. The enlisted men at the stables let me ride the horses in the evening on occasion.”
“That’s against regulations, Streeter, and . . .”

“I know, I know, but horses, sir, are my weakness and it did no one any harm until tonight. The horse I rode got spooked. We figure it was that awful band practice. I only just escaped with my life, but not the horse. What shall I do? The men have turned on me now—they say that I’m solely responsible.”

“I don’t know that there’s anything I can do for you, Streeter. It’s hard to explain away a dead horse. How very stupid of you!” Buck said.

“I’ll be kicked from the school because of this!” Streeter cried.

Buck had his own problems and wanted to go back to sleep, but he remembered how proud his father had been of him taking a stand for Streeter. How many times had Buck broken the rules? And now he knew how terrible it was to be alone. “Streeter, I can’t promise you anything at all, but you must promise me that no one will ever know that you enlisted me to help you.”

“Of course! I promise. I knew you’d have ideas for me.” Streeter slapped Buck’s back.

Buck reached behind his cot and pulled out a small purse. “I’ve got some money from my father.”

“Sir, I can’t take your money.”

“No, we’ll use it at the stables. We can maybe buy the men’s silence; maybe buy a horse. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s your only hope to avoid punishment.”

“Sir, I can’t accept this generosity,” Streeter said taking the wad of cash. “This is . . . sakes alive! This is a lot of money!”

“Yes, my father is very generous with money. I’m not supposed to have it anyway. Father didn’t go through the proper channels here. I was saving it for an engagement ring.”

Streeter took his eyes off the money. “Sir, I take it that Miss Turner didn’t go for your proposal?”

Buck shook his head.

“I thought you were selling yourself too low, anyway.”

Buck whispered. “Let’s go before we’re found. I’m in enough trouble as it is, Streeter.”

“You are a blessing from God, sir!”

“Don’t push it, Streeter,” Buck warned, but felt giddy and laughed as he slipped into the night with the new cadet close behind.

As they approached the stables, Buck whispered, “I’ll go in and have a chat with them—they wouldn’t take too kindly to a colored, I mean a plebe, bribing them. You stand guard.”

Streeter nodded with a nervous grin, pointing to where the men smoked behind the building and Buck jumped the fence and introduced himself. The men listened silently, but intently as Buck negotiated.

“So, you see fellows, you stand to lose if Cadet Streeter is hived. No one’s going to believe he went unnoticed on the horses. This money should cover the cost of a fine new horse and should soften your feelings against the cadet.”

Buck handed them over four hundred dollars and their eyes lit, but a noise caught their attention and they pushed the money back. Buck wheeled around to find the officer of the guard—the very man who had sent him to his tent—standing and grim. “Buck Crenshaw! What the hell are you doing here? And what’s all this money?” he grabbed the thick wad of bills and sifted through it.

“I-I was . . .”
“He was trying to bribe us,” a private said.

“Buck?” The astonished officer waited for explanation.

“Well, Cadet Streeter. . .” Buck began.

“Cadet Streeter? What has that plebe got to do with you disobeying me?”

Buck hesitated. “Nothing, sir. It was my decision to get involved.”

“Involved in bribery? For what?”

“Sir, it was foolish, but a horse is dead and Cadet Streeter is a good cadet, mostly, but he loves to ride—did you know that his father was a trainer when he was a slave? So, anyway, it’s my father’s money. I know that I shouldn’t have let him slip it to me, sir, but it was for a ring for Miss Turner.”

“I know! I know, you explained about Miss Turner earlier. You have your hands in so many pots, Buck, it’s making my head spin. So you’re friends with Streeter then?”

“I guess I am, sir—though it’s brought me nothing but trouble.”

The officer turned to the stable men. “Is Cadet Crenshaw telling the truth?”

“No, sir, he isn’t.”

Buck stared.

“We would never allow a cadet to ride the schooling horses. It’s true the horse is dead, but that’s all we know. It’s this cadet who’s come to bribe us.”

Excerpted from WEARY OF RUNNING. Read more about Buck Crenshaw and his misadventures when you buy the book today!

“The second installment in The Tenafly Road Series definitely did not disappoint. With the introduction of new characters and the return of familiar ones, Weary of Running made for an exciting read. The protagonist, Thankful, is the real highlight of the novel. She consistently makes very poor decisions but in the end, you can understand why she has made every last one of them. The story ranges from love and romance to questions of faith and morality. It does all this without being preachy and explores many angles of different aspects of life. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.” Amazon Review

“Buck Crenshaw is my favorite dysfunctional lovable character.”










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