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Jenny Lockwood’s eyes scanned the fence line to her left looking for flaws in the rusty barbed wire. Although it was only 9: 30 in the morning, she and Horsefly had left the barn just as dawn broke at 6: 20. When she was a young teenager, being assigned the tedious job of riding fence was one of the many things she resented about life on the ranch. But in the weeks since her breakup with Josh Baxter, Jenny had come to appreciate the solitary hours in the saddle.
Horsefly was good company, and it wasn't long before Jenny was doing exactly what her sister Kate predicted she would do –engaging in long, one-sided conversations with the patient old horse. There was no particular degree of religion in Jenny's rearing, but she possessed the faith of a person born and raised in the country. She had witnessed far too many of nature's miracles not to believe that there was something greater than herself at work in the Universe.
While Jenny might have been uncomfortable with the idea of praying in a conventional way, talking to a horse was different. In the notebook she kept by her bed, Jenny reserved a few pages for quotations about horses. One of her favorites was an Arabian proverb. “The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears.”
She couldn't be certain how much Horsefly understood the things she told him, but he listened without judgment. When he did offer a companionable snuffle, however, it always came at an apt time in her narrative, which made Jenny suspect he knew exactly what she was saying. At almost 25 years of age, the old horse had seen his fair share of human foolishness, but sometimes even the most patient creature has to put in his two cents worth.
Jenny knew she had a lot to talk about and to work out in her mind. She preferred to seek her therapy, however, in the fresh Texas air among the gnarled cedars and the rocky draws where the canyon wrens laughed as the day grew brighter. Had the tall, bewhiskered jackrabbits standing sentinel in the grass been outfitted with suits and watch chains, they could have passed for learned associates of Dr. Freud, an idea that made Jenny giggle aloud. Horsefly tossed his head approvingly at the sound. He'd never come right out and say so, but he privately nursed the notion that all humans should laugh more.
Like most of her generation, Jenny had put in her time with an actual psychologist, a kind woman in New York who knew nothing of life on a Texas ranch, but who came up with plenty of labels for Jenny's father, Langston Lockwood.
For all Jenny knew, the man had indeed suffered from borderline personality disorder –and narcissistic personality disorder –and all the other disorders the good doctor mentioned. But in the end, there was just one definitive thing to say about Langston: he was a thoroughgoing old bastard.
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