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Windspirit

There is a legend, which has been passed down for more than a century. It is the legend of Windspirit.

No one had ever seen a horse like her. She was completely white with a jet black blaze in the center of her head. She had become mythical and her legend put the small town of Bonebluff on the map.

Faster than lightning, and as elusive as a perfect woman, catching her would be like trying to catch a tempest.  Men came from far and wide, determined to have the illusive beauty for their own, but try as they might, they failed and they failed miserably.

But not everyone gave up so easily. One day a stranger rode into town, and he had something on his mind.  He was a self-assured cowboy who introduced himself as Wade.  Word had it, he was from the hills of North Carolina and had made his way out west in search of Windspirit.  Tales of her elusiveness had traveled all the way to the East coast.

Wade made his living breaking horses for ranchers….horses that were supposedly unbreakable.  His business card proudly boasted, “Ain’t no horse can’t be rode.  Ain’t no man can’t be throwd.”

There was no reward for the capture of Windspirit. There were only bragging rights for having done the impossible, and Wade was determined to claim those rights.

He made his way up the hills and soon laid eyes on the graceful, alluring creature. He had never encountered a horse like her, and readying his lasso, he slowly made his way toward her. Time after time, she eluded him. Sometimes, it was as if she was playing with him. She would let him get close, and just as he was about to throw his lasso, she would bolt as quickly as a speeding bullet.

After months and months of trying, it became clear to Wade that he had met his match.  There were going to be no bragging rights, and his reputation would surely suffer, but for some reason it didn’t matter.  He had developed a deep reverence for her. She was meant to run free, and live only in the dreams of cowboys like him, not become a souvenir triumphantly paraded around.

When Wade finally surrendered, he rode up to the hills for one last look.  As she stood in front of him, he tipped his hat in a gesture of respect, turned his horse around and rode out of town.

Not long after, another stranger rode in. He was known only as the cowboy.  He had an air of superiority and pranced into town as if he expected to be held in high esteem. When asked his business, he cavalierly replied, “I’m here to claim a prize.”

That prize was Windspirit. People laughed and told him it would take a better man than him to corral the illusive, enigmatic horse, but he scoffed at their pretentious suppositions.

This cowboy was different.  He had learned the ways of Native Americans for catching and taming wild horses.  With a look of “satisfaction in waiting,” he said, “you’ll see.”

He was determined, focused and driven, but he was also patient.  It took weeks, but he slowly gained trust from Windspirit.  Instead of trying to rope her, he took off his shirt and let her smell it.  He rubbed it up and down her back, getting her used to his scent.

Before long, he managed to slip a bridle onto her neck.  That day, she became his victim.

The townsfolk gasped as he came riding Windspirit down the street.  He had a pompous smile on his face and strolled by as if he was wearing an invisible crown.  Shaking her head violently, it was apparent that Windspirit hadn’t completely surrendered, but the cowboy had done the impossible.  He had caught the uncatchable.  He had touched the untouchable.  He had conquered the unconquerable.  He did exactly what he came to do.  He claimed his prize.

After a deep jab into Windspirits’ sides with his spurs, and the crack of a whip, he and his trophy disappeared into a cloud of dust.

Years went by and in the town saloon, the usual old timers sat at the table, playing poker, drinking whiskey and wiping tobacco stains from their chins with their shirt sleeves.  They were just old men, talking about old women, old times, and old legends.

Festus was pushing eighty and was by far the oldest, but he had a remarkable memory, and he loved to tell stories of days gone by.  He started talking about the mysterious cowboy who had come to take Windspirit away.  It didn’t matter how often he told the story, he never failed to capture their attention as he told the tale.  Then, he quietly wondered aloud, “I wonder whatever happened to her.”

A lone cowboy was sitting at the bar, staring into his glass of whiskey.  A closer look would have revealed that the man was Wade.

He heard that after the cowboy had beaten Windspirit into complete submission, he put her out to pasture.  The cowboy hadn’t cared about her.  He had only cared about breaking her.  He had only cared about winning.

That night, Wade decided he was going to find her.

It took a few months, but he finally tracked down the cowboy. Still acting like a pompous ass, the cowboy looked at Wade and said, “what is your business here?”  Wade answered, “I was wondering if you still had that horse you took from Bonebluff.”

The cowboy winked and said, “yep, I sure do, if you can still call her a horse.  How does that concern you?”  Wade asked if he might see her.  The cowboy agreed and said, “follow me.”

When Wade saw Windspirit, he almost dropped to his knees.  She was tied to a post, swaybacked, and so disfigured and beaten down that he hardly recognized the beauty she used to be.  Wade wasn’t sure but he thought she might have recognized him as she gave a slight nod when he gently stroked her mane.  He whispered, “I’m going to take you home.”

He was horrified to see a large B had been deeply carved into her left flank.  As Wade ran his hand across the scar, the cowboy smiled as if delighted with his work, and said, “this is my mark.  It stands for BROKEN.”

Wade asked the cowboy how much he would take for her.  “I’ve got thirty-eight dollars on me,” he said.  The cowboy laughed and said, “keep your money and take her.  She’s useless.”

Wade made good on his word and took Windspirit home.  People stood in silence as she slowly and painfully walked down the street.  A few of the old men had tears in their eyes as they watched her struggle.  Gone was the beauty who used to be the envy of every cowboy.

Wade and Windspirit made it back to her beloved hills.  When he took the rope from her neck, she used every ounce of strength to make a gallant run. She had one last taste of freedom before she collapsed. Wade buried her that same day.  

There is no monument.  There is but a tiny cross made of sticks which will, in time disappear.  But the memory of this remarkably beautiful horse will live on…in tales told by old men, who sit around talking about old women, old times, old legends, and play poker, drink whiskey, and wipe tobacco stains from their chins with their shirt sleeves.

Wade was never seen again after that day, but word soon traveled to Bonebluff that the cowboy had been found hanging from a tree.  A large J had been deeply carved into his chest and a note written in blood was pinned to his shirt.  

It said, “this is my mark.  It stands for JUSTICE.”

El Fin

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