This scene delights me, so I wanted to share it.
Josey loved going to Orschelns. She and her parents had shopped here ever since she could remember. She loved to look at the toys – the tiny metal green John Deere tractors and the miniature Breyer horses of every breed. Her favorite were the American Saddlebred.
She wandered into the women’s clothing section. Grandpa Joe had brought her here before school started and bought her two new pairs of jeans. She wanted a new coat for Christmas. She’d outgrown the one Mama had bought her before. Looking through the round rack of coats, she found one the color of grape jelly. Josey checked the size and fingered the soft fleece lining. This one would be perfect, she thought. She walked away to find Dad.
She found him in the horse section, buying wormer. He always wormed each of the horses after the first good hard frost.
“Did you find anything for your Christmas list?”
“Maybe,” she said. “Maybe a new coat.”
Another man strolled into the aisle. Seeing Dad and Josey, he nodded a greeting. Dad looked up at the man, returned his silent greeting, and resumed reading the label on the box of wormer.
“Are you Carl Miller?” the man said.
Dad looked up, surprised. “Yeah. Have we met?”
“Not directly. You’ve got my stallion, Chief.”
Dad and the man shook hands.
“I was surprised as hell when McInerny at the bank wanted him. I think all he could see were the horse’s papers. But it’s no skin off my nose. It saved me the gas to take him to auction. What are you doing with him?”
“I’m not sure yet. McInerny brought him out to me to break. He may show in pleasure, or maybe endurance riding.”
The man nodded toward Josey.
“There’s no training Chief, and you better keep your kid away from him. I used a hot cattle prod once to keep him from killing one of my stable hands. After that, I only used him for breeding. Chief’s a lost cause.”
Dad smiled. “Well, that fits me perfect. Folks tell me I’m the patron saint of lost causes.”
The man shrugged, then said, “He’s your problem now. But the way I see it, Chief’s only value is by the pound. Have a good day.”
The man touched the brim of his Stetson and walked away.
“What did he mean, Dad? His value is by the pound?”
“He means he gave up on Chief. But we don’t have that luxury, Josey girl. C’mon. Let’s go look at this Christmas coat.”
Josey smiled up at him, took his hand, and led him toward the clothing section. “It’s real soft, Dad, but durable.”
“Well, durable is important.”
“It sure is.”