In the summer of 1963, when I was thirteen, I stabbed my father in the chest with a Davy Crockett Explorers pocketknife. That was almost fifty years ago. I suppose I might as well be truthful with you and say that I only feel empty whenever I think back on it all.
It’s a sad thing when a man keeps the most important things in his past locked tightly away, only to forget about how, for a time, they were all he cared about—all that shaped his life and made him who he was—but that’s exactly what I did. I think sometimes a person even begins to forget what lies beyond that locked door of dead memories. And, sometimes, that door’s been kicked in, and whether you want to or not, you do remember. That’s what happened today.
The elevator doors parted to a hurricane of activity. There were gasps and shouting. People were running across the long marble floor of the lobby, eyes wide. Just outside the tall glass doors of the building’s façade, a crowd gathered.
There had been an accident.
A pickup truck pulling a horse trailer had been sideswiped by a black Land Rover. The horse trailer, taking the brunt of the crash, lay flipped over. Inside was a beautiful white mare, struggling, dying. No police cars. No sirens. The driver of the mashed-in pickup sat on the street, holding his arm and looking dazed. A few people thumbed 911 on their phones, others just stared, not knowing what to do. The door of the trailer hung open, dangling, and the mare lay halfway out, its hindquarters in the trailer, its front on the smeared pavement. She tried to lift her head; the rest of her wouldn’t budge. Her back was unnaturally twisted, but it was the sight of blood pooling onto the pavement below her mouth that stuck with me. The mare’s large, frantic black eyes darted about the chaotic city center.
I ran to her, pushing through the crowd. “No,” I whispered, dropping to my knees, moving my hand along her neck. She whinnied and more blood came. A moan, almost human, ripped from the animal’s chest, and again she tried to raise her head. She was dying, and there was nothing in the world I could do about it except be there with her.
She tried a final time to force her body up, and she cried out again. Her deep and heavy breathing began to weaken. And then it stopped.
I hugged the animal as tightly as I could, and wept for her. Maybe I was making a spectacle of myself but I didn’t care. In that moment, the people and places I’d long kept behind those locked doors resurfaced and I was flooded with the past.