John Patrick Robbins

Where The Horses Once Ran Free

He sat there on the beach for no reason but to simply escape. The drinks were as meaningless as the conversations these days.

Everyone was fake when you get to a certain level you expect that. It’s a weird kind of badge of honor and a curse you bear with ambition.

Real writers understood it, most that read the pages and envied did not. You do anything long enough and better than the rest you will be hated.

And when you realize you made it, you will be too fucking exhausted to care.

Frank didn’t give a shit to ever write a follow up to that curse of a novel. It sold, it afforded him his vices.

And to him that seemed like an even trade for the life blood of his soul. He had lost it all and everyone thought it was a blessing.

It was just another delusion and nothing more. He sat there, with the only bastard stupid enough to remain with him through everything.

And if that old bulldog Boozer could open his own food cans he probably would have jumped ship as well.

Frank had his phone off for two weeks straight. It wasn’t unusual for him to vanish but it was odd for him not to be writing.

He told them all he was blocked but that was pure bullshit. He sold a few stories now and then to maintain interest.

The pages breathed life until the day there was no life left in which to write about.

Rebecca picked up stakes and went back home he heard. It had been a year since last they had spoken.

Yet another hurricane was bearing down on the outer banks and as always the debate arose amongst the locals and tourists alike.

Do we stay or carry our asses?

Frank had the windows boarded, well he paid to have the windows boarded. The generator was gassed up and the bar was stocked and Frank as always was fully loaded.

It’s the fucking wait that gets everyone.

And as Frank kicked back with a cocktail in hand, he thought he was either hallucinating or in route to get shot when he looked to see Rebecca standing at his door.

“So Satan, how the fuck are you? And if you don’t mind me asking, who’s guarding the gates of hell in your absence?”

Rebecca cut her eyes at Frank letting him know if she could turn folks to stone, Frankie certainly wouldn’t be talking.

She didn’t say anything so after a minute of extremely awkward silence, Frank just turned to go get a refill.

And as he poured another scotch he heard his former best friend close the door behind her.

He mixed her one as well and left it on the bar, taking his place back on the couch, As Boozer laid in his bed whimpering at the sight of Rebecca.

“Hey buddy, how have you been? I got a treat for you.”

She said, kneeling down.

Boozer was old, going grey around the muzzle and partially blind but much like his owner, too fucking stupid to die.

And no matter how stiff the drink was, that awkward silence hung heavy in the room.

Rebecca took her seat at the bar and finally broke the verbal Mexican standoff.

“So, you leaving or riding this one out?”

“Well I was going to head to Martha’s Vineyard to live it up like a Kennedy then I thought. Oh yeah, I’m still at best, a semi- famous writer who no longer writes. So yeah, me and the Boozehound are going to stay here and guard the bar.”

“Maybe if you worried less about the bottle and those whores you’re always chasing, you could actually write something for a change.”

“Shit and give Simon a stroke by actually making him happy? Fuck that besides, how many stories can a man pen about one night stands and booze?”

“I wouldn’t know being as I haven’t read anything by you in a year or more.”

Frank finished off his scotch looking at Rebecca.

“I thought I sent you that last one I sold to The New Yorker?”

“You did, but I just put it in my cat’s litter box. “

“Oh well, I always did try to market my work to pussies and landfills. I really hate those environmental nut cases. Refill my dear?”

Rebecca just stared at the T.V.

“I don’t know why I even came here.”

“Sure beats the shit out of me as well kid, but being as you’re here, have another round for old times on me.”

Frank replied as he poured Rebecca another.

They sat there for a while, Frank turned the television off for the moment was awkward enough, without adding the weather forecaster about creaming his shorts rambling on about a hurricane.

They sat there at the bar opposite of one another, two strangers who had once shared everything.

Frank knew there wasn’t a damn thing he could say to fix the scars of the past, as he saw no point in reopening old scars for the sake of nothing better to do.

“You know you’re a real bastard!”

Rebecca said, finally breaking the silence.

“You know, once there were wild horses running all over these beaches. It was a beautiful site. Then along came the yuppies in their quest to be one with nature and of course had to remove all that nature stuff because it’s not very cosmopolitan having your head in the stars and horse crap on your lawn.”

“Stop avoiding facing me. I don’t give a fuck about your stories I came to talk to you!”

“I can’t change what fucking happened okay! You rejected me sweetheart not the other way around. So, go play victim to somebody who actually buys into you bullshit sweetheart! You wanted delusion but we cannot fight our true nature so get over yourself princess!”

“You’re just a self-absorbed piece of shit you know that! Besides you can’t love anyone because you’re always going to love that stupid bitch!”

Frank threw his glass into the wall as it exploded into a million pieces.

Rebecca went dead silent.

Frank said nothing, just picked up the bottle and went and sat on deck out back, listening to the one constant in his life, the ocean.

And as he sat there, he heard Rebecca step outside.

He never turned around for there was nothing left to say. A closed chapter is a mile marker, you never pine for it, you simply move on.

She vanished from his existence leaving him to his world of page counts and papercuts.

And now as Frank sat there by the fire, he looked at the manuscript that was the curse of his trade.

It was a mile marker as he viewed the gun and the bottle as both were illuminated by the fire.

The Devil Is My Co-Editor was promised to the publisher and its only copy sat in the hands of someone far beyond burnt out from living his life’s pages.

He knew the cost of another so called best seller and all the trappings that yet more success would bring him.

So, reflecting for a half of a second, Frank simply tossed it into the fire and was now burden free.

He then killed the remnants of his drink and started to reach for the gun when he viewed that mangey old mutt of his get up, walk around in three circles to only proceed to take a shit and in return, start eating that very same deposit.

Frank’s stomach was never that great to begin with as it turned while he fought the urge to vomit.

As he thought to himself, why the fuck could he have just done like Hemingway and bought a fucking cat?

He canceled his proverbial departing flight leaving the gun outside and went to grab a refill instead.

As he picked up his laptop and tossed it out the door, locking the door just in case it got any ideas.

Boozer whimpered at the door. Frank just opened it and tossed his dog bed outside with a can of food.

“Sorry old man, but I think I need some alone time, besides you got a real taste for shit and I hate for it to influence my non-writing activities.

Frank closed the door. The old dog stood there for a second and simply laid down and went to bed.

The horses once ran wild up and down these beaches in Carolina, until nature was deemed a bit too wild.

Frank didn’t regret burning his only copy of his manuscript, besides he had to keep a low profile.

For if his neighbors had even a clue about his antics, he may just end up on that endangered species list too.

The drinks poured endless as once the page, like the horses had once run free.

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