Same Kind of Blood

Same Kind of Blood

A Story by E. Ryan Miller
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A group of boys from off the streets congregate at a horse farm for a week, and in the process both they and everyone around them learns some intense life lessons.

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H

ey there, boy.”

My murmur sounded more like a breath of wind to the skittish horse. His chestnut-rich eyes rolled back to show a blood-shot white at my nearness. Beneath, strong hooves trampled the straw nervously while I softly - slowly rested my hand on his muscle-taut coat. The skin twitched, glowing in the moonlight. Small progress, but I was satisfied. This was more than I had done with this prince of horses in days. His eyes betrayed him as he tossed his rough head. Those eyes were quieting, showing me a way to his trust.

 

The silence of early morning deafened my ears as I stood by a stall door. I inwardly wondered what the day would bring. Around here, you never knew. The solitude of the morning, the horses grazing quietly in the greening grass, the earthy smell of leather and hay all belied the coming twister of human life that would soon appear upon us.

 And it hit. A large bus pulled up. Instead of the usual bright yellow paint job with a school logo emblazoned on the side, all lit up by faces pressed up against the glass - this one was filled with morose expressions listlessly staring no farther than the windowpane, echoing the gray paint job of the mammoth bus.

With a sigh the large vehicle settled down. I turned and yelled into an open door down the row of inviting stalls. “Hey Maria - they’re here!”

A dark head pushed out of the door and there Maria came, wiping her fingers free of ink on the sides of her blue-jeans. Simultaneously, a crowd of teenage boys jerked down and out of the bus, looking like they had to be helped along with a cattle prod. The bus driver looked at me and gave an exasperated sigh.


I put my pencil down and leaned back, remembering to that summertime long ago. I stretched my hand and eased the muscles that were already sore with writing. I guess I was a kid then, not much older than the boys that had come in on that bus from the streets of New York. Probably their age. In some ways they were older; in some ways I was wiser. In any case, it was an experience I thought I should put down on paper. Maybe someone could learn from it, someday…


Maria stood watching the boys as they formed a semi-circle around her. I hung back, rubbing a new horse’s scarred silky nose. She watched them all - the short ones, tall ones, rough looking thugs and seedy looking kids from the bad end of town. Some had duffel bags, some had backpacks, and I noticed one lanky guy that carried nothing but a guitar case strapped to his tall back.

Suddenly I realized Maria had turned around and was waving me over. I wiped my hands on my dirty jeans and stood slightly behind her. She reached back, put her hand on my shoulder, and pulled me up.

“Did ya’ll have a good trip?” She asked in her half-Texan, half-Spanish accent.

She ignored the blank stares that followed and continued. “We’re happy to have the extra help ya’ll are gonna be giving us with the horses we just got in. For your work you’ll get plenty of food and places to bunk down. This is Meg. She’ll be showing you the ropes to this place. Pay attention.”

I blinked.

Maria turned and went back into the office. The bus driver shook his head and climbed back into his bus. And those twenty boys stood and stared at me. As the silence lengthened, their faces took on wolfish expressions as they smirked.

I cleared my throat and tightened my jaw. Maria would hear about this one.

“Um, well, these stables are here to help restore damaged horses to profitable members of the equine community and we appreciate any assistance you able-bodied young men can give "“

Maria stuck her head out of the door. “Yo " Meg. Speak down in our IQ range, huh?”

I cleared my throat again. “We help heal horses up so they can live normal lives with an owner who will care for them. They’re mostly skittish and wild-looking, and some of them are hazardous because of their mistreatment, but for the most part they heal up with the attention volunteers give them.”

After that thirty-second interlude, the gang in front of me was already getting restless " shuffling around in the dirt and glancing off in about a million different directions.

“Eh, follow me and I’ll show you the bunk house.”

I turned on my heels and took quick steps down the rows of stalls to a building at the far end of the compound. Reaching it, I opened the door and made a quick showing of the closets and bathrooms. Just as I escaped outside and into the fresh air, I heard a loud racket and ran back through the door.

There, in the center of the room, the tall kid that had the guitar case stood bending over a medium-built dark haired boy with glasses, pummeling him with one fist, and holding him down with the other. The others stood around watching and yowling as a trail of blood trickled out of his mouth.

The kid managed to get in a punch or two, which only maddened the bully.

“Don’t hit me you pathetic j -”

My blood boiled.

Fists clenched, I elbowed my way into the middle of the ring and pushed the lanky one down on his bunk before he could finish. He looked up at me with a glimmer in his eyes and slowly stood up.

It was then I realized just how short I was.

“You want something?” his lips formed the words with a smirk.

I said nothing.

His hand went up and grabbed a handful of my collar.

“You get your hand off me, boy.”

He didn’t move.

My voice went even lower. “Now.”

“C’mon Cliff.” A voice out of the milling boys gave me a name.

“Cliff... I’ve beaten up guys twice your weight. Don’t make me prove it.”

My mouth was a flat line. My nostrils flared, and my fists were coming up from their position at my side.

He released my shirt slowly. I smoothed out the wrinkles and looked up at him, full in the face.

“I catch you touching any one of these boys in here, I’ll do more than push you.”

His eyes were flinty " but so were mine.

“Do you understand that clearly?”

“Yes ma’am.” He said sarcastically.

I turned around. The other boy had gotten up off the ground and wiped his mouth, slowly.

“You. Come with me. Gonna clean you up.”

A chorus of rough chuckles ran around the room.

“The rest of you, get your stuff put away. After this we’ll decide what work you’ll be doing.”

Silence reigned as I steered the boy out.

“What’s your name?”

“Abram.” Came the two-syllable reply.

“Why was he beating you up?”

“I got in my share of punches.”

“Why was he beating you up?”

“I bumped into him.”

I looked him in the face. “I’m not that stupid. That kid in there ain’t that stupid. There’s another reason.”

He looked ahead stoically.

“Look " I can’t help you if you don’t let me.”

He remained silent.

“Fine. Let’s make sure your lip won’t need stitches.

 

At the end of the day, I paced in the shadowy light of the office. Maria had listened to my story silently, shuffling papers and scribbling on bills.

I continued, heatedly. “And this morning. Thanks a bunch for that, Maria. Why’d you pull it on me?”

Maria just kept writing.

“Putting me in charge of a bunch of thugs?! What were you thinking?!”

My hands waved like signal flags as I continued my rampage.

Maria finally looked up. “You have things to give them, and they have things to give you.”

“That isn’t what I signed up for! I came to work horses - not teenage hoods!”

“You were a hood yourself. Stop complaining and get to bed.”

I stood there, then shook my head and walked out into the cool night-shining air.

 

After several days of all the gang working with the horses, I stood brushing one we had named after a poet, Frost. Small puffs of dust dissipated as I pushed the stiff brush across Frost’s dirt-caked flanks. A sneeze tickled its way into my nose as the cloud of dust rose around me in rhythm to the traditional minor sounds of the Jewish tune that drifted out into the weather from the little player sitting on the stall partition.

Frost shuffled in his straw as Abram leaned over the supporting post. The horse settled in and I kept pushing the dirt out of his coat.

“That music reaches down inta ya, don’ it?” Motel spoke up in his thick New York accent.

I grunted. No one had ever gotten along with my eclectic music tastes, and by now I acted indifferently to anyone who paid attention when I played to “my” horses, as I called them.

“My folks are Hebrew.”

I glanced up.

Abram fondled Frost’s head. I kept brushing.

“Mom and Grandma are Orthodox Jew. Pop’s an atheist, though.”

Abram's dark hair hid his eyes behind his glasses.

I sneezed again and cleared my throat. “Your dad has an interesting faith.”

His head went up. “Pop don’t have a faith. He ain’t religious. He don’t believe in any god.”

“Can he prove there isn’t one?”

“But- ”

“There are millions of people who believe in God, and books that testify His existence that are also historically accurate. You can’t ignore that, anymore than you could ignore carbon monoxide - even though you can’t smell, hear, or see it, that gas can kill you. So your dad has faith in the improvable fact that there is no God.”

“But you can’t prove Mom’s religion either.”

“No, but that’s the point. You have to look at all the facts of your faith, but after a certain point, you can’t prove any of it.”

Abram pushed the hair out of his eyes. “What do you believe?”

“I believe the Messiah has already come.”

“You looked at the facts?”

“I had to.”

Abram eyes squinted and he began to brush Frost.

Abram's voluntary information surprised me, but what surprised me more was finding Cliff leaning against the next stall door down. He sat folded up in a sitting position, a slightly guilty expression on his face when I came out, closing the door behind me. I glanced at him… and something made sense.

“Did you beat Abram up because he’s Jewish?”

Cliff looked at me. “What if I did?”

“That is no reason for you to be fighting him. You savvy? If I punched you in the lip it would bleed the same kind of blood as Abram's.”

I turned away and walked down the row of stalls, but left the music on.


I leaned back again. The story wasn’t over. A lot more had happened in those four weeks that followed. But my back was getting tired from hunching over my old paper and pencil, and the sun was gradually disappearing from the attic window. Resting my fingers, I pulled an envelope postmarked two days ago out of my pocket and looked at the picture inside that had brought on this reverie. Two older guys stood in front of a long row of horse stalls and grinned into the camera. I flipped it to the back and looked at the scrawling in the glowing sunlight. It read: “To Meg - thanks. Abram and Cliff.” I grinned.

There sure was more to the story.

 

© 2012 E. Ryan Miller


Author's Note

E. Ryan Miller
This is one of my few short stories - my plot ideas are usually more long and drawn out. However, I would appreciate some thoughts on this piece. I dragged it out from several years ago. Honesty, please. What works, what doesn't?

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Featured Review

The religious bit added in bugged me a little, to be frank. It felt that it took away from the overall message I was getting, plus the flow it was taking me in. I feel that this would be one of the stories that teaches a life lesson about equality or something similar. I like your character choices though. They all share they same quality, growing up forgotten by society. Yet they all have their distinct differences, which should really tie them together.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I loved this. Personally, I thought that the fact that Cliff may have been biased against Abram because of his faith was rather well-done. It's realistic, for one, and it still holds the value of treating everyone with respect, whether the reader is religious or not.

Very well written, I like it.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

The religious bit added in bugged me a little, to be frank. It felt that it took away from the overall message I was getting, plus the flow it was taking me in. I feel that this would be one of the stories that teaches a life lesson about equality or something similar. I like your character choices though. They all share they same quality, growing up forgotten by society. Yet they all have their distinct differences, which should really tie them together.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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AK
Very nice! Beautiful details. Keep writing!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Good job! I loved the details you put into this, they really made it come to life. Great write!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Loved this. Especially the meaning behind it. Maybe you can pick it up again and flesh it out into a full book. I know I'd read it. Great job!

Posted 9 Years Ago


I really enjoyed this piece, full of details, warmth and passion. Good job!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

My goodness, I loved this story. Depth in this write,
love the imagery and detail. Written out so well.
Amazing write here.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on April 1, 2012
Last Updated on April 1, 2012
Tags: Fiction, Jews, Horses, Inner-city, Short story, racism, gangs

Author

E. Ryan Miller
E. Ryan Miller

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Me. Imaginative. Writer. Short on time. I would love to read and review any requests! Simply add me as a friend and send them to me. (Just keep it clean, please. If it's mature I won't review.) .. more..

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