Off I go, said Blurtso, following my shadow. Off I go, following my flat friend, painting and unpainting the prairie, darkening each step I take. Off I go, farther and farther, stretching to a place… where darkness… meets darkness.
Well then, said the psychiatrist, what seems to be the problem? I can’t find Mister Ed, said Blurtso. Mister Ed? said the psychiatrist. The talking horse, said Blurtso. I see, said the psychiatrist, and how long have you been looking for him? I went all the way to California and back, said Blurtso, and he was nowhere to be found, though I did meet Rocinazo. Rocinazo? said the psychiatrist. Yes, said Blurtso, a distant relative of Don Quijote’s horse, Rocinante. I see, said the psychiatrist, and did you meet any other horses? Well, said Blurtso, I looked for Little Joe’s horse, Cochise, on the Ponderosa, but I couldn’t find him. And I would have liked to meet Zorro’s horse, Tornado, and of course the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, but most of all I wanted to meet Mister Ed. I see, said the psychiatrist. I think I can make a diagnosis. Really? said Blurtso. Yes, said the psychiatrist, I’m afraid you have a serious case of “horse envy.”
As Blurtso made his way across the land, he paused to consider the travelers who had made the journey before him… the young ones in search of adventure, with optimism and innocence in their eyes; the middle-aged ones, discouraged but not defeated, far from family and in search of a job; the old ones, irretrievably detached, free from the weight of hopefulness, and blown from town to town like leaves on the wind. At night, drawn by the glow of a flame, they would gather in silence, reflecting on the trials behind and considering the trials ahead, until one, reaching into his pocket, would pull out a harmonica, wipe it on his sleeve, and softly begin to play…
“A horse is a horse, of course of course, and this one will talk ‘til his voice is hoarse. You’ve never heard of a talking horse? Well, listen to Mister Ed.”
I sure would like to meet Mister Ed, thought Blurtso. Maybe I should take a trip to Hollywood…
“Third boxcar, midnight train, heading west from Bangor, Maine. Grey donkey with worn-out hooves, I don’t pay for a thing I use, I’m a burro of means by no means, king of the road…”
Off I go, said Blurtso, thinking he was going some place. And off he went, traipsing across the field on his way to where he was going, coming from where he had been. This will really be something, thought Blurtso, when I get to where I’m going. It will surely be worth the effort it will take to get there. There will be so many things where I’m going that aren’t like the things from where I’m coming. And on he went, hoof after hoof after hoof, and hoof after hoof after hoof. The sun was shining, then the sun was setting, then the moon was rising, then the moon was setting, and on he went. I’ve got to keep going until I get there, he thought, when his stumpy little legs grew weary. And on he went, hoof after hoof after hoof, and hoof after hoof after hoof. Whew, thought Blurtso, I must be coming closer if I keep on going farther. And on he went, farther and farther, and closer and closer, and farther and farther, and closer and closer. When he could go no farther, he stopped and looked back at the trail of where he had been, and forward at the trail of where he was going. Blurtso, he said to himself, you silly ass, you’ll never get to where you’re going, nor back to where you’ve been, for you’re always at the beginning of where you’re going, and at the end of where you’ve been.
Here I go! said Blurtso, looking down at what lay below him. Here I go! he said again, still looking at all the things that lay below. Blurtso’s boney little hooves clung tightly to the rocky spine on which he stood, and his pin-point eyes were bright and full of frenzy. Here I go! he said a little more quietly, and with much less conviction. Here I go! Here I go! Here I go! he repeated, and clung even more tightly to the spine that began to cut into his hooves and make them bleed. Here I go! he said more loudly, but with no conviction at all. Here… I… and off he went, slipping, sliding, and tumbling into the only future that awaited him.
Hmm… it’s starting to rain. I wonder if I should go into a shop. If I do I’ll probably miss my bus, and then I’ll have to wait for the next one. And if it keeps raining I’ll miss that one and have to wait for the next one, and the next one… hmm… and then it’ll get dark, and the shop will close, and they’ll throw me out after the last bus leaves, and I’ll have to spend the night in the rain, and in the dark… hmm… unless I hitch-hike, but no one will stop for a wet donkey, not with a new car, unless someone does, someone with an old car that smells worse than a wet donkey… hmm… or someone who doesn’t bathe, or has bad intentions, or has a rifle, or owns a forced-labor copper mine… and I’ll be donkey-napped and flown to the mine on a private jet smuggling contraband, and military secrets, and I’ll be forced to work in the mine day and night, living on coca leaves and betel nut… hmm… knowing that the future of the world lays in my hooves if I can only escape and steal back the secrets, and I’ll have to bribe the guards, or sneak away while they’re smoking, and slip into the hills and build a raft, and sail it to the sea where I’ll board a steamer… hmm… and I’ll cross the Atlantic, until the ship hits an ice burg and sinks, and I’ll climb into a lifeboat which I’ll sail through the wreckage pulling out survivors… hmm… and they’ll all be grateful, all except one, the one who is a guard from the mine and has been following me, and is going to kill me the minute we reach Greenland…
Hey… it stopped raining.