THE SOUND OF HORSES HOOVES
“14 Via Veronaville,” said a voice behind her back. Kate turned and saw an old man standing in front of her.
“You must be Kate,” continued the man. “I am Luis Toledo, Lia’s boyfriend,” Mr. Toledo presented himself.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Toledo,” said Kate.
“Oh, please stop that.”
“I am sorry?” asked him Kate, dumbfounded.
“That Mr. Toledo stuff… My name is Luis, so please call me Luis. When people call me Mr. Toledo, it makes me feel old.”
“Very well then, Luis, pleasure to meet you,” corrected herself Kate.
“You know, I was joking. Call me Mr. Toledo, that makes me feel more important,” said Luis and laughed.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Toledo,” apologized Kate.
“You don’t need to apologize, Kate. I am just an old man who likes to joke,” said Luis. “Actually, I should apologize to you. I wasn’t behaving very politely to a person who I have just got to know with. I am sorry.”
“It’s ok, Mrs. Rasi warned me,” assured him Kate.
“Warned you? About what? That I am an old man with a deep passion for beautiful women?” Luis asked her jokingly.
“No, that you joke a lot,” smiled Kate.
“Me?” asked Luis, pretending surprise.
Kate laughed. “Yes you. Anyway, I was going to meet Mr. O’Connor, so if you don’t mind I would-”
“Were you really?” interrupted her Luis.
“Yes, I was… Oh, thank you for telling me his address,” thanked him Kate. “You really helped me out!”
“Anytime!” said happily Luis, now smiling from ear to ear.
“Well, I guess we’ll see later then,” said Kate as she was leaving the restaurant.
“Bye bye!” Luis waved at her from behind the counter.
Kate left the restaurant and walked across the square towards one of the town gates. She knew Mr. O’Connor wouldn’t be home yet, so she decided to walk all the way to his place.
When she was going down the path that leads from the town square directly to the cemetery, she saw something small climbing up the hill towards her. It was a cat with a little kitten! How cute you are, she thought to herself as she picked up the kitten. He seemed to like her. Kate played with him for a while, but then she let him down so he wouldn’t lose his mother. He meowed at her and ran up the hill.
After a while Kate reached the cemetery gate. This place looks so empty and abandoned, I wonder if anyone comes here… She opened the gate which made that typical creaky noise and entered.
The only human-like thing she saw was a statue standing on a tall pedestal watching over the cemetery.
Kate went closer to look at it and as she glanced under the hood of the statue’s cloak she saw two dots of light staring at her. She quickly blinked her eyes, but the light disappeared… “This is really strange, I better get out of here immediately,” she said aloud and went away from the cemetery.
She walked down the hill, across the bridge, turned left and found herself on the Veronaville Way. She searched for the number 14 and when she finally got there it seemed nobody was at home.
She heard horses whinnying in the backyard, but nothing else. She rang the bell for the second time already, but nobody was coming to open the door. Kate sat on the path in front of the house and when she was starting to feel desperate, the door suddenly opened.
“Forgive me if I kept you waiting for long. I came back home just a while ago and I really needed to take a shower. I thought that I would make it before you arrived, but apparently I was wrong,” said Mr. O’Connor. “You must be Kate, am I right?”
“Yes, it’s me,” responded Kate.
“Pleasure to meet you, Kate. I am George.”
“Nice to meet you Mr. O’Connor,” said Kate.
“Please, call me George… and come inside, I am only in my bath robe as you see,” he insisted. “Would you like something to drink, Kate?” asked her George.
“No, thank you, don’t prepare anything. I won’t hold you for long,” Kate smiled at George and followed him inside.
“So, tell me Kate, you would like to rent one of my horses for the forthcoming competition, am I right?”
“Yes, I would love to!”
“I have already told you, that I don’t rent my horses. Or better, that I have never rented them before,” said George.
“I understand,” said sadly Kate.
“However, I can see it on your pretty face that you really want to race. It would be too cruel from me not to let you,” continued George.
“You know, George… I have always known that my real place was with horses. Unfortunately, in the past ten years I couldn’t have possibly afforded to dedicate much time to them. I had a responsible job that took away most of my time. The idea of keeping my horses locked up all day has kept me from getting any all these years… but I am telling you, if you will help me out now, you could be standing at the beginning of my career. And I would never forget that,” explained Kate.
“That is really nice of you to think this way, Kate. Also I hate to see the poor creatures locked inside the stables for days,” said George. “I think I will lend you one of my horses then, because I have never met a person as convinced about himself as you are.”
“I even think, that you could win the race, Kate. But only if you trained hard every day before the big day comes. I believe you have it inside of you, but since you haven’t been training for some time, you need to get back in form. Do you understand?” he continued.
“Are you for real? Like, REALLY for real?” Kate asked him in amazement.
“Yes, I am!”
“YES!!! Thank you so much!”
“I am really happy that you came by, Kate. To tell you the truth, my daughters have never been so enthusiastic about the animals as you are. We could go for a ride together sometime… if you would like to. I know a nice place where to watch the sun set down. I used to come there every day when I was younger… now I don’t have enough energy when I come back from work, but with you around, I will feel young again!” said George with happiness in his voice.
“With pleasure, George!” assured him Kate. It seems we have many things in common, she thought to herself. “Can I go and see the horses? Please?” Kate asked him politely.
“Yes, of course! Just pay attention to the brown one, he likes to bite strangers,” warned her George.
“Don’t worry, I will manage,” smiled Kate.
“Well, I’ll leave you to my horses then and I will go to finally take the shower,” he laughed. “If you want I am free tomorrow in the afternoon so maybe we could go for a ride. What do you say?” asked George.
“Very well then, I’ll see you tomorrow, Kate.”
“Bye George, I’ll be back sooner than you think! And thank you again!” said Kate and went in the backyard.
“You are so beautiful,” she whispered in the horse’s ear. This is definitely where I belong, Kate thought to herself as she caressed one of the horses.