The Boneyard

by Michael Gentry

Dry cattle bones were scattered on each side of the dusty road. I wondered how the living cattle felt as they maneuvered around the remains of their ancestors. They didn’t seem to mind.

This place was called the Boneyard. It was a piece of property that included several small ponds. To a mosquito abatement employee, small ponds posed a problem. The murky, standing water could provide a home for millions of mosquito larva which, with time and the proper climate conditions, would become millions of adult mosquitos. Our job was to find them and kill them before the complaints.

The boneyard was located just beyond a farmhouse and a large, locked metal gate. We were provided the keys or combinations to the locks. It was customary that the mosquito abatement worker in the passenger seat would unlock the gate for the truck to pass through and lock it after.

On this particularly hot day, I was working with my cousin Scott. The county-owned, white Chevrolet truck was clean, always clean, because Tom, the county’s only full-time mosquito abatement employee, made us wash the trucks at the end of each work day.

As we approached the metal gate, a brilliantly white stallion in an adjacent pasture raced over to greet us. This wasn’t uncommon as animals often confused us with their handlers, hoping for a meal. Scott jumped out of the truck and fiddled with the lock.

The stallion danced an excited circle, stomping his hooves into the dirt, producing clouds of dust.

I glanced and saw it. The stallion was erect, an upside-down, wooden baseball bat between his hind legs. I looked closer, harder. Never had I imagined one could be so long. I wanted to look away. I was repulsed. I couldn’t.

I’d watched, in horror, the process of gathering semen from a horse in my high school agriculture class. But that was on a small, colored TV from the back of the classroom. What I was witnessing now, this was live, high definition, full-size viewing.

Scott stood at the edge of the green metal fence, waiting for me drive through. He saw me staring and looked toward the stallion, still trotting side to side, back and forth in front of the truck. He saw it. His eyes grew large.

I drove through, and Scott locked the gate and climbed into the truck. Our startled silence paved the road to uncontrollable laughter. We drove through the bones and on to the ponds. After treating the ponds, we drove back toward the gate. Again, from across the pasture rushed the white stallion. Again, he was happy to see us.

I wonder what it was that impressed the stallion. Was it the strong, bright white truck? Was it a distant memory of a beautiful stud fee moment? Was it Scott?

We drove away, the stallion prancing around, tossing his mane, clearly feeling cheated.

 

Michael Gentry lives and works in Eastern Idaho. He received a B.S. in English Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National University, and an Ed.D. in Education from the University of Idaho. Michael teaches basic writing courses at BYU-Idaho. He has been published in Animal Literary Magazine, The Casserole-Literature and Art Magazine, Apeiron Review, amongst others.