Horse With Human Hands
TW // While not explicity depicted in this piece, there are allusions to aggressive behavior/domestic violence.
Previous Entry: HWHH: Three – Young
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.”Oscar Wilde
My sister believes our situation to be a “curse” as if we are similarly afflicted by the changes happening to Mother Lively. This is untrue for many reasons, but namely because she allows it to afflict her so. Fillia has long been an idealist, and with the recent happenings within our small home, she has been filling her mind with notions of “what could be” rather than what plain and simply, is.
Her persistence to adhere to structure has frankly always bothered me, but not so much as when I am donning my coat, as I am tonight, to take care of a task for Mother which Fillia is deeply unsuited to accomplish. I trust myself to remember that we may have been born minutes apart, but we are in every way different.
Our duties to Mother Lively are separate, but united in purpose and we are called each to our own designs.
While I am out tending to the Ruby Milk by which mother claims she “needs to survive” Fillia is home, cleaning and preparing for her morning when she returns to the quiet, demure woman she became in her old age.
The daylight is her duty, the evening is mine. We share our responsibility to Mother when we are awake and that is simply how it will be from this point forward, whatever those duties require. As if we are the sun and moon, myself and Fillia have differed in such ways our entire lives.
I was the night owl, she was the early rising one, singing over the morning dew as if the whole world awoke alongside her. Despite her love of the early morning, she carries a suspicion which I do not understand. Deeply mistrusting of everyone, she does not make herself known in crowds. Whereas I have always enjoyed the attention from the outside world. Even in our youths we saw our relationship with mother differently, before she required us to care for her day in and day out.
I was an obedient child because I chose to be. I wanted the reward of obedience, which we learned from our father early on was love. Fillia was obedient because it was the expectation. Whatever she garnered because of it was correct because, as she said, it was the natural order of things. Such was our youth together. Our predispositions to the world built us, although unknowingly, for this moment when we should both return to our childhood home to care for mother in her final years.
Fillia grew to become a dutiful attendant, and since our return home she has been complaining of things often. A characteristic unlike the sister with whom I grew up, she has taken to whining over every strange occurrence in the house. The unpleasant smell of Mother Lively’s cramped home does bother me, admittedly, but it is Fillia’s duty to clean. Not mine. If the smell bothers her enough that she complains each day, she should be taking care of it herself then, no?
It is more than the smell, she complains too about mother’s fits. Spiteful, bitter outbursts I assume are due to her increasing age. The woman isn’t as sharp as she once was, that’s for certain. Not to mention mother’s increasingly complicated dietary requests. Her “juices” as she calls them were one thing, which I’ve since gotten used to collecting. The crystalline growths emerging variously around the house appear to be multiplying each day, and spreading across the floor which is perhaps an issue one of us should later address.
Tonight, however, I have little time to worry.
Where Fillia is the attendant to mother’s state at home, I am the collector of her necessary supplies. Namely, her favorite beverage. The process of which is vile work, but in our time since mother began experiencing her end of life changes, I have made it work. If it pleases her, I will not disdain it.
The Orb Weaver Speakeasy is my home away from home, and on this particular night it is filled with a grand collection of miserable men who have nowhere else to turn, just as I like it.
The process of collecting mother’s juices is tedious at best, to be wandering the inner city streets at such profane hours of the night would result in a lesser woman making headline news the following day.
I however, am not lesser, and I am not helpless.
“Hello there,” a man in a cutoff leather vest leered at me by the jukebox positioned at the entrance of the bar with little success. I’ve been watching each of them carefully over the past few days. This one, goes by the name of Rodger and is a felon, imprisoned initially for multiple counts of robbery and two counts of battery. His shaved head reveals to me he is far more than the sum of his charges. More than enough information about his personhood is displayed atop the crown of his head in four interlocking right angles tattooed poorly, likely by a fellow inmate before he was released “on good behavior.”
He will be a wonderful harvest.
Though the Orb Weaver is filled to the brim with sick individuals, I rarely seek a particular type. Unless, of course, Mother Lively demands something particular.
It took little work to get the confident man broken down and following me to the back room which Clayton keeps prepared for me at all hours. Complete with a bed, a kitchenette and a large walk in closet. He even went so far as to soundproof the room for me, in the event I must cause a disturbance.
Rodger, the felon from Kentucky followed me like a lost duckling to the back room, his pint of pilsner half finished and sloshing on the ground with each step. At the door, I turned to him and narrowed my eyes.
“I don’t usually do this…”
The door was already unlocked.
I took Rodger by the hand, and with my other pulled his beer and set it on the entryway table, more to give me less to clean I finished with him. In a show of force, he wrapped his arm around me and hoisted me into his muscular arms, to the edge of the bed.
“Do you have any idea what I want to do to you?” He asked.
I tried to hold back my grin.
“Do you know what I want to do to you?”
Rodger was handier than some of my previous suitors, most of whom were unfamiliar with the touch of a woman long before they’d found themselves walking a path of violence and depravity. This man was different. He carried with him a stark violence which I did not expect.
Playing the part as I was expected to do, I slipped out of my blouse and Rodger, believing he still had control of the situation, shoved me onto the bed. His strike against my hips would surely leave a bruise.
“Get down there and be a good girl.”
Before he finished his utterance, he’d already pulled his belt from the loops of his pants.
I touched a single finger to him, tracing it around his abs, decorated with more obscenities mirroring the crown of filth atop his head.
“What if we do something a little different?”
He grunted, as all men do when their bedroom plans are disrupted.
“What do you mean?”
From beneath the bedside table I produced a pair of handcuffs.
“Lay down and put these on.”
I assumed, judging by his desire to shove me and control me, that he would deny the request. I was terribly satisfied when he simply agreed to the meeting and laid down.
As I’d done a hundred times before this, I crawled over him and snapped the handcuffs onto one wrist. And as it happened nearly each time before this as well, Rodger didn’t notice the scratch marks on the bedpost of which I latched the other side of the cuffs on.
“What are you doing?” He grunted. “I don’t have a lot of time, the drugs are gonna wear off soon.”
I grunted, and pushed myself off of his greasy, sweaty body.
“I’m terribly sorry, Rodger. I don’t believe in this kind of thing.”
A statement wholly untrue, but there was something about a crooked man’s face when he didn’t get exactly what he wanted.
“Whore!” He called me. “Let me out! I’m going to kill you.”
I plucked my blouse from the floor and slipped it back on, before I moved to retrieve my tools. A steel case tucked beneath a floorboard in the closet.
“Do you hear me?” He shouted a second time.
I didn’t care to answer, he wouldn’t be speaking soon.
Inside the case I kept anything I might need, dependent on mother’s wishes. First, a sedative. When I faced Rodger with the needle in hand, I wish I could relive seeing the look on his face just once more. His unbridled anger warped into fear immediately, and after a small pinch to the neck, he fell entirely limp.
The process of creating the Ruby Milk was not difficult, I’d become quite accustomed to gathering each of the ingredients. Thankfully, mother was not picky. With a second hollow needle I fished around his leg, careful to leave plenty of holes for him to wake up and wonder about.
Eventually, as instructed by the Good Doctor at Saint Mary’s, I plunged the needle into his thigh, toward the femoral artery. Otherwise unnecessary, but I preferred it. Call it childlike wonder. His bright red blood swelled into the needle until it was full, and I deposited the collection into a small crystal jar, given to me by mother for this specific purpose.
I took three more vials full before I let Rodger relax, and packed up my things.
Per my mother’s careful instruction I plunged nine iron needles into his leg, just behind the knee. With a few words of intention I, closed my case and stowed it away where it would not be found until next I returned.
With three bottles of Rodger’s fresh blood I made my way to the kitchen. The frequency with which I performed this duty for mother brought a number of things to my attention, namely, that I had come to quite enjoy this part of my caretaking responsibilities. There was something about the look on a trembling man’s face when all sources of power have been robbed from him and he is under my complete control.
The second thing I’ve learned in my time performing these duties, is that the taste of blood is something quite easily acquired when one isn’t careful. After the blood draw, mixing together the tonic for our sweet mother takes a lot of testing and in that time I’ve realized that I quite enjoy the metallic taste of blood.
There is something so improper about it that draws me to crave it even more. Especially when it’s been taken from a man who was so assuredly intent on bedding you. His disappointment must swell into his veins.
One glass for me, and two for mother.
Behind me, Rodger slept peacefully. When he awoke he would find a difficulty moving his leg. That would be all he remembered of his time with me in the evening, and if he makes his way back to the Orb Weaver in the future I will know.
Despite his hateful, embarrassing personality, I found his life to be delectable. For anyone who might be afraid to know this of me, I must often remind myself.
I am no better than these men.
But I am an obedient daughter.
Thank you for reading the fourth entry in Horse With Human Hands.
The next entry: HWHH: Five – Leader
Horse With Human Hands is a fiction story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time. This is only the beginning. These characters and the lives they’ve led are part of a much larger whole. Immediately after Lifeis+2023, I’ll be focusing time to expand this narrative into something I hope you are excited to be a part of.
This story is a little different, and you’ve likely parsed that by now. It isn’t a consecutive telling but rather a disjointed series of events.
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