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ROAN / Diza Sauers FOR TIO, THE WORST part about burying horses is having to quarter them, to cut them up so they fit in the hole. That's what gets to him most, even more than the shock and disappointment of finding them dead. More than the bloat or glazed eyes or how the Ups part into a grisly yeUow-tooth smUe when you drag them. What reaUy undoes him is aU that sawing and hacking you have to do unless you have a backhoe. Tio doesn't own a backhoe. He has a tractor to haul the carcass aU the way up from the highway. He has a truck, an old parked bus, and a 1953 De Soto, but he does not have a backhoe. Tio is burying one of his horses. Not a good horse or a friend horse, but a horse who holds no memories for him, a bony, nameless roan that wandered out on the highway and got mowed down by a semi. No one was hurt, except the horse, who probably didn't feel a thing. At least that's what the driver kept saying. "He just stood there," he said, sipping coffee, nervous, moving a toothpick from side to side in his mouth. "Just stood there looking at me. Wasn't nothing I could do." Tio didn't say anything because it wasn't worth it. The driver's pinpoint blue eyes and tremor told him enough. He was jacked up on some sort of shit for sure, and Tio didn't want any trouble. The horse was old, probably found a tear in one of the fences and wandered out in the road at the wrong time, in the wrong place. The semi wasn't damaged at aU, except for some tangled hair and a large bend in the grill, so Tio shook the man's clammy hand and sent him on his way. Then he called his son, Len, to come help him clean up the mess. They've already slung ropes around the horse and dragged him back down to the field. They've pUed brush high on him so that he isn't so visible, only a brown heap down by the trees. Ifs late, the sun hanging low and watery, the color sUpping out of the sky, making eerie slanted rays. In the streaked Ught, Tio finaUy gets a soUd take on Len, who looks worn out with his red-rimmed eyes, his face gaunt. "Go home," Tio teUs him, "You look Uke shit." Len drops his hand over his face, rubs his eyes, "Thanks." "We're not cutting today. Too late. So go on." For Tio, the horse is easier than any of this: Len looking so beat, the house growing 94 · The Missouri Review dark up on the hill, none of the windows Ut, Helen sitting in the dark, waiting for them to come and turn on Ughts, shower, get ready to go. Tio would rather be here, stacking brush, not talking, not thinking about the viewing or anything beyond that. "Go on," he teUs Len, "We can take care of this later. You should be there. Take your mother. She'U want you there." "You should be there," Len says quietly, then he shrugs, turns back toward the house. "I'll be there, I'll be there." Tio caUs after him, but Len doesn't turn around, he jams his hands down into his pockets and keeps walking toward the house, looking smaUer the closer he gets. In places, Tio's field dips and sweUs down to where a row of apricot trees and a smaU wash hem it in. The slope rises gently up to the house, bare except for some loose rocks and scrub, chamisa skeletons, swirls of flattened and dry deer grass. Tio's other fields are more orderly, furrowed rows waiting for the next season, his piñón groves, his orchards, but this one sloping patch is left barren. Out here he has buried everything that's died on him, his horse, his first wife, some dogs. Under his feet, small sUent graves radiate in every direction, and that, at least, is...


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