By James Bosch
The following excerpts are from Ch. 31 of the novel Hydropsyche.
Stanley was older and losing some hair but what was remaining was neatly trimmed and combed back. He wore heavy black shoes and white tube socks and a gray top coat with a white V-neck T-shirt underneath that exposed his curly silver and black chest hair. His voice was scratchy and somewhat high-pitched.
“You want to use my horses, eh?”
“Yes, sir,” said Ian. “I’m hopin’ that you can meet me on the west side in front of my girlfriend’s folks’ house.”
“How much you got to spend?” said an emotionless Stanley with his arms crossed.
As everyone stood in the doorway, they noticed the black carriage out front. Soft Christmas lights were draped around its curves. Two large black draft horses stood patiently in front of the carriage as they made their usual heavy snorts and breathing noises. Hollow, singular clops of horseshoes echoed on the wet pavement near the curb. A gentleman in a top hat stood outside the carriage in black attire, with a riding cape around his body. Like a magician’s, the cape was a bright red on the inside, and lifted at the corner, which revealed its silken magnificence. The driver held a coach light in his left hand. He affixed the lantern to the carriage and as Christina held his outstretched hand, he said, “You must be Miss Christina. I’m Stanley, and I will be the driver of your team this evening.”
In the doorway, Sky and Sharon stood smiling. They watched their daughter enter the carriage. Ian waved at them, and they waved back as he climbed aboard. Sharon hastily grabbed her camera. A flash shimmered on the wet pavement. The horses never moved. They had blinders on.
“This one is different,” said Sky as he looked at the street.
“You like him, don’t you?” asked Sharon.
Although it could not be fully seen, the river made sounds that only a large river makes in the night, carrying on as the living always have to do.