“Do you think we really gotta do this Denny? Huh? Do you really think this is gonna work?”
“I think it’s the best chance we got Darlene,” he looked in his side mirror signaling his exit from the highway, turning right on 14 he followed the map to the ranch. The blue roan mare, he called Spirit, was in the trailer and was quiet.
They got to the ranch and as he nosed the truck into the circular drive a big man came out the front door, pointed around the side of the house and waved Denny and Darlene on. Denny recognized the stables when they pulled around the house, funny how they hadn’t been visible on the approach. Denny stopped the truck in front of what appeared to be the tack room and he turned to Darlene.
“Darlene, just keep your mouth shut now, I don’t wanna hear a peep outa you. You’ll fuck this up like you did last time.”
“But Denny,” she started, “I was just trying to…”
He held his hand up, “Put a sock in it Darlene. In fact why don’t you just stay in the damn truck? We’re gonna need a quick turnaround on this one.” Darlene stayed put and Denny stepped out of the truck smiling, just as the rancher was rounding the trailer.
“Mr. Marlow?” Denny said as he stuck out his hand, “I’m Freddie Duran.” Darlene recognized the name on one of Denny’s many near depleted bank accounts in Albuquerque. “We spoke on the phone last week, about my horse. God damn, I don’t wanna sell her but we’ve hit a tough patch and I just don’t see any other way.” He was opening the trailer as he spoke and Spirit backed down and out. Watching in the mirror Darlene could see the rancher salivating as he looked Spirit over. She was a beautiful horse.
“That’s a nice piece of horse flesh Mr. Duran,” Marlow said lustfully as he stared at the horse, “can I see her move?”
“Of course,” said Denny and he led Spirit to a dry lot next to the stables. He led her in and shut the gate. The space was too small for her to get into a good gallop but she trotted and walked about, shaking off the effects of her confinement in the trailer. The two men leaned on the fence and watched.
“This is the best $10,000 I ever spent,” said the rancher as he handed over the cashier’s check he had carried in his pocket. It was his turn to extend his hand to seal the deal. Denny shook enthusiastically.
“I don’t want to tell you your business, Mr. Marlow,” Denny said turning on his way back to the truck, “But, I’d pasture her till bout sundown. Let her loosen up a bit. We been on the road quite a while and I’m sure she’s a little stiff.” He watched the rancher move Spirit to the pasture gate from the corral as he backed his truck up. He looked at the clock on his dashboard. 2 o’clock. He looked at Darlene and could tell by the way her lips were clinched that she was pissed. She’d get over it.
They headed for town and Denny exchanged the cashier’s check for cash at the 1st National. Then he drove down the street and deposited $9000 into his account at the Wells Fargo. They stopped at a diner and had a bite to eat while he got Darlene talking to him again. She was holding his hand when they walked back out to the truck.
It was almost 4:00 when they turned back onto the 14. Passing the turnoff to Marlow’s ranch they kept going and rounded the next bend. Denny could see Spirit in the pasture to his right. He kept moving till he was shielded by the trees and then pulled over. Darlene walked back to where she could see the blue roan while Denny opened the trailer. Darlene put her fingers in her mouth and whistled loud. Spirit raised her head and came running. She cleared the fence effortlessly and loaded herself into the trailer. Denny closed her in and he and Darlene got back in the pickup. Putting the truck in gear they accelerated away from there.
“Reckon we got 400 miles to go. What’s the name of the next buyer?” he asked Darlene.
“Richards,” she said, “Bill Richards. You wanna get off the 14 as soon as you can.”