Part 2 of 2 – Read the first part of the story here.
Almost every day, Curt watched for America to come to the fence. She was hungry because Greeny never let her have her full portion of food. So, he enticed her with pieces of bitten apple. And he made sure Greeny saw it. America always left the fence when she saw Greeny move. Slowly, Greeny would saunter up to the fence, the queen of her estate. Curt would close his palm and ignore her. Once, he held out his hand to her and asked, “You want some?” To his surprise, Greeny actually moved as if she would take it! As she bared her old teeth, attempting to nab the piece of fruit, Curt pulled his hand away. “Go on, you old nag! Nobody wants to feed you.” He muttered to himself, “…sorry excuse for a horse,” as he tossed the piece of apple away and called to his dog. The sound of heavy hooves arrested his attention, and Curt turned back to see Greeny had rushed to the center of the field where America stood and was kicking and stomping her relentlessly. Curt moved toward the fence as America tried to get away from Greeny, but the jealous horse followed close, kicking and stomping in a fit of temper. Curt looked toward Renard’s house, but he knew no one was home. Curt was convinced Greeny needed to be stopped, but what could he do?
“Stop it, you old nag!” he yelled. As America turned at the sound of his voice, Greeny kicked the spirit out of her, hauling into her right flank. It was a magnificent kick, and America responded by limping out of the way. But Greeny wasn’t done. ‘That beast is gonna kill her,’ Curt thought helplessly. The unwelcome idea that he was somehow involved in this beating caused him to squirm inside. So, he got his dog and went back to the house. He didn’t let Spike out for the rest of the day, and that evening America limped into her stall.
Over the weekend, Curt noticed a horse trailer parked in Renard’s driveway. On Monday, Curt saw America in the field by herself, her leg wrapped in a bandage. Soon Curt saw Greeny and J-Trey in a connected field, divided by a fence. Separated from her, Greeny watched America intently. Curt took advantage of the injured horse’s peace by buying a bag of baby carrots and giving her one each day. He told himself it would help her recover. Curt didn’t care that Greeny watched him feed the little carrot to America each day. His hatred and disgust for the mean animal in the distant field remained steady, so that his benevolence toward America grew. Soon the bandage was removed, and she looked none the worse for wear. Greeny and J-Trey were returned to the field, at which time Greeny ignored America and America avoided Greeny. So far so good. But the first afternoon Curt came out to give America her carrot, Greeny trotted up to the fence expectantly. Curt called to America and walked to another part of the fence. America didn’t even look at him. Greeny blew through her nostrils, as much to say, “You’re trying my patience, you moron, but I’ll condescend to forgive you.” And Greeny followed Curt along the fence line. Curt allowed her to approach him, and then he closed his fingers over the carrot in his palm and pushed the horse’s muzzle away with his fist. “I told you. You’re not getting this, you old nag.”
Curt knew what he was doing. As much as he despised Greeny, he knew he was egging her on. And Greeny responded with all the enthusiasm of a jealous, old horse. She galloped toward America, who abruptly bolted toward the fence gate near the Renard house, looking, no doubt, for her owner’s protection. But both Renard and his wife were away. Greeny got in a few kicks that day, but nothing so severe. America, flush and well-fed, was able to outrun her and keep her distance until Greeny tired.
The next day, when Curt tried again to gift a baby carrot to America, Greeny did not come to the fence. A ripple of elation ran through his body, as America looked at Greeny and at the carrot. He knew she was hungry. Her belly had grown used to being full during her convalescence, and now Greeny was eating her portion of feed again. At first, Greeny refused to take notice of the man standing at the fence line. She turned her back on him and nibbled the grass. Timorous, America stepped toward Curt. Greeny lifted her head and sauntered over to the fence, placing herself between America and Curt. He lifted the carrot and tried to call America to him. Greeny snorted, a comment on his pathetic attempts to undermine her authority. Curt walked the fence line and called to America until he finally gave up. He whistled to Spike and made his way to the back door, mistaking Greeny’s meandering gate toward America as a sign of placid acceptance. But he heard the terrible crack and turned in time to see that Greeny had kicked America in the face. America stumbled back and took off. Greeny chased her with the energy of a colt. She was in a full-blown tantrum, as though the days of watching America receive special attention from Curt had finally amassed into a raging fury that was overflowing her old, bloated body. Curt knew there was nothing he could do. The game was growing old. He came inside and threw the rest of the bag of carrots in the trash. He didn’t like carrots anyway.
One evening, after Curt had ceased to pay any mind to America or any of Renard’s animals, Mary Emma and her mother paid Curt a visit. It had been raining most of the day, but the rain had finally stopped. So, he grilled some hotdogs, and they lingered outside as the sun was setting. As the two adults talked, Mary Emma ran around the backyard with a half-eaten hotdog until Greeny came up to the fence. America, too, had seen the food in Mary Emma’s hand. She stood some distance behind Greeny, hungry but not hopeful.
Mary Emma, seeing the miniature horse approach, stepped toward her with the piece of hotdog. Curt jumped up immediately. “Get away from that old nag!” he called to his granddaughter, his tone so sharp that Mary Emma immediately dropped the hotdog into the mud and backed away from the horse. Curt hurried toward Mary Emma and reached her at the same time as her mother, who drew the child away.
“She’s a mean rascal,” Curt explained. “Don’t feed her and don’t rile her.” He eyed Greeny, and Greeny eyed him.
“Go on!” he told her. He spit, picked up the muddy piece of hotdog, and threw it in the direction of America. America jumped back as though she was afraid of the object hurled at her. But she was too hungry not to try for the food. Greeny stomped, reared, and ran at America. Curt didn’t wait to see what happened. He followed his daughter and Mary Emma into the house.
It was the weekend, and the Atchleys were out of town for a day. The horses were left to themselves for the night, and when the morning came, America was nowhere to be seen. Renard and his wife returned home that afternoon, and, still, America didn’t appear. Like a spry horse, Greeny trotted cheerily around the entrance of their barn until Renard went out to investigate.
As the evening came on, Curt stepped outside to give Spike a chance to relieve himself and noticed several men were gathered about the miniature horse barn. Something heavy had been hefted unto the back of Renard’s truck; the tires sank deep into the wet soil. Greeny watched from a separate field in the back. Curt didn’t notice when Spike slipped through the foliage in his yard and headed to where Renard’s backfield met Curt’s property. But J-Trey saw him and galloped and danced about in the backfield when Spike barked a greeting to the young horse.
Renard, still standing in the bed of his truck, heard the barking and straightened to look over at his neighbor.
“Here, boy,” called Curt. “Spike!” The dog ran back to his master, who pulled him back into the house and shut the door.
And the moral of this story? Using your influence to stir up strife between innocent parties as a way to get back at someone you feel has wronged you only results in harming the innocent. When you think it’s all over, it will come back to haunt you. The shorter version is: Harboring envy for your neighbor will end up killing America.