“Ava,” Ghost said, voice taking on a new tension, a foreign strain she’d never heard before. Slow, biting off each word: “Call him off.”
One of those scenes I'd been building to, and needed a little mental break afterward. And during that mental break, I had myself a fun little trip down Memory Lane. One of the things I've always sort of laughed at is the whole biker nickname thing. I like a good nickname. I appreciate them wholeheartedly. Sometimes, I shake my head a little over typing Ghost, Tango, Jaeger, Sly...but mostly, I love it. And usually, those nicknames are near and dear to my heart.
"Sly" belonged to one of my very favorite horses before it belonged to Layla's hubby. A seventeen-hand chestnut Quarter Horse gelding built like a tank, as versatile as an ATV on trails, an old pro jumper, a dressage horse in a pinch, trained western. You could literally shoot a gun off his back (it happened). And he would tote around my students, tiny little girls up to full-grown men, steady, smart, level-headed, always in charge in the pasture, a true leader. When he kicked, you better believe it was with both back feet. He was never mine, but I loved that horse; broke my heart to hear of his passing.
Then there's Tango the horse - a dressage boy, a "dancer," like the Dogs' dear Tango.
Jaeger the dog, a little brindle boxer I used to know.
And Ghost the dog, the shepherd cross, old and arthritic when I met him, unfailingly loyal, a stray before he became a farm dog. He followed dutifully out into the pasture; you could pick the horse you needed, point, and say, "Go get him, Ghost," and off he'd go to get him. Such a great dog, with that tawny coat and graying black muzzle, all sweetness and wisdom. A boss dog. He had to be my LDMC president.
I went looking for pictures recently, but couldn't find any. They're all lost amid the jumble of old Eckerd's developments in shoeboxes somewhere in storage. I like to think they won't mind that I used their names; that some of the mystique rubbed off on the paper, and gave the characters a certain depth.
You're probably laughing at me by this point - you named that guy after a horse?? - but for me, there is so very little inspiration in the shallow, immediate scattering of current reality. They may never look like it from the outside, but my stories have the bones of animals, of historical figures, of classic golden literary moments. You build yourself a sturdy skeleton, and the skin you lay over it - it'll shine.