HORSES, BARKING DOGS, AND MINISTERS

The SCAM, when Kauai was young. A sweet helpful minister, barking dogs, hippies, and a great lawyer. Getting along. Those were the days.

Holt Camp, when we drove up the drive, was a disaster area. It looked as though it had been turned inside out and upside down. The girls in the back of the van groaned.

“The horses,” I cried. “My god, David, the horses.” I didn’t wait for the bus to stop but jumped out, kimono flying, and raced barefoot through the trees.

The barn hadn’t been touched. It looked exactly as it had when we left it last night. As far as I could see I had a barn full of bored, hungry horses. Nothing more.

I ran down the covered passageway opening stall doors. It was so late, nearly two-o’clock, I thought it wiser to let them wait until dinner to eat. They could graze. None of them would fall down faint from starvation. Their water buckets were full, so they’d not run out of that, which was a relief. I felt better already. Some of the girls who’d followed me were fussing over the horses, patting them, talking to them, the horses seemed willing to forgive, but we could hear cries of dismay and anger from the camp.

David, Ty, and the minister had driven to the house, followed by a pack of bounding, barking dogs. The cats were not in sight, but when I opened the stall doors, chickens and ducks appeared out of nowhere to peck around the rich nut-smelling bedding.

“Where shall we begin, Mrs. Holt,” one of the girls, the littlest schoolteacher, asked.

“We’ll being by taking a swim,” I said. “I feel grungy as hell. Bet you do, too. Call the others.”

Before we could gather the others, David, Ty, and the minister came running from the house.

“Don’t touch anything.” David said. “Get a camera someone. Who has a camera? We have to get pictures of this.”

“Why? What is it David? The horses are fine.”

“It’s incredible that’s what it is,” the minister said. “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believe the police could be so destructive.”

“One of our members is a professional photographer. I’ll call him. He’ll be glad to help. He can also act as a witness. He’s a respected man in the community. He won’t believe this either. Meanwhile if you folks need anything, food, clothing, showers, baths, help yourselves to our facilities.” The minister ran back to his van and drove away.

“I don’t know what the hell to make of this,” David said.

“Run down and tell those kids not to touch anything,” I said to the schoolteachers. “Please.” My knees were weak. Why had they spared the barn? The horses, locked in their stalls, had been sitting ducks. I sank into a canvas chair.

David stood with his feet planted apart, his arms folded, looking past the barn out to sea. “i haven’t the guts to check the boat.”

“There was malicious destruction done here,” Ty said. “We’ll get pictures. Then we’ll talk. I’m glad to see this with my own eyes.”

When the phone rang I reached for it with a despairing hand. “Hello,” I said.

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