The Equus Factor

(PART 5)

Not even the likes of Louis L’Amour who during his “yondering years” once wrangled Elephants under “The Big Top,” cooked flapjacks in “The Cook House” and served beer in “The Pie Car” on the Hagenbeck Wallace Show, * could have conjured so curious and unlikely a location for so implausible a Spaghetti Western Tale of Two Cities as The Great Hey Rube Rebellion Site of My Little Revolutionary Corner of The World!
  (* The Hagenbeck Wallace Show was a Traditional 3 ring circus of Yesteryear managed by Harriet Nelsons Grandfather of Ozzie and Harriet TV fame, where old tyme Screen Legend Wallace Beery shoveled his own weight in manure hourly, and where my German American Mama, “Luisa,) 

The Lollapalooza” wowed them daily with her aerial tour de force. A small world that they and other notables once called home)
As regards the actual location of the 2nd American Revolution, East of The Pecos might be the more authentic description, geographically speaking. But in terms of The Outlaws that now exercise control of this South of The Border Territory, West of The Pecos is a more apt description for that point on the map which has come to be known as “Sangra Sola “, interpreted meaning “Blood and Sun”.
West of The Pecos on The Mangrove Coast, South of The Mason Dixon Line! That misaligned South West Territory where Law and Order has all but ceased to exist.
At least Law and Order as conceived by those with a more civilized approach to governing.
Where “Murder By Proxy” is the name of the game but the even more dangerous game of “Murder By Court Ordered Procedures” is the Modus Operandi of The Black Hat Powers That Be, in terms of the hatchet job
being done by them to The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, Due Process and Equal Justice Under The Law!
I guess you could say that all things considered, My Home town, which was once known as “Circus City” is where The South is Going To Rise Again, as a Banana Republic!
A Tropical Tourist Trap, which has finally rid itself of all those annoying and bothersome little details, that goes into the making of a Democracy, besides Flag Waving and endless Patriotic Pronouncements.
Details which I, like most lapsed Catholics and Lost Generations of resident expatriates who live in America in body, but not in mind and spirit, really didn’t give a damn about until my life depended on them.
There are few atheists in a fox hole who don’t revert to furtive prayers and last minute pleas to a Divine being whose very existence they once denied.
And there are even fewer Americans backed into a corner who don’t rekindle their passion for The Revolutionary Traditions of Our Founding Fathers and the Constitutional Protections they gave their life’s blood to insure.
A House Divided against itself cannot stand and my divided and divisive home town of today, in which I find myself surrounded by inequities on all sides, is a far cry from the bucolic little Wild West Bohemia that was once My Home On The Range. Or at least My Home On The Ranch. The quaint and curious winter residence of countless rugged individuals which for obvious reasons was known worldwide as “Circus City.” The Paradise Lost in which I most often failed to count my blessings and grew up riding my Golden Palomino Stallion “Kings Playboy. Partners in crying and in crime wherein both of us rebelled at the treatment we received at the hands of those who claimed to love us.

In those troubled teen age years when as the song says “I was not yet a woman but no longer a girl” my beloved playboy was my everything. Friend, confidante, co-conspirator and co-defendant in my wranglings with a father I adored but whose child and horse training methods I abhorred,

guess I was a horse whisperer even before I ever understood the meaning of the term. My Papa was from the old school where wives, children, and horses do what they’re told. No questions asked. But we were all well fed and well taken care of so whatever injuries we suffered were more of the psychic variety that freedom loving creatures suffer the most from. The “Don’t Fence Me In kind who so crave the unlimited freedoms of The Wide Open Spaces that any infringement of that ideal, reasonable or otherwise tends to cause widening rifts between them and those who seek to confine them.
My Father accused me of ruining the highly trained Quarter Horse Stallion he bought me to replace the expensive Doll House he gave me for Christmas. The one I rejected so vehemently that I screamed at the top of my lungs “I told that Son of a Bitch Santa Claus I wanted a horse –not a stupid Doll House!” A gift I avoided like the plague.

         Of course I was too old to believe in Santa Claus, but I knew better than to direct my obnoxious temper tantrum at a man who could hold five men on his shoulders while casually balancing on one foot. So from Dec. 25th until well after January the 1st, while others engaged in the Italian style festivities of the holidays, I skulked around dejectedly complaining of “the despicable lard ass in the Red Suit who didn’t know his big fat butt from a hole in the ground or Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeers rear end form the hind quarters of a mule!”
Obscene behavior for which my Christmas cookies were regularly replaced by my having my mouth washed out with soap.

Not knowing what else to do with “The Demon Child” and not having been versed in the sure fire techniques of “Tough Love” my Father finally relented. He bought me the horse I had always wanted and temporarily gave up his preoccupation with what he referred to as “making a lady out of me.” A single-minded goal he shared with my Mother, neither of whom could see eye to eye on anything else, including the time of day.  If he said, “up” she said “down”, if he said “today” she said “tomorrow” and if either one of them said anything to me, I took up where they left off! 

Having my very own horse of course created a whole new set of problems.
My father accused me of killing the horse with kindness and undoing all of his training.
Well, if indeed I was killing my horse with kindness, this remarkable horse was returning the favor in kind, with the unconditional love I so badly needed. A direct descendant of “El Alazaqn Viejo”. A name the “Kinenos” or “Kings Men” of the Legendary King Ranch of Texas called “the Old Sorrel” that was the famed progenitor of the world renowned King Ranch Quarter Horses. However the fact that I was riding  “aristocracy” in no way curbed my uncanny ability for finding more trouble to get into.
Between myself and “Kings Playboy,” we successfully terrorized a number of neighboring cattle ranches with our cutting horse antics, rope tripping steers and dragging calves, there by efficiently and unconscionably running the fat off a variety of home grown and highly prized bovine championship stock. Brat behavior for which surrounding ranchers rightfully raised a ruckus.
But not too much of a ruckus. Their were few so foolish or so dense, who valued their lives so lightly that they dared to risk an earnestly intended, down and dirty confrontation with the Manic Menagerie of Maladjusted Mafiosi of which I was an integral part.
When it came to actual confrontations, even The Cosa Nostra that J. Edgar Hoover claimed did not exist gave a wide berth to The Wild Bunch from which I so dysfunctionally evolved!

Nevertheless, I was duly reprimanded and soundly thrashed by all 75 members of my volatile Italian American Circus Dynasty. “The Buckskinned Borjias of The Big Top” who though extremely accomplished and versatile in all other areas of The Circus Arts including “kicking ass”, were generally credited with being “The Greatest Equestrians in The History of The Circus”. 

But then that’s no more than you would expect from a family whose gene pool includes a boy called Billy, who, at an impassibly tender age rode a 322-mile marathon without so much as a rest stop in between! Slowing his pace only long enough to change mounts before they collapsed from sheer exhaustion beneath him.
A mere slip of a boy who at age 15 braved dangerous winding mountain trails, endured blistering desert heat, blinding winter blizzards, bone chilling freezing nights and terrifyingly hostile Indians rightfully enraged at the further invasion of their territories by The White Mans continuous encroachment beyond The Boundaries of Treaty Agreements.
Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickock, life long friends who later starred together on the wicked stage in one of Ned Buntlines preposterous Wild West Melodramas, both responded in their adventurous teenage years to an early advertisement for Pony Express Riders.

 Young, skinny, wiry
fellows not over eighteen.
Must be expert riders, willing
to risk death daily.
Orphans preferred.”

An original framed copy of which for as long as I can remember hung in a conspicuous place in the ostentatiously ornate, lavishly decorated and absurdly cluttered Orient Express of my childhood. The specially designed Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Railroad Cars customized to accommodate their main attraction. Regina Emmalina Codiannis’ ever-expanding brood of Italian American Rough Riders!
The fact that my incredibly shrewd motto manipulative Gypsy Grandmother, who rarely credited anyone but herself for the success of our Family Show Business Enterprise, would keep that plaque prominently displayed through out our many travels is evidence of the strange love/hate relationship we all had, not only for one another, but for the man who both unites and divides us. The man we alternately revere and just as regularly demean. The heroic Star Attraction and Ecological Menace from whom we gain pride and just as often experience shame.
Any of us who believed we were overworked or underpaid had but to refer to the plaque on the wall to be reminded our long hours of grueling practice and the risks we endured daily under The Big Top, were minimal compared to the work and risks endured by a young boy who was the sole support of a widowed Mother and siblings who without the Herculean efforts of a man/child would have been left destitute, starving and stranded on the prairie.
And alas, any of us who for one moment believed that there was any rhyme or reason to life had but to look at that plaque on the wall to be reminded of how a celebrated 19th Century American Hero, with the same typical reckless disregard for consequences, defined by The Manifest Destiny he so proudly represented and quintessentially symbolized, were immediately brought to realize how mindlessly he had intruded himself into our midst by invading the long standing traditions of a Generational Dynasty and the alternate ideals and opposing values of an insular and clannish anti-establishment Matriarchal Society for whom “The Only Good Man Is A Dead Man!”

As for myself, I dealt with all the madness and confusion of life among “The Stars” and its accompanying slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and those messy “To Be Or Not To Be” questions by becoming a dedicated card carrying “Misanthrope,” transferring my allegiance to The Animal Kingdom which seemed to me at the time, to be the only life forms showing evidences of intelligence on this planet.
Thank God and Xenephon there was one unifying factor that over rode all other considerations, internecine rivalries and catastrophic cultural snaffus. And that was “The Equus Factor.”
It stood as a testimony to how closely our family’s Destiny was intertwined with that majestic four footed creature without which mankind and The Pony Express would have been limited to a snails pace and a worms eye view of the world.
Equus Caballus – the typical genus of animals of the family Equidae without which neither Buffalo Bill or La Famiglia Codianni would have ever caught the Brass Ring or captured their Place In The Sun.


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