When you’re a young boy there comes a time when you just might want to have some weapons available and ready for war; just incase. Things can get tough at times, out there in those young and restless streets. Neighbourhood bullies, older hoodlums, even comic-book character-enhanced ruffians, you name it, it’s all in the realm of ones imagination and some kids go all out, you need to be prepared, you need weapons. I wasn’t really all that sophisticated, i just liked the idea of trying to scare a few terrorists in my immediate domain, even those few friends that got out of control at times.
In my day, mid fifties, they still delivered bread and milk by horse and carriage. I couldn’t have been much more than six or seven when it dawned on me that there was this unique weapon right there in front of my eyes. I could smell it, it was that close. If you have ever had the opportunity to experience horse dung, it is unique. I noticed that after lying in the hot sun, by mid afternoon it can bake a nice crispy crust while the insides will still be quite smooth and mushy; different blends, depending on how long they are left to bake in the suns oven, the best weapon, for free, right there on the streets of paradise. The perfect texture and the perfect size, cap guns were so useless, these worked. I really don’t remember all the details of my conclusions but there is no doubt that i used these buns on a few different occasions to ward off perceived enemies. I believe i had even imagined a neighbourhood poster if times got really dangerous; a sketch of a pile of buns flowing out of a horses behind with the title, WANTED: WET or DRY.
It was my oldest brother Dave’s friends, precisely Bobby Dietrich, Whitey, and Donny Shady whom must have thought that this was worth notice and gave me the handle, ‘Horesebun’. I think it must have been Bobby from a few houses down on Bismark Ave that came up with that obvious name. It stuck with him as the years passed on thru the loads of horse-shit floating down thru the avenues of america and he knew no other name for me, Horsebun, that’s the name that stuck like muck in his late-teenage brain.
At first i thought it to be an honour. For older kids to notice me was exciting so i lived up to my name and used these weapons whenever i could, when the right conditions and availability were in play. I could tell Dave and his friends thought it weird for some young kid to handle this dung so professionally, but really it was all dry on the outside and the smell had a strange sort of sweetness, an edge to it, when you really observed it, like a delicate ladies perfume. Quite honestly i don’t remember how often i threw these raw bullets at my enemies but i do remember hitting a neighbourhood kid in the face once; an inside juicy one. That was a revelation of sorts because i not only hurt him physically, if only a little, on the other hand i could feel it injured his dignity large. I recall not liking that feeling at all, the loss of dignity in the height of battle, wow, how humiliating.
Anyways, long after the weapons fell to the way side, the name hung like dung in a few circles; precisely with my older brothers friends but also a few of my own friends, though they would only call me with a lower case, ‘horsebun’, just to irritate me as kids do. It was mostly Bobby that kept this title alive with dignity. My friends never really carried on all that much about the name. Perhaps they were sub-consciously worried that they could eventually be nick named names like ShitHead, DungFace, ManureMouth if they got me pissed off enough to load me up with my personal weapons and plaster them with the essence of the horse, the buns.
At any rate they mostly left that name die like many nic names tend to do. Thru out maybe forty years, i only heard that name a few times, which i was secretly somewhat proud of, simply because it was really a very effective inventive weapon. They were plentiful, no one else dare use them and they not only hurt the enemy physically they had the power to shame them for life. No one in the neighbourhood shared my philosophy on this subject and still to this day i have never heard of any other living soul carry these weapons forward. I was the boy called horsebun.
Years later when i walked into Heer’s, a local Camera Shop, where i had been going for years, only to find out it was closing its doors for good that day. I was talking to the owner whom i knew, knew my eldest brother Dave. I found out that day, after years of going in there, that he only knew my brother as an acquintance but new Donny and Bobby Dietrich well, the three of them were protestants and went to protestant schools. My bother Dave and Whitey were catholics. That all made a slight difference back then and certainly from friends at school to friends around the neighbourhood that you would hang out with, until you got older and escaped the confines of the few blocks surrounding your home. Out of a strange coincidence he was on his way to see Bobby whom was dying at a place we called the Freeport Sanatorium, cancer i believe. Every time when i saw Bobby Dietrich thru out those forty years, which was less than a hand full of times, he was the only one in this universe that still said, ‘hey Horsebun, how ya doin’. I asked Mr. Heers to please please please say hello to Bobby from Horsebun. I am sure Bobby’s heart lifted a few thousand miles on hearing that name.
Mr Heers died shortly after that, guess he had cancer also. I never heard how Bobby reacted; that’s just the way life slips into the night some days.
This is the end of the story and consequently of a young boy as Horsebun.
FootNote: Since those earlier times, the horse and buggy, milk and bread delivery systems, have evaporated and have been replaced with the more efficient gas panel trucks and that, has since, also long been removed completely as a service within our society. The super markets have our bread and milk these days, but online you can get home delivery for just about anything and soon it will be delivered by drones, right into your privileged hands, even if your home is a tent.
I miss the beauty of the work-horse and the slow pace of life that blended so perfectly with my youth and my simple imagination.
Today, somehow, I see more horseshit strewn out between the streets of paradise than i could ever have imagined yesteryear and it does make me stop and wonder, ponder, sometimes, with all this extraordinary super-unnatural modified horsebun energy goin down, ‘how come there ain’t more flower children around’?.
Archival image – writing by patrick wey