Jethrob Macromanni’s only real friend was a nameless horse. He would take the horse on long walks to the town lake and that was normal. He would also ride the horse to and from the bar—because of that the horse had a reputation around town.
Jethrob would tie the horse to the hitching rail out front of the bar and drink all night; he, notoriously, would get blackout drunk, so the people there they’d prop him in a corner. A common joke, unknown to Jethrob, was that his horse could pound beer too. Some of the people from the bar had proven it one night. Since then, at the end of the night, the bar people had come accustomed to taking a pitcher and feeding the horse beer—which it drank like a runt-puppy whose siblings kept it last to the milk.
The real magic would happen after 3 a.m. when the bar closed.
Because these people had known Jethrob from gradeschool, and some knew his daddy’s daddy, and so on, they’d carry him—it took at least four people to put Jethrob on the horse—the horse not minding a bit, swaying little, under Jethrob’s weight.
The four people would put Jethrob’s feet in the stirrups as tight as they could, lean him forward into the horse’s mane, and loosely tie his wrists around the horse with hay bale twine (the idea being the twine would fall off before Jethrob knew) like putting a bathrobe on your catatonic cousin. Your cousin woke sometime later thinking he’d clothed himself—he’d done all right. While one or two people petted the horse’s face, another offered the horse a last drink of beer, and another untied the horse’s lead from the hitching rail. The horse was shown that his lead had been untied and then the lead was secured to his saddle. As the people watched, the white horse would disappear into the night.
The people believed the horse never failed to take himself home—to his own fields—where he grazed, buzzing in the twilight, until Jethrob awoke at dawn.
Back on the porch of the saloon-style bar, the people enjoyed their smokes and drank the bottoms of their beers. They hoped they would be amused by Jethrob Macromanni and the Nameless Horse forever.
Michael Hammerle is pursuing his MFA at Bennington College. He holds a BA in English, cum laude, from the University of Florida. His fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2017 selected by Amy Hempel. He has fiction in the Steel Toe Review and the Matador Review. His poetry has appeared in Eunoia Review, Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere. Hammerle was named a finalist for the 2016 Hayden’s Ferry Review Flash Fiction Contest and for Press 53’s 2015 Prime Number Magazine Awards.