I finally stopped turning around to check because every time I turned around, the boy behind me turned to look too. When we got back to the stable I told Jo Marie that Arnett got thrown while she and Eddie helped the kids down.
She said, “He get hurt?”
I wasn’t sure whether she meant Arnett or the horse, but I said, “No.”
She said, “You think you ought to ride back?”
Eddie said, “I wouldn’t.”
I said, “It’d just piss him off.”
The husband watched Jo Marie and Eddie disappear into the stable with two of the horses then looked back down the trail for a moment. He put his hand out like he wanted to shake hands, and when I reached out he handed me a neatly folded twenty dollar bill, then he turned and called for the kids. Twenty minutes later, after the minivan drove away, Arnett came in nursing his left knee and leading Sprite, who was head down and humble.
Arnett yelled, “Eddie, we must’ve heard that old boy wrong. I believe he must’ve said Spite.”
Eddie yelled, “Spite. Has Spite seen the light?”
Arnett said, “I don’t know if he’s seen the light, but I goddamn well know he saw stars.”
I took him from Arnett and tied him up down at the end of the rail by himself. There was a big knot coming up above his left eye near the base of his ear and I decided that Spite probably was a better name, for a bunch of reasons Arnett would never understand. I flipped up the stirrup to uncinch the girth.