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The Gift Horse

“Let me show you the rest of the herd. There’s some real beauties waiting for good homes,” Wanda softly cajoled and stepped over to the display window. There, in a thin layer of aquarium sand mixed with bits of straw, stood the remaining figurines, some grazing, others prancing or standing at attention, their transparent little ears pointed alertly upward. The woman stared at the pastoral scene for a good minute, her lips moving as if in prayer. Wanda slipped back behind the counter and patiently watched. Finally, the woman turned and approached with tears pooling in her eyes. [...]


After five minutes, the man had still not budged. Ten minutes. Nothing. Finally, after fifteen minutes, the man took off his hat. He had thin, gray hair. Eleanor shook her head, thinking, at last, an imposter. But imposter or not, she decided, he was still worth shooting. She adjusted her focus just as the man turned to offer a full frontal view. His wide eyes ran across the counter and into the backroom near the bathroom, and then squinted, as if trying to peer through the lush Ficus, behind which Eleanor stood. Eleanor emerged from behind the tree and slowly lowered her camera. Phineas smiled. Then he got up and walked toward her. [...]