Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A story revisited.....

The Story: The Gallant Mane

Author: Anonymous. The story was mysteriously found near the old garbage dump in the borough of Islington.

A quick scan of the story reveals the following:

Hero: A young fast horse named The Red Mane. The horse's name comes from the combination of two French movies by Albert Lamorisse -- The Red Balloon and White Mane.

Villains: 4 horses named Mud, Chester, Ringo & Spurtz. Also, an unknown mystery man named Raul Bendez also falls under the villain role.

As per the story, the young horse Red Mane was a joy to watch as he effortlessly glided past all the other horses to win race after race. The more races he won for his owners, the more annoyed the rivals got. Just when things were looking good for the Red Mane, a minor stumble resulted. In the middle of the regular Premier Stallion Championship, the Red Mane's team accepted an invitation to participate in a charity trophy. There the Red Mane came across his rival Spurtz. Red Mane held an amazing record over Spurtz in that he had finished ahead of Spurtz in 21 previous attempts. But on this charity trophy event, Spurtz finished 4 seconds ahead of Red Mane. Such a margin was a huge shock but Red Mane's owners dismissed it as meaningless as it was just a charity trophy. The real prize lay in the Premier and European crowns. However, a few weeks after the charity loss, Red Mane lost yet another trophy, this time a friendly association title to rival Mud by once again a 4 second margin. Questions were being asked about Red Mane's capacity. Was the young horse getting burnt out? Or was the jockey not able to control Red Mane?

The management team decided to bring in a young fresh jockey (Alves) for a Premier race to shake things up. Unfortunately tragedy struck just 3 meters after the horses left the gate. The worst horse on the track, the old aging Maylor, charged towards Red Mane. Maylor raised his front two legs and knocked the young Alves off Red Mane. As Alves was knocked off & his legs were caught in the saddle, Maylor stomped on Alves. The sight of a 1500 pound horse falling on Alves made everyone present in the stands cringe. As per some rumours, Red Mane witnessed his new owner crying out in pain and even shed a tear.

After the tragedy, the owners of Red Mane struggled to find a new jockey. They cycled through 4 jockeys in the next few races but lost all of the races Nothing worked. They turned to a trusted experienced jockey only to lose a 5th straight race, this time to Chester. Things were getting grim for the owners of Red Mane. They had banked heavily on Red Mane pulling them through the year and had even released their other experienced horses and jockeys in the off season. Debate raged among the owners on what to do regarding the fate of Red Mane. Some said that the horse was done, burnt out, finished and should be laid to rest. Others wanted to give Red Mane some time.

It was agreed that the European crown was the final chance for Red Mane to shine. Unfortunately, some owners did not want to take a chance. They talked about bringing in the cold executioner Raul Bendez.

The Myth of Raul: The Spaniard Bendez, born in Madrid, was considered by some to be a cold executioner who could put down any horse without blinking. He was known to always formulate a perfect poison to kill each horse based on each horse's weight and age. Bendez was known to have studied his art of killing under the famed Hungarian Keyser Söze. Söze's greatest trick was to convince the world that he that never existed. Bendez learned from Söze and devised a poison that some say never existed, meaning his so called poison was just a placebo. His critics believed Bendez merely showed up at a stable in a white coat and glasses, had a syringe with no poison, injected the horse and by pure luck, the horse went down maybe due to fear. Others claimed that as nonsense and vouched that Bendez did indeed brew a vicious poison. Bendez made his career by putting down a prized horse named Rosso and from then on was respected in the industry. There are others who have a different version on the death of Rosso. They say after Bendez injected the horse, nothing happened. The horse in fact kicked into life and tried to run out of the stable. But as the horse was running out, a bucket from a height of 6 meters fell onto Rosso's head, bounced off his head and settled into a corner on some hay. Slowly and quietly Rosso fell on his knees and died. It is believed that the bucket killed Rosso but others say it was all part of Bendez's plan. The legend of Bendez grew from there.

So the owners of Red Mane wanted to use Bendez to put down their prized horse rather than face a possible defeat in the upcoming European crown race. This European race was to be held at a venue where Red Mane had failed to win the previous 4 Premier races, although Red Mane won Charity trophies within the last year at that ground. The venue was known for its beautiful architecture and contained an entire stand made out of copper and known as the copper end. Since the eyes of the European elite were focused on this race, defeat here would be costly. Plans were drafted to bring in Bendez. However, Red Mane's coach came up with a compromise. He proposed that if upon seeing Bendez approach with a syringe, if his horse kicked his leg and showed signs of life, he should be allowed to live. Otherwise, he would accept whatever the owners proposed.

Moments before the European Race, Bendez entered the stable in a white coat with his patent goggles. As he quietly approached Red Mane, Bendez had a giant syringe in his hands. When Bendez was just 12 inches away from Red Mane, the horse kicked both his hind legs. Suddenly, Red Mane's coach exclaimed that the young horse still had some life so he should be given another chance. Reluctantly, the owners allowed Red Mane to compete in the prestigious European Crown race. Red Mane started off slowly in the race but never lost sight of his main challenger Ringo at any point during the course. As the horses came down the final stretch, Red Mane inched ahead of Ringo. With 6 meters to go, victory appeared to be Red Mane's until shockingly, the horse stumbled and fell on his knees. Ringo raced onto victory, much to the joy of the copper end faithful. Questions were asked on how Red Mane stumbled? There are some that say a mysterious man in the crowd appeared to throw something in the path of Red Mane. No one can confirm this rumour but those people swear that this man did exist and was dressed in a black trench coat and appeared to be a character out of the Swedish film The Seventh Seal. Others say that the problem lay in the middle portion of the race when Red Mane missed some glaring chances to pull ahead and was pegged back. Interestingly, the outcome of the race only increased the myth of Bendez. His supporters believed that Red Mane was already fading away but only kicked into life before the race thanks to Bendez -- the mere sight of Raul allowed the horse to live on borrowed time. Critics of Bendez argued that Bendez was brought in to quietly put down Red Mane but he was unable to do so because Red Mane kicked his legs of his own accord and didn't allow himself to be injected. The truth may not matter as history is mostly written by those win, leaving Red Mane and his owners to quietly accept the bitter outcome.

The owners of Red Mane decided to hold a crisis meeting that very night. They were concerned that their prized horse had lost a race to all his 4 major rivals through the course of a few months. In fact, the horse had only won 2 of the last 12 races it took part in all competitions and they had to decide what to do regarding the future. The meeting lasted throughout the night and after 8.5 hours, a decision was reached.

The Ending: Unfortunately, the story mysteriously ends here. The strange thing is that after the above words, there are exactly 5 blank pages to be found. It is unclear if those pages were meant to be filled in or if the ink faded away? Either way, the story is left without any ending. Maybe in an alternate universe, the missing 5 pages exist and might point towards a happy ending.

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