Jack grabbed a burgundy cooler hanging on the rack nearby with Angela’s farm logo embroidered on the hip and slid the door open. Prophet stopped to study Jack, a familiar person. He ceased circling and lowered his head, nostrils quivering, and sniffed the blanket. Jack flung the woolen cooler over Prophet’s broad, tall back in one fluid movement, then tied it in front.
“You’re going to a new home, guy,” Jack said. “Be good. Be good, be smart, and keep yourself out of trouble. Nothing we can do about it now. Angela’s got your papers, and it’s a done deal.”
Prophet butted Jack with his head and rubbed it against his shoulder. Cory watched, expecting Jack to chastise him for this forbidden behavior, but instead he ran his hand up under Prophet’s forelock and scratched him there. “Use the brain God gave you. Don’t make trouble for that woman, okay?”
Vee appeared beside Jack and slid her hand down Prophet’s neck, then into her never-empty pocket to extract a sugar cube.
“You’re a great horse. One of the true greats. You don’t deserve this,” she whispered to him as he grabbed the sugar. Vee’s voice dropped lower, inaudible.
Cory moved away from the stall, feeling as if she were intruding on a family farewell. Vee stepped out and slid the door shut, sighed, and turned to leave.
“Okay, let’s get out of here,” she announced to no one in particular.
Cory gathered up Prophet’s shipping boots, sheet, and lead rope. She took a last look around to spot anything she might have forgotten, whispered a hurried “good-luck” to the big bay horse watching her, and ran after Vee. Jack was already out of sight, probably back at the trailer preparing for a swift departure.
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