The ranch is in Nebraska, on a plain so flat that the horizon carries the curve of the earth. Tumbleweeds roll across historic Route 66, a cinematic hazard to drivers, blown in from neighboring southerly states by fickle wind. It is the sort of place where mustangs run, feral as Hell’s Angels, or perhaps Hell’s Angels are as feral as they.
Not that No New Taxes has ever seen a mustang. Or a tumbleweed. But Hell’s Angels will make their introduction later, of course.
“Just look at him,” the breeder says, gives No New Taxes’s flank a cheerful pat. The breeder is not the owner: No New Taxes knows that, and his place. It’s been bred into him, so to speak. Bred, with the care of generations. No New Taxes is a good horse, a smart horse. A well-bred horse. The breeder says as much. It’s to his credit. “The rate he’s growing, we can have him on the tracks in a year.”
The owner, who has a look that reminds No New Taxes of pigs rather than horses (excepting his smile). gives No New Taxes a thorough assessment, or as thorough as can be given without his really knowing anything. “Looks like.”
This is the man who gave No New Taxes his name. This is the man who pays for the food in No New Taxes’s trough, the shelter over No New Taxes’s stall, the shoes on his hooves and the blanket on his back.
No New Taxes has an uncannily specific desire to kick this man’s face in.
Oh, forget it. Humans are bastards.
Also, the breeder does not speak horse.
Cartilage is nearly as tasty as carrots.
He tramples someone’s azaleas.
Wholesale slaughter and suffering will do, he decides. That will make him happy.
The explosion is fabulous. It takes a nearby tourist trap crop circle with it. Those bikers don’t know what hit them, or perhaps they do, in their last moments as they conflagrate among popping corn and melting sequined dresses. (The eighteen-wheeler was on its way to Hollywood. Perhaps there will also be disappointed showgirls, or circus performers. He finds this acceptable. It makes his inner stallion whinny with pride.)
(Whinny, with pride? No. Whinny with death. A death-whinny. Yes. Yes.)
But no. No, the newscasters wonder what sort of man would perpetrate a crime of such magnitude. What man. Not what horse.
He wonders if there is a way to simultaneously murder and discredit them.
The Internet would know.
A pity that he has no IP address.
He appreciates his henchmen. They are of human stock, of course, but of good breeding in their own way. They are rough and tumble and rather dim. They are easily directed to task. They might as well have reins instead of bandannas and bowler hats they mugged from a passing rodeo show. (He hates rodeo shows the way some humans hate strip clubs. He will destroy them, and their culture of exploitation and oppression. After he watches this one, of course.)
And if he were capable of fondness, he would be fond of them for this: they call him what he is.
Bad Horse. A horse, who is bad. Two syllables of truth, inspiring fear in all of humankind.
It is somewhat refreshing.
Then again, so is sniffing a line of cilantro off a mare’s fine hindquarters.
There is something to be said for a life of crime.