By Karin Beyaert
Alex has a very special hobby he keeps secret to everybody. But of course sooner or later somebody has to find out about it. How will his best friend react when she does…?
If you liked the story, there is a sequel: Candle Light Dinner.
Some years ago I was able to buy a riding academy. I have always liked riding on horseback and went there regularly. The man who owned it was no longer among the very young and running the business simply became too much for him.
So one evening when we were sitting at the bar after riding class he told us he wanted to sell the place.
There is a little irritating internal voice that starts to tell you you should do all kinds of strange things when you approach middle age. It told me I should buy it. I told it to shut up. It did not listen. It made me think. Why not turn my hobby into my profession?
I talked to my local bank director. I had some financial specialist look at the books. I even drew up a very nice business plan. I guess it is still lying around somewhere here, just in case anybody might be interested…
I quit my job and bought the place. No longer did I serve petty megalomaniac Sun Kings. I had become a King myself. It was a small kingdom, with two riding arenas. One indoor, one outdoor. A nice house, Stables for about 30 horses. A vintage lorry and a tractor of the same brand. House and stables were standing in their own grounds, with a decent amount of land around. The only huge thing in my kingdom was the mortgage. Neither that nor the fact that my crown was a baseball cap sponsored by a guy named Heineken did matter very much to me. I was a King, I loved my new live!
I was now the boss of over 20 staff members. True, only 3 were human. Two were donkeys, the rest horses, not counting the dog and the cats.
At this moment I was flying. Not the artificial thing ordinary people do while using machines. No, the real natural thing. I was not very good at it though.
“Alex…? Are you OK…?”
I smashed very elegantly flat on my face on the loose sand of the outdoor riding arena when my horse threw me off. It hurt a lot. I was stunned and it took a moment before I could answer my cousin Henry, one of my employees.
“Yes Hen, think I am fine.”
He knelt down next to me and looked very worried.
Meantime Ben tried to keep my rearing horse from finishing me off for good.
“See boss, I told you, this one is different.” Ben had warned me that he could not manage Pjotr and I had laughed at that and told him to pay attention how it is done. He still said boss instead of idiot though. Ben was the best horseman in the team, I ought to have known.
I got up with some help of Henry, picked up my crown which was fortunately unbreakable and sat down at the bench.
“Sure you are fine?”
“Yes, I am sure Hen. All is fine.” I tried to convince both of us.
Seemed nothing was broken, but it hurt a lot. I wondered why you never see witches wear helmets and fall protection stuff while flying.
We had been importing horses from Poland for some time. Normally they already had had some basic training for riding and we would turn them into acceptable recreation horses in a few moths and sell them at a profit.
When they got here they had been on the road for about three or four days and were exhausted. So we put a saddle on them right away to see how much training they had actually gotten. If not they would hardly have the energy to put up a major resistance. The harder and more resisting cases were longed for some time while carrying some sandbags. Sooner or later everyone of them gave in.
Except Pjotr, who seemed nuclear powered. He was big, brown colored with a big blaze. Ben called him a devil. In my opinion he had something noble, he looked proud and confident.
Something told me that if we were to continue with him the usual way we were going to have a very tough job. Plan B was needed. There was no plan B at present. And the Sybilline books were lost forever too, gone with all the rest of the Roman Empire. Nostradamus was after all just an ordinary physician and not a veterinarian, so he could be counted out as well. If Google could solve this?
“Anyone wants to give it another try?” Silence…
“Well, better put him in his box then. Tomorrow is another day…”
Ben took Pjotr inside, not without some difficulties and a little help from Henry.
We had dinner. After dinner we prepared everything for the evening. Normally we had one or two riding classes up to nine or ten o’clock. We had to feed the horses, clean stables serve customers in the canteen. The usual work. I passed Pjotr at least five times in his box that evening. And each time he whinnied mockingly at me. I wrote a note to myself to put the number of the horse butcher in my cell phone. A real King has a hangman and holds the power over life and death. But a real businessman does not destroy his proper investments. I had an identity crisis. Nothing working hard will not let you forget about though.
I took a shower. Had a shave. My body still hurt, but I felt clean and fresh again. I took a Schnaps, perhaps even two. I do not remember. I wanted to forget this day. To have a nice dream. Why can you not dream that what you want to dream? Like in this science fiction story where they had this book: “A guide to Lucid Dreaming.” I would buy a copy, for sure!
My dreams were far from lucid. Despite the Schná¤pse I could not fall asleep. My body hurt. My pride even more. Damned Pjotr. I turned from side to side and eventually sat up in my bed watching the shadows on the moonlit wall opposite to me. The black and white shadows formed into horses. Black and white horses from old movies and pictures. Tornado, Phantom…. And how appropriate, Midnight. Buck, Sport, Beauty, Cochise, Siete Leguas and Target and many others. Even Festus Haggen’s horse Ruth showed up, although it was a mule.
Funny, in the riding classes almost all participants were girls. And all these black and white horses were ridden by men. Except one, Target. Times change.
This was useless. Counting sheep might work, counting horses for sure does not.
In my frustration, an idea popped into my head. Plan B existed, and it had been there all along! I liked plan B; I loved plan B. Smiling a slightly tipsy smile, I got up and went to my private place; a place no one knew about but me. One bedroom had been turned into a storage room. In it was a very special closet, the key of which was always in my wallet.
It was full, piled up full. Perhaps I ought to buy a second one…? I watched it, relaxed and let go. I always felt there were two sides, if not to say two different persons inside. Alexander now leaned back and Alexandra took over. The closet was full of women’s clothes. Blouses, trousers, skirts, jackets, boots. And all the rest that is needed to make a perfect transvestite, for that was my very special and secret hobby.
It took Xandra about thirty minutes to take over not only the inside but also the outside.
Black jeans, a blouse in blue with some strass stone decoration on it and a blue vest. All that with real cowboy boots. Black lady Montana boots. The right thing for the mistress of a mená¨ge.
Makeup, not overdone, with the accent on the eyes. Chestnut long haired wig, six centimeter golden earrings with little diamonds to match the strass stones. Two bracelets in gold (or something that looked a lot like it), but without diamonds. And a very nice necklace I had inherited from aunt Martha years ago. She had explicitly mentioned in her last will that I should have it. Guess she would be pleased to know that I appreciated it. I watched the result in the mirror. Not bad for thirty minutes. No nail polish, the night was to short to wait for that to dry.
Breath in, breath out. This felt relaxed, felt great. This looked great and felt even better. Everybody ought to have some hobby. And I ought to have more time for mine, which was not always the case with all the work and the many people around. This sleepless night was a welcome present.
I went downstairs. Alex and the guys had not washed up the dishes after dinner. So I did it for them. There was nothing more to do. I went outside. It was a nice night. Calm and moonlit, on the verge of romantic. A loud knocking coming from the stables broke the spell. I went over to have a look.
It was Pjotr, kicking with force the door of his box
“Hi Pjotr, I am Xandra.” He stopped kicking and looked at me in surprise, as if he had never before seen a transvestite in full drag. Which was very likely true since he was only about three years old.
I called him. He came with his nose up to the bars. I caressed him while my bracelet ticked against the iron bars. I talked to him and he answered with a low deep neigh. Seemed not such a bad beast after all. Perhaps Alex and Ben should simply have been a little bit more friendly and polite with him?
I went inside the box. Started to groom him. He was actually quite a beauty. He liked the care taking and the soft words. I cleaned his hoofs. And I got a crazy idea. One is not a woman for nothing after all. I placed a bridle over his head, put a blanket on his back. No protest, nothing. I went for a saddle. He accepted it. I fastened the girth. No too fast. Still nothing. He even pushed his head against me to show his affection! I admit, it was not only my natural charm. I had given him also some carrots and sugar lumps.
I had to ride him. I had to. I took him out to the indoor hall. I turned on the light and it was brightly lit. This seemed a bright idea at the time, but it actually was not.
We walked up and down the hall a couple of times, while I kept talking to him. He definitely had the good taste to like the company of transvestites even though my Polish was nie bardzo dobra (not quite good).
I fastened the girth more tightly and adjusted the stirrups. I mounted. He stood like a statue. I gently pushed his flank with my calves. Only then it occurred to me I had neither spurs nor whip. He started walking. I leaned back and pulled the reins, gently. He stopped. I was excited, it was my very first ride ever in drag, and then with this horse.
I went a little further, step by step a little more. Seemed the Poles had taken care of his education quite well. At least to a certain level. We both liked it and did all kinds of exercise. We even galloped for some time. We both enjoyed it. I would not let Alex sell this horse!
Completely absorbed in all this, I didn't notice that I was no longer alone No idea how long she had been standing there at the small gate. Claudia, my best friend since early high school. She was going to take her horse to some special farrier at the opposite site of the country today. That was why she was so very early.
And I was Xandra now! I should flee. Fast and far. My kingdom for a horse! Unlike king Richard I had one, but with the main gate closed it was of little avail. I had to pass via the small gate that leads to the stables, right passed her. With all the self-assuredness and feminine grace at my disposition I put Pjotjr to a trot, straight towards her. And halted right in front of her. My wreck should at least be heroic. I threw my head back to get my hair out of sight. We looked at each other for a few moments.
“Hi Sacha The light was on, so I came to see what was going on at this time of the night. Seems you learned a lot since he threw you off last time.” She was the only one who called me Sacha, ever since... Well very long ago anyway. With one elegant movement I was of the horse and standing in front of her. “Look I can explain…”
I got a very clear shut up look. She looked at me from head to foot and back, she was trying not to laugh. But it was also a very serious and inquisitive look. “Nice tits.” Glad she noticed the special silicon inlays I once ordered via internet. I wanted to die.
“Took me a moment to graps why this unknown lady had such a familiar riding style.”
“Look Claudia, it is not what you think, I…”
“You can explain it all? Sure.“ She turned to Pjoter and praised him. “He is wet, we should walk him dry.”
The three of us walked around for several minutes in silence.
It became too much for me. “Look, I….”
She turned towards me and gave me the same mocking look again as she once more inspected me from head to foot. She took my hand and looked at my fingernails. “How many blokes do you know who polish their fingernails to make them shine like yours?” None, I said by not answering the question. She stepped closer, reached out for my neck, pushed my hair aside and played with my earring. “And how many have their ears pierced and never wear earrings?” True, Xandra liked them, Alex a lot less. “And do you have a certain preference for some clothes that are… How should I say, a little bit in between masculine and feminine, like the black leather jacket that I even once borrowed from you because I liked it too?” Seemed I was loosing this match on points.
“Oh, please Claudia…”
“Oh please what? Don’t say the truth? Ohh…poor Sacha. Every girl around you knows you have a strong female side. We women feel that. And together with all these little details you are a kind of open book. Although some read in it that you are gay, and I know for sure you are not.”
I watched her with disbelief. You think you have a secret and then all of a sudden this happens. “You have known all the time I am a transvestite?”
“Not exactly. But I had a strong suspicion. This does not really surprise me. By the way, you look cute as a girl. I think you might get some compliments for your effort. And who knows, Ben might fall in love with his new mistress.” Ben was over 50, still a bachelor with only horses in his mind. This time she could not refrain herself from laughing. “Too bad we don’t have the same shoe size, I would have loved to borrow those boots too on occasion.” I tried to imagine her in several other things that were in my secret closet and that should be pretty much her size. There were a few miniskirts that might even look better on her than the tight riding trousers she was wearing now.
We had left the hall for the stables and unsaddled Pjotr together.
Claudia peeked at me from the corner of her eye. “I want to confess something to you. Seems to me I ought to after this.”
A confession? Sounded promising. The twinkle in her eyes told me something very special was going to come up in a moment.
“Do you know why I call you Sacha?”
“Because it is short for Alexander and you underline with it also how good friends we are because only you use it?”
“Almost right my friend. There is only one tiny detail you did not get in over 20 years. Sacha is not only short for Alexander but also for Alexandra and it did play a role in choosing this name for you.”
I loved Claudia, I had always loved her. And although I felt somehow mortified about all this I was secretly also relieved. She knew now, our friendship would not end, it would become stronger than it was for sure.
“Look, I have an appointment at the farrier’s with Buster. I really should be going now. Can you give me a hand to put him in the trailer? Or is that asking too much from a lady…?” She asked with a teasing voice that only a very good friend could manage.
I helped her with it and we said good bye. She turned at me once more before getting into the car. “I was serious about it. You really look cute as a girl. And that reminds me of something. I want you to promise me something.”
I would have promised her my heart and soul if she would care to ask for it. She gave me another of these looks that I already described. And it was clear this was not a promise I had to make. She was just going to tell me what I had to do. I nodded. She looked me into the eyes and waited just long enough for me to feel uneasy.
“I want to see you in a skirt before the end of the week.”
She turned away from me without waiting for an answer, got into the car and drove off.
I walked back from the parking lot into the stables, passed Pjotr and went on to the house. When I walked out the door I could see the sun rise just next to the house, the moon still there but fading away. The night was over.
The art of lucid dreaming is one thing. What I needed now was the art of preserving emotions. I had never felt happier ever before in my life. While the Montana’s gently walked their Queen home I could not prevent crying.
What away to start a day.
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My first contribution to world literature. I hope you liked it.
I want to thank Lora Guy for providing the idea and commenting on the beta-version. And to thank her especially for pushing me a little bit when I needed it.
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