Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Man & Horse by John Egenes

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. John Egenes will be awarding 4 digital copies of the book to 4 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


In 1974 a disenfranchised young man from a broken home set out to do the impossible. With a hundred dollars in his pocket, a beat up cavalry saddle, and a faraway look in his eye, John Egenes saddled his horse Gizmo and started down the trail on an adventure across the North American continent. Their seven month journey took them across 11 states from California to Virginia, ocean to ocean.. As they left the pressing confinement of the city behind them, the pair experienced the isolation and loneliness of the southwestern deserts, the vastness of the prairie, and the great landscapes that make up America. Across hundreds of miles of empty land they slept with coyotes and wild horses under the stars, and in urban areas they camped alone in graveyards and abandoned shacks. Along the way John and Gizmo were transformed from inexperienced horse and rider to veterans of the trail. With his young horse as his spiritual guide John slowly began to comprehend his own place in the world and to find peace within himself. Full of heart and humor, Egenes serves up a tale that's as big as the America he witnessed, an America that no longer exists. It was a journey that could only have been experienced step by step, mile by mile, from the view between a horse's ears.


Sometime later—I wasn’t sure how long—I heard the sound of a vehicle coming up the road. I immediately sat up in my sleeping bag alert. We were camped down below the road, so I hoped that whomever it was would drive past without seeing us. My hopes were not realized, however. The headlights made their way toward us, bouncing and jogging with the ruts in the road, until their shadows revealed a pickup truck approaching. Instead of driving past, the truck slowed then turned toward us. They had seen Gizmo.

The pickup stopped, and the doors opened. I could see four of them as they got out, two from inside the truck and two who climbed out of the bed. They were talking loudly as they headed toward Gizmo, and they were clearly drunk.

“It’s a god damn horse!” one shouted. “What the hell’s it doin’ out here?”

“That’s a ranch horse,” another answered. “That there’s a ranch horse.”

“Ain’t no ranch horses out here,” replied the first man. “He’s tied up. Why the hell’s a horse tied up out here?”

I was getting tense. I was glad I had kept my pants and shirt on, though my boots were on the ground next to me. I reached inside my bedroll and pulled out the Colt. They were drunk, and they looked like trouble, but they had not seen me yet.

One of them said, “Hey, let’s ride the sumbitch.”

“Shit, you can’t ride that horse, James,” another said. “You ain’t no cowboy.”

“Hell, I can damned sure ride it if I want to,” the one named James responded. “C’mon, help me get on the sumbitch.”

Gizmo shied as the men advanced toward him. I pulled back the hammer of the Colt with an audible click, and they stopped, and suddenly grew quiet at the sound.

“Don’t get any closer to that horse,” I said calmly.

“What the …? Who’s there?” one of them demanded.

“You fellas just turn around now and go and get back in your truck and get on out of here,” I said. “I don’t want any trouble. Just leave the horse alone.”

“And what the hell do you think you’re gonna do about it?” James challenged.

“It ain’t what I’m gonna do about it,” I answered, in a quiet voice. “It’s what this Colt here is gonna do about it. You want to find out, you just keep right on. Otherwise, pack it on outta here. Like I said, I don’t want any trouble.”

“Fuck all, James …. he does have a gun! Fuck this, I’m gettin’ outta here,” one of them shouted.

Being the leader, James stood his ground. The other two added their own remarks about getting the hell out of there, but James didn't budge. He was the bull elk in this herd, used to being in charge. But he was stumped at having his authority challenged. He and his friends could barely see me, but my eyes were well accustomed to the dark, so I could see them clearly. I wouldn’t have shot them, but they were drunk, and I could fire over their heads to scare them if push came to shove. Through it all, Gizmo eyed them warily. As it was, James finally gave in.

“C’mon, let’s go,” he ordered, as if it were his idea. "But you ain't heard the last of this, asshole." They stumbled back to the truck, piled in, and drove off.

As soon as their headlights disappeared over the hill, I pulled my boots on and went to Gizmo. I moved him far away from where he had been, afraid they might have a gun in their truck and would come back and shoot him. I gathered the gear, saddled him quickly, and led him away from the camp.

About the Author:
John Egenes has been a musician, a saddlemaker, a dog catcher, and a hobo, among other things. He only learns by making mistakes and he views his life through a windshield full of squashed bugs. He makes his home in New Zealand.

John Egenes Blog:
John & Gizmo Blog:
Amazon Author page:

Buy the book for only $0.99 at Amazon.


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  1. Thank you for having me here. I'm in New Zealand, so I am a day ahead of America and the UK, and a few hours behind. Please ask any questions or make comments and observations, and I'll pop in and try to answer them for you. All the best,