The Time I Accidentally Killed a Horse

A Confession


Simply heartbreaking. Great piece of work Charles.

Completely unrelated...have your read "The Faculty of Useless Knowledge"? It is one of my favorite examples of Russian literature.

I love Charles Mudede.
the whole thing?
Wow, great story! Thanks for sharing!
Wow, that is a great read! Thanks for sharing!
When you didn't call the vet it stopped being an accident.
Great story, Mudede. Sure, you may write like Sarah Palin on Valium, but nobody can ever say you didn't fess up to killing that horse -- many, many years later, of course.
I'm amazed Mudede took so long to get around to including his requisite pseudo-intellectual name-dropping. In this case, of course, Great Expectations. Though this meant I read more of this article than I can typically stomach from him, maybe one day Charles will stop leaning on references to other great authors and write a story all on his own and I'll actually be to finish it without rolling my eyes and clicking to something else.
I love this.
@ 9 for the fail.
so good Charles.
Oh! Sorry, I came here thinking this was Mudede's review of "The Godfather". (I'll show myself out.)
eloquent prose, Charles! Bravo!
mmmm waited till the statute of limitation has run, eh?
Why the hell would you not call for help right away? Even if the horse might be dying, especially since it was obviously not well or in pain. :( Awful story. That's going to haunt me for quite some time.
well, he probably didn't think it was going to die. reading the story, we only think that because of the title of the piece.

still, you wish he'd give you something to show that he had a little bit of concern for the horse.
holy crap, that is sad. if an animal is in pain call a vet. we go to the doctor for stupid colds... what a wiener
I liked that story a lot, even if it wasn't a very happy story at all and even if I don't really have anything more poignant to say than 'I liked that story a lot.'
I love the features you write! The literary references enrich the story. This is a short format and mentioning Miss Havisham was a quick way for us to understand Ms. Beasley. To those distracted by dreams of a vet rescuing Dandy; there is nothing that could've been done. Don't judge until you are in a situation with equal stakes. The author stood by Ms. Beasley and endured the natural repercussions. That takes strength. Also, love to Bud of Qar for his practicality and sensitivity.
I wish Charles Mudede was in a landfill - in Liberia
I wonder why liberia? What a strange choice. Personally, I do not care what happens to my corpse. It has nothing to do with me.
Wow - really good story. Except that why didn't you call a vet when you freed the tortured horse from the ice? Pretty shitty if you ask me Chuck. Pretty horribly shitty.
@20: how do you know a vet couldn't have done anything? it's possible the horse could've been saved, if not, he could have been put down and been saved long hours of misery. this is why i would never, ever leave one of my animals in the care of someone who isn't experienced with animals. though you'd think it would be common sense to call a vet.
What a catalog of assholery this piece is. I echo the thoughts about the statute of limitations, which just adds another asshole act to the list. I've only been willing to skim his stuff for years but now I am just going to skip his stuff altogether.
I expect a Level 5 shitstorm from PETA, veterinarians and horse-lovers in next week's Stranger.
Given that this happened 20 some odd years ago to a college student who was probably not a little bit worried about what would happen it's not a surprise he might not have made that the totally obviously rational decision to you reading this story.

Maybe he didn't do the right thing (in whatever respect or whoever's opinion) and it's fine to say what you would do now or what you think ought to be done (or know ought to be done), but give the situation some perspective. I'm sure you haven't made the most seemingly logical decision at every juncture in your life, either.
First word that came to mind Bastard. Second why no vet? And again bastard. Longest Un-anonymous I can remember reading here for some time. "A Confession" Is true and I am only sorry the horse had to suffer so due to your stupidity.

David Linger
Good story...I am glad you made your confession.
A veterinarian should have been called...the horse should not have suffered...

I have had to use QAR on a few devastating occasions over the years...they were very kind...A necessary service and they handled the uncomfortable situations with care.
I really must stress that I'm a panpsychist:

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mind or a mind-like quality... What does one mean by “all things”? [L]iterally every object in the universe, every part of every object, and every system of objects possesses some mind-like quality.

I do separate man from animals.
I'm left pondering our strange sacredization of some animal corpses over others, how often people bullshit their way into jobs they aren't qualified for, images of Grey Gardens ... Obviously in hindsight the best thing to do would have been to call a vet. But, it sounds like the woman wasn’t responsible enough to find a qualified caretaker. Mr. Charles was in over his head from the start.

I remember stories of bad girl, Cindy. How is a landfill any less awful than cremation?

This is an essay on the contrast of our personal and public feelings about animal death couched in a story that describes a city whose ethics are easily manipulated by media, a brazen personal confession of unintentional equuscide and a few “removers,” who have to tread lightly to make a buck.

I’ll refer to this story next the next time someone says I’m weird for the practice of imagining peering to the big cow eyes of a big yummy cow animal and then its big bloody slaughter just before I eat a steak. “Thank you for your life. I’m sorry your transition into death wasn’t that fun. Now I will eat you.”
Misadventures of a Farm Caretaker- yeah, me too. Left the hose on in the pasture trough for three days. Massive swamp but all survived. And I was nearly murdered by a horse with one eye who hated me. Bastard ran me over deliberately. There was another horse who adored me but was an incurable sneak. He liked to tip the wheel barrow over when my back was turned. Horses. They'll getcha. Nice to meet a fellow screw up caretaker. Support group!
I remember that period very well, the old lady, your rather unaccountable presence by the side of the road, and laughing very hard with the Russians, who seemed to be the only ones capable of pointing out the idiocy, even though it was totally familiar. In your piece there is that moment when the animal remover puts his elbows on the table and looks you hard in the eye, and then the camera reverses and you are on the spot. That is the Russian moment!

A beloved elephant packed in 50-gallon drums, the public outrage! The stinking carcasses of dead animals! Flies! And then your confession. All told in sort of bland reminiscent style. I think the feature before this was the one about trees! My God! what is The Stranger thinking?
Well, c'mon. Who hasn't nearly killed a horse or two? Or something like...

I'm totally with you, James L. I gotta say, I do love them Ruskies! (I'm actually having one right now! A White one! My Second!)

I also love Ms.Christine.
Very much.

Not too bad, Charles.

Why didn't he call a vet? This is a confession, not an apology. Get your genres straight. I would speculate he didn't call a vet because he was scared, didn't want to get in trouble, etc. It would hardly be a "confession" at this point if it involved him doing everything right, or reasonably right. Yet I wonder if the event ever happened at all. I suppose it doesn't matter.
Wow a very great story indeed. I once got bread from a freezer that was outside. When i opened the door, apparently a cat walked into the freeze - of course while I wasn't looking. The cat was later found with its paws frozen into the frost buildup - and after they melted, and the days past - her back feet just fell off. The cat lived a full life as far as I know. It may have had to do some extra hopping around here and there, but shit happens and life goes on. I feel bad for what I did, though.

I'm from Ohio and live in Guam now. Found "The Stranger" while surfing the net. This story by Charles Mudede was very interesting and I'm glad I read it.

I don't think he's a bastard. I think he's human.
When Charles tells stories like this his writing is wonderful.

When he spouts pseudo-philosophical bullshit, or comments on current events he knows little about (but pretends to) his writing makes me want to vomit.
Mr. Mudede, you may or may not be an asshole, but you are a writer who manages to be both weird and boring, which is an accomplishment. I salute you!
@35: Freezers are air-tight. If a cat were left in a freezer, it would have suffocated long before its paws had time to freeze. Did you leave out some details?
It all seems pretty obvious to me that Charles is not soulless or an asshole in regard to this accidental horse killing. We've all fucked up when we were younger in ways we would take back. Small fuck ups sometimes have huge consequences though. How unfortunate for Charles and the horses that he forgot to turn the faucet off, then didn't call the vet.
Yeah, he mad the wrong decision - I think I would have called someone for help or advice at least - but what do kids know? this is a real rough break, I'm glad I don't have to live this one down, but then again, who knows what kind of personal fuck up are in my future?
This was great. It says a lot about the way we view death and the death of innocence as the same thing. When the horse died so did Charles' sense of how the world should work, which is why he didn't do what somebody with more of a broken spirit would do - call someone and admit that bad shit happens and the world is a fucked up place sometimes. It affected him so much so that he told the story to a stranger years later not so much as a statement but more as a question about what had happened, and why did it all not feel right.

Well done Charles.
Charles is like us, in that he makes mistakes. Sometimes we make tragic mistakes. We don't like the part of us that makes mistakes, and so we strike out at Charles as a way of striking at the part of us we hate. We don't hate him, we hate ourselves.
Amazing that The Stranger continues to headline the likes of Mudede and Novoselic...but the rag still does a great job of lining my garbage can.
The editor must have cut out Charles last sentence for space reasons or something: "Once again, it's all about the color of your skin (or hide). The brown horse dies in the dirt without any healthcare or compassion while whitey gallops merrily free into a new day."
Everyone makes mistakes, sure. Doesn't mean we shouldn't be called out on them.
Ah, sad and sweet article. Thanks Charles, I appreciated it.
For horses community is like food. No wonder Angel the horse went mad. It's only company was humans from which it felt no love. They live in herds. Leaving a horse without comrades is like banning internet trolls from being unnecessarily mean. Death is a release from such deprivation. You’ve got to provide for the emotional needs of the animals you care for. It’s not enough to keep them fed and watered and clean.

I feel sad for both horses.

Charles should have called a vet when the horse’s feet got frozen. Most doctor types feel it’s more important to treat their patients than tattle on people. It probably wouldn’t have mattered though. Horsey probably had severe frost bite on all four legs. They would have had to put him to sleep anyway.

Mudede is one of my favorite local writers. His posts on Slog are always fun and insightful. Plus I know we read the same websites every morning, because he posts tons of articles I’ve read and found interesting on Slog.

Thank you for writing this. I loved it. I've made some mistakes in my life, too.
This endless piece of pretentious mumbling is yet another example of what belongs in the "NO" pile of some Eastern Washington community college literary journal. The Stranger could be the greatest paper ever if they would only get rid of Mudede (maybe the Weekly is hiring interns?). I can't believe I fell for another one of his pieces and pushed onward, thinking there must be something (ANYTHING!) relevant/interesting/funny/READABLE about this piece, and once again, I was wrong.. Never again shall I be fooled!
You'd have gotten less flak about the vet if you removed the 'Accidentally' from the title. Let the reader decide whether you should be blamed.
nice story thanks for writing :D
Charles, Charles! Have you read this??

Monday, July 27, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Rendering truck scatters load on I-5 near Tacoma

Washington State Patrol troopers say a rendering truck that lost its load scattered dead animal parts across the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in Tacoma.…

Do you think your friend Qar might have been involved in this? Or maybe the wild woman??
What is wrong with you? You were in a paid position to care for these animals and all you could think about was your holiday in Portland? YOU were responsible for the care of an animal, regardless if the young woman had stopped riding/ caring, or the old woman was a Republican. Thank God, you were able to write an eloquent prose about YOUR tragic, thoughtless, cowardly and fatal actions. Jesus, Imagine what the poor fucking horse had to go through! Are you intelligent or imaginative enough to put yourself in another creature’s position? Do you know how aware horses are to there pain; if they can feel a fly on their neck, how would their knees freezing and hypothermia feel to them? I respect Bud “the dead animal remover, ” he is, at least, taking care of the animals that other people can’t take care of and the animals that assholes like you destroy in painful ways. You ended your “story” with “Angel lived for another year” is this because you neglected him so greatly that he suffered the same or similar fate as Dandy? I hope you are neglected in your old age and die a slow and painful death, with no one asking questions because you are, only human!
Mrs. Beasley saw the sick horse and could have called the vet, but instead she chose to just let it lie there and die. The way Charles describes it, she didn't seem too heartbroken about it.
But as long as we're talking hypothetically about what he should have done, Charles should have called a vet, he should have called Mrs. Beasley in Maine and explained what happened and got her opinion on what to do. Taking immediate responsibility for your mistakes is always the best course of action.
I'm reading this for a second time and all the comments again. Why all the hatred for Charles? I think lost in all this stupid literary crap and all this sticking up for Charles for no reason is that Charles should have called a vet. This wasn't a small decision that he looked over as a young, human that made a simple mistake. Why not call the vet? Im sure the horse would have had to be put down but you let it die and awful fate for no reason. No excuses. Horrible thing to do.
This is awful. Horrible. Seriously. Call a fucking vet.

Did you have a FABULOUS time in portland? I should hope so.

The horses didn't fucking look at you funny b/c you're black. jesus.

Finally, so many unnecessary details. Over half of this story is completely superfluous. Editing is your friend.
That was wonderful and touching. Russian literature indeed. A story without heroes or redemption but full of life and a touch of something higher. One of the better stories I've seen in the stranger for a while.
Beat that dead horse, people! Beat him into the ground!!!

Mr. Mudede, you are an excellent writer and a human being who made a mistake. I don't understand why "call somebody" wasn't the first (or second or third) thing you thought of, but I too like all other human beings have made mistakes that in retrospect seem pretty easy to right.

Keep writing.
I found an error 4 words into the story:
Accidentally s/b Negligently
what a heartless dumb-ass! who cares that he was a college student? most people know by age 7 or 8 to call for help when an animal is suffering. Way to support this crap you quasi-academic losers, giving him props for 'great prose.' Puke. But who needs common sense or a heart when you can be a lame attempt at an author? And besides the poor horse that died, gee, I wonder why the other horse went nuts, he probably didn't really care about that either. Horses are herd animals. They go nuts alone, but what did he care. Total crap, way to set a bad example to other 'college students' and try to justify it. Poor horses.
I hope that you do not own any sort of animal ever, or children for that matter, and that you have stayed awake many nights feeling shitty for that horse in un-bearable agony for the last few miserable days of its life. Rather than spending your time writing this crap and inflicting it on others, try volunteering for an animal rescue orginization. It would be a helluva lot better way to make up for your 'accident' then profiting off of it as a cute little story about the foibles of youth. Oh, and horses don't see in color nor do they practice racial profiling, way to attempt a clever racial reference. Jeezus, you are one sick dude. End rant.
The things to learn here:
1: Horses need care. In the unlikely event of taking care of a horse, don't leave for a few days and expect everything to be OK, except feral horses in large open spaces.
2: If the water doesn't work, shut it off. This same thing happened where I work and the damage is permanent. The tap doesn't work now: it will never work::I can't see you: you can't see me. Can't tell morons from simpletons? Just ask them to draw some water after you've shut it off the supply.
3: Panpsychism is a bunch of BS. This is not my opinion, simply the collective feelings of the electrons needed to form that message, who outnumber you by nearly a Coulomb. In case of your horrific death, they will rationalize it via acerbic and slightly ironic probability fields, similar to how they remember potted plants or their brothers who have gone from up to down. Amen.
charles mudede is an insignificant piece of shit. dig a hole. go head. bury yaself.
This is so much like the story of the woman in Dallas who accidentally hit a homeless man hard enough to entrap him through her car windshield, then parked in her garage and closed the door, but checked daily until he finally died, and then tried to dump the body. Its odd how some humans can equate themselves so superior and arrogant as to not recognize their own acts of extreme cruelty.

-Michael Vick
Chas., your only accident was forgetting to shut off the water. All other acts were deliberate acts to cover up your involvement in the cruelty suffered by the horse and show your total disregard towards alleviating any suffering you had caused. You cannot write well because you are not sentient enough to really understand what it is that you did. Even in your "confession" you blame shift to get yourself off the hook. You elude to the fact that an elderly republican white woman's intention to postpone calling a vet until morning when she didn't have all the facts equates to your actions of negligence and deceit. You seem to be pointing out that you are black in this story as if it were some sort of an excuse for your behavior. People who hire or even befriend you need to look a little deeper into your lack of character.
This is excellent writing. It's a perfect short story. I enjoyed the entire thing from beginning to end.

My favorite part was the reference to Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" about the elephant having notoriously unpredictable disposition.

Excellent. Absolutely excellent. I read this yesterday, and this story is still with me. I had to comment.
What a brave and honest (and, of course, literate) story. I miss my Police Beat fix as much as anybody, but if that's the price of Mudede's writing at greater length on a wider variety of subjects, it's well worth it.

Really? What's all this bullshit about Russian Literature? What's with the goddamn comparison to Great Expectations, and why, oh why, is it in an article about you being a bad keeper of horses? Mudede, you're an intelligent guy who understands what he's doing. But you don't understand how to do it. First of all, this is no journalism, but that's not really the important thing. The important thing is that this story has NO FLOW TO IT. I read it chunk after sickeningly limping chunk, wondering when the pace will pick up, and then, when it does, I either wonder when it will slow down, or I wonder why you slowed down so damn early. Learn pacing.

Oh, and learn not to be a self-important egotistical cock while you're at it, it'll do you some good.
you kill??? can't blv
that's all fine and Dandy, but you accidentally killed TWO horses, didn't you Chuck?
You were hired to watch out for an animal and instead were a selfish coward and let it die cold, alone and no doubt in discomfort from your neglect. You should never be allowed to get over this.

I hope people wave signs at you and boo you wherever you go. Old horses need extra care and your callous nature betrayed the trust both the horse and their owner had in you.

You should have never written this self serving piece and inflicted it on others.
I was sure this was a story written by JENNY EDWARDS (ZOO and Hope for Horses)when I saw the headline. After all she's killed many horses (accidently, of course). But then being the sociopath that she is (she recently bragged on her own web-site "We were the subject of a Documentary that made it all the way to the Sundance Film Festival), she would have most certainly taken credit for "writing this great work of fiction." Sorry Charly, you lose the credit again.
To FunnyFarm - Actually, what the w/s says is that we were "involved in a documentary that made it all the way to Sundance ...." If you're going to quote me, at least do it accurately. And that sociopath comment -- that's the second time you've diagnosed me without ever having met me. // Jenny Edwards
This is the most despicable act of cowardace I've ever seen.
There were way too many adjectives and details that did not need to be included. Too wordy and frilled up overall. Takes too long to get to the final point of the story. Could be well-written, if reworked.