Mitch loved the work. Lifting the horses put iron in his hands and steel in his arms. Pearl was thrilled when he came home after a shift and hefted her full body as if she were weightless. He could feel her though – soft and plump and massive – and the strain on his bones reminded him of the day’s labor. And Mitch loved the work.
But he could hardly stand the job. The winter was the roughest. His threadbare gloves revealing his aged fingers, he gripped the horses and loaded them on the truck. Mitch didn’t much like the plastic barricades. They could take a beating but they were hollow and thin. He preferred the old wood and metal horses. They were hard and rigid and dependable. Sure, they broke under the force of impact, the pressure of time. Yet, they were dangerous like that – you couldn’t push them too far out of line or they would snap and show their sharp edges, their bent and battered frames waiting to ensnare the unsuspecting.
Mitch had seen an even newer marker at a site last month. It was little more than a short pole like the kind that keep people apart when they’re standing in line waiting for their turn, easily knocked over or avoided when no one was looking. He hated them. They didn’t require his particular brand of power, his muscle and mass. Soon there wouldn’t be any more horses. All that would be left would be slight, weightless, and false. He tossed another horse and felt the satisfaction in his joints. Not much longer, he thought. Mitch loved the work.