Three Fillies -- a chapter from Killer Buyer
It was late August 1992. The rains had failed. It was normally
a time of gramma grass, daisies and verbena. This year, our valley
was brown under a pale sky. It would be a bad winter for anything
that depended on the range lands.
At about 10:00 AM, the phone rang . It was Dorothy Stender.
"Have you seen these ads for orphan foals? I want to buy
one for Diana."
The Stenders lived half a mile north of us on twenty acres.
Their herd of dairy goats gave them more milk than they knew
what to do with. "Sounds great. A foal would love all that
"Will you help me pick one out?"
Of course I would. Not that I knew much, but what the heck.
I figured one reason Dorothy wanted my help was her fear of
horses. Two years before, a rental horse had thrown her. She
took months to recover from the concussion.
Diana, however, adored our Coquetta. Now she wanted her own
horse. Maybe if they started with a foal, her mom could get over
her fear by stages.
"There's an ad for a $150 filly," Dorothy continued.
"I called the number and we can come out now to see her."
My daughters Valerie and Virginia, their friend Andi Wulfekuhle
(who was as usual hanging out at our place), and I dropped everything
and ran outside to meet Dorothy. She pulled up in her battered
black Ford Escort. With her were sister Mildred, Diana, and Dorothy's
new baby. We all crammed in like clowns in a circus stunt.
The Escort rattled over an assortment of washboard dirt roads
and pavement toward the south end of the Estancia Valley. People
in passing cars stared at our sardine-tight arrangement. We giggled
and waved. On rural roads in our valley, people usually waved,
but it's normally a really restrained wave, just a slight raising
of one hand. Today, however, people were making broad happy waves
After some 30 miles we turned off the highway south of the
town of Estancia. Andi pointed out Al Miller's old place, where
he used to train and sell horses. She recognized it by the rusted
farm machinery lying askew in a weedy field.
Miller's old place was pretty typical of this valley. It's
almost a fetish for people to keep decades of, ahem, artifacts,
lying about their property. However, ten minutes later, as Dorothy
drove us down a rutted driveway, we discovered a new high, or
low, in Estancia Valley landscaping. A decaying mobile home sagged
next to a barn. Through the barn's cobwebbed windows we could
see a cryptic mass of junk. On the front porch of the mobile
home, a skunk in a cage smelled frightened. This odor masked
what could have been an aroma from the pigs running loose and
rooting among garbage. A Rottweiler bellowed and lunged at us
from the end of a chain. Dung-caked goats with twisted hooves
hobbled here and there.
Dorothy parked on the far side of the mobile home from the
skunk. We gradually unpacked our jammed bodies from the Escort.
Dorothy hoisted Danielle onto her hip and strode toward the back
door - the one without the skunk. We followed her, weaving between
No one had come out yet to investigate the baying of the Rottweiler.
Was anyone home? We could hear a TV blaring from inside.
Dorothy knocked. Knocked again. Finally a pasty-faced, obese
"I'm looking for Christine McCoy," Dorothy shouted.
"I'm her mother." A small girl peeked out from behind
"She said we could see the foals."
The woman waved toward the north. "They're in the pasture.
Go ahead and take a look."