Band of centaurs

By Greg 
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It was a day like any other day. A sunny, blue-sky normal spring day. The kind of day that made even a hardened cynic like me glad to be alive. The winter had been a long and dismal one. It seemed that the sun had gone into hiding sometime before Christmas and refused to come out until the coast was completely clear. A grayer winter I couldn't recall.

And the grayer the weather, the grayer the guy.

I'd been in a miserable funk for weeks and, like that hiding sun, I didn't want to come out into the open for nothing. I didn't want any human contacts whatsoever. I became a hermit, not answering the phone, strangers at the door, the mailman or any other delivery person for that matter. Finally, I had to answer when a policeman came to the door. Someone, an anonymous friend or neighbor, had feared my untimely demise and called the authorities.

I assured the handsome young man in the starched navy uniform the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated. He smiled, but I could sense he couldn't quite believe that I had just chosen to go into hibernation. I'll admit I don't look like a bear so my excuse met his skepticism head-on.

“Just a little gray with all the cloudy weather, Officer.”

“Have you been to a doctor, Sir?”

The look of earnest concern on his face was priceless. If I'd wanted a puppy this boy would have been the one I picked.

“No, Officer, I haven't. I rather like being alone. I know that more socially minded individuals can't understand that choice, but believe me, these minor depressions always pass. This one will, as well. Winter will be over soon and with spring I'll be out and about again.”

I read the officer's name tag and realized that he hadn't introduced himself. When he knocked on the door his announcement was simply, “Open up, Mr. Moore! Police!” When it comes to the police I am always a good citizen. The door had flung open with my rapid response. I avoid trouble whenever possible. So, when “Officer Friendly” began to speak, I began to cooperate. I was speaking to an officer-of-the-law, but I couldn't really believe it as long as he appeared to be such an innocent to me. I had to give sweet face a name and the name on the tag said, Kenneth Taurick.

“Now, Officer Taurick, don't let me keep you from your more important duties. I assure you I am fine. Thank you for your concern.

Good-day.”

“We'll, Sir, as long as you put it that way, I'll be going.”

He handed me an official business card, an obvious vestige of the local police department's Community Outreach Program (COP).

“If, for any reason at all and should the need arise, please feel free to call me.”

I thanked him and as he left I watched the shape of his tight blue- -clad buns walk away from me. There was one man in a uniform that I could love or at least lust after.

I went back to bed determined to sleep the cold weather away. Unusually, I'd had a vivid dream that night that involved young Officer Ken or “Ken Taur” as I called him in the dream.

That had been in deep, dark January. It was now glorious April. I had forgotten completely about my visit from the policeman. I had also forgotten most of the details of the dream.

The air was so fresh breathing was a pleasure. The world seemed lilac scented and hyper-clear. For the first time in months I actually felt that there might be some reason for my existence. When you are depressed doubting the worth of one's existence is an almost obsessive thought. That's why so many depressed people commit suicide. They just can't reconcile going on with a life of misery so they end the pain by offing themselves. Fortunately, I had become aware that my depression was what is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD; An appropriate acronym. I was, indeed, sad with the winter season. So I bought some full spectrum lights to mimic the missing sun and I ate my vitamin D and citrus fruit. I did whatever would lessen the affects of SAD.

Once the weather changed and gray turned to yellow and blue, I was outside with a vengeance. I wanted to see the flowers in bloom, the children at play, dogs chasing squirrels and that whole Pollyanna kind of panorama that comes with a burgeoning Spring. I loved nature and being outdoors in it made my soul fly.

As I walked I took in the details of life that make living in my small town worthwhile. I saw the trees budding with bloom; the whites of apples and the pinks of crabapples. The early tulips making rainbows land on the ground. Shutters were removed and windows freshly washed. Sidewalks swept and rugs hung over clotheslines to be beaten free of the winter's dust and dirt. Cleaning was underway everywhere.

I decided to take a walk through an area of town I didn't usually frequent. I was up for something different after spending so much time studying my walls and the woodwork.

There was nothing particularly remarkable about Beacon Street. It was fairly ordinary even with the trees lining both sides of the street. I couldn't imagine why the street was named Beacon to begin with. There hadn't ever been a beacon on the street to my knowledge. Maybe my walk would help to enlighten me about the name's origin. Maybe I would discover something else enlightening.

There were small businesses on both sides of the street. Some had been there so long that their signs were faded and peeling. Others were new and trying to make a go of it so they could someday have their own faded and peeling signs.

One of the newer stores caught my eye and I, at the time, had no real idea why. It wasn't a particularly remarkable edifice. A simple small storefront, it had a painted sign on its window. But it wasn't the stores name that intrigued me so much as the picture drawn beneath the name. There was a small depiction of a horse on the left side and a man on the right side. In between the two figures was a simple plus sign. What could it mean? Horse plus man? What could this store known as The Joining Place be selling? Now my interest was really peaked and I had to find out.

Upon entering the store I noticed that it seemed to be almost completely empty. There were few fixtures and nothing hanging on the walls save a banner over a glass topped counter declaring “You Are Welcomed.”

I walked up to the counter and looked at what was displayed beneath the glass. There were a few pieces of jewelry, mostly rings and what I supposed were amulets made from a shiny metal that looked like silver. Each piece was etched with a figure or figures of what looked like a man riding a horse. It was hard to tell exactly what or who the figure was without examining the pieces more closely.

“Yes, Sir. I'd be happy to take them out of the case for your better appraisal.”

I looked up from the case to see the man who had just spoken. He was middle-aged and as hale and hearty an individual as I had seen in a long time. I'm not a short man, but this fellow clearly stood over me by a good half foot. He had obviously eaten his Wheaties and then some. A broad grin graced his handsome face and I could see that his dark hair was pulled back into a long braid behind him. He was very striking and I immediately felt that he was somehow familiar to me. I didn't know how, but I felt that I knew him. It was an unusual feeling for a loner like myself to suddenly feel so connected to a stranger. Most people I couldn't be bothered with, but this man I found captivating. I must have stared at the man-mountain for a good thirty-seconds. The mountain just stood smiling back at me. Finally, I shook my head and tried to come back to my senses. I should have been embarrassed by my brash behavior, but I wasn't. Instead I felt completely comfortable. With such a winning manner I didn't see how this guy's business could fail. Especially if he had the same effect on everyone else who entered the store.

The man removed the felt lined box the jewelry was displayed in. I picked up a ring that I found attractive. When I did so I felt an almost electrical shock and came close to dropping the ring. I managed to regain the piece before it had a chance to fall to the floor. As I held the ring between my thumb and index fingers it tingled in a very odd manner. It was as if the ring was emanating energy that was pulsing through my fingers and up into my body. It was an unusual, but not unpleasant sensation. In fact, I rather enjoyed the feeling. I wondered if the feeling would continue when the ring was on my hand.

“Go ahead,” the man said, still smiling, “try it on.”

And so I did. Just slipping the ring on changed everything. I felt as if I had been filled with so much vitality that the confines of my body could not hold it. It was an exhilarating feeling that so overwhelmed me I almost fainted. Before I could collapse to the floor I felt two large hands lifting me up. “Whoa, fella. I've got you.”

I caught my breath and let myself linger in the man's arms for a while. It was odd how safe I felt in his hands. A moment passed and I was able to stand on my own. I managed to turn and look at the man. His smile was still warm and strangely familiar.

“I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. That hasn't ever happened before.”

“No problem, my friend. Glad to be of service.”

I looked back down to where the ring resided on my finger. I still felt the power coming from it. I held it up to my eyes and took a closer inspection.

What had appeared to me to be a figure on horseback was, in actuality, a depiction of a centaur. I immediately knew what the horse plus man on the front window meant. The ring had a band of centaurs on it. Each one with his outstretched arm tugging at the tail of the figure before him. The figures were connected in a kind of dance across the ring; a band of cavorting centaurs on a silver band. The ring was beautiful. Just looking at it made me smile. I wasn't sure that the ring had made me feel so exhilarated or that it was just the day and my vivid imagination. Still, I knew I had to possess the ring.

“The piece is well suited to you, Sir. Please have it with my compliments.”

I had been staring so intently at the ring I wasn't sure of what the man had said. Had he just told me to take it with his compliments? How could that be? It was an expensive piece I was sure. The detailed execution of the figures was the work of an artisan of rare talent. That much I could tell.

“How much do I owe you?”

“Not a thing, my friend. It is yours. Let me have the pleasure of giving it to you.”

“But, I don't understand. I am but a stranger to you. How can you afford to give precious items to strangers?”

“Trust me. I can not only afford the gesture, but it is my wish. You would not look a gift horse in the mouth, would you? Then, please, do not question this gift. The ring is yours. It is meant for you. Take it.”

I was bowled over by the beautiful man's generosity.

“There must be some way I can repay you, Sir.”

“Think not of it. There will be plenty of time in the future for you to do kindness towards others. Never think of me as a stranger again. That is what little I ask. Now go out and enjoy your beautiful ring on the this most beautiful of days.”

And so I did.

After leaving the shop the rest of the day was a blur to me. I cannot recall how I came to be home or what I had been doing. I noticed the ring on my finger and was pleased by it. I found that I had gained an appetite for life that I had never possessed before. I also found that I had an overwhelming hunger.

There was little of sustenance in my refrigerator, so I walked to the corner market and filled a shopping cart. Instead of filling it with the usual items like t. v. dinners and soda pop I found that I was impelled to grab foods I seldom ate. The cart was overflowing with things like fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, fish and fowl.

The young cashier eyed my purchases but didn't say anything. I think she assumed I was starting a new diet. I didn't know why I was buying so much “good” food but my hunger seemed insatiable. I knew I would be eating it all.

Upon returning home, I broke out the pots and pans I had almost never used and started cooking up a storm. While I cooked I ate an entire five-pound bag of pippin apples and a whole bunch of carrots. What had come over me? I had never done this before. I had hated carrots since I was a small boy. Now I found them not only sweet, but also incredibly delectable. What was happening?

I looked down to the ring on my hand and felt it tingling. Then the strangest thing started to happen: the band glowed. At first I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Then I realized it was true. The ring was actually emitting a golden light. I couldn't stop staring at it. As I looked at the ring it seemed that the figures on it began to move. The horsemen were dancing and I thought I saw one of them wave at me. I looked closer at the band and could see that the centaur who waved could have been the horse-half brother of the store owner.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The ring continued to glow more intensely and the next thing I knew I was passing out. But before I fell to the kitchen floor I could have sworn I heard a voice. It said: “You are welcome. Come, join us!”

I woke with the morning sunlight playing across my face. I was lying in my bed. I couldn't remember how I had gotten there. My stomach was growling fiercely. How could I be hungry after eating so much the night before? Like an untamed beast my hunger demanded attention. “I must eat!”

When I stumbled into the kitchen I was amazed to find a mess of dirty utensils and not a scrap of food to be found. I raced into the bedroom and found my jeans. When I tried to pull them on they seemed to have shrunk from the night before. How the hell could that have happened? I didn't know. I didn't care. I needed food and now! I pulled on a pair of old sweats and grabbed my keys.

Driving out to the new superstore I barely paid attention to traffic and traffic signals. I had only one purpose and that was to eat. I filled half a dozen carts as fast as I could. Along the way I ate more carrots and apples and a couple of whole roasted chickens. People stared at me like I was some sort of crazed animal. I didn't give a damn. Let them stare. I had to eat. I never even made it home that morning. I stopped at a nearby park and unloaded the bags from the trunk. I had a picnic for one hundred! Raw!

As I ate the ring continued to glow and its light made me smile. I felt so good it was as if I could conquer the world. I felt like I had powers I hadn't known existed before. I had no idea why any of this was happening, but I didn't want it to stop. Somehow I made it home and fell into a deep sleep. I had a long dream that seemed so real I could smell the scent of it, taste the beauty it portrayed.

In the dream I was standing with others like myself in what appeared to be a meadow. Directly opposite to me was my friend. He was the centaur who had waved to me the night before; the figure had come to life from off the band on my finger. I felt so connected to him, like we were brothers and as if this place were my home and these beings were members of my family.

I had never felt like this before and the pleasure of the feeling raced through my entire body. It seemed that in the dream I didn't have to speak because words were unnecessary for communication. My heart soared with the recognition that I had, at last, found the place where I truly belonged. I was aware in that instant that I need never be a loner again. Here was my acceptance and communion.

Again I awoke with the sunshine on my face and the same uncanny desire for sustenance. I felt like I could eat a warehouse full of food. I found my wallet and the credit card with the large limit I had never opted to use. I got out the phone book and called a local food wholesaler. Arrangements were made, my card was cleared and I had a small storehouse of food delivered to my house. I also had a side-by-side refrigerator delivered that afternoon.

I had always been a thin, painfully skinny, guy. I had never much been interested in food. I could go for many hours without eating. All that had changed. Now I had to eat all the time. At least all the time I wasn't sleeping and dreaming. And the strange thing about the whole process was that it felt so very natural, almost normal and what was supposed to be. I knew it was something I had to do and I wouldn't stop until I reached where I was headed. But just where was I headed?

Days passed and I lost track of time. Each day blurred into the next. The regimen became a routine: awakened by the sun, eat and eat and eat and collapse into a semi-comatose state of sleep, dream.

The dream I was having became more detailed and felt more real with every night's passing. I would wake not knowing whether I was in the dream reality or the waking world reality. There were significant differences, but the dream bled into my awakened state and would not let my conscious go.

I was aware that my body was undergoing some sort of transformation, a metamorphosis as it were. The features of this change were abundant and I would be remiss to not describe them in detail.

The first thing that I became aware of was that my frame was filling out. It was beefing up with weight gained from the tremendous amount of nutrition I was ingesting. I was eating like a horse and my proportions were showing it.

Normally, I would guess, when a person has consumed as much food as I had there would be a significant gain in fat; not so in my case. What might have become fat for a normal individual had become muscle on my frame, quite an extraordinary amount of muscle. Before I had no real musculature to speak of. There had been no real distinction to my body. I had no noticeable biceps or pectoral development. I was a man who might have been mistaken for a scarecrow. I wasn't ugly, far from it. I was just rail thin and no weight would stick to me.

The days of rapid ingestion had altered my form in ways I could never have imagined. I looked like I'd been working out for years though I hadn't lifted anything weightier than bags and boxes of groceries recently.

Secondly, my stature had increased by a good six inches. I was now as tall as the man at the store. In fact, in many respects, I was very similar to that mountain of a man. I didn't have hair like his and my face was different, but we shared the same type of body. That was an incredible realization.

In the time since I slipped the band on my finger I had grown into an almost completely different man. No longer was I the unhappy, weak man who had spent his winter in self-imposed hibernation. I was like a plant that with spring erupts from the earth and blooms. I was blooming and I felt wonderful.

I suppose I should have been more frightened of what was occurring. It was, after all, an amazing course of events. So why wasn't I frightened? I truthfully don't know. Like I said before, the process felt natural and I was enjoying it. It wasn't something I had consciously desired but, in its transpiring, I came to want the change. Every facet of my being-my spirit, mind and body-craved the completion of the transformation. Who was I to argue with such a graceful transition?

The most startling thing that was happening to me wasn't the muscular development, the increase in height or even the fact that I appeared to be about twenty years younger than I had been. What was so remarkable was that my lower body was undergoing a very peculiar but pleasant change.

This change should have made me feel I might be going crazy. Instead, I felt that the best was yet to come and I found myself consuming great quantities of greens in order to hasten the change. What was happening across my lower body made it clear to me that the ring had been responsible for what was occurring. I had thought little of the sensations that the ring had caused to pulsate through my body since those first days. I had started to accept the power as normal and to be taken for granted.

Now, with the changes in my lower form, I realized that the power within the ring was responsible for the hair growing across my legs and buttocks. The power was also responsible for strange developments such as the tapering of my legs, the increase in size and girth of my genitals, the broadening of my hindquarters.

By now, I am sure that, it is as apparent to you as it hadn't been to me, that what was happening to me was this: I was becoming a mythical beast, a monster—a centaur! Why this change had come to me I did not know. I can only tell you that I welcomed it. Being a mythical monster, oddly enough, was preferable to being the formerly weak and depressed me.

Still, with every unexpected occurrence, there are problems. The problem most apparent was that I wouldn't be able to go out into public in my current condition or after the transformation was complete. I couldn't imagine that a centaur would be a very welcomed sight in my little town. Some might mistake me for an aberration of the so-called “end times” and try to dispose of me. That was a truly frightening thought.

It was at this point, when I suddenly had become concerned for my welfare, I remembered—don't ask me why—that I had the number of Officer Ken. I remembered, as well, that he had remarked that if I ever needed his help I should feel free to contact him. For some reason I could not determine, I felt that the young man was a safe call for me. Somehow I knew that he would be able to help without either turning me in to the authorities or completely freaking out.

I knew that I would not be able to go out of my residence to do anything. The chance that I would be seen was a risk I could not take. I would have to make the call. That was the risk I must take.

I searched for hours, but I couldn't find the famous card. Morning had turned to afternoon and the sun was starting to set. Where could it be? I determined that it was most likely somewhere in the clutter known as my den. Unfortunately, the den was a room of such small proportions that my new larger proportions were at odds with it. In other words I could not completely enter the den, so the card that was my only hope was, literally and figuratively, out of my reach.

I went to the antique crank phone in the kitchen fully intending to dial information only to find, to my chagrin, that my now much larger fingers did not fit into the holes on the rotary dialer. That was, including the phone in the den, two phones down. That left the portable phone that was now in the bedroom.

I moved my bulk down the narrow hallway scraping against the walls and knocking down my useless diploma from The Worldwide School of Art. The glass shattered on the floor and my right rear hoof managed to crush it into the hardwood. Good going Guy!

Ducking through the doorway I found the handset lying on the nightstand. When I picked it up I didn't realize my new strength and crushed the darn thing. Three strikes! You'rrrrr ooout!

Shit! What next? I shouldn't have asked 'cause right then the doorbell rang.

I couldn't turn around in the bedroom so I had to back down the hallway very carefully. Naturally, I crushed more glass into the floor not once but twice with both of my right side hooves.

I was caught in a quandary. On one hand it wasn't a good idea to go anywhere near the front door. On the other hand my curiosity was getting the best of me. Ironically, what I had spent all winter doing was now out of the question. I didn't have to open the door, after all, I could speak through it. I just needed to know who the hell was out there. The doorbell rang again.

“I'm coming. Hold your horses.” I mumbled under my breath. “Who is it?” I asked in trepidation.

There was no reply. Had the person given up and left? I paused for a moment hoping that the reply was still coming. Nothing. Finally, I backed out into the living room. When I turned towards the window facing the back yard I came to the unnerving realization that there was someone standing on the small deck by the sliding doors. I couldn't quite make out who it was. It didn't really matter at that point because anyone being there at all was frightening. I did know that whoever it was it was a man and he still hadn't seen me. I stood still praying that if I did not move the man would not be able to see me standing in the shadows. I held my breath and waited. Time passed at a glacial rate.

There was a knock on the glass pane of the sliding door. I waited. If I could keep calm and stay where I was there was a good chance I would not be revealed. My heart pounded in my chest like a kettledrum in a bone cage. I could feel my pulse tapping in my ears.

The tapping became more insistent and then the man spoke, “Mr. Moore, it's me, Ken Taurick. I know you're in there please let me in!” I released the air that I was holding and nearly blew down a table lamp. So, it was the young policeman! Was I right in thinking he would be able to help me? There was only one way to find out.

“The door is open, Officer. Come in.”

The young man was out of uniform, but I'd have recognized him in a cowl. He was dressed in a pair of faded blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. Lace up work boots adorned his feet. If I saw a handkerchief in his right back pocket I'd have sworn he was a member of the club.

“Why so dark? Is there something you don't want me to see?” I hesitated answering, thinking that it was uncanny that he guessed I was nervous to expose my transformation.

“Where are you?”

“Right here, O fficer.”

“Ken.”

“O. K., Ken. Since we're being so informal, why the hell are you here when it's obvious you're out of uniform and off duty?”

“I came by because I was concerned about you.”

“Do you always take such interest in strangers?”

“Only the ones I know I can help.”

“What makes you think I need your help, Ken?”

“Oh, so you're pretending that it's things as usual, eh?”

“Is there some reason I shouldn't?”

“You can stop now, Mr. Moore. I know all about your visit to my Dad's store.”

I couldn't believe my ears. His Dad's store! Was this man telling me he knew all about transformations like mine? Still, I wasn't completely sure I could trust him. “What store is that?”

“Ah, come on, Mr. Moore. You know perfectly well what I'm talking about. Can't you see I'm here because I can help you?”

I stepped forward and turned on a floor lamp. The light flooded the room and made my change completely visible. I didn't know what to expect, but the grin that spread across Ken's face made it clear I needn't have worried.

“Whoa! Mr. Moore, you are a real stud!”

I felt myself visibly blush. I had never been referred to as a “stud” before. “You think so, huh?”

“Oh, yea. The change has been very good to you. You look a lot like my Dad now.”

“Your Dad?”

“Yes.”

I was incredulous. How could this young man's father be a centaur? Ken had two legs just as I had had before the change. If his father was like me why wasn't Ken like me as well ?

“Are you expecting me to believe your Dad is a centaur?”

“Sure am. You've met him or don't you remember?”

“The only ones I've met were in my dreams, Ken. I've never met a real centaur. Unless, of course, you count my meeting myself!”

“My Dad was the one who gave you the ring. Remember?”

Of course! How could I have been so blind? The reality of what Ken was saying flooded my mind like a sudden downpour from heaven. The storeowner had to be a centaur! That was why he gave me the ring. That was why he called his business The Joining Place. Even with this sudden jolt of knowledge I was still confused as to how the elder Taurick was able to present himself as a large, but otherwise normal, man. While I, on the other hand, was very easily seen to be a full-fledged centaur.

I looked into Ken's eyes and nodded my head that I did indeed remember.

“You're wondering how it is I and my father have two legs while you have four, right?”

“How'd you guess? That's just one of many questions I have. Until I was transformed I had no idea something like this could happen, Frankly, I'm in awe of this change.”

“Of course you are. That's only natural.”

Ken started to strip before me.

“What are you doing young man?”

“I hope you don't mind if I change h ere.”

“Now?”

“Certainly!” He seemed so determined to take off his clothes I could hardly object. When would I be getting another opportunity like this one? How often did beautiful young men get naked before me?

After the last stitch of his clothing fell to the floor he pulled a ring from his jean pocket and held it up to the light. The ring looked identical to the band on my hand. It glowed every bit as intensely. Ken slipped the finger on his right hand ring finger and you guessed it …

I stood there slack-jawed as the already impressive man became substantially more impressive. In a matter of seconds he grew hair over his legs and cheeks as his buttocks expanded. His feet curled and turned into hooves. A tail sprouted from the base of his spine and a second set of legs erupted from his body. He writhed and stretched and contorted until standing in front of me was a centaur of such beauty he took my breath away.

Ken grinned at me and laughed when he saw my bewildered expression. “Now do you understand?”

Yes, I understood. The rings possessed some sort of magic. Wearing one hastened the individual's transformation. If you took the ring off you changed back into a two-legged man. That was the only explanation. As long as I wore the ring I would remain a centaur. The band was what I had needed to find my way home.

Oddly enough, I found this simple truth both enlightening and frightening. For the first time since I had become a centaur I felt that the whole darn thing must be a dream. I must have gone insane from my winter depression. How could this possibly be happening? This couldn't be my real world! This couldn't be reality! Had I died and gone to heaven? Ken stepped up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. “Mr. Moore, when I saw you that day last winter holed up in here so sad and so separated from everyone, well, my heart went out to you. I knew if there was a way for me to share the joy of the life I had with you, well, I had to do it. I hope you don't mind, but the reason you are now a centaur is because of me.”

I stared into the young centaur's eyes and tried to take in what he had just said.

“So you took it on yourself to change my whole life? Don't get me wrong, I am very pleased by this transformation. It seems somehow completely normal for me to be this way, but, Mister Centaur, what gives you the right to affect such a drastic change in another person without asking their permission? It's a good thing to be so compassionate, but it isn't a good thing to steal another person's right to determine how he will lead his life. What made you think I wouldn't go completely crazy with such an enormous change, huh?”

Ken looked like I had just hit him with a vat of sour grapes. He was crestfallen. I don't think that he had ever taken into account that someone might not want to share his joyful life. I guess it just wasn't in his mindset that becoming a centaur wasn't the be-all or end-all that he believed. I wasn't arguing with him that my new form wasn't the best thing that had ever happened to me. What I was saying was simply, 'Why couldn't he and his father let me choose the change for myself?'

So I asked him that very question.

He stood before me with his head bowed pawing the carpet with his left front hoof. “You're right Mr. Moore … ”

“Guy.”

“What?”

“My first name is Guy.”

“Oh, O. K. Guy, I'm sorry that I didn't trust you enough to share the truth with you before you were transformed. I am just afraid that most people confronted with centaurs would be so repulsed or frightened that they would either fight us or flee us. How could I, or any other centaur, be able to live peacefully knowing that there might be someone out there in the world of men ready and willing to kill us.

“Admit it, had I told you that the way I could help you be forever freed from your depression was by helping you to turn into a centaur you'd have either laughed in my face or run away from me. You would have thought me crazy, isn't that right? So how could I take the chance and risk blowing my cover or the health and welfare of all centaurs? I convinced my father to “gift” you because I was certain that you would make a great centaur. I know just looking at you now that I wasn't wrong. You've seen and felt the change; you know I'm not wrong. If I had it to do again I would help you in the best way I know how. I'd want you to live up to your full potential, to realize your true destiny. I'm glad you're a centaur now-so young and healthy and strong. I'm sorry that I couldn't trust you to see how ideal a centaur you would become before the change. I'm not sorry that I helped you to experience the change. You're a centaur now and in my book that makes you magnificent.”

He looked up to me almost defiantly. I realized how right he was to do things the way he did them. I would have lost the opportunity, the gift I had been given, had I known about it before hand. I'd have been too stupid to accept this wonderful change. I'd have been a depressed individual for the rest of my life. Who knows how long that would have been?

I stepped closer to him and embraced him.

“Thank you, Ken. Thank you for helping me when I was too blind to see how badly I needed help. This change has been better than anything I could have imagined. Thank you, my friend.”

“Believe me, Guy, it was entirely my pleasure.”

And with that reply made he kissed me with so much passion I felt weak in my four knees, but much stronger in other places.

Now I know why that street is called Beacon. I had found the light and been changed by it. Never again would I feel a loner or a stranger and never again would I spend a winter wondering if I could rise above my depression. The pain and fear were gone now and in their places I felt welcomed. I felt loved.

Someday soon I would be able to extend the act of kindness: the gift given to me. Another man would hear the call, “Come join us! You are welcomed!”

I would be ready to give him the Band of Centaurs.


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