There was absolutely nothing to recommend Bruni Knappi.
For one thing, he was ugly. Fat, short, squat, with a deformed skull and drippy “fuck you” eyes–he had it all. And he was mean. He broke things out of spite, he hated people in general and me in particular, he went out of his way to be a dick. It wasn’t just that he was obstinate; he redefined the term “passive aggressive”. But Bruni Knappi was my son’s Icelandic pony and Alec loved the little guy. They’d grown up together and Bruni had lived here for twenty years (and put up with Alec’s depravities for many of them), so I tolerated the nasty creature out of respect for that and, I suppose, admiration for his sheer perversity (which I always suspected was at least partially informed by the particulars of his relationship with the child).
Bruni wore his brattiness like a ribbon of honor. If I’d finally coaxed a few ears of corn out of my unwilling garden, sure enough, he would barge through the chain link to consume them AND break up all the PVC irrigation as an afterthought. Roses carefully planted five feet inside the fence line to deter his teeth never stood a chance– he’d just bend the steel fencing inward and gobble away. The sapling pines I planted to line the drive to the house, watered by hand for five years until they took root, nursed through the droughts and summer suns, were eaten overnight while I was off skiing once — he’d ignored them for years, but apparently after all those seasons of tending, they’d achieved their apex of piney tastiness–or maybe he was just mad I’d not taken him along with me to revisit the icy wastes reminiscent of his ancestral homeland.
To save my remaining peach and apple trees, I lined the orchard with electric fencing. Having accidentally bumped into it once and awakened to find myself sprawled insensate on the ground, I had every faith in its efficacy. So I watched with sadistic glee as Bruni walked confidently to the piddling metal strand separating him from his prey, pressed his hairy matted chest to it and. . . broke right through, as insulated from its voltage as he was from my ire.
Horse was a pill, a jerk, an asshole of the highest order. He was mean, ornery, tough as nails and aggressive as fuck, and as Icelandics routinely live for forty years and he’d never been sick a day in his life, I fully expected I’d live out my days subjected to his bedeviling. So imagine my horror last week to find him lying dead in the pasture with his hindquarters torn off. I saw no signs of coyotes and none of struggle. The grass leading to his body was bent in one thin path– yet I saw no claw marks on his back or neck– the hallmarks of a mountain lion. I couldn’t imagine a bear big enough to take down a horse without leaving a sag in the barbed wire fencing, and why would a bear go for Bruni when the neighbor’s goats were grazing just across the roadway? I comforted myself in deciding he had had a heart attack during the night, and Something had scavenged him while the dogs and I slept.
Anyway, after a morning’s grieving, I called a neighbor with a front loader and backhoe, paid him a hunnerd bucks and a glass of cabernet, and late that afternoon, we put Bruni Knappi six feet under the hard granite soil. Then as the sun set and the heavy machine smoothed and tamped the gravesite over and over again, I drank a final toast to the pony’s eternal rest –and to my blessed relief.
It was not to be.
This weekend Something dug him up during the night– or should I say, Something dug up the part of him that had bloated and risen to within a couple feet of the surface and broken the soil. Bruni Knappi had returned to work his evil.
This morning I hiked down with a shovel and gas mask to fill in the crater. As there are no rocks on that hillside and I’d no inclination to cover his newly-filled gravesite in concrete, I dragged the only heavy things I could find down to form a bier. A limb of the old oak tree up the hill rested broken in the tall grass where the winds had snapped it off, so I gathered my strength, threw out my back and shoulders, and lugged it to the site. No, I didn’t use it to drive a wooden state through what was left of Bruni Knappi’s malevolent heart; I just stacked it high so the coyotes couldn’t dig him out again, and eventually left his grave once more with a heartfelt
MAY YOU (PLEASE) REST IN PEACE.
Jax leaving his his obituary after the service.
Alec’s tribute below:
They say a man’s best friend is his dog, but Bruni lived through four of them. A wonderfully passive aggressive friend who was the scourge of mom’s gardens and a clever bastard who could open most locks, for over two decades, this Icelandic transplant was a mainstay of the ranch, eating everything in sight and doing what he wanted on his own time.
Bruni was not the ideal horse by any means. He was significantly shorter than virtually every horse in the town by a foot, and a fuzzball ill-suited for the desert climate. He was lazy, obstinate, tricky, and had a spherical belly that proved the bane of every girth. But despite all this, we made it work.
His more laid back style was perfect for long rides. While mom would be galloping off ahead, we trailed behind with the pups. The complete failure of any tack to work on him led to me learning to just go without. I’d find him in a field, hop on and go for miles; steering and breaking with legs. As I grew and he didn’t, we made for an odd visual, my feet dangling and nearly brushing against the ground.
By all accounts, Bruni should have been the death of me. You get really bored in the country; so I’d vault over him, sumo wrestle him, and much to the horror of my mom, dirt ski by holding onto his tail with while he ran.
This isn’t to say we got along perfectly. The first time I ever broke my nose was due to this bugger taking off while I was taking a nap on him. In order to not worry the more concernable members of my family, I sounded like a Lifetime victim for a few weeks. “I was playing and I fell…” Also, he had a habit of running me under trees at the last moment. This would be followed by me murderously chasing him for a few hours until we both got hungry. It was great cardio.
But he’d always be happy to see me when I came home. And not just because I was generous with grain. Whenever mom called to vent about how he’d broken into the vegetable garden or hot wired the car, I’d follow it up immediately with “That’s my pony!” She’d follow it up by promising to barbecue him one day and say “That’s your pony!” But she knew there wasn’t enough meat on him to be worth it.
And every time I brought a friend up, they had to pass both the mom test and the Bruni test. Some fared better than others. In addition, he understood basic commands, so when I wanted to scare my more easily startled friends. I’d point at them and say “kill”, at which point he would advance on them, causing them to flee quickly behind the safety of the chain link. He’d get many carrots after that.
So farewell faithful pony. May Valhalla be filled with endless horns of carrots and unsecured doors. And as the heavens thunder with rage after you break through under-secured gates. I’ll smile to myself and say, “That’s my pony.”