“Rusty,” by Arthur Davis

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

The name of my horse was Rusty. At least that what he said it was when we first met, so I went along with it. I knew little of his early days as a colt, but the years we spent together were some of the best of my life and, I have to believe, his.

But Rusty got old all too quickly and had lots of medical problems, and in the months before he passed, he had to use a walker to get around, which was humiliating for him.

Days after the service I called my sister, who cried with me at our loss.

“He was so amazing. A friend and a confidant,” she said, “I loved him too, you know.”

“How could you not, or any of the kids that I let ride him when I was out at the farm?”

“In all these years, it was like all I had to do was think where I wanted him to go and he just responded. Like he could read my mind.”

“I don’t get it,” I said through the gaging tears. “What do I do now?”

“Well, I think I know, Rusty would want you to go on bravely and honor the memories you two friends had together. Maybe do something great. Something that would be so un-you.”

“Well, whatever it is you’re getting at, it sounds expensive.”

“You have the nest egg you’ve been saving, and there’s always the insurance.”

“Right, I forgot about the insurance.”

“I remember when Rusty told you he had taken out a $150,000,000 term policy and named you as the sole beneficiary.”

“He showed me the documents. I was so moved and upset at the same time.”

“So do something big to honor the big horse’s legacy.”

I squeezed my brain, but nothing came to mind, until only one thing made sense. “How about I run for president?”

“Ok, then. There you go.”

“But I don’t know a thing about politics and how to run a campaign.”

“I’ll help. We’ll make it happen together.”

“What about the corruption, the backstabbing, the influence-peddling lobbyists who will hound me night and day and offer me cash and women and more? The double dealing and the kickbacks, and being forced to nominate corrupt judges, and making promises to the public that I have no chance of keeping? And, worst of all, getting in bed, if you will, with some of the scum of the earth?” Then there was the hand shaking and baby kissing. Gross.

“First things first.”

“Yes. Sorry. Of course. Sometimes I get ahead of myself.”

“How about I reach out on the internet, you know, like to Facebook, LinkedIn, IdiotsDelight, TrashTalk, Fuck-The-Truth, Lies & Deceit Magazine, Influence Peddlers Anonymous, and ask everybody with your name to start a committee and organize fundraisers to elect you? Hold on.”

“What are you doing?”

“Sorry. I just checked. There are 86,217 registered voters in the United States, including 274 in prison, with the name Delmar Graves.”

“But that’s not my name.”

“I know. You’re going to have to change it. I like Delmar Graves better. I’ll set up a GoFundMe campaign today and start getting backing for you.”

“What about my platform? What I believe in? What I hope to accomplish as the leader of the greatest country in the world?”

“Really? That nonsense concerns you?”


“So, let’s move on.”

“You know you’re the super-best sister any horrible younger brother could possibly ever have.”

“See, you’re already beginning to sound like a smarmy bureaucratic microbe.”

How quickly I had changed. I was glad Rusty wasn’t around to hear what I had turned into. “Sorry.”

“So, with Rusty’s policy to start, you’re well on your way to becoming the leader of the free world.”

The check from the insurance company arrived at the end of the month. The insurance broker’s sister was a thirty-two-year-old named Laura Graves, who tragically suffered from infantotalonis assimilaritis and has been living in a nursing home on life support since birth. He was excited by the idea and pledged to contact everyone in the industry to turn out the vote for me. Of course I had to thank him.

I worked very hard this past summer and eventually was nominated by a third party that was created for me and, to no one’s surprise, as the other two candidates were campaigning from their prison cells, I won.

The day after the election I was contacted by the CEOs of most every Fortune 1000 company. They offered their generous support and were eager to suggest how we could improve the environment. I never gave the environment much thought. I mean, I knew it was somewhere out there. I was touched by their concern for the health of our planet.

And it felt good, strangely gratifying, to have everyone taking notice of me. It rarely if ever happened on my day job.

Countless hundreds of thousands frantically waving handmade posters and banners cheered for me at my lavish inauguration. I was overwhelmed with emotions at the outpouring of support from every age, race, religion, ethnicity, and region of this great country.

“I want to thank all of America for placing their trust in my vision for the future of our great nation and for our overwhelming, sweeping, and unprecedented victory, and as such I take and accept this oath on this sacred day,” I began that clear, frosty January, “and pledge to do what I can and nothing more when I have the time after work sorting mail at the Post Office. And I want to thank my dear departed friend Rusty for his companionship, encouragement, insight, and advice, and a special thanks to my brave sister who will stand at my side as Vice President in charge of whatever she wants. You have my word on it, so help me God. And, oh yeah, God bless America too.”


Arthur Davis is a management consultant who has been quoted in The New York Times and in Crain’s New York Business, taught at The New School, and interviewed on New York TV News Channel 1. He has advised The New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, Senator John McCain’s investigating committee on boxing reform, and testified as an expert witness before the New York State Commission on Corruption in Boxing. He has been published in over eighty journals, a single author anthology, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received the 2018 Write Well Award for excellence in short fiction and, twice nominated, received Honorable Mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2017.

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