|We love our Willadine|
It’s live music night at Blackbeard’s in Bath. Dusk is gathering as we walk the block from the town dock to the restaurant. It’s a beautiful clear night, cool enough for a sweater but comfortable. As we come around the back of the building, we see some people hanging around in the parking lot. Then we see the sheriff’s patrol car. Curious, we walk out into the parking lot by the creek, where we see two women, one in a startling blue and white dress with a full skirt, as if she just stepped off the set of Oklahoma. She is wearing white high heels and holding the lead of an enormous brown and black mare. All five of the sheriff’s deputies, for there turns out to be at least two cars of them, are studying the mare and the lady, who is accompanied by another young woman in jeans.
Everyone is just standing around and the music is getting ready to start, so we go up on the deck and sit at the table we reserved for the occasion. Mark Williams cranks up his acoustic guitar and sings all our favorite oldies. He opens with James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” (of course) and moves on to some Crosby, Stills and Nash and Allman Brothers. He’s good and we enjoy our beer, which the waitress says is “dark” but to us is tolerable for a lager, but nothing resembling dark. The fresh mozzarella is good with balsamic vinegar even if the tomatoes are a bit anemic. We’re enjoying each other’s company and applauding with the other customers when Mark finishes a song.
Something big enters the parking lot. It’s a Beaufort County Animal Control truck towing a horse trailer. The horse is a stray? The sun is a glowing red ball setting into the trees across the creek. Blue Dress leads the horse over to the open rear of the trailer. The horse takes one look at the trailer and comes to an abrupt and stubborn halt. Mark strums the opening chords of Lyle Lovett’s “If I had a Boat.” Dress pulls on the bridle. Horse’s neck stretches but otherwise, nothing moves. Jeans and Dress stroke Horse’s neck and nose, their faces to close to hers. You can almost hear the pleading, cajoling tone that the horse is having none of. A black bucket of oats appears at the horse’s mouth. Jeans goes into the trailer supplicating with the bucket. More pulling.
Mark sings, “Me up on my pony on my boat.” The horse lifts her tail and calmly drops a load of crap in the middle of the parking lot. It’s getting dark. The men are milling about shaking their heads, while the women pet and whisper to the horse. The restaurant owner paces back and forth between the restaurant and the parking lot. A yellow strap appears and Dress walks very slowly around the rear of the horse with it. The tension, which was pretty high, ramps up. It’s getting darker. Things are getting serious. The strap is fed through two eyes on either side of the trailer and around the horse’s knees. They pull. Horse stands. Tail flicking. Does she know they’ve got her now? Will she rear, break the strap and gallop off into the sunset? Where did she come from? In the grass by the dumpster is a saddle and blankets. What became of the rider?
Movement catches my eye. The horse takes that first tentative step into the trailer. The relief among the humans is palpable. After an interminable hesitation, the back legs step up. As the door closes, Mark finishes a song and everyone applauds, whether for Mark or the horse, we’re not sure. Mark takes a break and I put money in the tip jar, shake his hand and explain why we were laughing so hard during “If I Had a Boat.” He shrugs and goes inside. Feeling fully entertained, we pay our bill and head back to our boat, sans pony.