I usually don't like writing stories like this because it messes with the timelines that the cannon takes place in. While Animal Farm took place more in 1945 and Of Mice and Men in 1937, this was still an assignment for school that had to be done either way. Basically, I had to pick two characters who were both from a separate work that we read during our English semester and then I had to write about what would happen if they met. I decided to write my paper about Lennie and Boxer. I thought they could most easily relate since they were both hardworking brutish types whom people treated as being less intelligent than they really were. This story was the final result. Since we had to write it on the last day of school before we broke for summer vacation, I can guarantee that I was the only person in class who actually worked on this. Neither stories nor its characters are mine, regardless. Concrit is loved.


The doubting one by heart

Alone without himself

Amaranth - Nightwish

i

Lennie never found anyone he could truly relate to until just then.

Only the soft glow of the rising moon cast itself through the cracks in the barn walls, but the light that cascaded into the loft was not bright enough to illuminate the hay it was thrown on. Moonlight had already begun to shine through the windows of the high loft where an owl was perched. The loutish bird swiveled its head around and hooted before it spread its wings and dove from its crooked beam. Air caught underneath its slender wings and it swept upward like a leaf caught in an autumn breeze. The owl was gone a moment later after it glided almost menacingly through the open window, and Lennie had to suppress a shudder when he heard something scuttle on the floor just by his huge feet. Rats no doubt. They had seen the owl leave and come back out of their hiding spots.

"Shoo," Lennie whispered in a tight voice. The scuttling noises of the rats faded and silence followed a moment later. Long ago, when Lennie had been young, his obsession for mice and their soft fur had led him to believe a rat would be even better. He had caught up with the feisty beast and caught it, but the rat was not nearly as docile as a little mouse. It lashed out at him and bit his hand with enough piercing force to draw blood. Lennie killed the bestial monster of course, but the rat had done a number on him as well. It took a long time before the bleeding stopped, and an even longer time on top of that for the infection and scar to go away. Though he could not see or hear them anymore, Lennie spoke up again just to be precautious. "You scram, rats."

There was more movement in the barn now. The steady clatter of huge horse shoes battled against the wooden floor of the barn, but it was still eerily silent in the oncoming night. Lennie looked in the direction of the stomping hooves and standing there in the darkness just out of reach of the moonlight's luminescence was a massive Clydesdale. His head was aimed down at the ground and concealed in the shadows as though there were a black veil thrown over his head. He was separate from the other horses and drastically thinner as well, though that was because of the cruel life he led before he was purchased by Lennie and George's new employer. The huge horse was completely still. The halter chains did not even waver while he stood with his head downcast towards the floor where the rats were scrambling.

Lennie had been going in and out of the barn for three nights now. The first night had been when George and Slim first showed him the puppies he had to choose from when Slim offered to let him have one. When he asked to stay longer to spend time with the one he choose, George and Slim let him. It had been an hour or so before it dawned on Lennie to get up and return to George at the bunk house, but he took the puppy with him in fear that he would not get him back if he left. His paranoia kept him from even thinking of the consequences regarding what would happen to the puppy without his mother. The mother dog snarled softly in agitation, but she was far to intimidated by Lennie's size to object. She let him take her pup.

Just as Lennie had been ready to leave, something stopped him.

He had been exiting the barn through the large long room where all the horses were kept. He was ten feet from the door at the end of the room that would lead out of the barn when the bulk of a huge horse separated from all the others snatched his attention. Lennie had seen the horse before just a day earlier. The gelding had been a newly purchased addition to the farm where Lennie and George had found decent work from a nameless slaughterhouse all the way in England. When Lennie once asked where England was, George's only reply was that it was in Europe. Lennie did not know where Europe was. Regardless, the new horse was a scruffy brute with huge hooves and a thin body. Lennie briefly remembered a conversation he overheard Slim and Carlson having when they unloaded the newly shipped Clydesdale from the trailer.

"He's a brawny looking gelding. How'd he end up going to slaughter?" Carlson's voice had been incredulous and his eyebrows had been raised when he observed the huge and thin horse being unloaded into the barn.

Lennie watched as Slim shrugged. "He hurt 'imself pretty bad I guess."

"He hurt 'imself?" Carlson looked over at Slim with a strange look.

Slim nodded. "You hear about Manor Farm?"

"The one in England? Ain't that… the one run by animals?"

Slim nodded again and he reached up to take off his hat. He wiped the back of his hand across his forehead and a smear of dust and dirt replaced the sweat that had been there before. He fanned his face a little before he replaced his hat. "The same one. You know how the boss is, Carlson. When he heard about this one horse that the animals sent to the slaughterhouse, he wanted 'im right off. So he called 'em up in England and bought the horse before they could get a chance to cut him up. They shipped 'im here by boat. It cost a pretty penny, too."

"Jesus… how'd he get hurt?"

"The animals were workin' on a windmill and he got busted up. He was shot in the foot when the old owner of the farm tried to retake his land too," Slim said. He watched as the horse was led into the barn, and Lennie also watched as well. When the huge horse was out of sight, Slim spoke up again. "They didn't think he'd ever work again, but the boss was willing to spend the money to see if we could get somethin' out of 'im."

Carlson raised his eyebrows. "They tried to send one of their own to his death? That's cruel and unusual punishment if ya ask me. They're no better than humans they rebelled against," he said with a sneer. It cut across his face like a harsh shadow from the sun starting to descend from its noon position in the sky.

Slim nodded in agreement.

So there Lennie stood.

With the puppy in hand, he slowly approached the horse. The brute suddenly spooked so badly that Lennie had to leave before Crooks could run out from his room over to where the commotion was and see that it was Lennie's fault. Of course George caught him with the puppy and sent him back into the barn to put him back with his bitch mother when he tried to enter the bunk house, but Lennie was terrified of going back there. Now he could understand how the countless little field mice must have felt when he accidentally killed them. The huge horse was massive in comparison to Lennie and it would take the massive creature little to no effort at all to kill him.

The horse had been calm again though. On top of that, it had been singing.

Lennie had put the puppy back with its mother before standing to retire to the bunk house, but the light whispering of someone solemnly singing kept him from doing so. He ventured towards the direction of the singing with attentive ears. He finally tracked the sound back to the room with the horses. All of them we asleep but, either way, the singing kept up. Lennie ventured back towards the back as he followed the source of the sound where the huge Clydesdale was kept. In a low sad tenor, Lennie realized that the horse was the one singing. His head was downcast again. Lennie wondered briefly whether or not the horse was trying to count the nicks in the floor or if he had taken interest in his own front hooves for some reason.

Lennie quietly asked what song the horse was murmuring to himself.

The horse spooked again, throwing his head up and looking directly at Lennie. The horse's ears perked up in attention and his nostrils flared in his surprise, but the emaciated Clydesdale answered a moment later. No doubt he had decided that Lennie was not a plausible threat. "…Beasts of England," the horse answered. His voice was rough and low with an almost stupid tone underlining the surface. With a start, Lennie realized that this horse sounded very much like himself. Either way, it was obvious that the horse's voice was strained. It was rasped as if he had recently been yelling or screaming. His eyes glinted in the low light cast by the lights of the barn, but the glint itself was dull. He looked years older than his time despite the fact that he was still a middle aged horse

"It's pretty," Lennie said. It was a queer feeling that he found himself talking to a horse but, then again, Lennie was used to talking with animals. The rabbit that would jump out of his head was an animal too, and Lennie found himself having conversations with him all the time. Lennie walked over and sat down on the floor in front of the horse. "Why are you singin' it so sad?"

The horse snorted a deep and heavy sigh. "It used to be a happy song. Not anymore."

"How come?"

"Napoleon is not always right," the huge beast muttered to himself. We went back to singing, completely ignoring Lennie for the five extra minutes he sat there. Lennie eventually got up and left, but he did not tell George about the encounter. Lennie was positive that George would somehow get mad. As to why, Lennie was not quite sure himself. It did not stop him from going into the barn to see the talking horse again the next night though. He completely skipped going to see his pup, seeing as he was in too much fascination with the huge horse. The Clydesdale was singing again. As soon as the horse finished, it finally dawned on Lennie to ask his name.

The horse looked at him slowly with critical russet eyes, but he at least did not spook again. His voice was soft. "Why does a human like you want to know?"

"I jus' wanna know," Lennie said in a surprised voice. "I jus' don' wanna call you nothin' all the time."

The horse watched him warily. Briefly, Lennie looked past the beast's face adorned with a white blaze and at his ribcage. He was still very thin even though Slim had been feeding him extra rations during the morning and at night to get his weight back up. While Lennie watched him, the horse suddenly spoke. "Boxer."

Lennie had left. Now it was the third night, and the huge man walked carefully into the long room where the horses were kept. He tiptoed past the sleeping mares and geldings to where the talking Clydesdale was standing awake in the darkness. Boxer the horse was still standing in his stall, but tonight he wasn't signing. When Lennie quietly asked him why this was, Boxer slowly lifted his head and looked at him carefully. In the moonlight, the glow of his eyes was far more prominent.

"It's too sad for me to sing now," he said in a dreary tone.

Lennie made a face. "Why's it sad? I think it's awful pretty."

Boxer, of course, did not answer right away. Lennie thought the huge horse was not going to answer at all, but then he spoke up. "Napoleon betrayed us. That was the song of the Rebellion, and he abolished it because he said the Rebellion was over. I was lucky to escape my death, but other comrades will not be so lucky. Napoleon was not right. He was never right. He's no better than the… the humans," the horse said in an increasingly bitter voice.

Slowly, Lennie extended his hand and he touched the velvet fur on the horse's thick neck with the tips of his rough fingers. Boxer turned his huge head to look at him with his overly cautious and untrusting eyes, but Lennie only smiled before petting the horse's soft fur. At least, for once, Lennie did not have to worry about petting something too hard. Boxer broke once apparently - Slim had said the huge horse once hurt himself bad enough that it nearly cost him his life at the mercy of a meat cleaver - but Lennie knew there was no possible way for him to break the horse. Lennie's smile was bright in the moonlight that abruptly threw itself at full intensity through the window overlooking where both man and horse stood. "I bet if you sing that song real happy 'gain, I bet it'll get betta.' I bet I cans sing it real happy. Can you teach it to me? Please?"

"You are not an animal. We are nothing alike," Boxer said making a face. He scrunched his muzzle and flattened his ears against his skull. It was obvious it was going to take some time for the Clydesdale to completely learn to trust anyone ever again. Lennie honestly did not blame him. Regardless, Lennie was a very patient individual. He could wait.

"But yous and me are talkin' together, right? We mus' be," Lennie said raising his free hand in exasperation.

Boxer did not answer again right off. After several tense moments, he eventually started to sing again realizing what Lennie was saying was right. When Lennie learned the words, he sang along too. In that moment, Lennie found someone he could relate with. Though one was human and the other not so much so, it was not as if it mattered at all.

Fin