On the old, weird days of National Public Radio.
It’s January 1, 1985, and in kitchens and cars across the United States, National Public Radio is reporting the news: the man who hijacked American Airlines flight 626 is in custody in Havana, Cuba; in Pensacola, Florida, a twenty-one-year-old construction worker has confessed to bombing four abortion clinics; last night, Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as India’s sixth prime minister. Sometime during All Things Considered, the evening news broadcast, there is another sound, unrelated to Reagan or hijackings or abortion clinics. A horse whinnies. And then the sound of a barn—jangling tack and boots walking on concrete—fades in.
“Okay, what’s your horse’s name?” a woman asks in a chipper, expectant tone. Off mic, a different woman answers, muffled. And then a man’s voice comes in, strong and certain, with a Western, tough-guy accent: “They call me Christopher.”
For the next four and a half minutes, the woman, an animal communicator, reads the mind of the horse, Christopher, speaking aloud into the microphone. “Tell me about times when you’re happy,” she says.
“Well, I like to run in open country and jump,” the horse says. Christopher sounds melancholy; he misses wherever he came from. “It rained last week. The rain always does this to me.” The communicator misunderstands: she thinks the horse loves the beach. “No, no, no the ocean’s fine, I like it,” Christopher explains. But it’s the mountains he really loves.
“This guy is really something else,” the communicator laughs. “He wants to wear bells!”
She hasn’t heard quite right, again. “I’m thinking of canyons and lightning,” the horse says. “I’m wet. Running against the dark sky. And there is nothing more free than this. The earth is ringing. And I believe I can fly.”
“He’s happy,” the communicator says.
A long moment, the sounds of the barn, a stretch of quiet makes the listener wonder if the horse really is happy.
“Okay?” she asks, a bit less chipper, finished with her job. The recorder turns off. The news fades in. Read More