“Juniiiiii…hey, Juni. How you doing?” He patted the horse on the neck, and said, “Hey, watch this, Pres.”

Gil took an apple from his pocket, held it in front of the horse’s face, and said “Juni want a treat?” The horse kicked out his right hind leg against the back wall of his stall. It made a thunderous noise, and a board, apparently loose from repeated kicking, bent outward, and snapped back.

“Sheesh! What a noise!”

Gil chuckled. “He does that every time I ask does he want a treat. My daddy quit trying to nail that board back there, on account of Juni just kicks it right out again.” Gil unfolded a pocketknife, sliced a piece of the apple off, and fed it to the horse.

The creature looked at the board and said, “Hey, make him do it again.”

Gil waved another apple slice in front of the horse, and again he kicked the same board, bending it far out before it snapped back in place.

The creature grinned mischievously. “Hey, I just got an idea. I’m going to the outside of the barn. When I say, you make him kick again, OK?”

“Well, OK, but whatcha gonna do?”

“I’ll let you know in a minute. You just make him kick when I say, OK?”


The creature ran out of the barn and stood opposite the board he thought Juniper would kick.

“OK! Make him kick!” After a few moments, the board bent out with a thunderous boom, then snapped back. The creature placed a stone in front of the board and ran back into the barn.

“OK, do you have a stool?”

“Sure, the milking stool’s right over there.”

“Good, and I need maybe a foot long piece of wood, like a two by four, and a pencil. Get those things and come out here where Juniper kicks the board out.”

“OK, but what…”

“Just do it, will you? I’ll tell you when you get out there with the stuff.”

In a few minutes, Gil met the creature in front of Juniper’s board outside of the barn. He carried a stool, a small two by four, and a pencil.

“Now what’s this all about?” asked Gil.

The creature took the stool from Gil and placed it to the right of Juniper’s board. Then he took the board and pencil from Gil and guided him to the front of the board.

“Now stand right here in front of this board. I want to measure you.”

“What? Why…”

“Just stand here straight and let me measure you.”

Gil sighed and stood up straight. The creature stood on the stool, leveled the short two by four on top of Gil’s head, and made a mark on Juniper’s board. He removed the wood and Gil stepped away. The creature wrote “Gil” and the date beside the mark.

The creature’s eyes lit with admiration. “There. Now all we have to do is find Jess.”

“Jess? OK, now tell me what’s this all about.”

The creature stepped down from the stool and turned away from Gil, taking a few meandering steps, as if he were letting the genius of his plot simmer through his veins.

“Has Jess ever said he was taller at your age than you are?”

“Sure. He says things like that all the time. He calls me ‘runt’, and ‘half-pint’, and ‘pee-wee’...”

The creature pointed to the board and said, “This board is the board that Juniper kicks out when you offer him a treat. What I’m going to do is get Jess to stand here and let me measure him just like I did to you. When I have him standing up against this board, I’ll give the word, and you make Juniper kick.”

Gil’s eyes widened and a smile lit his face. “Say, that’s a jim-dandy idea! A real corker!” Gil danced a little jig of anticipation. “Hoo-hoo! I can’t wait to see his face! Jess spanked by Juniper! It’s a corker, that’s for sure!”

The creature laughed with excitement. “All we need is Jess, and don’t you worry about that - I’ll talk him into it.

Now here’s the signal: when I say ‘I bet Gil beats you’, then you make Juniper kick. Got it?”

Gil repeated the words slowly, “I bet Gil beats you.”

“Right. When you hear that, you make him kick, OK?”

“OK, I got’er.”

“Good. Now go wait in the barn, and I’ll go get Jess. Where would he be?”

“He’s probably up to the house or something. Look around there.”

“OK, I’ll be back as soon as I can. You wait in the barn and listen for us.”

Gil saluted the creature. “Aye-aye, el cappy-tain!” Gil headed for the inside of the barn while the creature trotted off toward the house.