We boarded a hostler from San Fernando. Man said he fought in two wars and wore scars on both thighs. We never asked to see; he never offered to show.

He broke the horses in less time than it takes me to make an omelet. He stood on the back porch, boots unlaced, mud like a mole on his cheek.

Said he had a woman in Pomona. He showed us folded sketches that creased along her thin nose. Her eyes were wide almonds. Later my husband said a lack of photographs is a lack of love.

Did we see that man cry. Leaning against the paddock, a montero on his head, gloves on his hands. The sketches flamed in a ten-gallon drum, going wherever smoke goes and staying there.

Nick Ripatrazone was named runner-up for the 2008 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Prize, and his short story collection manuscript was a semifinalist for the 2008 Hudson Prize. His work has been anthologized in The Long Meanwhile: Stories of Arrival and Departure (Hourglass Books, 2007), and has also appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Saint Ann's Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. He is pursuing an MFA from the University of Texas, El Paso.