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Part of Outpost Houtman (Archive): A matter of flipping coins

The Past Only Stays Buried For So Long

Outpost Houtman
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The horse’s left front hoof was between  Ethan’s chap covered legs as he flecked off chips of creamy sole into the dirt with a hoof knife.  Slipping the knife into the pocket on the chaps he drew out a hoof rasp and in long sweeping motions he filed the hoof flat and level.

Releasing the hoof he stretched his back. “Hello, Mr. Drasa,” he greeted.  “I reckon whatever is bothering you isn’t something you want publicly discussed and unfortunately the command center is anything but private.”

Saro watched for a long moment in curious fascination as he saw the man work on the creature’s foot. He heard tales of humans riding such creatures for centuries. It looked horribly uncomfortable to him. He didn’t quite understand it. The Cardassian lifted his brow ridges and inclined his head slightly once, “It is a very private affair indeed. It is not something I wished to be aired so…publicly.”

“Well, it’s just me an’ Jake, and I figure he isn’t gonna tell anyone on account that he’s a horse.” He rummaged around in a box sitting on the back of a anti-grav skiff and pulled out a horse shoe.  Taking it to the anvil he laid over the horn and gave it several heavy blows from the hammer.  At the back of the anvil he placed the heel of the shoe into the cams and bent them inward on both sides.  “Are you disfigured or something?  Is that why you continue to wear full uniform in this heat?”  Checking the level of the shoe on the flat top part of the anvil he struck it several times to work out the kinks.

Saro eyed the animal, as if suspicious of it. His brow ridges shot upwards and his eyes widened at Ethan’s very direct, and very blunt question. It took him a solid minute to process it.

Saro cleared his throat and folded his arms over his chest as he spoke, “I… Well, in my mind, yes, I suppose I view it that way. I am not actually, though.” He scowled and looked away, “I was born a daughter, a woman, sir. My body still resembles that. I am fully a man in the Federation, I am just… self conscious.” He loathed admitting that. He viewed it as weak.

Whatever it was that he was expecting that wasn’t it.  Hiding his surprise he test fitted the shoe to the hoof and returned to the anvil to make minor changes. Grabbing some nails from the skiff he lifted Jake’s hoof again holding it between his knees.  As he hammered and bent over each nail he thought about what to say.  With three nails in each side Ethan let the hoof down.

“Well, Mr. Drasa I can’t say I understand fully having never dealt with that. I do believe there are maculanization surgeries to correct that. The Doc can probably help you.  If you are not comfortable with that my sister is the Chief Medical Officer aboard the USS Mercy. She served with me  when I was in SFI, and she knows how to keep a secret.”

Saro watched with idle curiosity as Ethan fastened a piece of metal to the creature’s foot. He frowned and nodded slowly, “I need to make arrangements with medical. I held off in case I took a husband who wants kids. I am too old for that. I am married to my work. I have no preferences, as long as they know what they are doing.”

Ethan had the hoof propped up on the hoof stand as he used a pair of side cutters to clip off the nail ends and tossed them into the nearby tool box. “Well, I can’t speak for the Doc here.   Never needed their services,  but as for my sister,” he started. He reached for the nail clinchers and finished clinching the nail flush and tight into the hoof wall. “My sister on the other hand can practically perform surgery in the dirt with disruptor beams flying over her head.  Thankfully our ops usually didn’t end up going sideways like that, but when they did it was bad.” Ethan took up the rasp from the tool box and finished cleaning up the hoof around the shoe sending bits of hoof like shredded coconut falling around his feet.

Setting the hoof down again he stretched his back, “I’m missing my cousin now. David used to shoe most of the ranch horses. As for you Mr. Drasa, you are a man to me regardless of what you have going on under your shirt.  Doesn’t make a lick of difference to me. As far as kids… well there’s more than one way to have children.  My mom isn’t my mom.  Well, not biologically.   I was about eight or nine when she married my father.  Rebecca Talon has always been my mom. You want a family Mr. Drasa you make it happen. Screw the career. I don’t regret my kids or my wife.”

Saro nodded slowly as he listened. He emitted a sigh, “I will look into each doctor and reach out to the one I feel appropriate, sir…” 

He furrowed as he regarded Ethan’s words, “Thank you, sir… That… means a lot to me.” He admitted, “I worked hard to be perceived as such.” He sighed and shrugged helplessly, “It is… hard to explain sir. It is an old Cardassian mindset. Carry on the family. We are very family orientated.”

“You don’t need to,” Ethan responded as he moved to a back foot. “There are plenty of human cultures that feel that way about having a family.”  With the hind hoof forward propped on the hoof stand Ethan started filing the nails off the old shoe with an old rasp. “What’s important is to do what’s right for you.  Transitioning is step one.  What’s step two for you?”

Saro looked perplexed at the question, “I don’t really know, sir. I never fully made it past step one.”

Ethan chuckled as he peeled off the old shoe with a long handled tool and tossed it to the side while he cleaned up the sole and trimmed the frog with his hoof knife. “More to life than transitioning Mr. Drasa.  Don’t make that your only identity.”  He dished out the sole and with the nippers he clipped off the hoof wall and then took a rasp to level the hoof. “Well, Mr. Drasa keep that in mind. I’ll be seeing you.”