EVER HAVE SUCH A GREAT IDEA THAT YOU WERE AFRAID IT WASN’T YOURS?
Neither have I, but I do have a pretty interesting idea for a Young Adult novel that I’m not sure where it came from. I don't know if it's my idea.
For starters, I’ve never intentionally stolen a story or an idea for a story in my life. Well, there was that one time, but I don’t think it counts because I apologized. (There was a big likable fellow who worked at Jim Hanley’s comic shop on Staten Island, who kept telling me about this story he wanted to write about the Grim Reaper coming to kill someone, but when he shows up at his intended victim’s door he’s mistaken for someone responding to an ad for a roommate. The Reaper winds up renting the room from the guy and pretty soon the fellow is wondering why all his friends are dying. I thought it was a really fun idea and told him so, but he never wrote it up. After months of asking him if he’d done anything with it I got frustrated and wrote a comic book story about the Grim Reaper attempting to kill a doddering old woman, a fairly simple task, but a comedic series of mishaps keeps getting in his way and prevents him for completing his mission. The story was illustrated by Kyle Baker and saw print in a comic called Asylum. I later apologized to the fellow at Hanley’s, and he said it was cool with him.)
Anyway, a few days ago I had a germ of an idea. I scribbled ‘Horse in the basement’ on a Post-It and went back to what I was doing. Over the course of the day little bits of bacteria and microbes formed around said germ. By the end of the day I had it. Sort of. Here’s what I had:
Ten or fifteen years ago a friendly old coot who works part time at a local animal shelter gets a strange animal dropped off during his shift. Someone brings in an injured foal (baby horse) from a nearby, urm… riding academy, or maybe a farm, but they bring the foal, who was born with a crippled leg, to the shelter to be put to sleep. The old coot can’t bring himself to put the animal down, so instead he brings it home and puts it in his basement. His wife nearly files for divorces him, but in the end she lets him try to nurse the animal back to health. He cares and nurtures the horse until it’s healthy and healed enough to walk around with only a slight limp. (?) But the old couple, their children long since moved away, have grown attached to horse so in the basement it stays. The basement is unfinished and big enough so the horse can walk around a small circuit to get some daily exercise.
Years pass and the wife dies. Tears flow like raindrops. The old coot continues to care for the horse. A few more years pass and the old coot dies too. The couple never had a great relationship with their kids, so they leave the house to their only grandson. A teenager named…urm…Burt. Burt and his folks fly in for the funeral and to check out the house and the horse is discovered.
That’s the premise. Now for the conflict.
The horse is much too big at this stage to get out of the house. He’s as big as a friggin’ horse. The only way to get him out is to rip open the back of the house and dig a ramp down to the basement. The problem is that the house is like two hundred years old. Well, not old enough to be a historical monument, but it’s of a certain style and construction that collectors covet them and spend millions of dollars to own one. They even better than Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Burt’s parents see the dollar signs and convince Burt to sell the house to some bloke who has showed up from …urm, Canada, with a check for two million bucks.
Burt wants to be a millionaire, go to the college of his choice, blah blah blah, but the problem of course is the horse. If they tear up the house to get the horse out the value drops to a fraction of what it is now. Even if they do an expert job patching things back up. The dude from Canada certainly doesn’t want a house with a horse in the basement, so the only alternative is to put the horse down. Kill it dead and chop it into small enough sections to be carried up the basement stairs.
It’s a ghastly concept, but we’re talking about a lot of money here. Or, and Burt’s sister may or may not have a rare medical disorder that require expensive surgery that their medical insurance won’t cover, for some convenient reason.
Burt has a difficult decision to make, and things only get worse when he takes a liking to the horse (feeding it, walking it around, toting bags of crap up to the backyard garden). What will he do? Will the parents force him to make a decision he doesn’t want to make? Will he free the horse and flush his fortune down the toilet?
I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far yet.
But here’s my problem. I know that this isn’t necessarily the best story that’s ever been written, but I like it a lot. Pieces of it come to me effortlessly. Writing it would be as simple as falling off a horse.
But is it my story? It’s coming to me so easily that it’s almost as if I’d heard it before.
Did I read it when I was a young’un? It’s seems so familiar that I almost think I did, except for the fact that overall it’s a pretty lame story (pun intended).
Maybe I should search at Amazon or Google ‘horse in basement’. Or maybe I should just go ahead and write it and see if that jogs my memory.
As with most things, time will tell.