The Law of Moses
Author:Amy Harmon

He made me nervous too. But nervous in a good way. Nervous in a way that fascinated me. And even though my head was pounding and there was blood in my eyes, I wanted him to stay. And I wanted him to tell me all his secrets.


As if he felt the shift in me and didn’t welcome it, Moses was up and running, leaving me with his T-shirt pressed to my head and a sudden insatiable interest in the new kid in town. It wasn’t long before he returned, my mom trotting behind him, Moses’s grandma bringing up the distant rear. Alarm was stamped across her face as well as my mom’s, and seeing their concern made me wonder if the wound was worse than I thought. I experienced a flash of female vanity, a new experience for me. Would I have a big scar running down my forehead? A week ago I might have thought that was cool. Suddenly, I didn’t want a scar. I wanted Moses to think I was beautiful.


He stood back, way back, letting the adults fuss and swarm. When it was determined that I could probably get by without an expensive trip to the ER and a couple butterfly bandages were applied to hold the gash together, Moses slipped away. Equine therapy wasn’t going to heal the cracks in Moses Wright, but I promised myself that I would worm my way into those cracks and corners if it was the last thing I did. Summer had just become a rainforest.











ABOUT A WEEK AFTER MOSES spooked my horse and I got kicked in the head, Dad and I discovered a mural on the side of our barn. Sometime during the night, someone had painted a stunningly realistic depiction of the sun setting over the western hills of Levan. Against the rosy-hued backdrop, a horse that looked like Sackett stood with his head cocked, a rider sitting comfortably in the saddle. The rider was in profile and the fading sun left him in shadows, but he looked familiar. My dad stared at the picture for a long time with a wistful look on his face. I thought he would be mad because someone had used the side of our barn as a canvas . . . kind of like what I imagined gangs did in big cities. But these weren’t geometric gang signs or bubble letters in bold colors. This was kind of cool. This was something you would pay for. Something you would pay a lot for.


“It looks like my dad,” my father whispered.


“It looks like Sackett, too,” I added, not able to tear my eyes away.


“Grandpa Shepherd had a horse named Hondo, Sackett’s great-grandpa. Do you remember?”




“Yeah. You were too little I guess. Hondo was a good horse. Grandpa loved him as much as you love Sackett.”


“Did you show him a picture?” I asked.


“Who?” Dad turned toward me, puzzled.


“Moses. Didn’t he do this? I heard Mrs. Wright telling mom that Moses was sent to juvie for vandalism or destruction of property or something. He likes to paint stuff, apparently. Mrs. Wright said it’s compulsive. Whatever that means. I just thought you decided to put him to work.”


“Huh. No. I didn’t ask him to paint the barn. But I like it.”


“Me too,” I agreed wholeheartedly.


“If he did this, and I don’t know who else it could be, he’s got serious talent. Still, Moses can’t go painting wherever and whatever he feels like. The next thing you know the house will have an Elvis mural on the garage.”


“Mom would love that.”


My dad laughed at my sarcasm, but he hadn’t been kidding around. That evening he announced that he was heading over to visit with Moses and Kathleen Wright, and I begged to go along.


“I want to talk to Moses,” I said.


“I don’t want to embarrass him, George. And having you there while I get after him will definitely embarrass him. This conversation doesn’t need an audience. I just want him to know he can’t be doing stuff like that, no matter how talented he is.”


“I want Moses to paint something on my bedroom wall. I’ve got some money saved up and I’ll pay him. So you tell him he can’t paint wherever he wants and then I’ll give him a place where he can. Would that be all right?”


“What are you going to have him paint?”


“Remember that story you used to tell me when I was little? The one about the blind man who turned into a horse every night when the sun went down and turned back into a man when the sun rose?”


“Yeah. That’s an old story my dad used to tell me.”


“I keep thinking about it. I want the story on my wall—or at least the white horse running into the clouds.”


“Ask your mom. If it’s okay with her, it’s okay with me.”


I sighed heavily. Mom would be a harder sell. “It’s just paint,” I grumbled.


Surprisingly enough, Mom was fine with the paint, but she was a little worried about Moses in my room.


“He’s intense, Georgie. He scares me a little. I don’t know how I feel about you two being friends, honestly. I know that’s not very generous of me. But you’re my daughter, and you have always been drawn to danger like a moth to a flame.”


“He’ll be painting, Mom. And I won’t be in there in a lace negligee while he does. I think I’ll be safe.” I winked.