Lefty Cratchins shook his head and sighed, his weathered face and perpetually squinting eyes betraying no sense of the depth of his sadness. Behind him, a couple of the new hands stood in mild shock. One of them let out a heaving sob, before burying her face in her hands and turning away.
Lefty took the wheat stalk out of his mouth and stood up, his hands brushing the creases out of his blue jeans before coming to rest at his side.
"It's allright, Janey," he said in his gravelly voice, "this kinda thing just happens sometimes"
In front of the three was the object of their attention - a beautiful palamino, lying dead and bloated, its scuba gear wrenched awry and thus ineffectual. The horse must have struggled for the surface, never able to make it from so great a depth.
Inside, Lefty wondered whether it was all worth it. The years of training - the patient work that took a horse from a mundane land beast to the pride of the Mounted Marines. He had thousands of hours invested in each horse, and yet every so often, this would happen. For no damn good reason.
And now the high mukkety-mucks were talking about getting rid of the horses alltogether, replacing them with some new-fangled mechanical contraptions. Left could spit (and did). Mechanical mounts for the marines. Hell - might as well train dolphins if you're gonna do that. It was a damn fool world, full of damn fool people. And Lefty had about as much of it as he wanted to take.
"Come on," he grunted to his field hands. "Let's move 'im off the beach."