Jobs were hard to come by in those days, so the horse decided to earn his keep working as a living statue.
At first he stationed himself on the pavement but as people began to spend more time inside shopping arcades than outdoors, he moved indoors. The owner of the mall did not mind at first — as long as we rake in more business, he said — and earmarked a special nook where the horse could stand all day long.
The children took to him instantly. They gathered around him, wondering at first whether or not he was real. He would sometimes wink at a kid or two, surreptitiously swish his tail over another's hair, and just as they'd begin to get used to his inertia, he would raise his forelegs in the air and nicker gently, startling and delighting the kids all at once, then come back on all fours and resume a statued pose.
Then someone decided it would prove good entertainment for adults if they started to bet on the horse. And so they did, placing their bets on when the living statue would move.
At first, the horse obliged. A swish of his tail when the clock struck thirteen, a toss of his mane at the darkest moment of the night, a neigh at the break of dawn, much to the delight of the punters.
But after most of the public had had an initial good run on their wagers, the owner of the mall instructed the horse to curb the goodwill gestures. And so the horse began to stand still for endless days and nights, moving only often enough to persuade people to wager more. They laid their odds, lost some money, laid another wager, won a little, put more money on, and lost a whole lot more. Occasionally someone won a million bucks and it made front-page news, kindling hopes, reviving dreams.
It was funny how the horse died. He was growing old, his legs and neck stiff and sore from the tedium of his job. He eventually found himself incapable of motion. So when the time came, he simply froze in place.
And there he has remained ever since, everyone still unsure whether or not he was alive. Children gaping at him, imagining a wink every now and then. Adults betting on him, swearing a whinny was in the making. Anytime now, anytime soon. And that is how the house always won.