Jan
02
2015

I Goat

GoatMaud was the most beautiful goat on the Patrates’ farm. If you never left the county, it would be understandable if you thought she was the most beautiful goat in the whole world. Most people that saw her at the county fair last summer agreed she was indeed one of—if not the—loveliest goats they had ever seen. She was slightly bigger that the average goat, yet slender. Her long neck a good inche above normal, as if to set her body and head apart from each other so admirers could take in both without one drawing from the other. Her black mane, complete from hooves to head, among all her beautiful parts, was the most attractive. Not an easy feat. But you only had to see how it shimmered under the sun or moon and you would agree even the heavens thought this goat was one to be hold.

Maud was also special in that she could talk. Noticed how I didn’t say extraordinary? The fact that Maud could talk was in deed special, but it was not extraordinary. Not anymore. In the last fifty years, talking goats have gone from a miracle to simply rare. Today, talking goats are found all over the world. In fact the rate at which this “mutation” appears in goats is known: 1 in every 750,000. Though fewer master the language of their surrounding, today it is not uncommon to find a French speaking goat on a farm in France, a Spanish speaking one in Bolivia, a Fula in Guinea or an English speaking one with an Australian accent somewhere in New South Wales. Tried as they may, scientists have so far not been able to understand nor replicate or even predict the “mutation”.

But Maud, Maud was a bitch. Or so the other goats on the Patrates’ farm would think if they could think. If she was not who she was, they would have thought she was shy. (That’s the difference between a bitch and a shy female, you know. When she is beautiful yet appears to have a distain for the attention this garners, she is a bitch. If she is not attractive in an ostentatious way, she is simply shy, therefore forgiven.)

Maud kept to herself mostly, grazing or gazing at the sky. At night when the moon was taken from her, you could find her eyes closed in deep meditation. At least this is what you would think. But actually, Maud had given up. This was a slow suicide, the only way Maud knew how to get back at her maker. Maud had long decided she was not going to be any part of it, the charade, the hoping for fish in the sand dunes of the Sahara.

“Maud,” Christian Patrates said one day “Why do you look so sad and withdrawn all the time. Do you not like it here on the farm?”
“That is beside the point,” Maud answered.
“What is the point?”
Maud shook her head, “You wouldn’t understand.”
Christian walked away shaking his head. “That bitch thinks she is extraordinary, that’s her problem.”

Well Maud certainly was not. At least not in her talking ability. Not so even in Fulson county. About 15 miles down highway 25, in the town of Greyson, on the Wilmington farm, was another just as gifted goat. Sigmund however didn’t look at his disposition as a curse. On the contrary, he flaunted it and welcomed every advantage it brought him. From singing in the shower to holding court with human admirers and sleeping with the countless does people brought over hoping his gene would transfer. (For the record, in the six years he has been mating, the mutation have not manifested in any of his offspring.) While Sigmund was nothing short of a celebrity in Fulson County, hardly anyone knew Maud could talk.

It was also at last summer’s county fair that Sigmund met Maud. Sigmund was prancing by with Junior, posing for pictures, answering greetings, and promising to visit schools when children shouted an invitation…when he came across Maud. Sigmund froze in his gait. As many before him, he was completely awe struck and rendered immobile by Maud’s beauty.

For her part, Maud was curled up besides Sadie next to their stall selling farm fresh goat milk.

Sigmund lost any semblance of civilization he might have picked up from humans. (He always did around does.) Right there in front of all his admirers, he reached his face between his legs and pied in his own face. Then he stumbled toward Maud. One whiff and Maud’s eyes were wide opened. Too late! Sigmund’s face was already buried in her neck.
“Excuse you! What do you think you are doing?” was Maud’s reaction.
“Wow!” Sigmund jumped back. “You can talk!?” Even the people were surprised.
“You didn’t think you were that special did you?” Maud said with visible annoyance.
“Well, well…special?” Sigmund tried to regain his composure. “In fact I am! We both are….But you my dear is something altogether.”
“Altogether what?”
“Mesmerizing!”
Maud managed a faint smile. “I see you have learned more than words.”

With sex pushed off his mind, the two goats started talking and slowly drifted away from their owners. Her beauty next to his celebrity, it was little wonder that they started to gather a sizable following. Though as usually Sigmund seemed to enjoy it, he could tell Maud was uncomfortable with the attention. Whenever he would stop to put his muddy hoof on an admirer’s piece of paper in the form of an autograph, Maud would be few steps ahead not seeming to wait for him.

“What is it with you and these people?” Maud said when Sigmund caught up to her for the third time.
“What do you mean?”
“Why you letting them treat you like some freak of nature.”
“Because I am? We both are. Come on, I know where we can go hide.” They dodged around stalls, and appeared at the back of the farm animal exhibition barn. They hopped on the hays until they reached the very top near the rafters. There they finally settled down, looking down at the other animals—cows, horses, pigs, sheep and goats; getting hand feed, getting milked, being pet, wondering around the fenced-in enclosure doing what animals do when they are on display for a barn full of strangers.

“So this is your hideout when you want to get away, huh?
“Best seats at the fair!” After a moment. “Don’t tell anyone…but sometimes it gets to be too much. You ever wished you were just like them?”
“The other goats and sheep and cows? All the time. I’m surprised you do though.”
“Yeah, sometimes I wish I didn’t speak.”
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t think. I wish I didn’t know.”
“Know what?”
“Know it’s all going to end. Know about the bolt, about the skinning, the chopping, and packaging. I know what the truck hauls to the farmers’ market every Thursday morning. I wish I didn’t, but I do. And there is nothing I can do about it, but wait for my turn. And it’s going to come, one day, we are all going to die. I know this. They don’t. The other goats, they go about their day having no idea that tomorrow they could be led to the shed on the other side of the farm. They don’t even notice that their friends and families that go there don’t come back. I do. That’s not a blessing, it’s not being special. We are sick Sigmund; we are being punished and I don’t know why.”

A silent cloud moved into the rafters and seemed to take over the entire barn. For three whole seconds, not a sound was heard. Not from the animals, not from the scared human babies.

“Maybe they do,” Sigmund finally said. “Maybe they just choose to ignore that which they cannot control. If we are going to die anyway, why not make the very best we can of life while it lasts. Maybe they think and know just like you; just because they don’t say it don’t mean they don’t know it.”
“Sigmund,” Maud said softly after a moment. “I’m scared.”
“Me to,” Sigmund said and meant it. But promised himself to run far away from Maud the first chance he got.

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