Monday, December 14, 2009

A Cow Story

I hesitate in thought. Drink in the deep, sudden silence before it departs. And I begin the lamentations that come with the end of another day. I look at trees northwest of the setting sun and I'm reminded of a country road I walked down somewhere in the middle of Tennessee on the outskirts of the city of Murfressboro. I was all alone and very stoned. My foot steps felt heavy, the sun was setting behind a hill to my right and the sky was oranges and purples. I had smoked a joint in a park not to far from where I was, and was relaxing by the river when a couple of pick ups full of high school kids armed with cigarettes, forties, and Boone's Farm. I wasn't in the mood for company so I cut out and just started walking, figuring to walk for a little while, then go back for my car. Instead I walked, no direction in particular, down these long country roads that roll with the hills. After a while it became chillier and I noticed the sun was sinking fast. I didn't know where I was or which was I needed to go, or even at this point, why.

I stood alone along the side of the road and watched the top of the hill turn the color of painted fire. I heard the shuffle of hooves and the mooing of cows coming down the road from just on the other side of hill I had just come down. I wanted to keep walking, move fast in the opposite direction of the herd of cows that were headed my way, but I had no idea which to direction to move and I felt paralyzed.

Then they were upon me. Two dozen Holstein dairy cows, mooing and shuffling, snorting and sneezing, flies buzzing around their black and white hides. I had never been surrounded by this many cows. They moved slow and stepped around me except for a calf that butted me with it's head while another chewed on the back of my shirt. At the end of the line with a long walking stick that looked like twisted roots, was a thin, sinewy man with white hair tucked under a a straw hat with a long mottled black turkey feather in it. The hand around the walking stick looked as ancient and gnarled as the stick itself, and was a similar dark brown color, making it hard to distinguish his fingers from the stick.

All the cows had passed and I still hadn't moved. The old man stood in front of me and tapped the side of my leg with his walking stick, then looked me in the eye. “You need to go that way,” he said, pointing the stick in the opposite direction from where the cows were heading. “Just go back the way you came and watch out for the shit.” He smiled and laughed, then moved along in the wake of his cows.

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