When dog walking goes wrong Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels I watched as Chauncey sniffed at a mound of snow covered leaves and began…
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My heart was thumpin’ so hard like it was gonna bust right outta’ my chest and I could hardly breathe. I heard his snortin’ and then his thunderin’ hooves as he come stampedin’ towards me. He done seen me now! I started runnin’ as hard as I could. But I feared it wouldn’t be fast enough.
Panic really set in then. That handful of blackberries sure wasn’t feelin’ worth it now. I do remember screamin’ and I peed a little in my pants. I didn’t care if the whole world knew it neither. My screams must have been loud enough for Grams to hear because I heard the screen door slam. Here she come runnin’ with her broom held high. “You ole’ bull, you better get yourself out of here! I’ll beat the tarnation out of you!” She ran straight at that mean ole’ bull. I don’t think there’s nothin’ that scares Grams one bit.
I grabbed the rails on the step ladder that went up over the barb wire fence. I leaped clean over the top step and flew to the ground, rollin’ an’ tumblin’ in the dirt. My crotch got all gobbed up with mud from the dirt and pee.
Poppa’s bull hit that ladder and shook that fence real hard. Then that hateful thang hit it again. I saw one of the fence posts was tiltin’ over, so I screamed again thinkin’ he was a comin’ on through into the yard. Grams whacked him with the broom and he run off kickin’ an’ a twistin’ like he was doin’ an eight second ride for a rodeo cowboy. Dang, he sure was a mean ole’ thang. Like really, really mean.
Grams helped me up and was dustin’ me off. Poppa finally came out of the barn. “Bill, you better get rid of that danged ole’ bull or I’m gonna take a shotgun to him! You hear me? I mean it and don’t think I won’t!” Grams was usin’ her grouchy voice.
Poppa got a shine in his eyes and laughed. “Naw, you won’t. He’s the best bull I ever had. Little Jimmy here’s just gonna have to not be gettin’ out there in his territory, that’s all.” He rubbed his hand on my head. His hands are real big.
Grams put her hands on her hips and did a “humph” sound. I knew that sound real good. That was her no nonsense, no back talk, get it done sound. The smile faded on Poppa’s face and he turned and hopped off back to the barn. He has a bad knee he says tells him when rain is comin’ but I don’t really know how it does it.
Now that all the fuss was over and I was safe an’ all, I was a bit embarrassed by my pants. It just wasn’t seemly for a ten year old to pee his pants. Or scream like a girl. Not that girl screamin’ is bad or anything. It’s just for girls that’s all. I think men folk are supposed to say somethin’ like the grown up turd word, or ‘gawwd dang it’, only, you know, with the bad word. But it was safer to do girl screamin’ ‘cuz Grams has a bar of soap for your tongue if she heard you swearin’. She wasn’t afraid to use it neither. I done tasted it once and I don’t ever wanna’ taste it again. Yuck. Makes me wanna’ spit just thinkin’ about it.
I watched Grams feedin’ her chickens. She sweeps all the poop off the dirt to a big pile in one corner of the chicken pen. She uses it for fertilizer is what she says. It’s gross to me. But if she asks for a bucket of it, I know to always say, “Yes, ma’am” and go get it for her just like she asked and I don’t tarry about it neither. Grams is kind, but she ain’t real patient. When she tells you to do somethin’, she wants it done real quick like.
Watchin’ Poppa’s bull still jumpin’ around in the pasture, I raised my hand and acted like I shot him with my fingers. I just might get me a real pistol someday and if he was still around I think I just might shoot him in his big ole’ butt and give him somethin’ to really buck and snort about. Danged ole’ bully. That’s ‘xactly what he is. A danged ole’ bully bull! I don’t know why, but that tickled me and I giggled. Not a girly giggle though, mind you. Those are for girls and they sound real purty when a girl does ’em. But I did a man giggle. Only I think Poppa calls it a guffaw or maybe a chuckle. I think that kindly depends on how big it is. Me bein’ just ten, I figure mine was more like a little man giggle, so I reckon that means I was chucklin’. Poppa does call me a chuckle head sometimes.
At supper that night I was thinkin’ back on being chased and I got to wonderin’ just what made Poppa’s bull so mean like that anyway. “Poppa, why is King Dick so mean?” That’s what I heard Poppa call his new bull when they let him out of Old Man Jones’ trailer who lives up the road on the hill from us. “Yep, he’s King Dick around here.” They both laughed real hard.
Grams slapped my hand. “James Fergus Jackson! Don’t you dare say that ever again. His name is Twister.” She turned to Poppa, “Bill, don’t you be using that naughty name where this boy can hear it. I got my soap bar right over there for both of you.” She nodded at the soap. Dang, now I wanted to spit again. I took a big swig of my iced tea.
“Well, how come ‘Twister’ is mean then? Did somebody hurt him or somethin’?” Maybe if I could figger this out, me and him might can be friends. Or maybe we never will, ‘cuz he is purty big and super fast.
Poppa shoved green beans and new potatoes in his mouth. “He’s mean cuz’ he was a rodeo bull. No cowboy ever rode him a full eight seconds. Not one time. Six seconds was the longest any cowboy ever stayed on him.” Poppa seemed pretty proud about that but honestly, I don’t know why for the life of me ‘cuz it wasn’t like he done anything. It was Twister that done it all.
“So how come he ain’t a rodeo bull no more then?” Seemed like Twister should still be doin’ what he was good at to me .
“He got too old.” Poppa was really puttin’ away those green beans and new potatoes.
“So why did ya’ bring him here?” I didn’t see no reason why we needed to have a mean rodeo bull on the farm.
Grams shot Poppa a warnin’ look. I knew that meant she was tellin’ him not to tell me somethin’. I wonder what she don’t want me to know?
Poppa looked at the ceilin’ for a bit like he does when Grams says he’s gatherin’ up his thoughts. “Well, I have two lady cows and they needed a boyfriend.”
I thought of old Bessy and Daisy with crazy red lipstick on smoochin’ around on Twister. Boy would old mister tough guy look like a sissy then with lipstick all over him. I did a big loud man giggle. So I guess I just did me a guffaw. “Why do lady cows need a boyfriend?”
This time Grams raised her eyebrow at Poppa.
“Well, if we wanna get baby cows, then lady cows gotta’ have a boyfriend.” Poppa said patiently. I figured that was why Grams didn’t have no patience. Poppa got ’em all. And he was always generous with his patience with me.
“Do they get married?” This was just gettin’ to be too much in my mind. I saw Twister gussied up in a suit an’ Bessy an’ Daisy wearin’ weddin’ dresses. I swallowed my tea funny and choked a little bit. But then I got to thinkin’. “So, if they have babies, they gotta’ get married don’t they? So, can Twister have two wives? Or does he have one wife and keep one as a girlfriend?”
I swear Grams did a itty bitty girl giggle, almost like she tried to swallow it before it got out. Poppa stopped eatin’ and looked at me like I was a leaky faucet or somethin’ that he didn’t know what to do with. “Well, cows are ‘differnt’ than people. One bull can have lots of girlfriends or wives. He don’t give no mind which. He just knows they belong to him and he takes care of ’em. And they have babies and live a real happy life.” Poppa looked at Grams like he wanted her to be proud of him.
“Oh. Well, how do they get cow babies here? Because they can’t drive to the hospital or nothin’.” That’s where my Mom and Dad got my noisy baby sister, Fiona Mae. I was really wonderin’ how all this stuff worked because maybe that’s why Twister gets mad. Too much girl cow cooties! And noisy babies! All this thinkin’ started making my belly hurt. Could be I need to go to the bathroom an’ do number two. Or maybe I just need to fart real good? I can’t do that at the kitchen table though. Grams would switch me good for that. And she would even make me pick my own switch. And it didn’t seem to make no nevermind whether I picked a little tiny one or a big fat one, it still hurt terrible bad.
Gramps did his laugh that makes his shoulders shake but don’t make noise. “I tell you what. Let’s forget about all this cow stuff and let’s eat us some apple pie and ice cream. Whadda’ ya’ say?”
“Yes, sir! I been waitin’ all day!” I looked at Grams real quick to see if she was okay with that. She reached over, mussed my hair, and gave me a nod and wink, “Go on.” I jumped up and ran after Poppa.
While he was cuttin’ up pie, I got the ice cream from the freezer. Grams made it fresh this mornin’. That’s why I went after the blackberries in the pasture. I remember askin’ her maybe thirty-two times if it was ready yet. Well, maybe I really only asked her twenty times. I know it was a bunch of times though cuz’ I really wanted it to hurry up and be ready. She told me, “James Fergus, don’t you be gettin’ all froggy and rub all the fuzz off your baby chicks. This is for after supper tonight.” It always makes me laugh when she says that about baby chicks. Everbody knows they need their fuzz until they get their feathers so they don’t get cold and die. So I guess that’s why Grams says you’re not ‘sposed’ to rub their fuzz off. But I ain’t never even tried to.
I put the ice cream on the table by the little plates Grams had for us. Poppa put pie on ’em and I put a big spoonful of ice cream on ever’ slice of pie. Yum, yum.
While I sat there eatin’ my pie I spied Twister out the window. I couldn’t help thinkin’ “ha ha, mean ole’ bull. Look what I got. Apple pie and Grams’ homemade ice cream. You can have your dang ole lady cows and their babies and the blackberries too!”
So, my day kinda’ started rough, but I reckon it ended up real nice. I sure do like coming to the farm. I know today I learned that blackberries ain’t worth the bull. And don’t repeat everything you hear grown ups say.
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