July 7, 2011

Milking the Goat

A man spent days with the movements of goats. Painstakingly imitating, mirroring -- subtleties defined, generalities embraced. He had had enough of the tight smiled brush offs and the turned head giggles. He had had enough of being a dog nobody wished to collar. Loneliness had crept over him like the dull film on a smoker’s windshield; solitude was a thud, hollow in his ears.

So he had turned to the goats for companionship. He longed to be among them and be one of the herd, admiring their nonchalance when dealing with society. He watched the goats eat. He watched how they slept. He watched how they would shake the flies off and stare into nothing as if they were trying to figure out why the world turned as it did.

 For days and for days, the man learned. For days and for days, the man practiced goat.

After the time it takes to do such things, the man had mastered his craft. He was so good at goat that hardly an expert could distinguish him from a full blood. Every nuance of goat he executed with deft certainty. He nibbled on corn cobs and nuzzled udders and ears. He had become one of them and he walked among them with a full goat swagger. The goats of the herd embraced him and he felt a companionship like never before.
So he stayed with the goats and began a contented part of his life.

But like all happiness, this one, too, was fleeting. As is a goat’s lot in life, one day he was herded up with the rest and taken to Billfordstown to auction.

After a fierce bidding war, the man was separated from his herd and sold solo to a large pink man with thick pink hands and well-scrubbed pink cheeks. A man who, it turns out, had given up his banking job in Billfordstown and had bought a hobby farm. A man who wanted to get back to the land. A man who wanted to teach his two teenage daughters the fine Christian values of work and family. A man in need of a fine milking goat.

After a bumpy ride up the new gravel drive, the pink man pulled his red pick-up next to his freshly painted pen and unloaded and unleashed his new goat. He gathered his family together around him and they all watched with a smile as the new goat sniffed and ambled around its new home.

“It looks confused,” said the youngest daughter, her pigtails bouncing with each syllable.

“It looks lonely,” said the other daughter with a heavy, damp voice.

“It is up to you girls to comfort the goat,” said the pink man, resting his pink hands on their heads, “It is up to you girls to make this goat a part of our happy family.”

The days passed into autumn and the girls learned the ways of their goat. The goat gave them his milk gladly and though the cheese it made was far too salty and runny to eat, they kept to their duties. Sometimes together, sometimes apart, always in the evening.

 Winter came and went quickly that year and as the spring thaw neared, the pink man gathered his family together by the pen and proclaimed, “This is the life man is meant to live!”

 The two girls giggled as the goat pawed at their swollen bellies. The pink man’s wife, with a flat look in her eye, looked at all that surrounded her and mumbled to no one in particular, “Tonight, I think, maybe I’ll milk the goat.”

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