It Shouldn't Happen to a Cow
(An outtake from Chapter 2 of "Cats and Dogs")
Happy New Year, my dear readers. You can expect some updates from me during the next two weeks. This is the first. I hope you had wonderful holidays.
A few months ago, I was asked to write a story for Stand Up for Katalina. It was truly an honour to be part of that compilation, which raised nearly $13,000 for cancer research.
I have to say, writing this has probably been the most fun I've ever had in this fandom, and that's all down to certain friends who are part of my Writing Circle. If some of them now moo at me instead of saying 'hello', you'll understand why after you read this. So, thank you to the ladies who hung with me on Skype while I wrote this (some almost daily for a month): Lissa Bryan, ladylibre, nuttyginger, Tkegl, Twilly, BookishQua, Madeleine Beckett, Sydney Alice/Logan, LolaCullenX, and Kikki7.
You can blame, uh, thank Lissa for this story: she dared me to write from the POV of a cow. With special thanks to Ladylibre (Head of the Clarence Appreciation Society), Raum (for the adorable banner), Room 340C (for being my Beta) and Katmom (for sending me zany photos and weird animal stories).
Katmom? The guinea fowl are for you.
Love you all.
*On a fun note, cows cannot see reds, browns or pinks, so carrots would look leafy-green. You'll get why that's funny once you've read this.
When Mrs. Marques got cross with me for staying in the barn, I did my best to explain to her that my tummy hurt. She was not a very sympathetic woman. If she were smart enough to speak Bovine, she would figure it out. Sadly, she was one of the few humans around who was thoroughly stupid and not a big fan of cows. How she ended up with me, I have no idea. I mean, she didn't even have any other animals: no dogs or cats; only those featherbrained chickens and alarmist Guinea birds. Really, who keeps Guinea birds in Washington State? Well, I don't imagine there are many people keeping Herefords like me, either.
My name is Clarence. You might wonder where I learned to speak Human. Well, we all can do it, to some degree. I learned American from my girl-calf, Zola, when I was a little bull calf in Tennessee, and I learned Mexican from her sire, Papi. I've picked up a lot more American since I got here, especially from Buttercup, the gelding horse across the fence, and Murphy, our other neighbour's German Shepherd. Generally, dogs are good at speaking Human, because their humans talk to them a lot. Animals just can't talk back because of how our mouths are made. So, keep talking to your cat, because I guarantee that she understands you. If she's not changing her ways in order to please you, that's just because she's a cat.
"Clarence! Out with you!" Mrs. Marques yelled, slapping my rump.
"Ker-tweet, ker-tweet, ket-tweet! Help, help, help!" demanded the Guinea hens on their nests.
"Bock! Eep-eep-eep-eep Gah! Gah! Squawk eep! Intruder! Intruder alert! Mind your babies!" whooped the Guinea cocks, strutting about.
"Bock back ba-caw! She's coming to eat our children!" wailed the chickens, losing feathers everywhere.
"Moo." No thanks, I said, lowering my head and shaking it at Mrs. Marques. I didn't want to go outies. I backed into the corner of my lonely pen. She muttered to herself in that way humans have, and gave me a push toward the door. Then she sniffed, and finally noticed something.
"Hey! There aren't any cow plops in this pen!"
"Moo," I said softly. 'Bout time you figured it out.
"Come to think of it, there weren't any yesterday, either."
"Moo-ooo." No. I have such a tummy ache.
"Clarence, are you sick?" she yelled fretfully. Woman yelled all the time. There was nothing like a real conversation, with her. She needed to find some cow Zen.
"Oh, whatever next!" she whimpered, pacing. Then, she dashed out of the barn. I tried once again to force out a cow plop. No joy.
It was some time before Mrs. Marques came back, looking madder than a hornet. "Damn it, why must everything be so hard? Bugger Mrs. Cope for not asking the vet to come here." She got a rope and put it around my neck. "And that Gus! What kind of neighbour is he? Refuses to give us a ride to the vet, and him with that nice horse trailer, too."
Well, perhaps if she hadn't told him his 'old nag' wasn't going to win any money at the race in Spokane next week, he'd have been more accommodating. Sadly, I did not seem to be able to wrap my lips around the shape of American words to tell her so. Were I capable of that, I probably would speak American better than she.
"All right, you stupid cow, we're going to the vet."
I perked up; I would be happy to see Doc Gerandy, even if he did do unpleasant things to me. I disliked the slimy thing he put on his hand and arm before examining me. However, I liked him. He liked cows. Maybe he even had a carrot. Mrs. Marques tugged me outside even though I was walking willingly.
Outside, there seemed to be no truck.
"You'd better not ruin my car," Mrs. Marques snarled.
But… I wanted to say. "Moo." No, just no. I dug in my hooves. She wanted me to get in a little bitty thing that looked like Truck, but was obviously was not the same animal. Yes, it had turn-y-circle thingies instead of hooves, but it had four small doors instead of two, and no place to stand in the back.
I raised a cow brow. "Moo." You have got to be kidding me.
"Get in the car, Clarence."
Mrs. Marques stamped her foot. "It's the only way I can get you to the vet. Now you put your head in that back door and you get in that car or I'm gonna turn you into barbecue."
"Moo!" I objected. Wildly.
"Get in the damn car. Now!" she ordered, producing her stinging cattle-pokey thing. Doc Gerandy had told her not to use it. He wasn't going to be pleased.
"Moo," I said weakly, resisting her will. I tried giving her my cow-eyes; it normally made female humans smile all gooey-like.
"I'm warning you," she growled.
Mrs. Marques spanked me thoroughly on my rump. I barely felt it. When the spanking didn't work, she used the pokey thing. Zzzap!
Yikes! Bellowing, I hopped up into the animal called 'Car', noticing that it had a very soft floor. There wasn't much room for me, but at least I could see out through the cool hard thing. I snuffled everything, wondering what it was made of, and wondered why the soft pad I was kneeling on with my left legs smelled weird. Almost like … a cow.
"You stay in there and no kicking!" Mrs. Marques hollered. She slammed the door shut, catching the hair in the end of my tail. I shut my eyes and trembled. I tried to tug my tail loose, but it smarted. I would have to put up with being caught.
Mrs. Marques stomped around Car in her big, black rubber boots, and opened the door at the front. She took a key and put it in Car, and he rumbled, roared and quivered under my hooves. Well, at least I knew Car was related to Truck, now. Mrs. Marques pulled down the drive. I braced my feet so I wouldn't fall over.
Car took us down the drive, into the lane, and I was glad. If I had to spend much more time alone with the birdbrains and Mrs. Marques, I was going to expire from a lack of brain stimulation.
"We'll have you there in a jiff," Mrs. Marques promised. But she didn't take the usual road; she turned the wrong way.
Well, she didn't listen to me; nothing new there. Sighing, I decided to enjoy the ride. I wished the see-through thing was just air, because I'd have liked to stick my head out above the door, to enjoy the breeze. Besides, it was kind of drool-covered, which made it hard to see outside.
Still, it was spring, and the earth was new. I looked at the huge rock things that touched the sky, and realized the snow on them was almost all gone. The fields were blessed with green, and the trees had fairy-small leaves all over them.
I looked for fairies, but I didn't see any.
The ride in Car was actually very enjoyable, and I was sorry when it ended. Mrs. Marques pulled into a drive that had a big people-barn beside it. There was a whole lot of bright green grass right outside Car. It looked delicious, but she'd probably use the stinging thing on me if I touched it. Sigh.
Mrs. Marques sat in Car, her hands twisting on the circle thing she used to turn onto new roads. Her knuckles were white, and I could feel the fury radiating off of her. "Where is that damned vet?"
I lowered my eyes, for I did not know. This place was strange, and how we were to find Doc Gerandy was confounding. This was not his people-barn.
A red car pulled into the drive behind Car, and a young calf-carrying woman got out, carrying a big pot of white flowers. She looked at me strangely, and then approached my owner's door. Mrs. Marques didn't have the see-through stuff on hers; it was just air.
"Hi, Mrs. Marques," Calving Heifer said, smiling in a bemused way.
"Hello, yourself!" Mrs. Marques snapped. "Why don't you go get that man of yours? My farm doesn't run itself."
"Yes, ma'am," the calf-carrying lady said, turning her back on me and marching into the house.
"Moo," I lowed softly. A little help? But the lady just ignored me and walked away. I was not impressed.
Time passed while I chewed my cud. Then, some crazy lady ran out of the house and started pointing a box at me. The box had a white light on it that blinked on and off and hurt my eyes. "Moo," I told her. Stop it, please, you are annoying me.
"That's right, cutie," she cooed at me. "Smile a big cow smile for the camera."
I think not.
A whole lot of humans, clutching dogs, cats, rabbits and even a snake, tumbled out of the people-barn to smile at me. Well, the attention was kind of nice. Then, Calving Heifer came outside with a distinctive-looking man. He had eyes as green as clover, and hair as bright as carrots. And he was smiling at me. Yes, he obviously liked cows. I took an instant liking to him.
"Moo." Won't you be my owner? I'll be a good boy for you. Without warning, he turned and ran back into the people-barn.
"Where are you going?" Calving Heifer wanted to know.
"Pee!" he laughed. Well, humans are weird; they don't pee in front of other humans. They're kind of unnatural that way.
Soon, the man came back, and I fell into those delicious-looking green eyes. Mrs. Marques got out of Car, slammed its door, and marched right up to him.
"I brought Clarence."
The pretty-eyed man tried not to laugh at us, he really did. "I see that. Thank… you." See? He was a cow fan.
"There's something very wrong with him," she growled. "Your Mrs. Cope refused to ask you to come out to my farm."
"I'm sorry. Bella and I are getting married this afternoon. Couldn't one of your neighbours have loaded Clarence into his truck?"
"No sign of Gus this morning, and I couldn't afford to delay." Well, that was a lie; she just didn't want to tell him that Gus said 'no'.
Pretty Eyes cleared his throat. "Of course. But why didn't you ask Doc Gerandy? I'm not outfitted for livestock, here."
Oh, so this man was a veterinarian. That explained a lot.
"Doc Gerandy wouldn't give me credit."
"Oh." The man regarded me kindly. "Well, what's Clarence's problem?"
"There haven't been any cow-plops since yesterday."
"Oh," he said, frowning worriedly. "Well, we'll have to get him out of the car so I can examine him."
Mrs. Marques stomped over to Car in her big black rubber boots, and opened the door behind my rump. Eww, chilly.
"Moo!" Make my tummy stop hurting, please? Pretty Eyes looked at me fretfully, but he had a lot more Zen than Mrs. Marques.
"How old is he?"
"He was born September 30th."
Pretty Eyes stroked his chin. "Eight months, then. How the hell did you get him in there?"
"I slapped that bugger's behind until he got."
Liar! She used the hurt-y thing! But he was looking concerned that she might have hurt me. "Moo," I nodded. Yes, she hurt me. Thunder rumbled in the distance. It was getting closer. I shuddered.
"Well," the vet said, scratching his head. After peering in the car a couple of times, he walked right up to me. There was a soft rope on Car's floor. He picked it up and put it around my head. I didn't like it.
"Moo." Kindly stop.
"C'mon, Buddy," he coaxed, tugging on the rope. The crazy lady's flashing box clicked and whirred.
"C'mon, out you get," he urged, tugging away.
"Watch the upholstery!" Mrs. Marques snapped. Pretty Eyes looked at her like she was a two-headed goat. I couldn't understand why, but then, I didn't know what 'upholstery' might be. Perhaps it was his testicles. Our neighbour John Wolfe's horse, Buttercup, kicked him in the testicles once by accident. According to Buttercup, it wasn't pretty.
"Clarence, out you get," The vet ordered.
No. I prefer to be in here, where there's no thunder. I do not see a barn, ladies and geldings. "Moooo."
Pretty Eyes reached behind my ear to adjust the rope. Don't humans understand the meaning of 'no'? I snapped at him. He recoiled, those eyes wide, and I felt sheepish. He wasn't a meanie, and I had to be nice to him so he'd fix my belly ache.
"Vet's going to get himself hurt." An old guy with a farm dog shook his head mournfully and John Wolfe, a neighbour of Mrs. Marques', nodded. Hmph! I wouldn't hurt him.
"A little help here?" the veterinarian asked pointedly.
"Geez," Mrs. Marques groaned. Blessedly, I could now use my tail. I flicked it, even though there weren't any flies in Car. Swish swish swish… It was grounding; cow meditation at its best.
"Danny, you help Doc with that rope before he strains something on his wedding day," John ordered.
"Okay," his son Danny said obligingly, hurrying to take hold of the rope. I wasn't afraid of him; he liked me. Sometimes, he even sneaked me an old lettuce.
"Clarence, get your ass out of my car so Doc can help you!" Mrs. Marques snapped from somewhere behind my tail.
"Moo." No. I feel safe inside Car.
I hate to argue with you, but, "Moo!"
"Go on, Clarence!"
Suddenly, Mrs. Marques slapped my rump, thunder crashed, and the men hauled on my rope. I peed all over Car and a whole lot of cow plops went plurrbt out of my rump as I leaped out onto the grass. Pretty Eyes and Danny were soaked. Oh, no! Pretty Eyes was lying on the ground; first, I peed on him, then, I stepped on him.
"Moo." I didn't mean to, honest.
I decided the best way not to get turned into barbecue would be to pretend nothing happened, and oh, sweet Bessie, that grass looked yummy.
Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer both screamed. Now, why did they do that? I ignored them, and ate grass. I was right, it was yummy. Now that my tummy wasn't all stuffed up with cow plops, I was starving for some.
"Augh! My upholstery!" Mrs. Marques wailed.
Apparently, Pretty Eyes wanted attention. "Aaaaaargh!"
Calving Heifer threw herself down beside him. "Edward! Edward!" she screeched, patting him all over. "Are you okay?"
I smelled something delish: there were huge pots of white flowers sitting by the people-barn's car door. A little taste couldn't hurt anything, right? Nobody else seemed to be eating them.
Edward looked at Calving Heifer incredulously. "A fucking cow stomped on my arm, Bella. A fucking cow." They both looked at me. I pretended I wasn't there.
Bella examined Edward's arm. "Your arm is broken." Was she a vet, too?
"Tell me something I don't know."
"We have to get you to the hospital."
Edward's jaw clenched. "There is no way in Hell I am missing our wedding again, Swan."
Wait, I thought her name was 'Bella'.
"Cullen!" she forced out weakly, "your arm is busted."
Was his name not 'Edward'? I was so confused. I decided to go back to calling them 'Pretty Eyes' and 'Calving Heifer'. Those names were much better anyway.
"You have to go to the hospital," an older, motherly lady said firmly. The people around her seemed to agree.
A young man wearing the same blue-green outfit as Pretty Eyes stepped forward. "Sorry, all of you are going to have to go home, and rebook. Unless there's something serious that can't wait, that I can handle, like stitches." Most of the humans left.
Danny was not happy about having my pee on his jeans. "Dad, I need to go home and change."
"Veterinarian needs our help."
Blue-green Man shook his head at Pretty Eyes. "I'll drive you to the hospital, man."
"No." Pretty Eyes stared mulishly at everyone. "This wedding is not getting called off again." He pointed at Calving Heifer's stomach. "This baby is going to be born in holy wedlock. And I am not spending my honeymoon in the hospital. No way."
"Cullen, your arm is broken, and not getting it taken care of could be dangerous," Calving Heifer argued.
"What about my cow?" Mrs. Marques demanded hotly. I wished I could disappear into the short grass of their ridiculously small pasture.
"Your cow was constipated. He's not bunged-up anymore," Pretty Eyes pouted. "He looks happy now. I'll come out to see him on Monday if you want. After we're back from our honeymoon."
Blue-green Man talked into a little box. After a few minutes of this bizarre behaviour, he grinned at Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer. "Angela's on her way. She says if your X-ray machine shows a clean break, she can use your supplies to set and cast it, but she'll expect to see you on Monday to make sure that it's setting right."
"Oh, thank God!"
I agreed that thanking God was always a good idea. It made me like Pretty Eyes even better.
"Up you get before we get wet," Blue-green said, offering his hand. Calving Heifer stopped him.
"No, he has to get up by himself so we know that there isn't any other injury."
Pretty Eyes moaned and rolled into a ball. He managed to get himself onto his knees, and then stood up, cradling his broken arm to his chest with his good hand. Calving Heifer put her arm around him and escorted him to the door of the people-barn. The humans followed.
"Shouldn't see the groom before the wedding," an old man told Calving Heifer, shaking his head. Pretty Eyes bit back a laugh.
"Shut up, Cullen," Calving Heifer growled, opening the door. Well, that wasn't very nice!
Rain started to patter down; soon, it was strong and cold on my face as Mrs. Marques' garden hose. I tried eating some more flowers to distract myself, but it wasn't working. My hide rippled. It was chilly and I was scared. I wanted my nice dry pen. I wanted to be safe from the lightning. My uncle José got hit with lightning when I was just little. I never saw him again. Late at night in the barn, the cows had whispered about 'barbecue'.
John Wolfe came out of the people-barn and trudged over to the flower pots. He groaned and muttered, seeing that all but one of the pots contained nothing but stems (if that). But somehow, I had missed finishing off the flowers in one of the pots. Hefting it, he carried it into the people-barn. Sad for me.
The thunder got much worse, and I found myself full of regret for arguing with the Guinea birds and chickens. They might be birdbrains, but at least they were kind-hearted. They would all be huddled up, comforting each other. Why couldn't I have someone to comfort me?
I stared anxiously at the people-barn. Evidently, nobody in it cared for cows, even cows left standing unprotected in storms. But wait… the door… it opened, and there was Mrs. Marques!
"You poor cow," she said, shaking her head.
"Moo," I agreed. She turned around to go back in. There was a space! She forgot to shut the door to the people-barn! Perhaps nobody ever asked her if she were born in a barn, even though she said it to people all the time. Or perhaps she left it open on purpose. Perhaps I was invited inside! I stood and debated the wisdom of going in. Mrs. Marques might yell at me again. Sigh.
Boom! Thunder crashed, and the lightning was so close to me that the hair stood straight up all over my body. Help! Help! Somebody help! "Mooooooooo!" As fast as my hooves would carry me, I ran for that door, nosed my way into the opening, and squiggled between the door and its frame. Panting, I wondered which way to go; the people-barn was very dark. To the far side, it seemed quiet. To the near side, I heard faint voices. I ran for the voices, and there was Mrs. Marques.
She yelped at the people in the big room. "My bull calf!"
I ran into the room as fast as my legs could carry me. Help! Help! Save meeeeee! "Moooooooo!"
But nobody tried to save me. Instead, they started screaming in fright. I ran around the big space, begging someone, anyone, to please help a poor guy out. Pretty Eyes was lying under a horse blanket on one of those things like long milking stools with backs. He looked upset. See? He wanted to save me.
"Who left the door open?" Pretty Eyes shouted. Um, that would be Mrs. Marques. Holy humans! There was a huge fire in the room. Fire! Fire! "Moooo!" Why on earth were they all standing around when there was a fire?
"Moo!" You humans are crazy! "Moo!" I'm so scared!
"I think he wants the flowers!" Mrs. Marques screeched, pointing at the last pot.
I stopped dead. Maybe food would calm me down. My four stomachs growled. I trotted toward the pot of flowers and reached out for a little nibble.
"My flowers!" Calving Heifer yelled, snatching up the pot and running upstairs.
Wait. What? No! My flowers! Don't be mean, Calving Heifer, I haven't eaten in two days. "Moo!" Please let me have those yummy flowers. Please?
Pretty Eyes stood up fast. "No! Don't let him go up the stairs! Cows can go up steps, but not down. Somebody do something!"
A wicked-looking carrot-coloured cat ran nimbly between my feet and parked herself on the stairs, blocking me from climbing up them. Her fur bristled straight out and she hissed menacingly. Before I could even fully stop moving, her cruel claws tore at my tender nose. That really hurt! I tried to back up and nearly fell. Blue-green, John and Danny surrounded me.
"Get him!" Crazy Camera Lady shouted, flapping her arms. Can you blame me for being terrified? They were all ganging up on me!
Don't hurt me! "Moooooo!" I bawled, and ran around some more. Pretty Eyes looked worried about me. I was so sorry to be upsetting him. If everyone would just stop chasing me, I would settle down and we could have a calm chat about it. But no, John, Danny, Old Man and Blue-green were determined to grab me and turn me into barbecue.
Calving Heifer virtually flew down the steps with a white cloth bag in her hand. She threw it over my head and the men all hung off of me. "Mooooo!" Nooooo… I'm about to be slaughtered!
I breathed heavily into the dark bag, and realized that the men weren't actually hurting me. I decided I had panicked for nothing. I stood still. It was nice and peaceful inside the bag, and I felt safe. Somebody was giving me a nice pat on the side, too. I belched up a little cud and chewed on it. Mmm, flowers…
"How did you know that would work?" Pretty Eyes sounded surprised.
Calving Heifer was breathless. "I… didn't…. I saw it in a… movie once… with a horse."
"Where do you want us to put him?" John asked. Pretty Eyes groaned.
"You can't put my livelihood out in that storm," Mrs. Marques wailed. It was the first time she ever called me by an endearment: My Livelihood. I was lively, right? What a nice thing to say. And she didn't want me left out in the storm. She cared about cows after all!
"Fine!" Pretty Eyes seemed exasperated. "Not in my surgery. Not in the kennel. Maybe see… No, he won't fit in the examining rooms. I know! Stick him in the mud room; it's at the back just past the washroom."
"Okay." John flipped his arm so his hand touched his forehead, looking at Pretty Eyes, and gave my rope a tug. "Come on, trouble." I took three steps and laid an enormous cow-plop right in the middle of the floor. Ahh, blessed relief!
"Aww," Pretty Eyes groaned, pinching his nose. Oopsie, my bad.
"You cured Clarence! If you tell me where you keep your shovel, I'll have that cleaned up in a jiff," Mrs. Marques promised, beaming. See? No big deal.
I was a little embarrassed about the cow plops on the shiny floor, but that's what cows do, right? John Wolfe led me out of the big room into the room where I came in. He walked me past some tables and weird large metal boxes. There was a long, dark hallway leading to the back of the people-barn. My side bumped gently against the wall as I followed John.
There were doorways to each side of the hall. Some of them smelled like medicine, just like at Doc Gerandy's people-barn. One smelled a bit like people pee. John led me into the last room. It was more of a stall, really. There were cleaning products and a hint of soap in the warm, moist air.
"Poor guy," John said, scratching my ear. "You've had a rough day, haven't you? I bet you wish you were back where you were born, with your cow mom."
"Moo," I said sadly.
"Well, you just wait here until the storm's done, and then Irina can take you home."
Who's Irina? Do you mean Mrs. Marques? "Moo."
"Okay," he said, slapping me on my side. I shut my eyes and had a rest. The storm continued, but I was warm and dry and had people around me. It was going to be okay.
I was alone for what seemed like forever. Then, Calving Heifer and Mrs. Marques opened the door. Mrs. Marques was carrying half a bale of alfalfa. "Moo." Hello, I'm excited! Thank you for caring about your starving cow.
"Shh! Eward's asleep!" Calving Heifer hissed. She then realized she was talking to a cow. I nodded at her, to let her know it was all right.
"Hi, Baby," Mrs. Marques cooed, stuffing a handful of hay at me. Ecstasy. Even mean ladies who don't let me have their flowers actually care.
Calving Heifer left me with Mrs. Marques.
"I didn't want you to get sick," she told me. "I feel so dumb sometimes. I just don't seem to be any good at raising a bull calf. I find the farm so overwhelming. I don't mean to take it out on you. I'm real glad you're okay, Clarence."
I nodded; my mouth was too full of hay to moo.
"I really miss Henry. You didn't know him. He was fun. But he did so much of the work, you know?"
"I dunno, Clarence, how I'm going to keep the place afloat. But just don't get sick anymore, okay?"
"Moo," I lowed.
"Good boy." Mrs. Marques said, patting me. "It's hard knowing the vet is getting married this afternoon, but I should go and help out, since he's taking care of you and we've been so much trouble."
"Okay, I'll see you in about an hour." Mrs. Marques felt her way to the door and left, shutting me in the dark. Chewing my cud, I zoned out. I peed a couple of times, but there were no more cow plops. I pushed my hay bale toward the door to keep it out of my puddle of pee. It would be horrible to spoil it.
I munched and munched, and discovered to my astonishment that the alfalfa was all gone. Well, I would just have to wait for Mrs. Marques to come back.
I waited a long time.
Not back yet.
No, not yet.
"Moo?" Where are you? I would like some more hay, please.
Nada. Mrs. Marques had forgotten about me.
The doorknob turned, and a tiny calf-girl peeped in the door. "This doesn't look like the potty," she whispered. "But it does smell like one." She crept inside. "I wish the power would come back on." She put her arms out in front of her and felt around. "I can't find the potty."
I nodded and lowed gently. The tiny girl placed her hands on my chest.
"Monster!" she squeaked, and ran out, leaving the door open.
I could smell yummy food. Fruit, for certain. I was so hungry that I just couldn't wait for Mrs. Marques anymore. Perhaps I could find her in the big room. I put my nose against the door and nudged it wide open.
Slowly, I crept down the hallway. In the room with the tables, a lot of food had been set out on big, shallow troughs. Oh, thank You God! Drooling, I sniffed at the first one. It had bread on it with something that smelled unpleasant wrapped inside. But heck, I was hungry so I ate some of the bread.
The next pan held some of my favourite treats, in greater supply than I had ever seen. God was blessing me, that was for sure! I gobbled up as many vegetables as I could chew. The flat trough slid around a little bit, knocking into other pans. Why would the humans want to use a flat trough? It was awfully hard to eat off them; bits and pieces of food ended up on the floor, and the trough slid around on the table. It wasn't at all efficient. Very wasteful.
I smelled one of my favourite treats: apple. Nosing around, I found a big bucket made out of the same stuff of which the clear thing in the car was made. Joy of joys, it was filled to the brim with cut apples and pears. There were other fruits in the bucket, too, but I couldn't name them. But what did it matter? It was fruit!
I wanted to slurp up every bit of that fruit, but eating out of the bucket was very hard. I gobbled down fruit as the bucket skittered over the table, sloshing juice everywhere. It was such a shame; I hated to waste food after not having any for so long. When my bucket was all empty, I licked spilled juice off the troughs, not wanting to miss a drop. It was soooo good!
Pluuuurrbbt! I dropped a huge pile of cow plops, which mercifully made lots of room in my stomachs. I snuffled around for more food. A strange object smelled really edible. What could it be? It was tall and round and oddly-shaped, and it smelled of carrots and flowers. I gave it a tentative lick.
Best. Thing. Ever. I'd never tasted anything so sweet. I licked it and came away with a mouthful of blue violets. Sweet flowers? Wow! I am so glad Mrs. Marques brought me to the new vet. The old one never had treats like these. I chewed up the flowers and took another big lick.
When I had licked all the sweet stuff off of the strange object, I was very full and contented. I wanted to thank my hosts for having me. I walked softly toward the big room.
"I, Bella, take thee, Edward, to be my husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and I promise my love to you. With this ring, I thee wed." They were grabbing each other's hands. How sweet.
I made my way silently over a cushy mat, toward them. There were a lot of people in the room. Most of them were sitting on the milking seats with backs. I didn't care what they thought of me; I was going to express my gratitude to the vet and his lady. The camera-things clicked and whirred.
The man standing at the front holding the thing that smelled like a small newspaper ignored me.
"Am I crazy, or is that a"- a big man began.
"Shh!" a man with pretty yellow hair demanded, slapping a hand over the other's mouth and glaring.
Newspaper Man gulped. "Edward and Bella, two very different threads woven together can form a beautiful tapestry; let your lives merge to form a very beautiful marriage. A strong marriage takes love; it should be the core of your marriage, for it... um, love each other."
My hosts exchanged a worried glance.
"Remember in your hearts to do what is best for each other," Newspaper begged. Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer were growing alarmed. "Stay open-hearted. Learn and grow together even when it's hard. Keep your faith; hold true to the journey you both have pledged to share together. Um, cow." Why yes, I am. Thanks for noticing me.
Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer froze. Newspaper was talking so fast I could barely understand him.
"Edward-and-Bella, I now-pronounce-you-man-and-wife." He held up his hands in benediction. "The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The Lord give you…"
"Moooooooo!" Thanks for having me over today! I love you Pretty Eyes!"
"… peace," Newspaper finished weakly. "You may kiss the bride."
The humans slapped their hands together raucously, and made spooky woo-ooing noises. My hide rippled. However, I liked the Zen coming off Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer. However, I didn't like it that Mean Lady Calving Heifer was nibbling and nuzzling at the mouth of Pretty Eyes, or that he seemed to like it. I wanted to butt her away from him, but that might hurt their calf. I needed to find a more acceptable way to express my love for Pretty Eyes.
Licks. He obviously liked licks. I gave Pretty Eyes a great big soppy cow kiss, from the collar of his shirt, up his neck, to the top of his head. I gave him a Zen cow smile, knowing I had gifted him with crumbs of sugared violets and fruit that could be licked off for hours.
Pretty Eyes was startled; he stopped nuzzling the mean lady and turned stunned eyes on me. Oh, yes. It's important to express affection, or your loved one won't know they're important. Look how he's marvelling! Calving Heifer didn't like it that I licked her bull; that made me all kinds of happy.
I love you. "Moo," I crooned softly, making cow-eyes at the nice man.
"This bull has issues," Pretty Eyes muttered. I wondered what 'issues' were. I thought perhaps he was saying I was brave. But oh, hey, what was that in the hand of the small lady beside the mean one? Flowers. Fantastically mouth-watering flowers. While the lady holding them was busy laughing at Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer, I helped myself to a little snack. Nom nom.
"No!" Tiny Heifer bellowed, running down the aisle with the flowers. The tall lady wearing the same blanket picked up its edge and pelted after her.
Yes! "Moo!" I answered, dropping my head and running after them both.
Tall Heifer turned around, wide-eyed, and screamed, retreating toward the dark kitchen. Now what's her problem? I just want to finish my snack.
"Clarence!" Pretty Eyes, Calving Heifer and Mrs. Marques all yelled, chasing after me as people stood up by their stools.
"Sit down and shut up!" Pretty Yellow Hair bellowed, and the humans crept reluctantly back into their places as I hurried after the heifers with the flowers. Pretty Yellow Hair nodded approvingly. "Better. We're just gonna wait here while they get that bull under con-
I decided that with all the humans chasing me, it would be prudent to retreat to my stall. Behind me, there was an enormous crash and a whole lot of screaming. Uh oh.
"Rosalie!" a deep bull voice boomed. Tiny Heifer and Mrs. Marques were screaming at each other. Some heifer screeched a whole lot of words I'd never heard before. She did not sound happy.
"The hell?" Thunder Voice boomed.
"Cow shit!" a heifer shrieked. "That damn cow shit and pissed all over the kitchen, and I slid in it. My dress is ruined!" She made keening moos. "My Louboutin heels!"
"There, there, honey! I'll save you," Thunder Voice crooned.
"Get your bloody animal out of this house!" Tiny Heifer ranted at Mrs. Marques. "Do you know how much love we put into this wedding? Six hours to decorate this wedding cake! Six! And now we can't eat it! And the food! He destroyed half the food! Look at all the people here, and we can't feed it to them! All because of your stupid cow!"
A couple of humans tried to settle Tiny Heifer and Mrs. Marques down, but they were both seeing red (What is red, please? I'm colour blind, but the humans say it about us all the time). Things only got worse from there, to the point that Mrs. Marques had to be escorted out of the people-barn. I could hear her shouting at John Wolfe.
Demon Cat padded into my stall and sat calmly in front of me. "Meow." Well, you made quite the stir. Your owner is crazy. She's left, by the way.
I felt like the runt of the herd. But then Pretty Eyes came in. I peeked at him hopefully.
"Ah, Clarence," he sighed, scratching behind my ear. "What are we going to do with you?"
"Moo?" Keep me?
"I'm going to examine you. Don't hurt me, okay?"
"Moo." I wouldn't hurt you on purpose. I wouldn't hurt anybody.
Pretty Eyes stuck the weird rubber thing beloved by veterinarians in his ears, and put the chilly end of it on my stomach. It was a bit exciting.
"Geez," Pretty Eyes said. "You need to meet a nice cow."
"Moo," I agreed. Friends would be good. I could use a herd of my own.
"You're going to have a bellyache tomorrow." Pretty Eyes tipped some medicine down my throat, then gave me a mouthful of hay. Such a kind bull.
Pretty Eyes gave me a thorough examination. It was kind of hot.
"Aw, shit. Clarence, I am afraid you aren't going to be a good breeder," he said regretfully.
"Moo." Why don't you find out! I did my best to appear virile in a space which was too small to strut around in.
"I hope Mrs. Marques comes back for you later."
"Moo." I don't.
"Do me a favour and stay in here, okay?"
"Moo." Anything you say, my love. Come see me later.
But he did not come to see me later that day. Instead, John and Danny Wolfe came and loaded me into their animal, Truck. They took me to Doc Gerandy's, and he sent us away with a flea in our ears. They took me home, and John engaged in another screaming match with Mrs. Marques, who said she was going back to Memphis to live with her sister, Annie. She told John he could have me if he wanted. John said he couldn't take me, he didn't have a pasture.
Mrs. Marques slammed her people-barn door in John Wolfe's face. He looked very angry. He drove up to the barn and stalked inside. When he came out, he was carrying a small bale of alfalfa. He set it at my feet and I dug in gratefully. He went back in my barn and got two more bales. Then, he got back in Truck.
I was surprised when he drove us back to the people-barn of Pretty Eyes. John got out of Truck and banged on the door.
"Hello?" the big bull answered. It was Thunder Voice.
"Clarence is homeless. That dried out witch is leaving Forks."
"Good riddance. But why did you bring Clarence here?"
"I was hoping Doc Cullen knew someone who'd take him. I don't know any cattle ranchers."
"Oh." Thunder Voice scratched his head. "He and Bella left for their honeymoon."
"I was afraid if I left Clarence at Mrs. Marques' place, she'd call the butcher. She told me she was going to have him castrated and fattened up for meat."
Thunder Voice eyed me with alarm. "You think she'd send the poor beggar to slaughter?"
Oh, no! The cows of my youth were right! Humans did make barbecue out of us. My knees started to shake.
"Woman doesn't appreciate a nice animal. Of course, she wasn't cut out for beef ranching; I'd have pitied anyone who took Clarence for stud and had to deal with her."
"So she'd really kill him?" Thunder Voice asked fretfully.
"Wouldn't doubt it."
"What am I supposed to do with Clarence?"
"Just put him in the back yard, unless they've got toxic flowers in their garden."
"They have tons of roses, but Edward will shit a brick if Clarence eats them. They were my mother's."
"Tie Clarence up. He'll be happy as long as he has food and he's not bored. I'll get him a big hay bale. Doc Cullen's back on Monday?"
"He can find Clarence a home, then. Somebody will be happy to have a free bull."
"Yeah, I don't want to see this guy slaughtered," Thunder Voice said, watching me kindly. Was he a vet, too? No, he couldn't be; he didn't know enough about cows.
I liked him anyway. He reminded me of Pretty Eyes, although they didn't look anything alike. While Pretty Eyes had hair that was the most succulent, leafy green, Thunder Voice's hair was yellow. Thunder Voice was also twice the size of Pretty Eyes. They couldn't possibly be siblings.
John Wolfe tugged on my rope and led me out into the small pasture. My mouth watered at the sight of the tempting flowers, but John Wolfe tied me to a tree. He spoke softly in my ear.
"If you want Doc Cullen to save you, Clarence, don't you go eating his flowers. They're all he has left of his mother. Esme was a wonderful lady, God rest her." He patted me. "She'd be so proud of him."
"Moo," Okay, I agreed not to eat the precious flowers, although keeping my promise would be difficult.
The next couple of days were very dull. I chewed my cud, and John brought me more alfalfa and some delicious cattle feed. My tummy hurt enough that Blue-green fed me more medicine and (to my embarrassment) filled my rump with water, which spurted out and made a big mess of the pasture. However, I felt better after.
Wicked Demon Green Cat's real name was Wednesday. She liked to fill me in on life concerning the Cullen Herd while the dog, Pugsley, laughed at us.
"Moo." Maybe he'll keep me, I suggested.
"Meow." I doubt it. You need to be on a farm.
"Moo." I need a family. I bet I can make him love me.
"Meow." You're dumb. Daddy doesn't go for bulls or any other animals; he likes Bella Puss. And humans are monogamous animals. Besides, he's thrilled their kitten is coming soon.
"Moo." But I love him.
"Meow." Silly cow. You need a pretty little heifer.
"Moo." But I prefer bulls.
"Meow." Keep that to yourself or you might just be barbecue after all.
The next morning, a car pulled up in front of the Cullens' people-barn, and doors opened and shut.
"Meow." They're home.
"Ruff." Daddy and Mommy are home. Yay! Love-me-love-me rub my belly! Pugsley ran around in doggy circles.
"Moo." I want to see you so badly, Pretty Eyes. I've missed you so.
"Prrupt." Silly cow.
My favourite human in the world stomped outside with Thunder Voice in tow. "Emmett, what were you thinking, accepting that bull calf?"
"Moo." He knows it's our destiny to be together.
"I couldn't let them turn the cutie pie into rump roast," Thunder Voice protested.
"Moo," I agreed.
Pretty Eyes grabbed his head and rubbed it. "I'm not allowed to keep a cow inside the town limits, Em. He can stay a couple of days until you find a place for him, but he can't live here."
My eyes welled up with fat cow tears.
"But Buddy, you're a vet," Emmett protested.
"Moo." You have to love me. Nobody does, but I'm a good cow. I promise you I'll be lovable.
"He's not here to be treated, Bro. You're suggesting we keep him as … a pet."
"He's pretty loveable for a bull," Thunder Voice wheedled.
"I can't give him the kind of attention he deserves. Get the Rolodex in my office and start calling people."
"Like who?" Thunder Voice asked, turning pale.
"I dunno. I have fast facts about my customers in there. Look for someone with a farm, I guess."
"What's that on your arm?"
Pretty eyes turned green and crossed his arms mulishly.
"I played a prank on him while he was asleep this morning," Calving Heifer admitted, crossing her arms, too.
Thunder Voice pushed up the sleeve of Pretty Eyes' white shirt, and Pretty Eyes pushed his hand away.
"Is that a tattoo?"
I tried to see. I had a tattoo in my ear, and it getting it had hurt. Was my Pretty Eyes in pain? Pretty Eyes made a huffy-growly noise. Thunder Voice looked to Calving Heifer to explain.
Her eyes rolled. "I drew it on him with a Sharpie while he was sleeping."
Thunder Voice's lip tipped up on one side. He was delighted. "You drew a cow with exed-out eyeballs on Eddie's bicep while he was asleep?"
"I'm getting it tattooed there as soon as my arm is better."
See? He loves me, too. You were wrong, Wednesday!
"Meow." Get out of my yard, Barbecue.
"My baby brother is cool," Thunder Voice declared. "Hey, Eddie! Can I sign your cast?"
Pretty Eyes turned to face Thunder Voice and I accidentally licked him up the back of his head instead of on his cheek. Pretty Voice closed his eyes. "You can sign it as soon as you've found Clarence a home."
In the middle of the afternoon, I was peacefully chewing my cud when John Wolfe came in through the gate. He untied my rope from the tree.
"Time to go to your new home, big guy."
Pretty Eyes and his herd came out of the people-barn. "Thanks so much for this, John. Here's some cash for gas."
"Glad to do it," John said, pocketing it.
"So, you'll stop at Doc Gerandy's first, right?"
"Yep. Wouldn't trust anybody else with the job." John put me in Truck.
"That's for sure."
Pretty Eyes turned green all over. I wondered if he could look any tastier. "Yes."
"Good. See you later."
Truck rumbled, and Pretty Eyes and his herd flapped their hands at me.
"Moo." Goodbye, I'm going to miss you. I wish I was part of your herd.
"Bye, Clarence, be good!" Pretty Eyes called, smiling. It was almost as good as an 'I love you', and I would treasure it always.
We went to Doc Gerandy's and he was kind this time, but the things he did to me shouldn't happen to a bull. By the time John and I left there, I was in shock. I was also missing my testicles. Oh, how it hurt!
The ride in Truck was very long, and John got me out of the back a couple of times to walk about. At last, we pulled up to a people-barn in the country, that had lots of outbuildings, a couple of lush, green pastures, and many animals. A man hurried out to greet us.
"Hello, there!" smiled John Wolfe.
"This must be Clarence," the man said, beaming at me. "I'm Scott." The two humans locked hands and waved them.
"Pleased to meet you. Thanks for giving him a home."
"Glad to have him. He's friendly, you say?"
John helped me out of Truck. "He's never been aggressive, but now that he's a steer you shouldn't have to worry about him."
"The kids will love him. He's going to be a big ox, isn't he?"
"I expect so." John scratched his ear. "I have to get home."
"Okay, thanks again," Scott waved.
"Bye, Clarence," John said, scratching my ear. "You have a great life."
"Moo." You too, I lowed sadly.
"Welcome to the Curly Ram Petting Zoo, Clarence. Come and meet the gang," Scott said, pulling on my rope. I followed him into the pasture, and felt my heart lift. There were three cows inside the fence: a little female Guernsey, a male Holstein, and a female Hereford, like me.
"Moo?" I asked hopefully. Are you my herd?
"Moo." We are, said the Guernsey. I looked at all of them; they were pretty cute.
"Moo." I'm glad.
TWO YEARS LATER…
I was busy, chewing my cud when a remembered voice as soft as Buttercup's nose cut across the pasture.
"Esme Elizabeth, don't you climb over that fence!"
I turned my head. "Moo?" Is it really you?
"Clarence! Hey, remember me, Buddy?"
"Moo!" You came! I ran to the fence and stuck my chin over it. Pretty Eyes and Calving Heifer laughed and rubbed my nose. I could just cow cry!
"Is dis reawwy the cow fwom your wedding movie, Daddy?" a little voice asked from down near the ground.
"Indeed, it is. Esme, this is Clarence."
Yes. I bent my head down. The kitten-calf looked just like Pretty Eyes. "Moo." Hello, Little Cat. Welcome to my herd. I would like to spend the whole day showing you around. I'm so glad you came to meet my family. Let's go see if we can find the fairy in the cowslips!
And I lived happily ever after.