One evening last week I was up late doing some “writing”. This sometimes involves wine, for those reflective moments where I sit back and contemplate the structure of a sentence, or go out to youtube for inspiration from Cass Elliot or Shane McGowan. After not getting much writing done I closed the dampers down on the stoves, shut the lights out and put my freezing feet against my wife’s legs, in a drunken misestimation that it wouldn’t wake her up.
“Goddamn. There can’t be any blood in those.” She said.
“They’ll warm up in an hour or so. Just in time for me to have to wake up for a piss and freeze them back down again.”
It wasn’t a rough night. I slept pretty good, in fact, until sometime around daybreak when we heard Chou-Chou the goat’s death rattle.
Chou-Chou is much, much older than goats typically get, and she’d already taken to spending most of her days finding a sunny spot on the south side of a building to pick the daisies off her quilt. But sometime the previous day she’d slipped into the pen with the mules to try and help them with their oats, and they were now arranged in a semicircle around her prone body, performing a kind of chiropractic.
My wife said “Wake up. You’re probably going to have to shoot a goat. The mules have just about finished her.”
I wouldn’t describe myself as hungover. I was more in the gray area between “resolutely unwilling to operate heavy machinery” and “I’ll get back with you on that social security number. It’s around here somewhere.”
Definitely not up for a killing, mercy or otherwise. It was with great reluctance that I went to fetch the pistol from its box on top of the wardrobe and began to reacquaint myself with its operation.
There are no children here, nor are there ever, so I was spared having to wrestle with the trigger lock. I managed to insert a few bullets into the clip without recourse to the manual, and got the clip in correctly. This was better than I thought I’d do. Next stop was an old elm stump in the front yard, where I cut the laser sight on, and with the safety still on, swung the gun around until I believed I could see the little red dot that I was supposed to aim at the goat with.
I released the safety, chambered a round and fired one into the stump to make sure the gun wasn’t jammed, and decided there was no way in hell I was going to shoot a fucking goat this morning.
“There’s no way in hell I can shoot a fucking goat this morning, honey.” I told my wife.
“Well, let’s move her up to the chicken house so she can die in peace.”
We ran the mules off, grabbed a wheelbarrow, and lifted her into it while she bitterly recounted her lonely childhood as a rejected goat, having to drink from a bottle and shit on the carpet in my studio.
“Aw shush.” I said.” We’re carrying you someplace nice to die.”
“You’d have made a good doctor. Impeccable bedside manner.” My wife said.
A cursory examination showed no broken bones, surprisingly, even though Jane and Kate both are firm believers in radical heroic methods for the treatment of ruminant infestations. A few more minutes in the operating theater and Chou-Chou would almost certainly have been delivered a complete cure.
“It’s that part on the end,” Said Jane,”The part she eats with. Needs surge-reh.”
A few minutes later, when I returned from feeding the cows, my wife told me “Good thing you didn’t shoot her. She’s up and around again.”
And still is.
She hasn’t demonstrated any desire to return to the mule pen, though.