A big slice of sugar-coated Midwestern pie dropped into my lap today. I was taking the Heathens to school when we passed by a neighbors’ hobby farm; the kind with one or two of each of breed and variety of livestock, all co-mingling like some kids’ utopian storybook. Today, one of the goats was on the wrong side of the fence and meandering around the two lane county road, occasionally bashing in the fence with her head trying to return to her homestead. I thought, “Let’s not be a total dirtbag about this situation”, maybe try and do the right thing. The right thing being to let the neighbor know he’s got a renegade pet awaiting a sure death by some texting teen driver.
This presents a rather unique dilemma. When I say “neighbor”, I mean he’s a couple miles down the road and not one I know at all. And out in these parts, you go strolling onto someones property, one of two factors needs to be in play: either you’re a friend or acquaintance or you’ve got a warrant. If neither of these conditions are met, there is a more-than-fair chance you will be met by the business end of a firearm. And I don’t exactly look like a Girl Scout selling cookies, so I need to weigh options.
I notice a Ford Aerostar minivan, beat nine ways to hell in the driveway….not a good sign. There are two bumper stickers, one saying “If you think you’re so special, YOU try walking on water” and another one extolling Dale Earnhardt’s virtues as the biggest ass-kicker of all time. So the property occupant is both God AND Dale-fearing……this points to an extremely high likelihood of there being a significant number of firearms already being trained on my wife’s vehicle, which isn’t helping because, unlike my truck, this rig could be construed as some sort of yuppie / hippie wagon. If I had a gambler’s instincts they would be screaming something along the lines of “Let the goat take her chances, fool! Run!” But I also sense an opportunity to witness, or maybe even be a part of, chaos so of course, I’m drawn to it.
Knocking on the door, I take the stance we do on medical calls on the north side of town, to the side of the doorway, just in case some buckshot is the answer. The nerves are on hyper-alert at this point…I love it. The door is swung open with a vengeance to reveal a wild eyed man about my age, hair looking as though he was busy licking a light socket when I interrupted his reverie. Clearly a man of the trades, his drywall covered pants and torn apart Journey shirt indicated to me that he was not someone to be trifled with. The still-inflated Santa ornament in the yard really should have been the tip-off that I was entering a realm where normal paradigms were to be ignored completely. I took up an incredibly manly stance and said, “Sir, not to bother you, but you’ve got a goat running amuck out here in the road. Thought you might want to know.”
He looked at me for a second as though I had just offered him a job as an astronaut, then his reality came around. He mutters something like, “Crap, Sugar got out again. HONEY! SUGAR GOT OUT AGAIN! Jesus, I am sick of this horseshit!” That’s not the kind of statement that really lends itself to a response, so it got awkward for the briefest of moments, and then I offered to help get Sugar back onto Madman Acres. He again looked at me quizically like the second statement was nuttier than the first, and blurted out, finally, “No, no. I got it. That goddamn Sugar. I really hate that goat. She does this shit all the time. Damn her. Damn her to hell.” A part of me feared for the goats’ well being, both when this psycho-billy got his hands on her and, after that last comment, her eternal soul.
I then backed out of the driveway so as to never lose eye contact with my new acquaintance. This is the sort of chance encounter few of us get to witness. I’m a bit experienced in this regard, as the fire station I work out of services this level of clientele almost exclusively, making me something of an expert. Despite this near daily interaction, it never gets old, nor does it fail to amuse me; I just had no idea it ALSO was living right around the corner from our place.
Poor goat. I can only hope that she’s an Earnhardt fan.