Now that everyone is at the same point, we can begin.
It really was a lovely evening for a barbecue. It was a comfortable temperature, with a breeze just strong enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay as we fired up the grill. The sun was just setting as my husband turned steaks on to sizzle and it was then that he heard it.
He called in to me. “Hey Clarice, I thought you said the goat was gone.”
Goats, lambs. For a New Yorker there is really no need to distinguish between the two and he got to make a Silence of the Lambs joke.
“What?” I was just coming down the ramp with Quinn, the puppy and an armload of drinks. I hadn’t heard anything.
“I thought you said it was gone.” He was brandishing a long-handled grill scrubber and looking down the bank toward the overgrown stream bed.
“It is. It followed the peanut butter home.”
“Well then, what was that?”
I listened but heard only the peepers and early crickets. I opened my mouth to answer, but before I spoke, I heard it, too.
The bleating. After a full day of hearing that goat bleat every ten minutes as is peeped in my window, I was sure it was the same one.
It was the same bizarre certainty that as a mother, allows me to identify my own child’s cries as his.
It was back.
I put down the drinks, tied the pup and told Quinn to stay with his Dad.
I then grabbed the fishing net and made my way down into the chest high grass.
Do not laugh at my weapon. That was not an arbitrary or unthoughtful selection. It had my first criteria – a long handle. But it also had an opening that was wide enough to go over the goat’s head, and the sturdy net could catch over and entangle the horns, thus allowing me to capture the goat with what I hoped would be a minimum amount of injury.
Wading through the grass and following the wiggly little stream, I knew it was there. I could hear it, bleating its little goat laugh as I hacked away at the growth and tried not to think about ticks.
Finally though, I was forced to give up my search when Dan called me for dinner.
It was nearly dark by the time I slogged back up the embankment, the giant full moon hanging low in the sky to the east while just the slightest hit of lavender lit the western slope.
By the wee hours of the morning, long after the meal was through, the goodnight kisses were pressed onto cheeks and page upon page of a novel read, I’d kind of forgotten about the goat.
Not about the incident itself, but the concern that it was lingering.
So when I hooked the beast of a St. Bernard puppy up to her leash for one final walk before bed, I could appreciate the brilliance of the moon, and how it made ghostly the fog lying low along the creek bed.
Perhaps it was the pretty, ambient night that coaxed us a bit farther from the door than we should have gone.
A noise from the bank, and the pup barked at the shadow as I began to back away. And with a tremendous bleat it crested the bank and ran for us, the moon and the fog conspiring to make its white fur appear to glow.
I’m a coward. I picked up the 50 pound pup and ran.
And as it tripped up the ramp behind us, I pushed through the door, not looking back to see whether the following crash was the goat being stopped by the swinging door, or the door being battered to bits by the devilish horns.
Gaining the kitchen, I dropped the pup and then spun to lock the door and kill the outside lights.
In the morning, the only evidence of the absurdity was the small pile of goat scat at the top of the ramp.
- The Goat Episode, in 3 Parts: part 1 (rantravewrite.com)
- The Goat Episode, in 3 Parts: part 2 (rantravewrite.com)