The Ol’ Bull: An Episodic Micro-Fiction Series

The Ol’ Bull

Episode 1:

These here two boys, they be good boys, good at fixin things, farm machines, blades and sharp-edges that cut deep into wood and metal, and cuz they’re farm boys good at buryin animals, even babies and still-borns and the old ones, they get used to livin and dyin in the way most folks will never, these two boys, one named Dink, the other Red.

And after they go fixin things and doin farm work, and they do this like farm families do everyday, these boys like goin to the corn fields throwin the baseball, back and forth, the ground right up underneath ‘em and the sky overhead, throwin the baseball, blowin off steam, Dink especially if the days gone by without him cuttin himself or bangin his head against somethin, like that’s a free day onto him and gets him thinkin.

Cuz sometimes somethin happens you can’t never plan on, hours stretchin all through the day and night workin on things that break and run down and play out their natural lives and this never knowin for certain about things upsets Dink mightily…

Episode 2:

Now Dink, he likes throwin the ball hard and fast, thinkin he’s like Bobby Feller raised up in the corn fields up Iowa and look what happened to him becomin a major league star at age 18 so he calls his fastball the bobby f. ball or ol’ bobby and that’s like him cuz he likes doin things fast as he can.

Red, now, he’s a different sort, see things different, really feels the ground, the pulse of the ground bubblin there below the surface and loves the sky and he throws this thing he calls the slow as molasses ball that always infuriates Dink ‘spite their frenship and all, workin a common pasture tween their two folks, this ball that kinda lopes around in space, like almost an optical illusion, comin in so slow that you get all nervous waitin for her to get to you and the more nervous you get, the more you get to thinkin, Dink does.

And that’s how he becomes a thinkin boy, out of nervousness and not wantin to wait around for the slow as molasses ball that gets him thinkin about ways he could do somethin about getting the unknown things out of his life even, in fact, thinkin about how the slow as molasses ball can lope around like that seemin almost like she’s got a mind of her own in the sky and maybe he can rid himself of that.

Episode 3:

The boys are down at the riverbank and Dink says what you wanna be when you grows up and Red, he points across the river sayin I wanna be jus like that cottonwood tree, the two of ‘em, all dusty and dirty, grease caked onto their fingers from working under a bailer, maybe a nick or two on Red since he does more of the work close up, Dink wantin more to supervise, standin back supervisin, readyin to jump in the cool of the runnin water, just bein the cottonwood, just being who I am, Red says, or maybe one of them willows swayin, little bit of wind goin through me or even a bluegill jus bein a bluegill swimmin around in the low water, in and out of the cattail roots, Red says, pawin around, his feet in the river sand.

And Dink, tryin to say something back, gets a look on his face real similar to the expression when he’s waitin on ol’ slow as molasses, a serious thinkin kinda look like how could you ever be like a cottonwood tree or a willow or a bluegill and you’re my buddy that does most of the fixin of things and I admit you got a feel for that but this is stretchin things bad and damned if I can figure the slow as molasses ball.

Till finally he gives up thinkin and says, don’ you wanna be somebody, don’ you wanna make somethin outta your life, don’ you wanna be somebody special like I’m goin to be.

Episode 4:

Now, some of you may be wonderin by what means this frenship held together between Dink and Red, one of them throwin the bobby f. ball and the other the ol’ slow as molasses ball, one of them lightning fast thinkin, the other contemplative, one of them a supervisor type, the other a worker.

Well, imagine this, you’re out in the woods, two young boys, jus boys, their families sharin a common pasture and no other boys around for miles, just these two boys, no other boys among neighbors till you get way up the road close to town, of course you’re goin to be friends and anyway you’re out in the woods, the two of you and you hear this sound like babies cryin and you go lookin and you find a dead mama cat, you can tell she’s a mama cause her bottom side’s all swollen and she’s dead awhile, a little stiff, not fully but goin stiff and you hear that baby sound cryin continuin and you know that’s her babies and that’s when Red takes a peculiar likin to Dink cause he’s fast lookin through the woods, faster than Red could ever look.

And when Dink finds those babies, those little kittens hidden away under a piles of leaves that’s when Dink takes a peculiar likin to Red cause jus like Red couldn’t find ‘em fast, Dink doesn’t know what to do with ‘em when he lifts up the leaf pile and finds ‘em but Red does almost like he’s the mommy so careful is he when he takes ‘em, eyes closed and little strengthened, and wraps ‘em in the linin of his jacket and starts talkin to ‘em, everythins gonna be all right, saying everythins goin be all right over, whisperin soft hush-talk and turning his head tellin Dink, lookin right at him, straight-on in the eyes, to run ahead to the barn and get some goat milk, get Mandy to give, she’s the oldest and always gives and bring me the milk and the cleanest work gloves you can find and a scissors and I’m goin to stay here and make sure no one gets to the mamma cat and Dink takes off runnin like you’d never see like if the bobby f. ball had legs but not failin to look back at Red thinkin ain’t he something, warm milk for the babies and Red watching Dink run, a little proud to know him and the babies sensin the goodness of the boys.

Episode 5:

In the barn Dink’s thinkin milk Mandy, get the best gloves, find the scissors, carry the milk, run through the fields and in an instant knowing he’s got everythin backwards, dashes into the house, gets the scissors and ruffles around looking for the cleanest gloves, no one home, and back in the barn starts milkin, not likin milkin much, thinkin if he had twenty or thirty or a hundred goats automatically being milked by some kind of machine, sprayin the milk into a long conveyor belt contraption and into vats than he could sell a whole bunch a milk but who’d wanna buy milk sittin around in a big steel vat when they could milk their own goat, get fresh milk with all the nutrients and warm from the teat.

And then he’s runnin through the field, the milk fresh and warm not cold like it woulda been if he’d milked first, climbing over the pasture fence, runnin on bobby f. legs, having emptied the milk from the milkin pail into a mason jar, the scissors taped and in his pants pockets and the gloves in the other and holdin onto the mason jar coming up on Red but Red ain’t there.

But he hears Red, hears him singin now, it’ll be all right, everything’s all right, that’s him singin, your babies be all right, mama, they be all right and there he is, not where Dink left him, but over there, cross-legged sittin next to dead mama cat, and Dink sees him, a little shaft of sunlight on him, singin you can go, mama, you did give your babies birth and they’re gonna be all right and you can go now, you can fly now, mama and when Dink comes over, Red puts one hand out, level, motionin up and down but keepin his hand level meanin come up slow and quiet and Dink does realazin the meanin of Red’s name not because of the color of his hair or any kinds of freckles but because of who he is and the blood the people say he carries and for one single solitary fleck of breath, Dink’s thinkin he sees mama cat go slack, like all of her insides give out and through that little shaft of sunlight he believes he sees something looks like her flicker through the air and then be gone and Red quiet with his head bowed and the babies wrapped up inside his jacket, their heads barely seen and Dink standing there with their milk.

Episode 6:

And then Red takes off his jacket one arm at a time, first his left keepin his right hand pressed against his chest holdin the baby kittens on the inside half of his jacket not taken off then the right with his left hand now keepin the middle part of his jacket pressed against his chest and then standin in one motion and then stretchin his right hand outwards straight from his chest then slowly his left, the jacket startin to peel away from his body, catchin the fallin part with his right hand, the jacket now outstretched the babies inside like when friends gather round and throw someone up in the air out of a blanket at a get together.

Then he starts to bend, his knees and thighs bendin, his body goin down one leg now angled goin behind him for balance and Dink watchin thinkin he’s watchin a lily pad descendin out of the sky the little cat heads now pokin up.

And as Red goes all the way down to the ground the jacket lookin like a lily pad comin out of the sky that when the jacket touches the ground Dink swears to himself that Red comin down with the lily pad jacket makes the hard ground look like still water calmed and pure.

Episode 7:

Then quietly barely over a whisper, give me the gloves, linin the babies up horizontally, one to another, five of ‘em, each beginnin to stir, wakin, coverin the babies with one, give me the scissors, poking eyedrop holes in the other fingertips, the mason jar, tilting the jar some sideways, dippin his fingers into the creamy milk, Dink up close.

The babies stirrin, Red scramblin on the ground, opposite now the babies, givin them his fingers, the babies, first one then ‘nother, lickin, little baby tongues, eyesstitchedclose, Red flat on the ground feedin the babies, slippin the glove with the eyedrop holes onto his other hand, Dink watchin.

The air still, the ground still, leaves crinklin, Dink thinkin lots, lots a milk, lots a mouths, gettin ideas, Red dippin fingertips into the milk.

Episode 8:

Now this is lookin back at things the way you do the older you get.

Dink’s in his big office, his way of talkin cleaned up at college and respectable and all, becomin a lawyer and a lobbyist before he lands the dream job.

Red said givin him the glove, the babies satiated and bellies full, you lie here and if they stir, you dip your fingertips into the milk and give ‘em the glove or you wrap up the babies in my jacket and you carry ‘em back to the barn cause we’re gonna grow ‘em up to be barn cats seein they be born outdoors and would be unhappy house cats inside or I can do the carryin and if I do you take both gloves and carry the dead mama with us and we’ll bury her near the barn so her children can have a sense of her with ‘em and you choose and all Dink can think about is feedin lots a mouths but not wantin to feel their tongues on his fingertips so he says he’ll carry the dead cat and lookin out his window at the manufacturing sprawl makin all kinds of chemicals he wonders what ever happened to Red but not once ever tryin to track him down, content to be feedin the world never mind the controversy.

Episode 9:

That is, till the day the controversy that he never thought would catch up to him catches up to him, barricaded with his senior executives in the boardroom, Moms Across America protestin in his parkin lot and fillin up his lobby, placards and posters and hand-written signs readin “We’re Not An Experiment” and pictures of deformed children with crash helmets and funny stickin-out teeth with drool comin out and news cameras everywhere and word gettin out that big ag and big pharma’s joined at the hip with big gov and FDA’s got their fingerprints over everything and China givin Syngenta and GMO Corn the heave-ho and the farmers suin all across America for lost revenue from the GMO corn gettin kicked out of China and the study about Autism and the links to vaccines gettin out before the PR boys and medical association can jump in and the big dollars Merck had to put out and all cause he wanted to feed the world and how’s nature gonna feed 7 billion people without technology helpin out and we gotta right to profit and we might just go ahead and privatize water so you be careful who you tryin to kick down the road, that’s what Dink’s thinkin, believin in his heart he can ride this thing out.

This and other things when the day’s finally done and the first part of the dream comes to him, wakin him up ever so slight from his dream, dreamin jus like he’s watchin a movie, like what he’s seein in his sleep is like he’s there maybe sittin on a pasture fence and seein what he sees as if it’s happenin real and if he’s tellin what he sees from another part of him that talks different than he’s used to, composed without panic, jus tellin clear and straight, sayin this:

The old bull lays around in the field, doing hardly nothing at all, the cows down below in the wide pasture, sunning themselves, eating grass and sipping water.

Episode 10:

Almost like another person inside him, tellin him somethin he should hear and know about hisself, his own personal storyteller tellin him his story, this dream he plunges out of, wakin in the morning able to recall and all day at work in and out of meetins with lawyers and the PR people talkin through ‘plausible denial’ till a mom from Moms Across America finds his office on the top floor, gets through all the way  to the top floor, and launches her body – against the floor-to-ceilin window borders his office door – shakin him bad, screamin moms protect their children fingers like cat claws screechin on the window.

And exhausted thinkin the voice in the dream is the voice I talk in now but the story’s about somethin that comes from a different part of me, a part of me I don’t know and what am I supposed to know driftin off, his driver seein him in the rearview slip off to the side head a little crooked eyes closed not knowin where the voice he hears drifting off gonna take the story, them takin backroads to be safe, story only he can hear him not feelin safe.

How I know I go ahead and give you money, says the buyer, just hired by the corporation, through his training and on his first call, that ol’ bull get off his haunches and do the deed? How I know that?

Episode 11:

This one’s clever, he thinks, starting off on me like that, getting me on my backside right up, gonna prove my way backward, he is.

Sun come up this morning, didn’ he, breeder says, responding, moon at night, don’ she, no one tells ‘em nothing, they got their own way a knowing.

Shakin Dink wide awake, the dream scarin him wakin him knowin he’s the young upstart salesman and Red’s the breeder and both of ‘em in his mind meanin he’s both and the image of the woman from Moms Across America screechin on his office window like a cat freshly put in his mind and he tells the driver to get on, get on driver, get him home fast callin him driver never mind if he’s got a name of any kind and havin no feelin for his name in his mind.

Episode 12:

Morning comes and Dink’s feelin better til he flips on the news and there’s pictures of bees dyin colonies collapsin and fingers pointin at Monsanto maybe and he knows they be bearin down on him for he knows what’s in the stuff he makes and sells all over the world and sittin there waitin for the housekeeper to bring eggs and toast he kinda drifts off and his mind starts runnin flippin back to the dream story, wantin to fight a bit with Red and imaginin goin toe to toe, Dink bein the buyer and Red resistin him, maybe like his way of tellin Red that somebody’s got to feed the world and why shouldn’t I make a profit seein I’m the one doin the feedin.

What you saying now, Mr. Breeder.

The old bull get to it when the time’s just right.

Episode 13:

And Dink gets right after him thinkin and here he’s gonna prove to him that if you gonna feed the world money’s got to come from somewhere and you gotta protect those that give you the juice. Anyone can understand that and how could ya any other way, you can see that surely, Red who bothers me now in my sleep and in my thoughts.

So, what makes the time just right, the upstart buyer says, who decides that and where’s it say in a contract and how do I insure myself against him not doing the deed, how I protect shareholders from that risk?

And jus as quick comes the response trickin Dink cause Dink knows it’s him thinkin Red’s thoughts, thinkin himself right into a quandary, thinkin if he believes these thoughts he puts into the imaginary Red conjured up in his mind sleepin and now awake thinkin the Moms Across America gots to him more than he knows and he’s gonna have to do somethin ‘bout them bad thinkin,

There’s a whole lot that goes into that you wouldn’t know about, the breeder says, drawing a line of alfalfa through his teeth, that’s a whole ‘nother story, that’s the whole story to a lot of things you don’t know nothin’ about.

Episode 14:

Press millin around when one of the moms from Moms Across America bursts into Dink’s office and Dink lookin up says, Cat, and Catherine answerin him says, time’s catchin up to you Dink.

You’re the one runnin this, Dink says and Cat answerin says, you gotta change your ways, Dink or I’m gonna get all the moms after you and you don’t wanta get in the ways of moms protectin their children.

And Dink, he knowin Cat’s power and grit is why he left her, pushes the button under his desk, countin the seconds in his mind till security arrives takes ex-wife.

Episode 15:

Steely silence between them, Dink holdin this back Cat holding onto her fingers so small they look more like a baby’s than a three year old, Dink’s hand shaky against the little coffin the cemetery creepin closer, the minister waitin.

And in a space an instant that life like vapor disappears the two of them into separate worlds, Dink’s bigger spreadin manufactured food all over the world and smaller just him and his driver and Cat’s much much bigger now purposed sayin to moms protect your children and Dink becoming enemy.

Episode 16:

This dirt, Red says, coverin mama cat, give you rest. Standin over the two other holes, dirt piled up longside, diggin one Red, the second Dink, the barn swallows swoopin through the rafters, Red says, now we put our piles back into the holes, the little babies scrunched up under his jacket, and even ‘em out best we can.

Both flat and even with the ground, Red says, we come back tomorrow and dig out the dirt and leave it sittin and come back mid-month and see how much of the holes the dirt fills and if there’s a difference more or less full and see if you can determine what causes that difference if there is the difference Choctaws know about.

Episode 17:

The dirt and the ground and land claim us, Dink’s thinkin scrapin the dirt back in the hole mid-month the little babes eyes open now, Red still feedin ‘em.

Hmmm.

The hole his dirt goes into less than two inches from the top filled up and Red’s done finished scrapin even with the ground jus like before Red hummin the word Choctaw.

Episode 18:

Back at it in two weeks, moon different in the sky too. Dig, dig, dig, dirt out of the the holes, a day later fillin.

Red’s even with the ground, Dink’s four inches separated, thinkin what in the hell.

Episode 19:

These thoughts invadin his mind rememberin Cat’s words, you wouldn’t even put your hand on her casket, you wouldn’t even touch the dirt not knowin what he was rememberin that he was no good at livin Cat says.

Your only good is makin chemicals that poison food and kill and gettin paid to do so, she goes on.

That talk ended when she left and now he’s gonna get her throwin herself against his office window the security people with tasers gonna tusk her off they are and him on the phone to Washington makin a deal.

Episode 20:

Feelin good about the security people, lettin Cat’s words evaporate, all good the deal in DC the company driver hummin along not a care in the world paycheck comin, road clickin by, he lays down early, gettin out of the company limo, never suspectin the words his dream’s gonna give him trackin the sounds of ‘em, tryin to shake himself awake but succumbin to ’em in the worst way to what they say,

Silence between them, the rookie unsure, his first call, not expecting this, digging into his bag of tricks, thinking stock quotes and market going up, what they tell ‘em, you can get a piece, you on the ground floor and you can rise as high as you want.

The ol’ Breeder sizing him up, thinking of the fun he’s gonna have with ‘em and then starting, opening up soft.

But seeing is you gotta talk, seeing you’re here on company business, you go ahead and talk first I’ll listen to ya, he says, game on!

Episode 21:

This dream, Dink says shoutin now in his sleep, Leave Me Alone, fightin hisself, rollin over, the dream winnin, drowsy feelin till he’s right back in.

Here we go, again, he thinks, listening. Once you let ‘em get started, they never stop, they come at you ever which way.

Episode 22:

Mind if I mosey over, he asks, sauntering towards the fence post, his bad leg giving way a little bit, at the right knee, where a milk stand collapsed on him years ago. You go ahead, now, he tells him, settlin’ against the fence, watching in the distance the sun starting to go down and the sky changing color ever so slight.

Go ahead, now.

Episode 23:

Dink wakin, up to the challenge, the words go ahead, now, fresh in his mind, startin, sayin to hisself, all my life I haven’t known things, been scared.

That’s the truth.

But makin money nobody scares if you are, makin money like bein a god but to tell the truth, the scares wakes me at night and I can’t get my mind to settle, not the way Red could settle me though I couldn’t understand his ways I’d give anythin to have him with me this part of my life or some part of him though I know he’s gone and never made his way beyond the part of his life when we lost contact.

Episode 24:

That was a bitter day, Red movin away, never to be heard from, Dink on his own, not knowin things the way Red knew things, one of the two bitterest days, baby girl dyin the other and now a third, Dink on the phone pressin charges on Cassy same time the good news comes in from DC his secretary givin him the write-up.

FDA letterhead and all tellin him do whatever you want with the chemicals, we’ll give you a clean bill of health said plain and formal but underneath the implied, just make sure you keep your donations up come election time, we gonna count on you.

The two of ‘em, the good news and the underneath, for somethin inexplicable, never happened before, gives him the scares like at night the god awful dream pursuin him.

Episode 25:

You live like this for years not knowin real things and praised for unreal things, business man of the year, top employer, stock market blow-ups, praises and interviews, 60 Minute Profiles and articles in Forbes and then this stupid dream follows you around another night, driven home to an empty nest and a scotch and the words trickle on you splayed across a sofa or at your desk, drowsy now in a space between wakefulness and dead-on sleep and you hear them, Dink hears them.

You might call this our proposition, the upstart begins, nervous a bit, the first time on his own, his first solo presentation, tie askew, thin wet lines starting to crease the sides of his white shirt, coming down direct under his shoulders, these thin wet lines saying, I’m not too sure what I’m saying but here goes and I work for a big, big company and we knows all there’s to know.

You see, what we do, he begins, is we make your ol’ bull into a mass producing machine. And we keep ‘em lying roun, you don’ have to worry about that none if you got a special liking to him, only in a special pen and instead of doing his deed one-on-one, he does the deed when we stimulate ‘em right into a tubular depository that takes his seed and multiplies his seed and mixes in some lysine and splices this here concoction with DNA into a chemical brew we shoot into the mammies we keep in a wholes shoot of pens and the FDA watches over all this, you can be sure everything’s done just right, he adds winking ever so slight, looking up to see if the breeder takes to his winking.

Episode 26:
Half-crazy wakin, dream with him, wakin almost like he’s been shot thinkin, gotta be, gotta be good makin animals bigger, chemicals makin ‘em bigger, heavier, chemicals makin plants resistant to bugs, gotta be good, what was that last part, the dream comin back to him now, even the words,

If you want to know the algorithm, we will provide that for you when you sign up in our Partner Program, that’s trademarked for you to know, our Partner Program, for your safety and protection.

Not breaking a smile, the breeder keeps lookin’ away, watching the blue of the sky crinkle up, a sliver of orange getting on the underbelly.

And that ain’t all, the upstart jumps back in, thinking he better say something keep the breeder’s attention, tapping him on the shoulder, a light puff of dust rising off the breeder’s flannel workshirt, torn a bit here and there, he says, and we share profits with you, instead, you calfin’ a few babies old pappy makes, we make hundreds and thousands through the years and you get a piece of each one, you do.

Episode 27:

And with the lysine, we birth ‘em big and they grows bigger and make more steaks and ribs and burgers and we feed more’n the earth’s people and you get to be part of all that, in every grocery store and meat department and restaurant and burger stand with ketchup and the very mustard we make and provide to our vendors scattered all over the world through our reciprocal Feed the World subsidiary.

That’s a mouthful of talkin’, the breeder says. 

Going right on like he never heard a thing, the upstart says, no more busting yourself up in a pen, instead, you out sunnin’ yourself and the missus, drinking Pina Coladas in Boca Raton or Laguna or wherever you want, right here if you want.

Episode 28:

Here’s where you sign, he says, that’s when the breeder says, his chest expanding with a breath he takes, let me tell you a thing or two.

Now, the first line of night, an inky blue stels into the sky, let’s go inside, and sit awhile, the breeder says.

The Moon, she begins her rise, just when she wants to.

Episode 29:

Like he’s shot out of a canon Dink awakes, eyes clear, mind focused, knowin for the first time in ages what to do, exactly what to do, not guessin at all, on the phone to his secretary, get the plane warm, find the name Red Adams, yes Red Adams anywhere near Boca Raton or Laguna Beach, knowin Red’s alive and got something to tell him, get my driver here fast and tell him he’s comin with, ‘bout my age not rememberin if Red was older or younger, likely be a farm or with acreage and fast as he can puttin on his best suit and out the door as the co limo pulls up, then boarding the plane listenin to his secretary on the little cell phone jimmymajig sayin, I found a Red Adams in Florida, not in Boca, in farm country, in Ocala, middle part of the state, 200 acres and Dink says that’s him and tellin the pilot to get a move on and up in the air, closing in on Florida, the skies cloud over and the final run’s in a god awful rain slantin against the windows hard.

Comin into Jim Taylor Field, the rain’s on top of them and the landin’s rough but Dink doesn’t notice a thing, not even walkin to the waitin limo, his driver takin the wheel and off they go chasin after Red, the clouds even more dark on the ground than in the air, weather you wouldn’t wish on a livin thing makin the way more than a challenge down a country road to where Red’s place should be, picket fenced and barns and a big sign just standing there sayin “RESERVE AUCTION tomorrow 10:30AM” and Dink out of the car talkin to the man inside the house, not Red.

“Got behind he did tendin the place himself and the bank wouldn’t show no mercy and he let the animals go one-by-one and when they were all gone he gave up the house and I work for the bank to dispose of the property and he’s buried up the road fifty miles or so and I can give you directions but you’re better off waitin till the morning the sky clears”  and Dink’s back in the car and tells the driver the directions and says to floor the damn thing and loses all sense of what to do but to see where Red’s layin and damned if he hadn’t held back from hisself the piece about the moon in his dream doin what she wants to when she wants to and what could that mean as they slog up country roads mud flyin and the night all around them.

Episode 30:

Darkness and lost in thought eyes closed Dink simmers wonderin what anything means when he slides one side to the next, the big limo sashayin and cavortin down the road, Dink sayin what and god’s name and the driver callin back cat in the road, gunnin it now, the car dippin and then bam hittin something hard tipped at an angle, the front end jackknifed maybe into a ditch.

Kickin open the driver side door and comin around pulling Dink out, the driver says was a cat pullin something and I tried to miss her, gunned her right over the top of her, the front headlights fritzing out, the bumper against a big elm and Dink lookin behind ‘em, getting maybe an idea sayin where and the driver pointin, not making out much in the rain neither one of ‘em and Dink with big steps keep his feet from going out walkin back sayin a cat and comin through the clouds a shaft of silvery moonlight splayin against the mud with the tip about six ft into the woods when Dink sees her, the mama cat, one just born in her mouth at the edge of silvery tip, the thing she was pullin across the road and already in the next convulsion and Dink with no thinkin at all takes off his suitcoat and says come on over here to the driver and steps into the woods.

So gentle is he layin his jacket on the wet glistened forest floor, clearin the space of branches and twigs and anything rough and sayin it’s gonna be all right, it’s gonna be all right mama his driver can scarcely believe what he’s seein and Dink sayin grab some strong branches for a lean-to and the driver says let’s bring her into the car and Dink says no she’s an outdoor cat and these be outdoor children and the driver gets the branches and Dink lays his jacket in the mud and lifts the mama cat and the first born still slick with birth juice onto his jacket and the driver plants the branches says he’ll get the cover off the spare tire for to keep the top of the lean-to dry and the moonlight glows on the lean-to, the mama now inside and her first born and another comin.

Episode 31:

The first one chocolate-colored, Dink thinks, the one mama cat was pullin across the road, till he rubs soft as a cushion of flowers on the babe’s skin, feelin the mud and dirt on his fingers and seein the child’s colored white and feelin the heart beat and his driver sayin you get out of the rain for you get drenched and Dink sayin no mind and sitting there in the soggy grassy, stayin outside the lean-to, sittin there without moving till his driver sits with him, the two of ‘em sittin through the night while mama brings four more babies into the world, another white-colored and an orange with tiger striping and two grays with tiger striping, everythin slowing down after the sun comes up and the mama in there with her babies crowded around her, everyone sleepin and his driver sayin what we do now.

And Dink says I never got your name and the driver says Cremains, sir and Dink says you can pry that limo outa the ditch and Cremains says I can and Dinks says then drive us on back to that farm gonna have that auction and Cremains says we’re not headin to the cemetery and Dink says ‘nother time, this morning we got these cats to rightly take care of and off they go, pullin in early to the farm with the sign that reads “RESERVE AUCTION tomorrow 10:30AM” and Dink gets out of the car and talks to the auction man and asks him what’s the reserve and the auction man says he can’t say that and Dink hands him his business card and the man tells him after which he says that’s a mighty hefty price and the auction man says come here look at the barn and you’ll see why.

And in that barn smellin like alfalfa and hay and animal manure is the biggest ‘ol bull, a champion the auction man says in every competition ol’ Red ever entered him and Dink can hardly believe his eyes so massive is this ol’ Bull jus laying there, granddaddy champion the auction man says and Dink tells Cremains to bring in the cats, “to their new home”, he says and the auction man says you can’t do that and Dink goes to the limo and comes back with his checkbook and writes out a check double the reserve amount and the auction man says yes, you can do that and Dink goes back to the car a second time and slides the mama cat and her babies on his jacket outta the car and like he’s carrying the most precious of things precious to him walks with them in his arms into the barn and tells Creamins to spread a bale of alfalfa in one of the stalls and lays mama and her babies on his jacket onto the alfalfa and on a hunch he turns to Cremains and asks him by what name do your people call you and Cremains almost careful, like he knows more than he should say, says they call me Red and on what account Dink says do they call you Red and Red says on account of the Indian blood in me and Dink knows what he is to do about his company and Moms Across America and about Cat and the lawyers and in that same instant he knows he is the ol’ Bull in his dream that does what he wants when he wants and that he’s the moon that does what she wants when she wants and and that he’s the upstart rookie salesman, that’s him, too and the ol’ breeder, they’re all him, and that between the ol’ bull and the moon knowin what to do and the ol’ breeder makin sure the salesman never gets his way across that that’s how people get fed healthy and not by chemicals and that Red never left him, was inside him the whole time and knows if he were to ask Cremains if that Indian blood that makes his people call him Red was Choctaw what the answer would be when he looks over and sees mama cat lookin him straight in the eye.


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