Tried to remember but my feelings get old for sure
Tried to recall but it’s gone
Lucky stars in your eyes
I’m walking the cow
I really don’t know how I came here
I really don’t know why I’m staying here
I’m walking the cow
Tried to point my finger but the wind keeps blowin’ me
In circles, in circles
Lucky stars in your eyes
I’m walking the cow
I really don’t know what I have to fear
I really don’t know why I have to care
I’m walking the cow
Lucky stars in your eyes…
Walking The Cow – Daniel Johnston
Chapter 1 – Hope Trail
Young Rebecca Wica spent this summer at her uncle and aunt’s ranch in Hope Trail, Massachusetts. It was Rebecca’s first experience outside the cozy confines of her physician father and her social worker mother and her upscale neighborhood and her upper middle class background in Plymouth. Rebecca was blossoming. She was experiencing herself as an individual person for the first time. It seemed like a magical spell to Rebecca.
In Rebecca’s world the fields were burning green and the clouds of ebullient insects flashed in the sunlight like sparklers in celebration for her.
Her knowing Uncle Josef gave to Rebecca the chore of feeding and watering the stallion and the four mares and their new foals. In Rebecca’s world this was no chore, it was a ministry. She tossed the alfalfa into portions for each mare and each foal, scolding when the big dappled grey mare would demand first taste of all the portions. When she filled their water barrels Rebecca would laugh as the chestnut colt tried to drink water under the stream from the hose and repeatedly splashed his nose and snorted.
Aunt Grace warned Rebecca to stay away from the cattle in those fields because they were “big and clumsy” but Rebecca had a funny feeling about that warning. Rebecca knew that her Aunt Grace would never lie to her but there was something that Aunt Grace seemed to be hiding from her or from which she was shielding Rebecca.
Rebecca thought, “Well, after all, I’m not a little girl anymore,” and Rebecca spent one afternoon among the cattle, most of whom turned their heads slowly toward her and then returned their faces to grazing.
One black and white heifer noticed Rebecca and then Rebecca told herself that the heifer was coming over to visit her. The heifer walked slowly bobbing her head and Rebecca giggled as she imagined the heifer greeting her, “Yes, yes, yes. Welcome here among us.”
The heifer came very close to Rebecca and turned her head and stared wide-eyed at Rebecca. Rebecca reached out and stroked the soft hair over that big hard cheek and the heifer nodded.
Rebecca said, “Your eyes are so big and brown and pretty. And I wish I had your eyelashes, too,” and Rebecca laughed as the heifer slowly and repeatedly tried to lick Rebecca with that big pale tongue. Rebecca continued, “Maybe I should eat grass, too? Is there enough to share?”
Rebecca noticed that now several other cattle were shuffling and bobbing in her direction and she soon found herself as the literal center of attention. Rebecca was enchanted in that huddle and she had a pleasant conversation with each animal.
Aunt Grace was calling her now, again and again.
Rebecca said to her admirers, “What can this be? Please excuse me. I will come back just as soon as I can, OK?” and she stroked the nose of the heifer which had greeted her first and all the while that heifer continued to try and lick her hand.
Rebecca said, “So what is your name? I think it is Beyoncé. Yes, Beyoncé. So I will see you again soon Beyoncé.”
After bidding good-bye to Beyoncé, Rebecca ran up over and down the rolling field back to the ranch house where stood Aunt Grace.
Aunt Grace sounded worried, “Child, where have you been?”
Rebecca beamed, “I was making friends with the cows. I have a new friend named Beyoncé, Beyoncé the cow,” and Rebecca laughed.
Aunt Grace wrung her hands and said, “That’s nice, dear. I tried to tell you it wasn’t safe…,” and Aunt Grace realized she could not maintain that pretense and so she said reluctantly instead, “You know, ‘Becky, those cows have to go away tomorrow. Beh-, bah-, oh, Bouncy, too.”
Rebecca corrected Aunt Grace, saying distinctly, “Beyoncé,” and then she quickly asked, “Why?”
Aunt Grace looked over Rebecca’s head and seemed worried, saying, “Uncle Josef has sold them. They belong to someone else now.”
Rebecca asked, “Beyoncé, too? She just became my friend. Can I visit her at the new ranch? Will she be close?”
Aunt Grace held Rebecca’s cheek and answered, “No, no, dear. Bee-ounce-ee…”
Rebecca said quickly, “Beyoncé. Beyoncé.”
Aunt Grace continued, saying, “Yes, of course, dear. I’m sorry. Bay…, uh, your new friend will be far away.”
Rebecca pouted. This quick turn of events did not seem to fit her newfound little world.
The next morning Rebecca was already up and in the field when the truck came to take the cows away and she stood beside Beyoncé, hugging her big head. Beyoncé was nodding and lifting Rebecca off of the ground a little bit with each toss of her head.
Uncle Josef kept looking away as he muttered to Rebecca, “I’m sorry your friend has to leave so soon.”
Rebecca hugged Beyoncé right up to the truck ramp and then the young man with the clipboard and pen pointed the pen at Rebecca and told her, for her own safety, to let Beyoncé go. Uncle Josef admonished the driver, saying loudly, “This cow is my niece’s friend and they are saying good-bye. There is no need to be rude.”
The young man looked back and forth at Uncle Josef and at Rebecca and pointed his pen and he understood, saying, “I apologize. I’m a little grumpy. I, I must be getting a cold. I’m Timothy. What is your heifer’s…, your friend’s name?”
Rebecca pouted, saying proudly, “Beyoncé,” and the heifer stopped on the ramp and looked back at Rebecca.
Timothy said quickly, “What a beautiful name! I, I’ll make sure Beyoncé has a safe journey, OK?” and Timothy mounted the ramp and gently nudged Beyoncé onto the bed of the truck.
Rebecca asked, “Where are you going to take her?”
Timothy glanced at Uncle Josef and Uncle Josef said to Rebecca, “To Mister Blooding’s Farm,” but he pronounced “Blooding” with such an exaggerated “Blew-ding” that it made Rebecca suspicious and she didn’t know why.
In truth it was the Blooding Farm Slaughterhouse
Aunt Grace arrived just in time to hug Rebecca from behind and to wave a theatrical good-bye to Beyoncé and the other cattle. Timothy drove very cautiously so as not to jostle and upset his charges as he watched Rebecca in his rear-view mirror and filmed her with his micro-camera pen.
Rebecca could not stop feeling that her paradise had been violated and finally a single tear escaped from her eye and it fled down her cheek.
Aunt Grace said out of guilt and desperation, “Don’t be sad, ‘Becky. You’ll meet your friend again someday, I’m sure, right Josef?”
Uncle Josef nodded but unwittingly spoke to Rebecca as to a small child, saying, “Oh, sure, you bet, ‘Becky. I’m sure of it, you bet.”
Rebecca suddenly knew that Aunt Grace and Uncle Josef were being untruthful and she cried.
Chapter 2 – The Blooding Farm Slaughterhouse
Timothy Moses arrived at Blooding Farm Slaughterhouse. He was not the regular truck driver but that driver was out sick. Since Timothy had once been the truck driver as his first job at Blooding he covered for his absent co-worker.
Timothy aligned the truck at the “Crowd Pen” and moved Uncle Josef’s cattle down the truck’s ramp. He filmed Beyoncé surreptitiously with his micro-camera pen as he pretended to study his clipboard.
The fretting cattle were slowly urged from the Crowd Pen into the chute leading into the building. Timothy walked alongside Beyoncé on the outside of the chute filming her and talking to her. Beyoncé was wide-eyed and breathing hard as the press of the cattle forced her forward.
Timothy whispered, “Forgive me, Beyoncé. That little girl loves you but I can’t save you today. But maybe I can save you someday,” and it was hard for Timothy Moses to swallow. He departed the chute and left it to his co-workers and he entered the building to take his place at the Knock Box inside, his regular job.
Inside the building the chute narrowed until only one animal at a time could proceed. The last one alive at the front of the line was suddenly restrained with her head in the Knock Box.
Timothy was there to relieve the “Knocker” when Beyoncé arrived and her head was restrained in the Knock Box. Beyoncé rolled her wide big brown eyes at Timothy Moses. Timothy filmed Beyoncé without having to be secretive. Timothy was the only person in that compartment of the Blooding Farm Slaughterhouse; the Knocker stands alone. He was the last person to see Beyoncé as a feeling creature as he adjusted the captive bolt steel gun at Beyoncé’s head. He filmed the protocol. He fired the gun.
The red sea of blood parted where what was once Rebecca’s friend Beyoncé fell to the conveyor where she was shackled and hoisted onto an overhead conveyor. Per protocol her carotid artery and jugular vein were slit and she bled out as she was conveyed out of range of Timothy’s micro-camera pen.
Timothy took a breath and steeled himself by imagining the day when his film and his book would part the moral baffles that separate the killing from all the other work in the building and all the other structures of society.
Timothy had only 12 seconds to knock this hope into his mind. Another heifer’s head already was restrained. There would weigh a thousand more killings upon Timothy before this dirtiest of workdays ended. For comfort Timothy thought of Christ on the Cross
Chapter 3 – The Whopper
Rebecca has returned to her cozy confines of her physician father and her social worker mother and her upscale neighborhood and her upper middle class background in Plymouth. Her parents take her to dinner to celebrate her homecoming. They take Rebecca to her favorite restaurant where they order for her a Buddy Burger from the menu with the smiling harlequin.
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