Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Old Goat

Recently, very recently, H.E. Eigler issued a challenge on her site (among other sites), THE PHANTOM KEYBOARD:

"I challenge you to write a goat-related flash fiction piece.” (She was just back from BC, where she took some pictures of goats living on a rise).

She went on: Difficulty--no bestiality. I know. It does take the fun out of things.

So I immediately wrote a goat piece, with just the teeniest amount of bestiality. I mean, what's a little bestiality on a big literary operation like this? So I sent her my one-hour opus. Goes like this:

THE OLD GOAT

In an old prairie dugout, there lived a goat.

Goats seem eternally peeved, that peeved expression, but Andreas the Goat was not really peeved; quite happy, really. Did he not have what he wanted, the supply of scraps at the nearby junkyard, the good feeling he got from the Jimson weed and chicory, the late middle age which had now cooled his passion, True, the young she-goats still showed interest, though this more for his old daddy goat appeal than anything else. He was a handsome old goat.

One day, another goat passed his way. A young-old nanny. She still had a prance to her gambol, as if very young, but a little gray in her dapple showed she was almost as old as Andreas. The old goat regarded the new arrival with some interest. Meeehh, he bleated, almost out loud. There was, inexplicably, a Meeh-ing response. Andreas did a slight double-take, but he composed himself. Always be cool around females. "Hello, come closer. What's your name, little she-goat, what's your name?"

"Yasmine." she bleated. She clacked along the gravel to his hideout and came closer. He could now see her face. The cutest little snout, though he could see by the reddened blacks of her comma eyes that she had been into something. Funny weed? Perhaps a bit of fermented barley down by the sump pump. She had certainly was on something. Oh not again, the old goat thought. These kids, always grazing on those devil weeds. And the adults just as bad. She was now right up to him and went to almost pass him, though rubbing a little along his rough hide.

It had struck Andreas that it had been so long, so long since there had been a horn-to-horn. Or even close contact with a female.

But just as soon as she had come up, she suddenly turned on a cloven hoof and seemed about to run away.

But he followed and trotted beside her.

"What's your last name," he asked.

"Springbok."

"Springbok?”

"Yes. Yasmine Springbok."

"Icelandic," he asked.

"No, South African originally."

And with that, she seemed to just spring away from him, as she had done just before, soon to disappear through silver-and-blue Russian olive bushes.

These spacey drug freak nannies, they're all the same, the old goat thought. So much into power plays, games, control. Use you as a sounding board. Tease you and run off.
But her scent, the recent nearness of a female, had awakened something in Andreas.

For some time, the old goat had noticed his thoughts were more in the past than the present. Manger scenes, back in the days when he'd had a family, kids, barns, chickens. All gone now. All grown up. Or maybe worse. He winced at the thought.

Always the new she-goat. That's how it had always been up until he grew old. Never mind, Yasmine Bleat, or whatever your name is, I will tend to my grazing, see my reflection in the old glass windshields around the garbage dump. What a fine old goat I am. I don't need anything or anybody.

But Yasmine kept coming around.

At first she seemed to ignore him as she gamboled past, but he had to admit she was raising old goat passions in him, not only the hint of an erection he was starting to feel along his scrabbly belly, but also some sort of promise that Yasmine seemed to hold.

One day she came right up to the old goat and said, "I will give you whatever you want. Anything at all. Whatever you want, real or imagined.” "Nutcase," he decided. “Off-the-wall she-goat probably Iberian. Gypsy. Best keep to myself.”

But on the third day she came back with an old soup can in her mouth, which suddenly, inexplicably, turned into a flower.

The old goat pawed at the ground, but here, suddenly was a bunch of carrots. "How you doo dat?" the old goat asked, trying to show casualness, not the sudden, strange supernatural fear.

“I am she-goat, mistress of goathood. I can make you horny. I can de-goat you if I choose. I can make you magic. I am Isis-goat. I know you better than you know yourself."

Never met a goat like her before.

They took to running around together, past the trees, past the birds, past the clucky stampeding chickens, through the yard and into a grove of Russian olives, spiky and hard to get near, let alone eat. "Got something to show you, said Yasmine. Come." Andreas followed, followed her down a glade to the hollowed-out stump of an old oak tree, ancient, thick, though the inside was rotted out, leaving a circular ruin all around. One end was open, and inside, there was space for two or three goats, as if in a pen. There, inside the old oak stump there was a nest of spiders, just babies really, scrambling for cover. Yasmine suddenly went to stomp them, and in fact, trampled a couple. The others got away. Andreas was surprised at this sudden show of atavism. Who, what was she really? Andreas had a sudden feeling of unreality as the hollowed oak stump seemed suddenly alive, all ashimmer. "Do not be afraid," said Yasmine. This is only a show of my power. I can give you anything you want. Anything at all. And then she knelt on her front legs and produced the vision of a past manger scene, the old goat's former mate, the kids, the chickens. All he had to do was walk into it and there he would be. But Andreas just stood there transfixed, wondering at the unreality of it all. And just as soon as the scene dissipated, she scrambled for a wall and was suddenly gone.

It took a long time for the old goat to return to the dugout.

He was a much changed old goat.

Seven years of rooting around the old dugout that he had lived in. And for the first time, he'd learned something. But what was it?

He yearned to see the young-old she-goat again.

One morning, he saw two goats up on the rise, a fine gray billy and along with him, Yasmine.

Son of a wanton goat! he thought. I should have known.

But the following day she was back, alone, her mysterious companion not there.

"I want you to love me," she said, rather matter-of-factly. “I want you to love me. Spiritually, like a goat-knight. I will give you anything you want." And suddenly, between them, there sprung a clump of olives. Andreas had a taste. Not at all like stale Campbell's soup. Something in those olives though. He could feel, sense the remaining baby spiders in the stump's walls. Could see them spinning their little gossamer webs, and the mother now nearby.

He made to tell Yasmine how he was feeling, but she was not there now. She was gone again.

She came back that evening, and, after some rubbing against him, unexpectedly, presented herself to him. Andreas was in goat heaven. He took her. And afterwards, without much ado, she went to run off again. "Stay," said Andreas." But she gave him a quick nuzzle and she was again gone. Seven days went by. No Yasmine.

He saw the mysterious he-goat again, alone this time, up high on the knoll. Soon another goat joined the handsome Sean Connery goat. It was Yasmine. Andreas could see by the familiarity displayed between them that they were, it seemed, still in love. "And me, what about me?"

She showed up alone the following evening. He was half-mad with jealousy and woe. "Explain."

"You can't get everything from just one goat," she asserted. “I am with him, but I love you."

"Yeh."

And she was gone again.

Nights were now spent in fits of jealousy and discontent. He would do this, he would do that. He would butt heads with the mysterious lover.

And one day he did. He saw the two of them up on the rise again and ran right up. "You got a problem?” said handsome Sean Connery goat. "Yeah, I've got a problem." And with that, he gave the handsome stranger a pretty good grazing. The stranger did not fight back. "Leave him alone," Yasmine bleated. "Leave my husband alone." Oohh.
Andreas walked back down the hill, to his shed. He had a sense of clairvoyance. He thought, as he had run away that he heard Yasmine say, "There is a reason for everything. I had come to you for a reason."

He sulked in his "apartment." So that was it. They are married. Well, he had his pen, he had his food and he had his certainties. It was an episode, a learning experience, old as he was. I will be a rock. I will be a hill. I will keep to myself.

Yasmine did not come around again. He grew to be his old self again, his certainties, the "key" his pen.

One morning, something compelled him to leave his pen, and leave fast. There was the sound of heavy machinery just above. He was out just before a massive bulldozer razed his home.

And high up on the knoll, again, he saw Yasmine. Alone. She was making moves to go back down to the other side of the knoll. She had almost disappeared now. He had no idea why, or what he would do, and could he do it. But he suddenly made to follow. Soon, he was up on the rise, with Yasmine still in sight down below.

6 comments:

v said...

I can't drink like a 15 year old anymore but around these parts The Goat has attained near-mythical status, to wit:

Buddy: Whaddayadoin?
Me: Me n' the goat are chillin'.

It is understood in this context that The Goat refers to what metaphorically shat inside one's mouth the previous evening. West of Kenora I believe they use ki-yute in this regard, but I am not certain. Do they do this around your parts? Too provincial?

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Don't you worry about being provincial, Nannalogue, anybody who can decline the work shit to shat has my vote.
I got my English usage lesson from
the legendary Martin Lynch, poet of typography, head copy editor at the Globe, who from the first time he met me, said "Anybody who tries zippy headlines around here will be shat upon...Subject, verb, object."
As for the goat on my tongue, well, I waited with baited alcoholic breath for the opportunity to actually sit down and write something. Moira Dann over at the Globe and Mail has been waiting for years for me to write something decent. It was only when the goat shat in my mouth that I finally got the taste of what a real written piece might be like. And it was about the goat itself. Hope Moira likes it.

Webhost H.E. Eigler reports,
"Hi Ivan,
I really enjoyed this. Love and life from the perspective of an old goat. It seems you had a lot of fun writing it. I can tell, because I had just as much fun reading it."

So why dontcha print it in your blog, Heddy?
Anyway, Anonalogue, thanks for the comment. Funny taste in my mouth...

Bernita said...

~giggling quietly~

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Bernita,
Giggling? Chortling?
Or do we both get it?
My memory's gone to goat dung,
but I do believe, in Throught the Looking Glass, Humpty-Dumpty says, the sound is in between a chortle
and a wheeze. Once you hear it, you know it for sure.
?
Or are you just apalled by sheer mawkisness?
I don'lt mind. I trust the old Egg Man.
--Walrus.

Bernita said...

Hmmm. I giggle,I gurgle. I snicker and snort. I've been known to belly laugh and guffah with a total lack of elegance.
I do not bleat,however.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Heh.
You the sweetest thang.