“I love springtime, because we can play outside!” said Bonky, as she and her sisters Shanty and Windy nested themselves and their dolls on a bed of hay beside the barn. An agreeable lunch of weekend macaroni, cheese, bacon and peas filled their insides.
A mob of cats tangled their tails around and about the girls’ arms and legs and made them giggle.
“Yeah,” said Shanty, “the dolls seem so much more alive in the sunshine. They are as warm as real babies!”
A herd of cows mooed in the distance as Windy lifted her shirt to expose her flat bare chest and exclaimed, “I’m going to have real live babies some day and I will feed them like this!” She demonstrated lactation by placing her diapered doll against her chest. The young biologically inept mother cuddled, rocked and hummed to the baby doll as she pretended to breast-feed it.
Bonky and Shanty laughed and squealed uncontrollably. They knocked over the empty doll carriage that waited nearby. Shanty said between bursts of giggles, “I will feed my babies with a bottle!”
Bonky replied, “I am not ever going to have babies!”
Windy added diligently, “Well, some people just shouldn’t have kids at all. Did you know that a lady in this area baked her first newborn like a piglet in a roasting pan? When the dad came home from work, they ate it for supper, with peas, potatoes and applesauce!”
Shanty and Bonky gasped in revulsion at such a distressing thought, when suddenly without warning a truck approached. It grated and screeched to a halt next to the pasture.
Men’s voices disturbed the spring air.
The girls dropped their dolls and rushed to the corner of the barn. They saw their Father talking to someone. It was the heavy-weight, fire-breathing Veterinarian. The girls knew at once that something might be wrong. They could see that one of the cows was lying down. “I wonder what’s happened to Maggie,” asked Shanty.
“She’s probably sick,” said Bonky.
“Or maybe she’s going to have a calf,” retorted Shanty.
“I think she’s dead,” whispered Windy.
As they all ran toward the pasture fence, Bonky and Shanty deliberately huffed and puffed. They were audibly procrastinating the piglet in the pan story. They both loved peas, potatoes and applesauce…but not anymore.
When they arrived at the fence, Windy asked, “Can we watch?”
The Vet grumbled, “Dam it! If you’re quiet!”
As silently as she could, Windy reminded Bonky and Shanty, “Mr. Mashet is called to the farm only for very serious events, like the time when Heather the Holstein cow kept falling down. Remember?” she queried, “Whenever Heather tried to stand up, her huge black and white hide would tip over as if her legs were weak or her brain was dizzy!”
Momentarily, Windy demonstrated a noiseless but vibrant collapse. After a slight pause in a crumpled position on the ground, she scrambled to her feet and whispered, “The Vet had to exterminate her. And there were some chickens too,” she added, “that stumbled around and around until they’d fall head over feet and couldn’t get up again.” The younger girls nodded as their memories gratified them.
Shanty mumbled out loud, “I wonder what they are going to do to Maggie?”
Bonky snapped, “Dam it! Be quiet!”
The Three Sisters watched in utter silence as the Vet examined the one half ton, motionless, ten year old milker. Mr. Mashet looked inside the creature’s enormous slobbered up mouth. Then he lifted her tail for a close look at her shitted up rear end. Finally, Mr. Mashet pressed on the swollen bovine belly with repeated forceful nudges.
After some head scratching, nose blowing and tobacco chewing, the Vet privately consulted with the girls’ Father. The two men nodded in agreement.
Mr. Mashet lumbered back to his truck and returned carrying a large bladed knife. He bent over Maggie’s belly and with deliberate experienced strokes, he sliced it open. As Maggie’s pressurized guts exploded outward onto the ground, Mr. Mashet abandoned the knife and plunged both of his rubber-gloved hands inside the menagerie of internal cud-choked digestive chambers.
Lacking all self-control, Bonky blurted out, “Jesus H. Christ, what the hell is he doing?”
In response, all three girls immediately held their noses shut in rapid anticipation of a deadly foul smell. Windy calmly replied in a rousing nasal voice, “Mr. Mashet is performing the autopsy to find out why Maggie died.” After a lengthy gap Windy continued, “And I think he is holding the answer.”
The Vet rose to his filthy boot-clad feet and approached the entranced trio of slightly horror stricken Little Maidens. He waved a wet, dark brown elongated object in the air and declared heaving and panting, “The old cow swallowed this here, big old, rusty nail.” He bent forward to catch his breath, and then continued candidly, “It punctured her stomach.”
Still holding their noses, Shanty responded, “That’s gross!”
Bonky recapitulated, “Yeah, that’s fucking gross!”
Windy threw Bonky a stern glare from above her shielded face, accompanied by a reprising kick.
Mr. Mashet raised his eyebrows and retreated to confer with the Farmer in charge.
Shanty warned Bonky, “If you get us into trouble, you’re a dead duck!”
“Should we run?” squirmed Bonky, “Dad’s coming!”
“Too late,” groaned Windy as they all froze to the fence, still holding their noses, just in case.
“I think you kids have seen enough for one day. Now go and play with your dolls,” ordered the girls’ Father.
“Sure thing dad. We’d love to!” chirped Bonky.
The sisters freed their air passages and breathed unobstructed sighs of relief and reprieve for Maggie having died a natural death instead of expiring by conspiratorial implementation. Windy unhappily concluded, “Poor Maggie, she was one great bovine specimen, always exhibiting her finest achievement, perpetual rumination.”
“Yeah,” agreed Shanty, “she was one great cow, alright!” Like escaped convicts lunging toward freedom, the Victorious Furies leapt off the fence. As they skipped and cartwheeled back to their play area beside the barn, they could see Mr. Mashet tie a rope to Maggie’s hind legs. With a pulley, the Vet hoisted the disemboweled carcass onto his truck and drove away.
The Farmer deserted his remaining herd of cattle and returned toward the house with the recent burden of events in every step. The somber congregation of remaining udder-bearing ruminants attempted to follow the Farmer, all in a row; but the pasture fence confined their agitation.
Beside the barn on the warm bed of hay, the Three Graces quietly dismembered their dolls. Arms, legs and heads were haphazardly strewn all around, and the over-turned doll carriage was filled with contentedly purring cats.
The Triumvirate of pre-pubescent siblings could hear the low vocal rumblings coming from the pasture as a gloomy shadow of their Father passed by. Windy sorted through the scatter of cast-off plastic appendages then reassembled her doll. “We’d better head back to the house,” she suggested. “You two can paint a picture and I’ll write a poem for our deceased Maggie.”
“Sure thing,” agreed Shanty and Bonky. Together, the Little Matriarchs tossed the remaining dismembered dolls into the carriage as the cats scampered back to their nests on the hay. Windy carried her intact pseudo-breast-companion in her arms.
The tired trio hummed inharmoniously as they arrived at the house in subdued form. The peaked threesome thumped their wheeled carriage of delicate cargo parts up the narrow staircase to their bedroom. A rattle, thump, rattle, thump, rattle, thump, bump, bump, bump, resounded through the small farmhouse. The clamorous echo the girls forged with charted ease indicated their expected return.
A carnivorous smell of supper emanated from the kitchen, and permeated the entire small dwelling. Somewhat lazily but methodically, the inspired Prima Donnas gathered together their art and writing tools and embarked on a memorial tribute to Maggie. A quiet and studious segment elapsed when Bonky announced, “I’m done!” followed by Shanty’s utterance, “Ditto!”
Bonky and Shanty held up their picture for Windy to see. It was a depiction of Maggie’s green grassy meadow, inundated with bright yellow dandelions. “Maggie loved eating dandelions,” mused Bonky.
“Nice picture,” said Windy.
“Now read us your poem!” begged Shanty.
“Yes,” said Bonky. “We want to hear it!”
In delayed, humble, obligatory fashion, Windy stood majestically tall and upright. With great reverence and seriousness, she recited her poem:
“SURRENDER OF THE SPIKE:
Beneath the stars
Poor Maggie lies
In all her bovine
Her bloodshot eyes
And royal pies
Will always be
We loved her well
But not enough
To clear the yard of
And now we have her
To cause us mighty
“Oh shit! That’s a complicated poem,” claimed Bonky.
Windy groaned, “You’re so naïve!”
Bonky emphatically demanded, “I am not! I am not!”
With predictable hostility, Bonky wildly kicked and shoved Windy. The flogged Poet finally put up her arms and yelled, “I surrender! I surrender!” But, Bonky kept attacking her oldest sister.
Windy laughed and defensively cradled her head in her arms and yelled for Shanty’s help. But Shanty didn’t rescue the chastised Poet. In fact, she teamed up with her younger sister and helped Bonky attempt to immobilize the Superior One Amongst Them.
Windy roared and wailed with laughter as she tried to objectively psychoanalyze the primordial behavior of her siblings. Shanty and Bonky seemed further antagonized by Windy’s disparaging lack of submission and defeat. Verbal surrender was not enough. Again, between gasping breaths and laughter, Windy registered a muffled, “I surrender!”
But the Evil Dwarves wanted Maid Marion to cringe with pain and cry real authentic tears. The wiry athletic eight year old struggled to remain unwavered by her sisters’ staunch disregard for her welfare. The genetic collision at the intersection of her Terrorist Rivals seemed most extraneous and hideously complex.
Windy’s endurance suddenly began to wane, when amid the rounds of pounding and kicking, she felt the decisive and unmistakable sensations of sharp edged teeth and fingernails. Between gasps of laughter and the realization that her younger Demonic Siblings might be incurably insane, the prize winning track and field star emitted from her powerfully trained lungs, a heraldic chant of seismographic proportions, “ You Cannibals! Get the fuck off me!”
Not to anyone’s surprise, their Father’s voice shouted from below, “Settle down girls, or you’ll be doing dishes next weekend!” The young Tribal Warriors instantly parted and fell absolutely silent except for the occasional grunts and whispered threats of future admonitions. Shanty and Bonky didn’t need to be exercised in the meaning or implication of the word ‘cannibal’.
They had been blemished with that accusation before, with an accompanying intellectual dissertation from the Siren. And now as before, they felt the same embarrassment and degradation, and the same determined desire to guillotine their Judas. More importantly, the three girls absolutely hated washing and drying dishes.
And, not one of the elementary inherent fruits of their Mother’s womb wanted to be denied permission to attend the next weekend’s event. The young bull calves were scheduled for castration. The tired and hungry damsels heard the call of their Mother’s voice beckoning them from downstairs. It was time for supper.
Predictably, the meal began with prayer folded hands and an incoherent chorus of assorted octaves praising the Lord and thanking Him for the bountiful feast before them. No one thanked the children’s Mother for cooking and preparing the meal and no one thanked the children’s Father for hunting and foraging in advance. Each daily banquet was interspersed with the communal regurgitation of recent events according to whomever wished to reveal in truth or fictitiously elaborate for survival’s sake, whatever might audibly embellish the occasion.
In reality, the girls’ verbal contributions and giggles ultimately diverted attention from their unruly habit of redirecting certain cooked items from their plates to the floor underneath the table for Silky, the family dog, for whom they loved and trusted with every digestible secret they wished to share.
Food on the floor was considered inedible for humans, even though it underwent the usual pre-consumption blessing. But, it was an acceptable way to feed a family pet, especially when the contents of a particular boiled stew suspiciously revealed fingers and a floating male unmentionable. The sordid entrée followed the coincidental disappearance of a nuisance trespasser, old enough, and wicked enough to possibly bring harm to the family name and a cherished daughter’s reputation.
The derisive and questionable presence of the sausage-like penile component and digital tokens of conjecture, did not escape Windy’s observational scrutiny. The unappetizing vestiges were judiciously expelled from the pot, one item at a time, to the underworld of the dog’s domain.
Following supper, the studious academic Divas rushed with unfettered accuracy to their pre-ordained positions on the sofa. They watched their favorite, sanctioned, thirty-minute television show with meditative attentiveness, broken by excruciating fits of belly aching laughter. During commercials, the sisters bounced up and down on the sofa, straining and squeaking the internal springs until the intended piece of furniture no longer sounded or felt like a sofa. It seemed to have evolved into an undulating, lumpy, seasick form of wailing troll, slowly waking from a deep sleep under a bridge.
A fatigued, “Settle down girls,” wafted from the kitchen, which clanged and rustled with the sounds of post-dinner exculpatory reorganization, cleansing and disinfecting. The kitchen was always a disaster zone and already well known to be made worse by the ornery, manipulative and collaborative attempts unfortunately pursued on a few desperate occasions, by the Dissident Daughters of Devilish Wit. They would rather flaunt their rising intellect by spending their evenings quietly challenging their unfinished schoolwork, than engage in battles over loaded kitchen sinks, a contaminated floor, a catastrophically scrap-encumbered dining table and a few abominably sticky chairs.
The Dissident Daughters’ constant promises and oaths of repentance were merely feeble, disingenuous, tyrannical expressions of autonomy and leadership. These qualities were not understood or appreciated by the parents whose marital unions begot them as a result of love, circumstance, or error; they weren’t quite sure of the reasons for their existence. All they knew affirmatively was that survival meant making decisions, seeking knowledge and sharing one’s wealth and excess with no one except the family dog.
This is one of five short stories from the book, ‘Orgasmic Catalog’.