Tales of the Bearded Toad

Short stories and the occasional true tidbit devised in the life and times of the Bearded Toad

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cow Pie

She tasted salty at first, but that gave way to the smell, yes, smell of longing--no aggression. Or maybe all those things in succession. He couldn’t get out of his own thoughts, doubts, long enough to recognize it. For that matter, was it her he smelled or his own manifested emotions?

The car windows were fogged up now, and despite the lack of clarity in the glass, it made him somehow more conscious of the world outside, as though the silvery sheen he knew had built up was more conspicuous than the translucent windows they started with. He looked at her as he pressed his mouth into hers, realizing, thinking, that she was so enraptured by the sensations of the moment that she didn’t notice.

The feelings of doubt faded as he saw the tears. They began to roll out of the creases like the condensation on a glass, one beside the other without any acknowledgment of what had gone before. Then her body began to shake, but she said nothing. He continued watching her as the streams came faster and began to follow the path led by those before. Her legs clamped down hard around his hips, to the point where he could no longer move. Silently, breathlessly she wrapped him into the sensations.

He closed his eyes to separate himself, hopefully anyway, not knowing why. Why was she crying? Why was he here? Should he sit up now? Will this be the one in one hundred time?

***

Alexander ran across the pasture with ease, bouncing left to avoid the giant fire ant bed, and then the fresh greenish brown raised puddle of a cow pie. It didn’t make sence to him why the small little bails of horse shit smelled so much more pleasant than cow manure. For that matter, he never understood why he thought road apples smelled pleasant in the first place. Was it some derangement of his olfactory nerves from growing up in the country? It was the same food anyway, grass. So, why would it be any different when passing through the two different beasts?

The boy lifted the little yellow flower from its perch and spun it around between his finger and thumb, making it look like a horizontal pinwheel in the wind.

“Awe! He’s picked me a flower.” Mom spoke envisioning what would happen next. But it didn’t.
He snagged one of the thin offshoots and slowly built up the pressure until it popped free from the button it called home. Then he did the same to the rest, pausing at the last, staring at it with a blank face. When he dropped it to the ground, his head turned slowly to the left, stopping at the point at which it should, except that his face wasn’t blank anymore. It was contorted on the left side, with his eye closed. He was making a clicking noise with his tongue, and he slowly fell to the ground, convulsing in cow shit.

Mom picked him up, immediately wiping the greenish-brown waste from his lips. Dad was already in the truck with the engine running. The door was open, waiting for them to jump in.

***

He turned the key and punched the defrost switch as quickly as he could. Little slots immediately began to form in the blockade just above the useless wipers. He took a deep breath and played off a shiver. Sitting next to him, she stared at the floor.

“Do you ever have visions?”

“Of what?”

“Anything. Visions so strong you feel as though you’re there? Sort of like a dream without the acceptance of it being unrealistic?”

“Not recently.”

“What have you seen? Before, I mean?”

“Well, it was as though, I saw my future. I saw a hospital room, a railed bed with a boy in it, and tubes running out of his nose. I looked at that damn ubiquitous beeping machinery and watched the line jump up and down. That’s it. It only happened that one time.”

“How old were you?”

“Eight, I think.”

***

When Alexander woke, he looked around the room seeing his mom and dad weren’t there. A short nurse wearing a shirt with little poodles all over it smiled at him.

“Do you remember what happened sweetie?”

“Not really. Was I here already?”

“What do you mean?”

“The last thing I remember, I picked a flower. Then I saw all this stuff: the chair there in the corner, your shirt, this beeping thing. I saw all of it.”

“No. No, sweetie, you got here about 45 minutes ago. And this is the first time you’ve opened your eyes. Your mom and dad are just down the hall talking to the Doctor.”

“I saw this room. I saw it when the flower was in my hand.”

***

“Why do you ask?” he said.

She shifted in her seat, and looked down at the floor. Then she turned and looked into the pupils of his eyes. “I saw you…in a hospital room…holding a little boy…my boy. Our son.” She paused to get his reaction, to let him ask if he needed to. “His smell is still in my nose.”

He swallowed, looked away, and put the car in D.

"Alex?"

3 Comments:

Blogger Suzan Abrams said...

You're trying out a new form for the short story, Brandon? I like the interesting layout and equally unusual theme.
In between the chill of a melancholy mood, your story almost contains a sunny summery tone if only one didn't get the shivers in exactly the same breath.

PS: Btw, hope you're well. :-)

11:49 AM  
Blogger DBA Lehane said...

Haunting, touching, beautiful and sad. This story simply reinforces why you were (still are!) one of my most favourite writers on here!

1:46 AM  
Blogger The Wandering Author said...

This was an interesting story, one that leaves a lot of questions. Yes, you're good!

12:43 AM  

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