Yannick Murphy

The Call

© 2011

FOR JEFF, THE BEST MAN, FATHER, AND VETERINARIAN I KNOW, AND FOR OUR CHILDREN, WHO TAKE AFTER HIM IN SO MANY GOOD WAYS.

Part One

***

Fall

CALL: A cow with her dead calf half-born.

ACTION: Put on boots and pulled dead calf out while standing in a field full of mud.

RESULT: Hind legs tore off from dead calf while I pulled. Head, forelegs, and torso are still inside the mother.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME WHILE PASSING RED AND GOLD LEAVES ON MAPLE TREES: Is there a nicer place to live?

WHAT CHILDREN SAID TO ME WHEN I GOT HOME: Hi, Pop.

WHAT THE WIFE COOKED FOR DINNER: Something mixed-up.

CALL: Old woman with minis needs bute paste.

ACTION: Drove to old woman’s house, delivered bute paste. Pet minis. Learned their names-Molly, Netty, Sunny, and Storm.

RESULT: Minis are really cute.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: Must bring children back here sometime to see the cute minis.

WHAT CHILDREN SAID TO ME WHEN I GOT HOME: Hi, Pop.

WHAT THE WIFE COOKED FOR DINNER: Steak and potatoes, no salad. She said, David, our salad days are over, it now being autumn and the garden bare except for wind-tossed fallen leaves.

CALL: Sick sheep.

ACTION: Visited sheep. Noticed they’d eaten all the thistle.

RESULT: Talked to owner, who is a composer, about classical music. Admired his tall barn beams. Advised owner to fence off thistle so sheep couldn’t eat it. Sheep become sick from thistle.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: Is time travel possible? Maybe time is not a thing. Because light takes a while to travel, what we’re seeing is always in the past.

WHAT THE WIFE COOKED FOR DINNER: Breakfast.

CALL: Castrate draft horse.

ACTION: Pulled out emasculators, castrated draft horse.

RESULT: Draft horse bled buckets. Pooled around his hooves. Owner said she had never seen so much blood. It’s okay, he’s got a lot of blood, I said. She nodded. She braided the fringe on her poncho, watching the blood.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: What’s the point of a poncho if it doesn’t cover your arms?

WHAT THE WIFE COOKED FOR DINNER: Nut loaf.

WHAT I ATE FOR DINNER: Not nut loaf.

CALL: Horse is colicking.

ACTION: Drove to farm dodging dry, brown leaves skating across the road because at first I thought they were mice or voles running to the safety of the other side. Gave horse Banamine. Watched him sweating. Watched him rolling on his stall floor. Watched owner cry. Just a few tears down a freckled cheek. Listened to horses in other stalls whinny, worried for the colicky horse.

RESULT: Stayed for hours, until night. Moon was full. Walked horse out to field by the apple tree. Gave him a shot to put him to sleep. Patted his neck. Left owner with her head by his head, not saying anything. Maybe just breathing in his last exhaled breath.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: When I go I want to go in a field by an apple tree on a full- moon night.

WHAT I SAW WHEN I PULLED UP TO THE HOUSE: Bright lights in the sky, an object moving quickly back and forth. Not a plane.

WHAT I HEARD FROM CHILDREN WHEN I GOT HOME: Gentle snoring.

WHAT I HEARD FROM MY WIFE WHEN I GOT HOME: Loud snoring.

CALL: Sheep with a cut from a fence.

ACTION: Drove to farm. Inspected sheep. Cut was old. Small white worms were crawling on it. Gave owner some antibiotic.

RESULT: Asked owner if he had seen the bright lights in the sky the night before. Owner shrugged. I go to bed, the owner said.

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: Since people have become used to seeing telephone wires and telephone poles everywhere, they can get used to seeing wind turbines everywhere. It’s just a matter of getting used to something.

CALL: Alpaca down.

ACTION: Drove to farm. Remembered not to look alpaca in the eye.

RESULT: Looked alpaca in the eye by mistake. Got spit in the eye. Alpaca nice and angry now. Alpaca got up. Owner thankful. Handed me a rag that smelled like gasoline. I wiped my eye. Asked owner if he had seen the bright lights, the object moving back and forth in the sky the night before. The owner shook his head, he hadn’t seen anything. The alpaca came to me and put his face in my face. I thought he was going to spit in my eye again, but he didn’t. The owner laughed, looks like he’s trying to tell you something, the owner said. Did the alpaca want to tell me he had seen the object in the sky?

THOUGHTS ON DRIVE HOME: I could have been an engineer or a fighter pilot.

CALL: A prepurchase examination on a Thoroughbred.

ACTION: Brought digital X-ray machine and performed a complete set of X-rays on horse in a barn with ducks, spaniels, and kittens walking about.

RESULT: Owner tried to give me a kitten to take home to the children. No, no, I said. We have two dogs. The dogs will love the cat, the owner said. How about a duck? the owner said. No, they shit liquid, I said. Yes, that’s true, she said, but the eggs are golden.

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