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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jenz First-and-a-Half NaNo Post

I have had a couple of requests for the rest of that scene. This makes for a pretty long blog post, but what the hell. Here 'tis.

Now, you’d think a herd of metallic cows that suddenly sprang to life, did a little moseying and then settled down for naps might be done with their brief return to animation (arguing that they were animated in the first place; they’re metal, for Godsakes). And again, given the source of this information, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to find the whole herd back by the fake river, striking their usual poses and waiting for tourists. But I’d be wrong. When I showed up on the Tuesday morning after Veterans Day, they were still there, the whole herd of them. The pile of smelly metallic turds, no longer smelly, was also there. What was more, the cows were standing right under my office window - and when they saw me, the whole herd started to moo.

I’ve been freaked out plenty in life, but having a herd of metal cows moo at me was a new one. I took a startled step backward and dropped my keycard. Nice going, Annie, I thought to myself as it hit the ground. If you broke it, there goes next week’s pay check. Not that it’s really possible to break a key card. I think about that whenever I drop anything. It all stems back to a high school music class and a really expensive metronome named “Dr. Beat” and look, I don’t wanna talk about it, okay? It was kind of traumatic.

“They’ve been doin’ that since yesterday,” said the crazy homeless guy, whose name, as I was about to discover, was Bill. He was a big African-American dude, six feet or maybe a little taller, hulking in his thick navy blue coat and scarf, and wearing a red stocking cap.

“Doing what?” I demanded as I retrieved my unbroken key card from the sidewalk. “Mooing like that?”

"Naw. Standin’ under the windah. Lookin’ up at it.”

“That’s my window,” I said, and though it was, the cows might have been looking at any one of the seven windows above and below it. I was, after all, just the Chief Auditor. The deputy mayor’s office was above mine, the mine inspector’s office was above that one, and all the way at the top, where prestige knows no bounds, was the office of the Catering Director. Without her we would all starve to death, so we gave her the best office in city government. Only the Mayor’s is higher and more ostentatious.

“Mebbe they want you to feed ‘em,” the man suggested. “Course, they doin’ okay with the grass and all.”

There are days I wish the library would just open up at seven a.m. so I could walk to my office unmolested, but this was not one of ‘em. However disturbing crazy homeless people may be in a city that’s pretty much determined to pretend they don’t exist, they’re good company when confronted by fourteen metal cows with pointy horns. Long horns, too. Or did I say that already?

“I’m Bill,” he added. “Just call me Bill.”

“Hi, Bill. I’m Annie.” Homeless people disturb me, too, but I wasn’t about to be rude to him. He might hide behind me when the head longhorn decided to charge. “Uh, how long has this been going on?”


“The cows,” I said, thinking with mild annoyance that it should be fricking obvious I was talking about the fricking inexplicably animated metal cows.

“Oh. Since yest’day about one, I think.”

“Have the police been here?”

“The po-lice? What they come here for?”

I looked up at him to see if he was for real. He seemed to be. “Well, I just figured, if you’ve got a bunch of animated statues walking around, the police might want to know about it.”

“Girl, them po-lice ain’t interested in nothin’ unless we smokin’ weed out front of the liberry,” Bill told me. “And they ain’t really even interested then less’n we got some to share.”

“Okay,” I said, although it wasn’t okay. Animated metal cows are not okay. Police who smoke pot in front of the library aren’t okay, either, though I only had Bill’s word to go on that. “Well, uh, Bill, I’m gonna go up there and give ‘em a call, okay? You know, just to like make a report and all that?”

“Sho,” said Bill. “Do whatever you want. They ain’t goin’ noplace.” He paused, as if he’d forgotten something. “Oh. You gotta quarter?”

I did, and I gave it to him with a handful of other change. I backed away from the cows,which continued to stand there, cowlike, until I got up to the main doors. I waved my keycard and the door gave a clunk. Still backing up, I eased myself inside and pulled the door shut in front of me. The cows stood there. Well, they stood a little closer to the building, but they just stood there, not trying to follow me. But it was still me they were staring at. Bill, who was moseying off in the direction of the library, didn’t get so much as a passing sniff.

“Okay,” I said out loud to myself. The word echoed in the empty entrance hall. No one ever gets here this early but me. Which sucked, at the moment. It would have been nice to have someone other than a crazy homeless guy who called himself Bill and chatted about pot smoking in front of the library to comment on the phenomenon of animated metal cows. It would be even better if the someone could say, “Oh, yeah, I handled it” in the kind of offhand way that I find so reassuring from law enforcement personnel and so irritating from my junior accountants.

But, no. It was just me. I backed away from the doors. The cows followed me with their metallic eyes all the way to the elevator. It wasn’t until the doors closed in front of me and I started up to the third floor that I was free of iron eyeballs. The sensation was a great relief for the twenty or thirty seconds it lasted. Then I got out of the elevator, walked down to my office, and there they were again. All fourteen or so of them, staring up at my office window as Bill ambled away into the distance. And, yes. It was my window they were looking at. Not the Mayor’s, not the police chief’s, not the Director of Catering. Just me and mine.

I could tell already that it was going to be a long day, and I hadn’t even put my lunch away in the refrigerator yet.

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