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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jenz Third NaNo Post

Folks, we've broken 5,000. Can Nirvana possibly be far behind?

“Cheryl, they’re not real cows. They’re metal cows that have somehow come to life.”

Cheryl frowned and shook her head. “I don’t think so,” she said.

“No, really. They are. I was close to them this morning and they’re definitely metal.”

“Here comes the vet,” Cheryl said, pointing down to the lawn where a small brown van with Dallas Zoo painted on the side pulled up next to the fountain.

“Well, this should be interesting.” I got up. “Come on, Cheryl. Let’s go see what they have to say.”

“What about the Latino Cultural Center contract?” she asked, hurrying after me.

“I’ll look at it later.”

By the time we got downstairs, the vet was hopping out of her truck. She was a stocky redhead with a green Dallas Zoo t-shirt and a monumental chip on her shoulder. Like most chips, it was invisible, but it was definitely there. She took a look at the longhorns, tilted her head to the left, tilted her head back to the right, and jumped back into the truck.

For a second I thought she was going to peel back out of the park as quickly as she got there, but she came back out with a big metal tackle box. Well, it looked like a tackle box, anyway. When she popped it open, it was full of medical stuff. Long pointy things and short square things and scissorlike things and a bunch of other stuff I didn’t want to really guess at. One of them was a big syringe. She took this out, stuck its needle into an ampoule and sucked up some clearish-yellow fluid that looked a bit like diabetic pee. That done, she approached the longhorns (after moving around some very well-meaning but obviously clueless police officers and ducking under the Crime Scene Do Not Cross tape). One of them, a big male (actually, I
think they were all male but this male was bigger than the other males), detached himself from the group and came over to her. She reached up, skritched him between the horns (well, kind of on his nose, actually) and plunged the syringe into his side.

Or rather, tried to plunge the syringe into his side. Instead of plunging, the syringe took off to the side. The impact with the side of the cow bent the needle up at a sharp right angle, making the whole thing look more like a J-hook than a syringe. She held the syringe up to the light, eyeing it curiously.

“Well?” one of the emergency management guys wanted to know. He was hiding behind one of the police officers, and well back from the Crime Scene Do Not Cross tape.

“Metal,” said the vet. Shrugging, she ducked back under the Crime Scene Do Not Cross tape and tossed the now-useless syringe into a nearby trash can. Bill and two or three of his crazy homeless friends immediately went after it, convinced that it contained heroin insteadof diabetic pee.

“What do you mean, metal?” The emergency management guy looked aggrieved.

“I mean, they’re metal,” the vet retorted. “As in, not animals. So I’m going.” She started for the truck.

“Wait a minute.” The emergency-management guy got brave, stopped hiding behind the policeman and went after her. “You can’t just leave. We have a situation here.”

“No, you don’t. You have a bunch of animated metal cows.”

“That’s exactly what I’m telling you. How is it possible that we have a bunch of
animated metal cows?”

The vet shrugged. (Did I mention the monumental chip on her shoulder? Well, she could barely shrug.) “Look, they’re not cows,” she said, in case this wasn’t obvious. “That is to say, they’re not live animals.”

“Yes they are!” the emergency management guy told her. “One of them even crapped all over the steps to the fountain!”

“So what do you want me to do about it? I’m a veterinarian, not a street cleaner.”

The emergency management guy rubbed his bald spot. He looked like he might blow a blood vessel. I can’t imagine being easily stressed is a good thing for an emergency management guy. “So you’re just going to leave,” he restated the obvious.

“Yeah. When you get some live animals that are giving you a problem, call me again.” And with that, she really did jump back into her truck and drive away.

“Well, there you have it,” said one of the news people, who had been trailing behind the vet. “The cows at City Hall are not real animals, people. They now appear to be complex robotic creations. Suspicion is, of course, likely to fall on the University of North Texas Department of Robotics students, whose past pranks include creating a life-size replica of Mayor Laura Miller that ran the city undetected for most of the 1990s...”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I said to Cheryl. “Do you realize what this means?”

“Yes. It means Laura Miller was the mayor for most of the 1990s,” Cheryl said.

I sighed. “No. It means people are more willing to believe in animated robotic cows
built as a prank by a bunch of robotics students at UNT than they are to believe that the longhorns at the other end of City Hall have somehow, mysteriously come to life. Why do you think that is?”

“Maybe because one is technically plausible while the other is completely impossible,” Cheryl said, startling me.

“Hmmph.” I hate it when she starts making sense. “Well, that’s–that–” I stopped. I just didn’t know where to go with that.

Cheryl nudged me. “Let’s go back inside. The Latino Cultural Center beckons.”

“Actually, it mostly repulses. It’s purple and orange, for one thing. Whose idea was

"The architect’s. You know how they get.”

Needless to say, the rest of the day got a bit weird. I’d look at the Cultural Center
contract and look over at the cows. I’d watch All My Children and I’d look over at the cows. I’d rattle off emails about various budgetary thises and thatses and I’d look over at the cows. I’d call one of the junior accountants over some fine point of contractese and I’d look over at the–

“Annie.” Cheryl poked her head into my office. “Phone for you.”

I jumped about a mile. “Don’t do that,” I complained.

“Sorry.” Cheryl pointed at the phone again. “But Pandora’s calling wanting to know if you died.”

“OH SHIT!” I grabbed for the little clock; half past six. “I’M LATE!!” I grabbed my purse and flew past Cheryl, trailing a stream of numbers and chi-squares and equations. The cows watched me run out of City Hall, but they didn’t move from their post by the window. They’d been joined by a couple of horses. I’d notice the horses in the morning.

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