Today’s WIP Wednesday is from a story I’ve dubbed Hope Heals. It’s a mfm contemporary. (The heroes’ last name is Hope.) The set-up is that Sarah has returned with her 7-year-old son from NY to FL after the death of her husband in a car wreck that almost killed her son as well. (Said husband, it turned out, had driven them deep into debt and had mistresses, none of which Sarah knew about before his death. So he was a real shit.) This scene is between Sarah and her dad, Walt, the morning after Sarah’s returned home (she arrived in the middle of the night).
This story is of the type that I call a ferociously feral plot bunny. It literally appeared in my mind the other day, almost completely written in my brain, and I’m furiously typing to get it out of my brain to shut the characters the hell up.
You’ll soon see why. LOL This is unedited, so forgive any typos.
Enjoy, and let me know what you think! 🙂
Sarah’s feet came to a halt all on their own as she stared out into the pasture. “Since when do you have a cow?”
“Oh, that’s Big Mac.”
As she stared, the huge, golden brown beast realized she was looking at him and began slowly ambling her way, slobbery nose and all.
Horns over a foot long gracefully curved away from its skull on either side.
On the tip of the left one was a yellow tennis ball.
“You’re not going to…butcher him or anything, will you?” she nervously asked. She desperately didn’t want Jason to grow attached to it, and he would, just to have to break it to him that it was going in the freezer.
He let out a snort. “Hell, no. He’s old. Nearly twelve. He was your momma’s pet. I’d started out thinking we were going to fatten him up and have him butchered, but I just couldn’t do it.”
“Because he was Mom’s pet…cow?” Her mother had never mentioned having a pet cow that she could remember.
“No, because she went and named the damn thing. How am I supposed to eat something she named?”
“But…” Her brain hurt. “But she named it after a fast-food sandwich?”
“Yeah. Your mother had a really mean, twisted sense of humor sometimes. She was trying to get me to cut back on my burgers.”
She gave up trying to process that. “Okay, that’s all good, but he still has a tennis ball stuck on his horn.”
“It’s not stuck.”
Sarah blinked a few times before looking at her father. Total deadpan expression on his face.
“I said, it’s not stuck.”
“What do you mean it’s not stuck? I’m looking right at it, Dad. It’s stuck on his horn.”
“It’s not stuck. He’s missing one. ”
More time needed to process that tidbit. “What?”
“I said, he’s missing one.”
She closed her eyes and rubbed at her temples and forehead. “Okay, Dad. Let’s start over. Why do you put tennis balls on the cow’s horns?”
“Well, just one would look silly now, wouldn’t it?”
She stared at him. “What?”
“I put two on. Matched set. He usually manages to rub one or both off after a while. I have more in the shed. I go over and buy them in bulk from a guy at the flea market. I have all different colors. Use Gorilla Glue to hold them on. Sometimes, I would put two different colors on him, just to aggravate your momma.” He sadly smiled as he reached through the fence and scratched the cow between the eyes. “So now I always make sure the colors match.”
Maybe he had Alzheimer’s and she’d somehow missed that. It had been a long time since they’d spent time together. And she was so out of it at the hospital that he could have been naked and she might not have noticed it.
“Dad. Focus. Why do you put tennis balls on the cow’s horns?”
“To keep him from poking the crap out of me or anything else. You don’t chop off a cow’s horns. It’s like ripping off your damn toe. And he’s not a cow, he’s a steer. You’re going to hurt his feelings.”
“I’ve got a hot news flash for you. If he can tolerate you sticking tennis balls on his horns for the past twelve years, then he’s got no feelings.”
“Well now, that’s just a plain mean thing to say, isn’t it?” The beast tipped his head toward her father and closed its eyes as he scratched his muzzle.
She closed her eyes and counted to ten again before opening them. “Why didn’t I see him when I was here the…last time?” She couldn’t bring herself to say “for Mom’s funeral” out loud.
“He was next door, at the Hopes’ place. They borrow him and the goats from time to time to graze.”
“Goats. Plural.” He’d started to walk away and she turned to follow him.
“Goats, as in more than one?” She scurried behind him.
“Well, plural is how you normally refer to more than one goat, isn’t it?”
“Why do you have goats?”
“To keep the pigs company. And Big Mac. He likes them. Plus they’re great for keeping the weeds down.”
He kept walking while she came to a standstill. He realized she wasn’t following him and turned. “What?”
She finally started toward him again. “Anything else I need to know about?”
“Well, there’s the chickens.”
She felt like she’d stepped into a bad SNL skit. “Chickens?”
“Chickens. Didn’t you notice the fresh eggs in the fridge?”
“Well, I did notice you had a lot of eggs in the fridge.”
“I give them away, mostly. Man can only eat so many eggs.”
He smiled. “You look stunned.”
“Are we eating the pigs?”
“No. Bacon and Hammy were—”
“Mom’s pets,” she finished for him.
He smiled. “Yep. We’d just got them a few weeks earlier when she…” His smile faded and he jammed his hands into his pockets. “We were going to raise a new pair every year. She wasn’t as attached to them as she was Big Mac. But I just couldn’t do it. She’d named them.”
“So why didn’t I see pigs when I was here?”
“They were out in the pen behind the barn. I don’t think you went out there.”
No, she hadn’t. “And the chickens? Not eating them, are we?”
“Oh, those are new. And no, just the eggs. I just got them about a year and a half ago.”
“I didn’t hear a rooster.”
“I kept everyone penned up last night so he wouldn’t crow and wake you and Jason this morning.”
“You’ve been busy.”
He shrugged. “They keep me company.”
They continued their walk down to the front gate. When they reached it, she looked to the north, to their neighbor’s driveway. An older woman, maybe her dad’s age, emerged from the driveway and bent down to grab her newspaper.
He held up a hand and cackled. “Mornin’, you old bitch!”
She stood up and flipped him a bird. “Good morning, you fucking old bastard!” she hollered back.
Sarah wasn’t sure, but it sounded like the woman laughed. She was too far away to tell.
Mortified, Sarah stared at her dad. “Dad! What the hell are you doing?”
He grinned and flipped his neighbor off in return. “Eggs?”
She changed her bird to the V of two fingers.
He flashed her an okay sign in return. Like obnoxious senior citizen gang signs. “Two dozen. I’ll bring ‘em over shortly,” he called.
She waved and trudged back up her driveway.
He looked at Sarah. “Oh, don’t look so shocked. She likes it.”
🙂 What did you think? See why I had to get these characters written? Look for this one to come out a few months from now, once I get it finished and submitted. 🙂