By James Estrella III
“It’s just standing there!” the young child complained to his dad.
Reading a newspaper and eating his breakfast of eggs and toast, the graying man replied, “Yes it is. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Why can’t we just eat it?” His face dulled with annoyance.
“Her son. Don’t call her an “it.” She’s been of use since before you were talking, boy.” The father was calm while speaking, as if he’d had this conversation before.
“What do ya mean, pop?” The lad was puzzled.
He bent over and placed his hand on the boy’s head. He rustled his hair, then pointed to the creature through the window. “Why ol’ Lassie there, has been part of our family for close to fifteen years.”
“She does nothing now, Dad. Why can’t we get a better cow?” The boy was still whining.
“Just wait a few more days. We are getting a new cow. You just have to be patient.” The father went back to his paper.
The boy went back to staring through the window at the cow. The beast was massive. Bigger than the others. The black spots were hardly there. It was almost a purely white cow. The boy thought that it was odd, but he didn’t care all too much. He just saw the cow chomping away at the grass. The sun was still low in the sky but steadily rising. The boy knew it was time for him to go do chores. He did not want to stop looking at the overweight cow.
The boy turned and was getting ready to collect the eggs for breakfast next week. He told his dad as he was leaving, “She’s fat.”
The father chuckled and laughed back, “Haha! Yes, she is. She’s going to be losing a lot of that soon!”
Later that night the father went to his son who was reading old Superman comics on the couch and asked, “Hey Sport. Want to see something special?”
The boy looked up over the tip of the comic. “What?” he asked.
“It’s a surprise. It is something that might gross you out, though.”
“The boy looked back at his page. “Can I finish this first?”
Smiling, the father said, “Yes, son. But hurry up. This is going to take awhile.”
After a few minutes, the boy finished reading. He and his father walked together, leaving the house. The night was inviting. The temperature was enough that neither was uncomfortable in just their shirts. Not even a breeze fluttered by. The crickets were having their own fiddle solos. The pair was walking towards the barn. The boy was intrigued by what they could be doing. His father would not tell him anything, which only fueled his curiosity.
They opened the door to the lighted barn, and a look of disappointment came over the boy’s face. “The cow!” He yelled. “What are we doing with this stupid thing?!”
“Son, we are getting another cow. Just sit in the hay and watch. This is why Lassie is fat and lethargic.”
“Slow and waddly.”
“Oh, okay.” The boy went to lay in the hay. He wished that he had his comic still. He’d much rather read about Superman stopping Zod than be with the stupid cow. He thought his dad was going to do something cool, like teach him to shoot or play a game.
A loud wail echoed through the barn. The boy’s attention was caught. He snapped his head right at the source. It was Lassie. She continued to bellow. He saw his father bent over. He was doing something to her. The boy started to wander over.
“Stay over there, boy! This is not something you need to see yet. Just… Experience it.” The father commanded. His voice was firm.
The boy listened and stayed back, but now he couldn’t stop focusing on the situation before him. The boy thought to himself, “What was pa doing to Lassie?” For hours he was watching. His eyes grew tired, until he something bloody in his father’s arms.
It looked to be a piece of Lassie. Did he do it, did his father kill her? The boy started to bounce. He was at full attention. Then he saw it.
In his father’s hands was a calf. It was tiny, almost the same height as the boy. The fur was almost entirely white, with just a few black dots. It looked like a little Lassie.
“Son, this is why ol’ Lassie was larger and slower. She had a baby.” He was petting the calf as he spoke.
“Is that Lassie?” the boy asked.
“No, son,” his father chuckled. “This is her daughter, like you are my son.”
“What’s her name?”
The boy felt a rush. He took a look at the calf as it tried to move towards him. His mouth opened, “Nettie. She’s Nettie, Pa.”
The father smiled and gave another chortle. “Great name for your cow, son.”
“Mine!” The boy looked up at his father while his finger pointed at his chin.
“Yup. You can see her more tomorrow. Go back inside. I got some more work to do.”
“I don’t wanna. I want to see Nettie.”
“That’s great, Sport, but you need some sleep. I see it in your face. It’s okay. Just go to bed. I got this.”
The boy ran off. He was thinking about Nettie. When he got inside he ran right by the table where his comics lay.
Twenty-three years have passed since then. The boy, now a man was eating his breakfast at the table. He had an omelet with cheese and ham. He was reading the paper. He was interested in the smaller town news. His son now looked through the window.
“It’s just standing there!” his son complained.
The man grinned and replied, “Yes it is. Do you have a problem with that?”