Being the satyr he was, Giles kept Jennifer in a gestational state

Mistuh and Miz Goat

By —— Bio and Archives--October 7, 2018

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Mistuh and Miz Goat
“He’s cute now, but won’t be long,” Mama said, when I brought home a baby goat for my daughters. As Italians are wont to do for emphasis, she fluttered her hands in my face, and said, “Remember that old Italian proverb, ‘He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow.’”

I shrugged, as if to say what I wouldn’t dare say aloud, “Mama, that’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever said.”


She understood what I didn’t say. “You’ll see.” Folding her hands into her apron, she gave me that how-can-any-son-of-mine-be-so-dumb stare, and reverted to Italian: “ragazzo stupido” (stupid boy).

The girls loved Giles, a name borrowed from “Giles Goat-Boy,” a book in my library. They bottle-fed him, groomed his white coat, and painted his tiny spike horns and hooves with fingernail polish.

Soon they conned me into getting Giles a girlfriend, which they named Jennifer, whose coat, in Old Testament terminology was unattractively “ring-straked.”

Even so, Giles thought she was adorable, especially after the girls festooned the locks between her long, floppy ears with ribbons.

Goats reek. My wife’s ultimatum — “The goats go, or I go!” — meant I had to invest in a fence downwind of our home. I began realizing the cow Mama said I’d carry symbolized cash expended supporting Mistuh and Miz Goat. 

Being the satyr he was, Giles kept Jennifer in a gestational state, and the affection between his kids and mine disallowed selling his kids. So, the fence was enlarged.

Soon Giles, jaded with family life, began to roam. No creatures are more sure-footed than goats, and having climbed the fence easily, he then climbed a ladder I’d left leaning against the roof.

There he was one morning, staring disdainfully at me with those split-pupil eyes from the rooftop as I left for work; there he was when I returned for lunch. Instead of me getting to eat, I had to coax him down with something he loved to eat: cigars.

My goat tolerance attenuated even more when I walked in one day, bone-tired, ready for supper, shower, and shuteye. Instead of my wife in the kitchen, Giles was on the counter, munching a loaf of bread, for which he exchanged pellets.

But the final straw came when he and my Mynah bird Ikkemotubbe, named for an Indian chief in Faulkner legend, had a run-in. The bird was in his bamboo cage, minding his own business, watching me mow the yard.

Giles got so close that his beard poked through the cage. Mynahs have one of the shrillest whistles in nature, and feeling intimidated, Ikkemotubbe blasted a maximum decibel whistle directly in the goat’s face. No doubt his ears’ tympanic membranes exploded. He flipped over backwards, writhing in pain.

Before I could intervene, Giles pawed the porch, lowered his horns and butted the cage into smithereens. Off flapped the mortified Mynah, never to return.

The next day, our menagerie was reduced by two residents: Mistuh and Miz Goat.


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Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran (Vietnam Era), former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer and ginner, author, and retired college teacher. His short story anthology, Boss, Jaybird And Me, is available at Squarebooks.com (telephone: 662-236-2262). His latest collection of faith-based short stories, entitled One Hundred By Five Hundred, is also available at Square Books (telephone: 662-236-2262) and at amazon.com. To receive Reed’s free weekly newsletter, send an email address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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