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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Bird

Cow Vs. Cop

I couldn’t see why the truck in front of me stopped well past the school but before the Piggly Wiggly. I was driving to my Grandmother’s last Tuesday morning and finally coming into the small town of Stonewall, Mississippi. The truck ahead pulled around continued towards town and there in the road stood a black cow.  

For context, a cow is not so strange a sighting where I live now. However, this was in town, and by town I mean a narrow strip of half a dozen businesses still left standing after the mill finally folded for South American climes. The cow certainly did not belong on main street with logging trucks whipping by. Small houses sat close to the road on mostly single lots backed with the pine.

I put on my hazard lights and got out of the car, slowly walking towards the cow to move her off the main road.  To say I was hesitant would be a lie. I don't fight the weird anymore, I just roll with it. I could see that she was young and still had the soft and glossy fur of a calf, she was ringless and tagless and she was clearly taken care of, with a full belly and glossy coat: all marks of a pet. We were eye level and I saw in the hold of her ears cautiousness as I approached. I could touch her broad nose, but I had nothing to secure a naked cow with. I moved her from the road and she lumbered over to munch unhurriedly  on the landscaped greenery in front of a nearby house. 

With the cow off the road I walked back a ways and crossed the road to three ladies watching the scene unfold. One had bits of tin foil folded into her hair and the other two wore the aprons of hairdressers. One was on her phone, gesticulating wildly with a pair of scissors still in her hand as she made the words that summon the cops. The women also had nothing to tie the cow off with and didn’t want to see the poor thing hit. As small town locals, they pretty much knew what everyone had for breakfast, so unsurprisingly the stylist with the scissors was pretty sure that the cow was a recent acquisition of the gentlemen that lived next door to the salon. She wove her sharps at the house pointing out a gate to the large back yard which was now hanging like a loose tooth. Seeing my eyes follow her wild hand movements from a distance, she holstered her weapon and I moved closer. 

A Clarke County Sheriff’s Department truck pulled up and stopped in front of us, we four women watching a black cow. Without getting out of his truck, or looking at the cow, the deputy and woman with the phone talked. He asked her extremely helpful questions like “Well, who’s cow is it? and “Where did it come from?” I stood amazed at this fantastic detective work. I was truly in the presence of genius. Because obviously if we knew who the cow belonged to, we would call an inept law dog and not the owner. He decided to drive into town and “see if anyone is missing a cow.” I’m sure in his vision, a person missing a cow would be standing on the front lawn scratching their beard, that would be his main clue that they were missing a cow. 

He pulled off, as quickly as he came, having proven himself as useful as tits on a bullfrog. I turned to the women and said as much. They erupted into laughter and agreed, sharing that around town he was known as Deputy Dawg.

Lady Scissorhands and I walked over to where she was sure the cow came from. We knocked at the door, but nobody was home and she didn’t know their number. We thought between the two of us, we could walk the cow back into the enclosure, but we needed a 3rd to create the Mighty Duck V formation around the cow. The other stylist was quite pregnant and the tin foil lady was elderly, we agreed they were not good candidates although they provided ample moral support. By now, Barney Fife had returned in the white truck. Again, he did not get out of the truck or even look at the cow. Cow had moved over to the next house, making short work of the day lily greens. Other trucks and cars had slowed to rubberneck but no one else had stopped. 

“ X is coming to see if it is one of theirs, X wants to take a look at it and see.”

I considered the improbability of 

  1. Someone not knowing if they were missing a calf, this is Stonewall, Mississippi, not the Yellowstone Ranch. 

  2. A young cow traversing the distance from X’s house to cow’s current location, it would look like Billy’s path in Family Circus, as circuitous a journey as Deputy Dawg’s line of reasoning

It seemed to me the kind of logic like, “I MIGHT be missing a 50 dollar bill, but I need to take a look at it and see. Oh yes, that’s definitely my 50 dollar bill.”

The Alpha Stylist explained her theory on the cow’s origins. A theory so airtight that literally every discernable clue pointed to its truth. The neatly kept house had a menagerie of other animals, chickens clucked remotely, the new construction of the cow pen area. She was frustrated that she didn’t know their names, but explained to the deputy that the men (a couple) also bred and housed snakes and reptiles inside the house and had many pets. From the safety of his front seat the deputy’s nose wrinkled,

“Gays? That house is full of snakes? Ought to burn it down!” 

We four women exchanged glances. We silently agreed with our eyes that no decent woman would ever have sex with this man. All women know this look. 

“Don’t you have a rope? I can tie her,” I bluntly asked. By now about 20 minutes had passed since I first stopped the car. 

“I’m not roping no cow! There’s nothing for me to tie it to!” he protested from behind the steering wheel. 

I looked at literally the FOREST of trees around us. Alpha Stylist’s scissors emerged to gesture wildly to mirror my own thoughts. 

“I might could get a feed bucket,” he weakly acquiesced, still not moving.

The tectonic plates of frustration shifted within me. I felt I had stepped into the pages of a play and we each had our parts to read, but I could not stomach my lines any longer. I could not quiet to the authority of his position or gender or mask my disgust at his weakness. I went off script without hesitation. 

“You won’t do shit. You’re a damn pussy,” I said. I couldn’t see his eyes behind his sunglasses, but his mouth hung like a trout’s. 

I turned on my heel and got back into my car. Cow was safe, which was my goal from the start and I had to get to my Grandmother’s. I have been pondering this experience for days now, trying to discern my part and what I was meant to learn. What is the lesson of cow? What did I learn about myself? Nothing? Anything? The same frustration rises up in me when I meditate on it. The whole experience reinforces my belief that when we hand power over to perceived authority, we surrender reason and autonomy for an illusion of safety. 

I suppose a more intelligent person would say the lesson is to stay out of it! But I like the part of me that pulls over. I would rather be soft and kind and wrong than be unkind and right. It’s the same part of me that keeps dog food and cans of cat food in the trunk to stop and feed strays. I guess I need to keep a rope back there now, too.


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