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The calf
Eingestellt am 27. 10. 2015 10:52

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When Brian came home, he threw his jacket onto the stairs and flung his backpack into the corner of the wardrobe. He casually walked into the kitchen and sat down at the dinner table. His mother shot her usual imperious glance at him, and he took his cap off.
“So”, she said, stirring the vegetables in the frying pan, “how was your day at the farm?”
“It was ok, I think”, Brian replied. And he meant it. Actually, he had almost forgotten about it. He vaguely remembered their trip to the farm outside the city, vaguely remembered his fight with Dennis and vaguely remembered his attempt to flirt with Sharon. All in all, the trip to the farm hadn’t left much of an impression on him. The only valuable lesson he had learned that morning was that the life of a farmer was a life of misery and boredom.
“Well, tell me about it”, Brian’s mother persisted.
“Oh, Mum, it was okay, okay?”, he replied, taking a slightly unnerved tone of voice.
Brian’s mother smiled leniently. She took a look at her son and smiled. There he is, she thought, the highly pubescent fruit of my loins, the conniving, little, obnoxious brat. She scrutinized the pimples on his face, little volcanoes with fiery red craters, she saw his greasy hair and his jug ears. She looked at this hopeless, little human being and couldn’t help feeling love for him. Her mother’s heart beat for him like the heart of a lion beat for its cub. It beat because behind all this rebellious behavior she could see that her son had a good heart.

He has a good heart, she thought.


“It ain’t moving”, Sharon said. “Why ain’t it movin’?”, she asked, looking at the teacher. But the question was perfunctory. She already knew the answer. And looking at the classmates standing around her, Sharon could see that they knew the answer, too.


With Claire, things were different. She came home with her eyes reddened by the tears she had wept. In fact, she was so disoriented and confused that she ran right into her mother’s arms.
“Oh, Claire, what’s the matter?”, her mother asked, trying to comfort her with words.
But now that Claire had reached the safe haven called family, all the pent-up emotions burst. She wept like she had never wept before, her tiny, little body was shaken by convulsions she couldn’t control and she gave in to the tears that wanted to pour out. All the way from the farm to her home, in the bus, she had managed to suppress her feelings. She had done so because she knew how the boys would have reacted if she had cried in the bus. They would have ridiculed her, they would have called her a ‘sissy’ and worse. She was subliminally proud of having controlled her feelings for such a long time, but now she couldn’t help giving in.
“Now, there, there”, Claire’s mother whispered into her daughter’s ear, “why don’t you tell me what happened and then we’ll see what we can do about it”.
She repeated the question twice before her daughter showed any reaction.
“Can I go to bed?”, Claire asked suddenly.
“You want to go to bed? Now?”, Claire’s mother asked in amazement. “It’s four o’clock in the afternoon”.
“I just want to take a little nap, that’s all”, Claire begged.
For a moment, Claire’s mother was unsure of how to respond to the question. On the one hand, she was willing to comply with her daughter’s wish, on the other hand she could already imagine her husband’s voice resounding in her ear.
“You’re spoiling her”, he would say. “You must learn that you can’t protect her from the world outside this house. The more you spoil her now, the harder it will be for her in the future. Let her experience the bad of the world and let her deal with it. Don’t worry, she’ll survive and it’ll make her stronger, you’ll see”.
“Let’s have a cup of tea”, Claire’s mother said and walked her daughter into the kitchen. “We’ll drink a cup of hot tea and you tell me what happened, ok?”.
Claire sniffled, then nodded.
“OK”, she said, “But I want a hot chocolate!”
“You’ll get it”, Claire’s mother said.
“With whipped cream”, Claire said.
“And whipped cream”, Claire’s mother said.


“Yikes, what’s that smell?”, Brian asked on their arrival at the farm. “Zack, did you fart again?”.
Brian had asked this question loudly on purpose, he had wanted Sharon to hear it, too. He swiveled his head to look into Sharon’s direction. Was she laughing? Did she look back at him?
No. She was walking with Claire and Megan towards the farmyard, where the farmer was standing. The farmer was wearing a blue overall and black rubber boots. He was a tall, big fellow and his hands looked like he didn’t really need a pitchfork.
“Mornin’, boys un’ girls!”, he said, grinning and showing his yellow teeth. “All wanna be farmers for a day, ey?”


Zack came back to an empty house. He was standing in the hallway, motionless, his gaze fixed on the upscale marble tiles on the floor. When the door click shut and the noise faded away, Zack slowly walked into the spacious kitchen. He opened the freezer and ransacked the upper compartments for food. Usually, his mom would cook something for the whole week, but this week she and Zack’s father had gone on a business trip to Chicago quite unexpectedly. They had left two hundred bucks on the kitchen table. ‘Dispense it wisely’, the little note read.
Too late, Zack thought and smiled. He had already spent half.
Zack picked up the phone and dialed the number of the catering service.
“Yes, this is the Hudgen’s home, I’d like to place an order”, he said when somebody picked up at the other end.
“What would you like to order, please?”, the voice said.
“I’d like some Saltimbocca alla Romana”, Zack said.
“Today’s special is veal”, the other voice said.
Hearing the word veal, Zack grew pale. Veal, he thought. After this morning he was not sure if he’d ever be able to eat veal again.
For a moment he was asking himself whether Saltimbocca wasn’t made of veal, too. He didn’t dare to ask so he just confirmed the order.
“We’ll be there in thirty!”, the voice said.
Zack hung up.
He went back to his room and straight away got down to his homework. He was very disciplined in that respect. Given his age, he was wise beyond his years and he read an awful lot. He had just gotten Catcher in the Rye from his dad and was reading it arduously. He was halfway through and he liked it.
He had gotten used to being alone most of the time. One could even go as far as to say he enjoyed it. The big, beautiful mansion, the expensive wooden furniture, the clean floor and the flawless appearance of each room gave him the feeling to live in the Waldorf Astoria all by himself.
When Zack had finished his homework after only fifteen minutes, he went downstairs into the living room. Just as he was going in, the delivery guy rang the doorbell.
Zack went to the door, opened it, gave the delivery guy the money and quite a tip, and went back into the kitchen to hastily devour the delicious food he had ordered.
He then went back to the living room, made a fire in the fireplace and waited until the logs gave off these comforting crackling sounds. He took a blanket from the wardrobe and lay down on the couch. He opened the book and started to read.
He read a few pages, then he looked up and out of the window. In his thoughts he went back to the morning at the farm. He remembered their trip to the farm, the chuckling of these foolish girls, the stench of the stables and pig sty and those not very refined people who ran the farm.
And he remembered the calf.
The calf.
Zack had never before experienced such a mood swing of a group of people. One moment, his class mates were giggling, joking, grinning and curiously watching the farmer and the next they were growing absolutely silent, weary and depressed. All because of the calf.


“Today is your lucky day”, the farmer said. “Ol’ Emma will be calving today”.
“What’s he saying”, Brian asked Zack. “I don’t understand a word he’s saying”.
“He said, that one of the cows will give birth to a little calf today”, Zack said.
“That’s right”, the farmer said. “Ol’ Emma is having a kid cow, you see”.


When Sharon came home, her family was already sitting at the dinner table. Her mother got up, gave her a hug and took her jacket.
“We’ve been expecting you”, the mother said. “How was your day at the farm?”
“A cow delivered a dead baby calf”, Sharon said laconically.
Sharon’s mother turned around, her jaw dropped and her eyes wide open.
“What?”. She was almost shouting.
“Like I said”, Sharon went on, “we watched a cow giving birth to a calf. But the calf was dead when it came out. We saw a dead fetus”.
Sharon’s mother was struggling for words.
“And you…you…saw that?”, she said, and the way she pronounced the word that you would have thought that she was talking about something far worse. Like a teacher’s dick, for example.
“Yes”, Sharon said. “Like I said”. She swallowed. It seemed as if her mother’s indignation was devolving upon her now.
“And …and ..the teacher?”, Sharon’s mother asked.
“What about her?”, Sharon asked back.
“Well, what did she do?”, Sharon’s mother asked.
“Nothing”, Sharon said. “She watched, like the rest of us.”
“That’s impossible”, Sharon’s mother yelled. “She should have done something. She should have gotten you away from there or something. She didn’t do anything? Anything at all?”
Sharon swallowed again. Had her teacher reacted improperly? Nobody had blamed the teacher for what happened. But how come her mother was so angry? Maybe the teacher should have done something? Sharon could tell that her answer was important.
“No”, she said. “The teacher didn’t do shit. She just watched, like the rest of us!”.


“Hurry up, boys an’ girls”, the farmer said. “It’s high time.”
In a jiffy, the kids had gathered around Ol’ Emma. She was lying in the hay. The calf’s forelegs were already sticking out of Emma’s vagina.
“Doesn’t she need help?”, Megan asked the farmer.
“No”, he said. “She’ll manage”.
“Why is she wrapped in a condom?”, Brian asked.
“That’s not a condom”, the farmer said, unnerved by Brian’s ignorance. “That’s an amniotic sac. Her waters broke”.
Ol’ Emma mooed. It sounded like she was in pain. The calf’s forelegs slowly emerged from Ol’ Emma’s private parts. It was a nasty thing to look at.
“She’s in labor”, the farmer said.
For a few minutes, nothing happened.
Then, after about ten minutes, Ol’ Emma grunted. Blood and thick, yellowish water poured out of her vagina and the calf’s head appeared. Sharon and Megan were disgusted and fascinated at the same time. They had never seen a birth, let alone the birth of an animal. Yecch!, they said, and Yikes! and Holy Schlamoly! but they did not avert their eyes.
The boys worked hard to look unimpressed. They tried to maintain an impression of coolness and serenity, although they felt really sick.
The most disgusting thing to look at was the slimy layer of mucus that encapsulated the calf. It reminded the kids of horror movies they had seen, like Alien or The Blob.

Then everything happened very fast. Ol’ Emma had another contraction and then the calf just fell out and onto the hay.

The kids clapped their hands. The farmer took no notice of them and walked towards the calf. Ol’ Emma turned around and starting licking the calf.

“It ain’t moving”, Sharon said. “Why ain’t it movin’?”, she asked, looking at the teacher.

The calf was lying lifelessly in the hay. The farmer had lost his smile. The teacher seemed consternated, too. Then, after a while, she got hold of herself and ordered the kids to go back to the farmyard. Slowly, the kids and the teacher plodded back to where they had started the tour. Brian thought about making a joke but couldn’t think of one. Claire was deeply moved, dazed and confused. Zack silently tagged along.

“Shouldn’t someone call a vet?”, Sharon asked.
The teacher looked at Sharon. She seemed absent-minded.
“I don’t know”, she said, a minute later.

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