So, a few weeks ago, I had just finished gassing up my crime cruiser (a 2001 Impala with 102,000 miles on it) when I radioed back to dispatch.
“Dispatch, I’m 101, headed back to post 2.”
“Uh, not so much, 30,” the dispatcher said.
You know nothing good can follow that, right?
“Dispatch, what’s up?” I asked.
“30, we’ve got a report of a cow in the road.”
He gave me the location and I thought what he probably actually meant was ‘pieces of a cow in the road.’ I figured there had been some kind of accident and that ol’ Bessie was now something more akin to messie bessie.
“Damn,” I said, not on the radio.
I headed out there and dispatch was very nearly correct. There was a cow, not pieces of a cow, and she was loose, but she was more in a drainage ditch rather than the road. My sergeant was also there and he just looked at me.
“What?” I said.
“Get it handled…rookie.”
Because this is a family blog, I won’t go into the discussion I had with my sergeant. Also because I don’t want to commit any of it to paper, in case there’s a disciplinary hearing later.
So I ambled over, took a long look at this 2000 pound chunk of pre-barbequed brisket, and told her to get on home. She stared at me with one of those looks that said, “Tee it up, skinny white boy, and see if you can move me.”
“Uh, sarge, now what?”
He laughed. “Ain’t you never dealt with a cow?”
“Yeah, I’m from the city. To me, both milk and hamburger come from the store, not the cow.”
So the cow just laid there, eating the grass, while dispatch called a local dairy farmer whose cows live on the south side of the highway. He came out, cranky and pissed because it was 3 in the morning, told me not to spook the thing (how was that possible, I was, like, 200 feet away and trying to get further).
“Know what else?” he said.
“It ain’t mine.”
Then he walked away. Just walked right the fuck away, climbed his ass in his truck.
“Uh…wait,” I said. “Aren’t you going to help?”
“Ain’t mine,” he said again.
“Yeah, but — ” I shrugged. Wasn’t his cow, wasn’t his problem.
So I tried to give him the same eyes the cow was giving me, sort of a cross between pathetic and outgunned, and slightly sinister. Like, “Help me with this cow or I’ll — ”
Eventually, with a sigh worthy of me when I’m put out, he got outta the truck, went to the cow, and tried to herd it south across the highway.
“I’ll pen it up until we can figure out who owns it.”
“Rock and roll,” I said.
“Don’t like rock and roll,” he said.
Listen to whatever you want, I wanted to say, just get this heifer off my highway.
Except the damn thing wouldn’t go south. In fact, all it wanted to do was go north, up the incline and behind the tree line.
Why? ‘Cause there was a damn pen back there. A pen with an open gate. There was a horse loose, the cow, a couple’a chickens or some damned things; I don’t know, all manner of freakin’ farm fowl.
That’s where it belonged and apparently, it had had enough of the free life. Damned thing stood up, strolled up the hill, and wandered right back into the pen.
The farmer laughed. The sergeant laughed. I did not. Cows were not why I got into police work.
But I did discover one thing: that cow obviously wasn’t a diary cow. It was a homing cow.
See? Get it? Homing cow…exactly like a homing pigeon except totally different. Much heavier, actually, and probably better with barbeque sauce.