It was late in the evening and the whole sky was bright red from the sun half hidden by the horizon. Tadferd was sitting on the fence that separated his Uncle Mitch's property from his Grandmother Earcell's garden.
"That's a fine goat ya’ got there," Tadferd said to Dish, who was sitting next to him on the fence, straddling it with one leg on each side.
In addition to being cousins, the two were best friends. They shared a deep love for the outdoors, and both wanted nothing more than to be real cowboys, like the ones they had seen in old movies.
“I'd say you have the bestest of the two," Dish announced, taking a piece of straw out of his mouth as he spoke. The two began to snicker within the darkening recesses of the ten-gallon hats perched low on their eleven-year-old foreheads.
They gazed proudly at the two goats their fathers had purchased for them just the day before. Heck, even if they couldn’t start out as cowpokes, becoming goat pokes was definitely a step in the right direction. “You just can't punch ‘em as hard," Tadferd had said knowingly.
After much consideration, the boys named their new goats Midnight and Mayhem – in honor of two well-respected rodeo bulls.
"You’ll have to build ‘em a pen,” said Dish’s dad, Mitch.
“You’re going to be feeding ‘em, and taking after ‘em,” added Tadferd’s dad.
“Keep ‘em out of your grandmother’s garden," both fathers directed.
“And don’t let them near my car," Mitch sternly added, eyeing us both.
Both Tadferd and Dish knew the importance of their fathers’ rules, especially the last one. If there was one thing that Mitch did not joke about, it was his car.
It had taken Mitch several years of hard work and dedication in his own business to finally reach a point where he could afford to buy a little something for himself. And that little something was a gleaming orange chrome-trimmed BMW coupe. It was love at first sight. In fact, Mitch was so enamored with the car that he rarely ever drove it. He opted, instead, to tool around in an ancient blue Ford pickup he had gotten from his father. The prized Beamer stayed parked in the driveway, clean and shiny, stationed at the precise spot where Mitch, without leaving his La-Z-Boy, only needed to glance out the picture window to caress the supple lines of his immaculate machine with adoring eyes.
After agreeing to their fathers’ rules, Tadferd and Dish built an enclosure for their newly acquired livestock on the back side of Dish's father’s property. It was quite impressive. Complete with big swinging gates and a miniature livestock chute, just for fun.
After a month or so, the boys realized that their “herd” of pseudo-cattle needed a bigger range to ramble. So, they decided to let ole’ Midnight and Mayhem out onto the lush green expanse of Mitch’s manicured lawn for a little exercise.
The two horseless punchers chased the goats through the grass, whooping and hollering, and alternately try to lasso the livestock with a length of Dish's mother’s clothesline, or hem the livestock up against the side of the house.
Over and over they repeated these scenarios, always eager for yet another roundup. Regardless of how often the goats were successfully lassoed, they were immediately released only to be caught again. And again. And again.
To the boys, they were on a cattle drive through northern Wyoming (which consisted of the wooded area behind Dish's house). But, while Tadferd and Dish were lost in imagination, their prized herd became lost for real. Mayhem and Midnight had disappeared somewhere within the thicket.
“I don't like the looks of this," Dish mumbled through his chaw of bubble gum.
Swinging a booted foot onto a nearby stump, Dish hitched up his belt and propped an elbow on his raised leg. “Tadferd,” he said in his most serious tone, “I think the Injuns done got ‘em.” He spat a wad of gum juice onto the prairie floor for emphasis.
“Could be,” Tadferd concurred, pushing his hat back on his head and looking skyward. The two stood, pondering the dilemma, the sunlight bouncing off their oversized belt buckles.
“Paw’s gonna be mighty angry if’n we lose the herd,” Dish finally announced.
“Yup,” came a quiet reply.
Suddenly, an ungodly bellow fractured the Wyoming silence. It was a noise unlike any other.
“What the heck was that?!?” Tadferd exclaimed.
“Kinda sounds like a fire truck siren. And close, too.”
The goat pokes questioningly trod off toward the racket, with over-sized, ill-fitting boots hampering their progress.
When they cleared the woodlands, their first sight was of Mitch standing in the driveway amid a pile of scattered golf clubs. His face was gleaming brick red against the open blue door of his old pickup. The dropped golf bag lay against the rear tire.
Mitch wasn’t moving. He was frozen in place, except for his convulsing lower lip. His eyes were transfixed by the scene before him: Midnight and Mayhem standing proudly on the roof of his beautiful car.
Mitch’s wife, Carol, had heard the racket from inside the house, and arrived in the doorway at about the same time that Tadferd and Dish made their appearance.
“Mitchell!” she screamed, pronouncing it “Mee-chul”. Quickly assessing the dire situation, she switched gears as she tore across the driveway.
“Mitchell, calm down, honey! It’s okay. I don't think they've hurt the car.”
And they probably hadn’t. But, the arrival of such a large group of possible captors, however, threw the goats into panic mode.
Frantic to vacate their perch, Midnight and Mayhem decided to divide and conquer, rather than be taken willingly.
Like a horror film in slow-mo, the humans watched as Midnight hit the glass of the back window, digging his hooves in and fighting for traction. Simultaneously, Mayhem shot the length of the windshield and out onto the hood.
Like first-time ice skaters, both goats leaned and yawed, each scraping four drunken trails into the once-flawlessly-waxed surface.
It was the sound escaping his own mouth that broke through Mitch’s trance. It was something between fingernails on a chalkboard and (?).
Grabbing a four iron from the pile at his feet and holding it like a ball bat, he charged toward the panicked goats. There was a crazed look in his eyes and a clown’s smile curling his lips diabolically upward. The remaining clubs flew in all directions as he barreled through them toward the Beamer.
“Mee-chul!” Carol shouted, eyes wide, watching helplessly.
Before Mayhem could clear the hood, Mitch took one colossal swing, detaching the driver’s side mirror and sending it airborne.
As the mirror clattered to earth, Mitch’s fury was refueled; and Tadferd and Dish--who had been stock still with mouths agape--now looked at each other and silently agreed that it was high time to exit the premises. Frantically clawing for safety, they lurched in all directions, their chrome belt buckles smacking together with loud pings.
“Grandmother’s house!” Tadferd yelled.
The duo bolted toward the garden and cleared the fence at full throttle. The newly plowed rows, however, proved slow-going for their huge boots. But the two wobbled onward as quickly as their Wrangler-clad legs would carry them, with the sounds of goats and a madman growing dimmer with every inch of distance.
The next morning Mayhem and Midnight were nowhere to be found. Rumor was they had run all the way to a farm in northern Wyoming.
“I had a couple of dogs that went to that farm,” Dish told Tadferd. “Must be nice there.”