Vexations and Conundrums

By Katina Pontikes

A Bad Moo

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The coronavirus continues to rage on, the count increasing daily. We left our friend’s ranch weeks ago, but the last day was marred by an eerie omen.

I had woken up at dawn, the sun not yet up. There was a thick haze over the pasture, and I couldn’t see clearly, but I could hear an occasional mooing cow. Suddenly, as I walked to the main house for coffee, I heard an unmistakable, plaintive cow noise, one I had not heard before. It was haunting, almost crying for help. I froze in place, listening for it to repeat, which it did. What did one do on a ranch, in the near darkness of an early hour, when faced with such a noise?

I decided to call the ranch foreman. I heard he always rose early to check on the animals.

“Wylie, it’s Katina. I hope I’m not disturbing you. I have heard a very bad moo.”

“You heard a what?”

“It’s a bad moo, coming from the pasture. Maybe a cow or bull is hurt?”

Several seconds of silence followed. Maybe he thought I was delusional.

“No. I think probably a momma cow is just looking for her calf. Don’t worry about it.”

I went on to get coffee, wondering how this cowboy could be so sure, yet calmed by his dismissal of the frightening call of the cow.

We came back to the city, and things got stranger with each passing week. The weather was unusually hot, even for the Gulf Coast. Temperatures hovered in the 90s, just begging for a hurricane to come for a visit. A storm came, but headed for the Louisiana coast, missing us.

We stayed isolated and watched way too much T.V. Then, there was a terrible incident of police brutality, filmed on an iPhone. No one should have to witness such cruelty, as one can’t erase it once it has imprinted in the brain. This murder was hideous, and over a very small alleged crime.

The nation woke up to react to every brutal incident that was ever perpetrated on the Black race since slavery hit our shores. Blacks and whites were enraged, their fever fed by the pent-up energy stored during the lockdown from the virus. Citizens decided, “Damn the virus! We are hitting the streets!” And they did, here and around the world. I had never seen such a thing, and all recorded in real time on the Internet. The anger was so overdue. The looters came next, and no one was sure where they came from or who they were, masked and hooded to conceal their identities.

The economy is teetering. I watch as shops next door transform to empty shells, in some cases boarded up. Restaurants that have been around for decades decide to close their doors. I don’t know how salons stay in business, as many of my friends still will not go into establishments with no distancing between providers and patrons.

Enter political tensions, as if we aren’t all on the razor’s edge already. A U.S. election is looming. Every message from candidates or media messengers seem to carry a political subtext. Some statements sound threatening. Ugly words are later dismissed as “jokes.” Truths are cloaked as humor, while lies are uttered without penalty.

Troubles continue to tumble around us. We do our best to keep our spirits positive, but it is a huge challenge.

I heard there is an asteroid headed this way, which will come dangerously close to Earth. I hope it misses us, and the tide of gloom forecasted by that sad-sounding cow turns us around to a time of positive change for humankind.

I long to hear a mellow moo from the cow.

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