Unlike Miss Love’s cow story from last week, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. But unlike Miss Love’s, there is evil, salvation, and disgusting rumen fluid.
Thursday evening after Pinky and Miss Love had arrived at the State Fair of Texas with their ten zebu, a friend from Louisiana noticed his prize bull was starting to bloat. After a couple of hours of trying baking soda and a tube down his throat into his rumen to relieve the pressure, he was still bloating bigger and bigger like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon gone bad. With directions from a vet over the telephone, one of the cow guys poked a large needle in his left side. The needle was too small and not much air was coming out. The vet suggested blowing a little on the needle to clear it out. This duty fell to Pinky. While waiting for the emergency vet to show up, Pinky blew into the needle every few minutes for over an hour. Of course, when the air hissed out of the needle, so did some rumen fluid. Now the rumen is the first section of the cow’s stomach where food goes and sloshes around a bit, then is regurgitated back up and chewed some more. Pinky kinda likes the smell of that cow’s cud and the natural burps that go along with it. What he didn’t realize was that cud must actually be good compared to what stays in the rumen which can only be described as evil. And by evil he means pure-d demonic hellish hate in gaseous and foamy dribble form. This evil is what Pinky had on his lips for over an hour. As he wiggled the needle around and got it in an especially helpful position, some of this demon sperm would sputter out onto his glasses. He had to hold the needle in place and his fingers were all pruney from this wicked liquid. Later he made Miss Love smell his breath (she didn’t flinch)—but when he made her smell his fingers, she practically swooned with disgust. Several small children also smelled Pinky’s fingers—they will probably recall this smell on their own deathbed.
If Miss Love were telling the story, there would be many descriptive passages about the vet tubing the bull, Pinky’s heroic massage of the stomach at the vet’s direction, and the tears of the owners. But Pinky is less interested in the plot than in his early morning visions. Pinky volunteered to spend the night with the bull, because the owner was too distraught to render more tubing and needling relief if needed through the night. The bull seemed a bit better, and he and Pinky did lots of walking and talking. (Apparently you sleep off the flu, but walk off the bloat.) Pinky found himself lowing to the bull in a soft deep hum which seemed to calm him. About 3AM Pinky went into the stall so he could keep a closer eye on the bull. There was a bare dim light over the hall, but the stall was shadowy and quiet. The wooden slats were painted Pinky’s favorite color of pistachio green. The stall floor was red sand. Pinky sat with the bull’s head on his lap. He realized he had never asked if the bull was tame enough for this. When the bull was standing, Pinky had an odd ant’s eye view of this looming swollen beast. Pinky was stretched out on the floor—head propped against the worn wooden wall.
Then, like an apparition, Carravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus, popped into Pinky’s head. The similarity between this painting and what he was seeing was uncanny. The horse had become a bull, but the lighting was the same. The distressed bloated bull could at anytime step on him. Pinky just mooed some more and hoped that the bull would continue to deflate. Pinky felt calm and peaceful to know he and the bull were, for the moment, safe.
By dawn, the bull seemed better, but Pinky thinks the evil rumen juice simply got the best of him. By afternoon, the vet had all involved (and visiting artist, Mark Ross) roll the worsening bull on his back to try to shake the evil loose. But sadly, the bull died that afternoon.