My Celebrity Goat by Jane Ciabattari
I have changed his name, because he’s a real goat. He’s a celebrity, but I don’t think he’ll sue me. I doubt he’ll be reading this. Still.
I met him on a foggy August night in a location I won’t divulge, although I can say it was north of the equator, and south of Alaska by far. A friend took me there. He’d been trying to explain about goats, and this particular all-star goat, and finally he said, Let’s go see him. He meant the uber goat.
We drove through drying farmlands along a narrow winding road past an ancient cemetery and up a hill, where a goat dairy sprawled over several acres. We visited the milking barns, where heavy-uddered female goats shuddered with release as their milk flowed into shiny containers to be transformed at some point into cheese. We spent a few musty moments with a group of rambunctious male goats congregated in a dim smelly barn. They’re in rut, my friend said.
And then it was time for the one.
This guy goat had his own stall and a private meadow. He was sandwiched between the baby female goats on the one side, and the soon to come into heat female goats on the other side. Billygoat heaven. He was on a tight schedule for breeding and birthing and selling his progeny.
When we arrived he was at the far end of his own green strip.
He spotted me and began a goatly stroll, both studly and gnarly. And, I noticed, quickening.
He approached the fence, giving me the eye. He looked like Jim Morrison, tangles of hair curling down, evil grin.
Goat smiles have a special meaning. Like people smiles. If you’re a female visiting a male goat, and the goat smiles this way, it means… he’s ready.
This goat was assessing angles, positions. Oh. My.
I need an exit strategy, I said to my friend. He hustled me away from the smell of earth, back into the antiseptic barn. As I walked away I glanced back, imprinting the whorls of his horns, the wild eyes, the piercing lust, his unambiguous male power.
Just before we left I read the notices on the bulletin board: “Semen for sale. Old-English Clinton – sold out. Companeros Hallelujah Standard – sold out. Exotic.”
And in hand lettering, an advertisement for himself, with his photo and c.v. He was the farm’s Elite Sire. “All of his daughters are quality milkers, most of them milking over 3,000 pounds in their first lactation. His impression on the breed will be long lasting. Semen is available at $75/Straw on the farm or through Frozen Assets.”
Okay okay. I know you’re dying to know.
His name was Freelance.
Jane Ciabattari is the author of two story collections, California Tales and Stealing the Fire, and flash published in 100-Word Story. She writes the Between the Lines column for BBC.com and contributes regularly to NPR.org, The Daily Beast, the Boston Globe and others. She is vice president /online and a former president of the National Book Critics Circle, on the advisory board of The Story Prize, and a founder of the [Flash Fiction Collective]. Her move to Sonoma County from the Upper West Side has left her bemused and disoriented.