This is a story from the archives of my life in Caspar, when I was young and carefree and slept on the living room couch because the North room, my bedroom, was cold enough to form ice on the blankets.

It was the summertime, and the side door was open for ventilation. That house got stuffy sometimes, all the tin, and the nasturtiums in the doorway waved gently in the vague breeze. I was fast asleep, dreaming of tasty food, probably. Mr Bell was asleep on my legs, twitching sometimes, presumably also dreaming of tasty food.

I woke up to two sensations–a cat rocketing off my body using my legs as a launching pad and a rough, moist sensation on my face. I looked up to realize that a cow was licking my cheek, perhaps for the salt. Apparently she had wandered up the stairs and into the house, perhaps in search of greener pastures, and she found me instead.

I shouted upstairs through my father’s window:


“No there’s not, go back to sleep.”

“NO, SERIOUSLY! There’s a cow! It’s licking me! Help!”

The cow paused in her ministrations and studied me for a moment, and my father shouted down:

“I worked late last night…please just go back to sleep. We’ll do something fun in the morning.”

“But dad,” I said, “there’s a…”

“MOOOOOOOOOOO,” the cow said, before cocking her tail and depositing a sizeable pancake on the floor. “Burp,” she said, as an afterthought.

“Oh,” my father said.

“Meow,” added Mr Bell from under the couch.

As I recall, we led the cow back outside through the gallery, because of course cows won’t go back down stairs. She joined the rest of her herd, who were milling around Caspar Road waiting for Frank to turn up and herd them back in. I imagine in later years she told the story about the time she went into the tin house and took a shit on the Persian carpet, the only obvious article of value in the entire house.

The carpet was never the same after that, even after cleaning. On sunny days it would emit a distinctly bovine smell, causing guests to sniff nervously and peer around the downstairs, perhaps thinking that we were hiding a cow somewhere.

Mr Bell’s always had a healthy respect for cows, too.