Stories
© 2015  Michael Cotter
The Cock and Bull Story Growing up on our Minnesota farm in the 30s and early 40s, we had the roles of boys and girls very much defined.  If you were a boy, you  worked in the fields and the barn; if you were a girl, you worked in the garden and the house.      In the winter, the barn and the house were the only two warm places, and each had a life of its own.  When I was about 12, one late February day after a particularly cold winter, we were treated to a special morning.  Even though it was early, the sun was coming up and the air was  perfectly still.  Though the ground was frozen, the stillness of the air let that late February sun, with its strong rays, give a promise of spring.  It  was a wonderful day to just stand out and look around that barnyard. Some of our big slaughter cattle, weighing twelve or thirteen hundred  pounds each, had moved out of the shed where the ice was caked on the walls and the frost hung from the ceiling.  They were standing in a row where the rays of that February sun could seep into their thick coat.  They were quiet, as if in meditation.  It was a very peaceful scene.      Suddenly a tremendous racket came into that feedlot.  A small hen from a chicken house a long distance away seemed to be running for her  life.  She flew up on that high board fence, paused for a moment, and then flew again, landing on the back of one of those steers.  His  meditation was shot.  He didn't know what was on his back or how to get it off.      Not far behind this hen, with the sun reflecting off his beautiful plumage, an old king-of-the-flock rooster with a bright comb and bright red  wattles under his chin came in hot pursuit.  His day was not going well.  It had been a long chase and he was already overheated; and though I  was a young boy, I could see that his heart was full of lust.  I knew that was a serious situation, because our family attended parochial school  where this was often discussed.  This was a drama I had seen many times.      This whole program has since been moved to the schools with the overhead projectors and the diagrams and the arrows all telling the story,  and I believe it's called "Family Life"; but back then that program was still in the barnyard.        The rooster also flew up on that board fence, and then he flew down on the other side with a brilliant reflection of the sun on his plumage.  He  did not know where the hen had gone.  He was acting arrogant and obnoxious and you could see that he was on a real  tight schedule. Then he  saw her sitting up on the back of this steer, and even though he went over and stood right behind the steer, he still had a problem.        Now that steer, who had fidgeted around, had never attended parochial school. But he had some other problems.  One was that he had  never really intended to become a steer.  He had had another vocation in mind, but on an otherwise uneventful day, he had been run into a  chute and had his "personality" changed forever.  And it was not his idea.  But it might explain why he was into meditation the way he was.      As a 12-year-old boy watching this, I thought it was such a mismatch that I picked up a stick and threw it at that rooster.  And even though it  did not even come close to him, he was so dramatic that he gave a loud squawk and flew up into the air right back of the steer.  To this frustrated steer who had already had his meditation ruined, this was the last straw--and he kicked.      In a rare moment of timing, this blow that might have broken a man's leg connected with this despicable, lust-filled rooster in midair.  And  there was a pretty good puff of feathers right there.  There was a much larger cloud of feathers when that rooster crashed into that board fence ten feet away as he slid down that fence and onto the ground like some character in a Walt Disney cartoon.  His beautiful plumage folded over  him like a mantle, and I thought he was dead.        But he was not dead.  He got to his feet, although they were not very steady.  He in no way resembled the rooster of a minute or two earlier.   His head was low to the ground.  His tail feathers that had reflected the sun now hung colorless near to the ground, and he couldn't even recall  why he had come into that feedlot.  He knew he wanted to run, and he didn't have to fly over that board fence, for there was plenty of room  underneath.  When I last saw him, he was running with long steps back to the chicken house.        The little hen hopped off the steer’s back and continued her morning. Taking some poetic license, I tried to imagine the future of that rooster.   I could see him coming to the chicken house, all stiffened up, trying to fly up on that roost where he slept, to regain his stature as king of the  flock. I could imagine any young rooster looking down on him, and in a squawky teenage voice, saying, "What happened to you? You look  terrible."        And that old majestic rooster might have riveted him with a look of disdain and said in a hoarse voice, "By God, you won't believe the day I've  had."  Or he might have kept his fine plumage and become like the Pope, going from chicken yard to chicken yard, preaching celibacy as a way  of life.      I believe there was more drama in those backyards years ago, long before farmers became so specialized with all those different kinds of  animals there together working out their relationships.    
Listen to “A Storyteller Is A Soybean”
Listen to “Goodnight, Zipper”