By Jael Strong
What do you see now, Billy?
Cold. Chilly room. Dark empty space. He sits in the cushy chair with the toss-up footstool. Easy and relaxing rhythms of his voice, the guttural clearing of the throat when I take too long to answer. Everything here is slow and easy.
There’s a pain in my left hip. Maybe it’s cancer. Maybe I’ll die from my cancer. But cancer doesn’t hurt. They say so. My grandma cried when it was killing her, so I don’t know.
There’s a crispy smell of garlic in here.
“I see a goat. A goat on a hill.”
My eyes are closed. I can’t see a thing. But it’s a beautiful goat, with long gray hairs flapping in the wind, and pink eyes flopping and bulging out of its skull, and a wet nose, good for smelling. The smell resembles raspberries, popping out all over the sides of the hill, and a little bit of goat dung.
The goat brays and kicks, stands with his wet nose stuck in the air like he’s a king, like he’s better than me, like David was better than Jonathan. I name him David, King David.
And what does it look like?
Heavy breathing pervert. Stop trying to get into my fantasies.
He sniffs and wipes his nose with his forefinger, and acts like it’s not dripping. But drip, drip, dripping it is. He’s a slimy thing trying to get into my mind. He wants to try it on for size.
I shift onto my side, dream of the cancer in my hip spreading into my lungs and of me coughing up blood all over his pastels. He ought not to wear pink. Girly, it is. Pearly girly. Bought one for his wife’s birthday. Paid for it with my money. Good man. Lovely wife. Nice figure. I’d like to finger it.
Click-clock the clock ticks. It’s a bomb, a devise to end me and David on time. King David and I are butting heads on the hill. Beautiful. Almost time for lunch. Time to daydream about feta and gyros. Slice me some off the rack. Snack and rack. Sounds good.
Slowly he digs his foot into the carpet and I feel the fibers tearing.
“It’s gray with pink eyes. Wet nose.”
David, David. His hair parts when I push my fingers through. Nice goat. Handsome goat on my hill. David and I are sitting side-by-side on the top of my hill and I am rubbing his neck. Good goat. There is green grass under out feet.
I lay back. Clouds. Look, a train. A kazoo. A petting zoo, David. David on the hill in the petting zoo. What a handsome goat! What a pretty goat! Sucking on the thumbs of little children at the petting zoo. At the petting zoo with all the kids. David and Billy. David and Billy. Billy. Billy.
How do you feel about wet things, Billy? Does the idea of the wet nose frighten you?
That is a stupid question. Stop asking me stupid questions or I’ll staple your tongue to that squeaky chair.
Let me see.
Am I afraid of water?
Do I enjoy soggy cereal?
Toast – dry or dipped in milk?
Simply too complex a question to answer.
I take my meds with water in the bathtub next to the toilet whose water is always running unless I wiggle the handle. Or I take them with beer. Dry beer? I think not. Just wet. Perhaps a dry wine? Sweet sweat.
I open my eyes.
He is sweating a bit, little beads on his forehead that he never wipes. They drip into his eyes and he blinks. Blink. Blink. Blink. Three quick blinks for good luck. No flies on me. Not with that thing around. Stinks up the room with his sweat. Then he twiddles the pen between his fingers.
I close my eyes.
The black is good, good blank black to sleep in, to meditate in, to think in, to stink in, to smell in, to drown in. No point in killing yourself unless you’re black to the core.
“I guess. I’m a bit afraid of not being able to breathe when I swim.”
It’s comfortable with David on the hill. Cool. Deep. High. I’m high on life with a goat named David on my hill. There are other hills, but this hill is best because David is here. He’s a little cocky. Nice just the same. Stick a fork in me. I’m done.
I wish these other goats would back up. They’re crowding me out of my hill.
It’s my hill!
I feel better now.
They make me nervous. Stop getting so close. Leave us alone. David, tell them to leave. You talk goat. Goat to it.
Fancy feeling in my stomach, maybe grass could fill me up. Eat my shirt. Right off my line.
There must be twenty or thirty of them marching around Billy Hill, knocking on their horns. They make all kinds of racket. Stinking up the place. Bumping into each other just to get to me.
Where do you think that fear comes from?
I don’t know. Let’s you and me go to the john. I’ll dunk your head in and you tell me where the fear comes from. Tough love. That’s what my mother called it. What do you think? Talk to me in the seductive voice again.
Sometimes he does. Tries to get me to say things.
But now he’s quietly trying to read my mind because that’s his job. What he likes to do. His fate. His favorite hot taco sauce. What a guy.
It’s stuffy in here. He ought to open the door. Or window or both. Cross breeze. Cross dresser. Cross bow. What do you think would be better? A dead gay hooker on a cold night?
Can you read that one Doc?
So stuffy in here.
“It’s hard to say. I don’t know how to swim.”
David comes closer. Get behind me. I can smell David; his hairy haunches are touching my back as we face opposite ways. I am laughing wildly at the encroaching hoard of he-goats dancing around us. They prance. Look at their heels click.
Shall we dance, David?
They’re kicking up the hill. The ground is rumbling.
Little rays from the grand sun array King David, the great protector of Billy Hill.
In his arrogance, he stands erect as the onslaught of battering rams comes to attack Billy Hill.
Why didn’t you ever learn?
Why don’t you ever listen? Why don’t you ever learn? Yes, mother.
I’m parched on my perch. My throat is tight. Tight, tight, tight. Sticking together, the parts of my throat. I shall die of asphyxiation. Water, please.
Much better. Much better to drink out of the paper dunce cap, upside down, a cone in the hand. Better than two elsewhere. The paper and water. Quite a mixture. Almost medicinal. Almost cold. Almost tolerable. Does the trick though.
Now, where were we?
Yes, my mother. Never taught me. Very sad. Oh. Don’t cry for me. It’s not so terrible a loss. A tissue for you. A tissue for me. Tissue for two.
With a little formaldehyde to sooth the soul. Sleep now. We’ll talk later.
“I never took the time.”
Those he-goats are mad. Insane. Crazy. They are foaming at the mouth, cushiony cotton oozing between the teeth. Those hairy creepers are eyeing David.
David is naïve though. Doesn’t know what those kids are up to. Doesn’t know I’m protecting him. And I love that part of him, that part that doesn’t appreciate me, that part that doesn’t love me back.
I am so good.
David is so good.
Together, we are the fighters, the defenders of Billy Hill. He is my he-goat. I love him. He is fine.
And what do you take the time to do Billy Hill? Do you take the time to take care of business? No. What do you do? Nothing. You do nothing. You eat and you sleep and you come here and lay on my couch. Complaining. Is that all you can do Billy Hill?
Hot. It is so hot in here. And I’m sweating. Isn’t there a window in here? Isn’t there a greasy window somewhere in this room? If I find a window, I’m climbing out. I’m not staying here anymore, in these locked rooms and big men asking for the sugar. Sugar, sugar. Honey, honey.
You want my money and they want my sugar.
Get off of me. Get off of me. Get off of me. Get off of me. Get off of me. Get off of me. Now!
“I don’t think you know me very well.”
David and I both stand up and we dig our hooves into the ground. The pack of fiery he-goats has surrounded the hill. The ground rumbles from the attack.
The lead goat, front of the line, running ahead of the rest, charges at David. Smoke comes out of his flaring nostrils, like a fire is up his nose. His eyes are vermilion, bloody. His body quivers from the thrust of his heavy legs against the earth. Dirt flies up. All along the raging monster is coming to kill us, coming to kill David and me. Spiky horns push out from that beast’s forehead. He bears his head down and rushes at David.
“I’m sorry, David,” I say. That horrible goat rams his swords into David’s side and pins him to the ground. “I’m so sorry, David.”
David shakes from the inside out as he’s slammed again by the hairy he-goat. One by one, the rest of the gang of attacking goats surround David, pushing me out, further and further away from David. I hear him struggle as they kick him and ram him. He cries. I stand watching the attack. He cries again from the pain.
Then he’s quiet. Slowly, the band of he-goats turns away from David. Blood glistens on their horns. They don’t look at me as they climb down off of Billy Hill, away from David and away from me.
David lays motionless on the ground. His eyes stare blankly. His body doesn’t heave anymore. He is just a lump of hair. I am left alone crying for my goat, crying for David.
About the Author
Jael Strong is a writer for TheWriteBloggers, a company dedicated to creating professional blogging content for increased internet visibility.