The Cow And The River
I am a traveller. I have been to every single state in the United States and I have even been across the sea to far, exotic countries. I tell you this so that you may know I have seen a great deal in my time. A great deal more than most people see in two lifetimes. I’ve heard tales of boys captaining pirate ships, of sheep running across a field in circles for days on end. Many, many unbelievable things I have seen. However, the story of the one eyed, yaller cow with the tail the size of a banana is the most outrageous and unbelievable I have ever heard, and I’m here to tell you that the story is true.
It all happened one blisteringly hot July day on the side of a riverbank. I had heard the river and thought I might stop and stay for a spell. Well on that side of the riverbank sat an old blind man with a face so wrinkly I couldn’t see his mouth until it started moving. When he heard my approach his head snapped to attention and he spoke to me.
He spoke and he said “If you are stopping to get a drink from this here river I advise against it very strongly, sir. This river is tainted, and the water unfit for drinking, for if you do drink it you’ll become that which you fear the most.”
Hesitatingly I asked “How could drinking water do that to a man?”
“It’s not the act of drinking water that does it; it’s the act of drinking from this particular river that will make you change,” whispered the man solemnly.
“Have a seat here next to me and I will explain in greater detail.”
Doing as he said I made my way over to him and sat myself on the crooked log that lay next to where he was sitting. When I was settled, the old man nodded his head once and continued.
“Back in my youth I was an adventurous lad not unlike you. I could not spend more than one or two days in the same place. I hated staying tied down, It felt like a prison if I stayed longer than three days in the same place. Anyway, I stayed mostly in the wilderness sleeping under trees on the bed of pine needles that always seemed to be there. I stayed in towns as I came across them but always preferred the freedom that came with staying on the road.
“Well, one day I was meandering my way along the worn foot path knowing that eventually it would lead to a town. It did and I eventually came upon the little town of Wassan. It had everything a town usually does, a place for food, washing, buying, sleeping, and of course drinking. I made my way to the tavern. It was a dusty, run down little place with hardly any room for a cow.”
As he said that last sentence the old man’s mouth twitched slightly as if he found it extremely amusing. Disregarding the fact, I continued to listen to the man.“In this run down old building I came across a lad very close to my own age and very similar in stature, although he was missing an eye. He was a traveller like me and like me he had no home. As we got to talking we both discovered that we mutually agreed to the fact that our lifestyle could become very lonesome at times.
“So we decided to travel together for a time. Being in such close proximity to one another combined with the face we were the only living humans within miles on many of our travels, we came to know each other extremely well.
“Among the various facts I got to know was that he did not like the color yellow because as a boy he got stung by a yellow jacket in his forehead just above his eye. This incident is what caused the loss of said eye. He also did not like cows because his father and mother were gored by a cow making him an orphan.”
Shifting his position, he reached within his robes and procured a wineskin, took a sip of the fragrant liquid and continued.
“In our travels we inevitably came across this exact river, which I have taken to calling the river of fear. We were running low on our provisions and were in dire need of water. Hoping to fill our water skins here we stopped and made camp. As he was filling the skins, my friend received a vision of a river spirit telling him to not under any circumstances drink the water. He heeded the warning with reluctance and came back to our camp to tell me what had occurred. We waited three days before he became fed up with waiting. Storming to the river he shoved his water skin into the water and drank greedily from it. Almost instantaneously he began to howl with pain. He was turning into a yellow cow. Once the transformation was complete he simply walked away. I have never seen the cow since.”
When the old man finished his story he sat there on his log smiling. I did not hear another word out of his mouth for I was running as fast as my legs could carry me the opposite direction. I’ve never been able to find the river again.
-JT Lynn | Edited by Farrokh sir