January 4, 2016

Flash Fiction By L.D. Zane: "Where's The Cow?"

L.D. served seven years in the Navy, which included a combat tour in Vietnam on river boats, and five years aboard nuclear-powered, Fast Attack submarines. At 65, his life is quieter now, and is a member of The Bold Writers.
L.D.’s short stories have been published in: Red Fez, Indiana Voice Journal, Remarkable Doorways Online Literary Magazine, The Writing Disorder, The Furious Gazelle, Slippery Elm, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society.
His website is: ldzaneauthor.com.

Where’s the Cow?

“Everything okay, ma’am?”
    “Where’s the cow?” Julia asked, contemplating the empty space.  
    The Sheriff Deputy’s cruiser was parked directly behind her—its lights flashing. Julia stood there under the cloudless fall sky, back to the highway, arms folded across her chest. The rush of the passing cars and trucks rocked her slender frame, and blew her long hair into her face. She made no attempt to push it aside. The Deputy held his Smokey Bear hat on his head. He stared at her for a moment, then asked, “What cow, ma’am?”
    “There was a billboard-sized cow THERE,” motioning with her arm to where the abandoned road dead-ended at the highway, “with an arrow showing the way to the dairy farm. The road’s still there, but where’s the cow?”

Twenty years ago there was a pregnancy, and no husband. An argument ensued. Julia left. As she turned onto the two-lane blacktop—which then served as the main road into, and out of, her small town—she muttered to the billboard statue: “I hope I never see you again.”
    Decades passed. Her cousin wrote saying Julia’s parents were ill, and that perhaps it was time to come home. They missed Julia, her cousin said.
    It’s been twenty years since I last saw or talked to them, Julia thought. What’s another few months? That was six months ago.

The Deputy explained that there was a fire, and the dairy burned to the ground. Two people died. He asked, “Did you know them …the Cavanaughs?”   
    I thought I did. “Not really,” Julia answered flatly. She stared into the vacant lot.
    “Do you need any assistance, ma’am?”   
    I did, but not anymore. She turned toward the Deputy. “No thanks. I’ll be fine.” She gave an empty smile.
    “Then I should be on my way, and so should you. It’s not safe to sit here alone.” The Deputy dipped his hat, walked back to his car and drove off.

Julia got back into her car and brushed the hair from her face. The young man in the passenger seat asked, “Is everything okay?”
    “Not really, but it will be.”
    “Where to now?”
    “Any place but here. And, Adam…”
    “Yes, Mom?”
    “Be careful what you wish for.” 
~L.D. Zane

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