Ahhhhh. Friday night.
Hubby is at work and you have nothing on the agenda after your run. All that's left is to take Teenaged Daughter into town to watch a movie with her friends and you are home free to read to your heart's content, an unfettered luxury. You savor your steaming shower, don your softest , fluffiest pajamas and set out your book and a mug for hot tea, then arrange the pillows on the sofa for optimum reading pleasure upon your return from town. You take a deep breath and love the way your hair smells after the deep conditioning treatment you've just given it.
Teenaged Daughter is ready to go and you slip on your old flip flops and you both hop into the car. As the garage door opens, you are taken a little aback at the coolness of the air, crisp as a ripe apple, but no worry because your journey will not even cause you to exit the car. You silently giggle inside as you enjoy the ride into town with Teenaged Daughter. It's been many months since the last Friday night date you had with a good book.
Clouds darker than the night sky cloak the stars and moon and you are even more thankful on your way home you will just have to jump out of the car and into the house. If this evening had come gift wrapped, it could not be better.
Without the natural nocturnal illumination, things are dark indeed, you think as you turn into your long driveway from the farm road leading to your house. You know every turn and bump in this road so are not paying special attention to your surroundings when you realize something is not right. Off to the left of the driveway there...something is moving; something large.
Your breath becomes snagged in your throat as you see not one large shape, but many, all moving on the west side of your front lawn. Your headlights pan over the group and it is a sizable portion of your cattle herd, escaped from the pasture, making merry in your newly planted beds of bluebonnets.
Your brain quickly computes. If the cattle make it down the driveway and into the road, it could be days before they are caught again and the oil trucks that routinely ignore the speed limits on the road could very well have disastrous encounters with them. Your parents, who are your closest neighbors, are away. The next closest neighbors live miles away, too far to help now. Hubby's work is an hour away. You are the only hope for righting this situation.
You see the bull who is acting as the leader of this group. He is slinging his head and trotting, looking as though he was born for insurrection. You jump from the car and run through the dark in your weak plastic flip flops to cut off his path to the road. One shoe comes off your foot, but you plow on through unknown rocky ground.
He sees you and turns away from the road, racing past you with the whole group chasing him, galloping like a bunch of teens who have just rolled a house. You bare foot brushes against a cactus in the chase and the sting of the needles forces you to pause and grimace. The stragglers at the back of the herd are just running past you now and several of them stomp hard in a bog of loose mud that liberally showers you.
Miraculously, you step on your lost shoe in the dark and slip it back on. You have to get to the closest gate and open it before they get there. You take the shortcut through the back yard and although your aching foot is slowing you, it is not stopping you. You see something creeping in the grass about 15 yards in front of you but can't tell what it is and continue your mad dash.
Too late, you see the white stripe down its back. You are already far enough past it that you do not take a direct hit when the skunk unleashes its defense against the chaos, but the proximity of the stink causes you to gag. You do not break stride, though, and grab the gate just as you see the bull rounding the turn in the road.
You rip at the chain, losing three of the French tipped acrylic nails you got at the salon the day before. The gate swings open and you step back to allow them to run through, which they do, gradually slowing. Your heart is still beating a blistering tempo as the last one disappears into the blackness of the pasture.
You wipe your mudspattered face and limp back to the gate to secure it. Just as you reach it, your foot slides forward with crazy quickness and you are completely upended. Your head is cushioned by something soft when you hit the ground. It takes no more than a split second to realize you have landed in cow poop, which now coats your posterior and the back of your head, providing a contrast to the darker mud which has decorated your front. You don't even bother to pry the errant flip flop from the cow patty as you spot the break in the fence that allowed their escape and apply a temporary fix as best you can.
Limping back down the driveway to the house, you noticed the still night air has only amplified the skunk's pungency as you head to the water faucet to try and clean up. You have not even started when your cell phone rings, signaling Teenaged Daughter is ready to be picked up from the movies.
Ohhhh. Friday night.