Chevyitz, the Ram
It was midday, and I could hear the lunch bell ringing as I finished feeding the pigs. I spent my mornings feeding the animals on the Rickart Family Farm. I wound up on this farm one day, as fate would have it, in early August. I left the east coast on foot a clean-shaven, baby-faced boy and arrived on the west coast a beaten and battered, bearded and tattered man. Ripe of whisky. Mature like a cave-aged, raw-milk Comte. My words, humbled by a barren gut devoid of sustenance, were simple but wild like a gypsy folk trio. I trekked cross-country over several mountain ranges, settling finally on this farm. Seeing as I was raised a beach bum and had never stepped foot on a farm before, I had no business visiting the Rickart’s, let alone becoming their farm hand. Pushing westward from coast to coast on foot was a battle at times, but nothing like the fight I would find buried deep in a wild pasture one autumn afternoon.
It was early morning, but the air was already laced with dry heat. My feet were swollen from days of hiking through back woods. I had made my way onto a thruway and had been desperately wagging a dirty thumb at the passersby. “Mornin’. Thanks for stoppin’. Damn it’s hot,” I noted as I climbed into the passenger side of the pickup, swinging my pack into the bed of the truck. There was a trailer hooked up to the back with a bunch of coolers, a folded up stand, and an awning. Looked like a farmer headed to market, but the cargo didn’t quite fit the driver.
“No worries. Where ya headed?” my driver asked. She was young and attractive. Not the kind of person I envisioned picking up a dirty, stinking, bearded man, wandering aimlessly along a highway. But this was the Pacific Northwest, and people’s minds were slanted differently out here.
“Nowhere,” I answered, settling into my chair.
“No real destination. Takin’ it day by day,” I clarified.
“Huh. Okay. Feel like workin’?” she offered. “I’m headed to Portland. To market. Runnin’ a bit late. Hope you don’t mind that I drive fast,” she spoke quickly.
“Sure,” I answered reflexively, and that was it. Her name was Katelyn. I worked the market with her that day, and she offered me a ride back to her family’s farm when we finished. I have been there ever since.
The swine were ravenous on this particular day, and I scurried out of their pasture. It was October now, and the pigs were growing fat. The little, pink, four-legged creatures chased after me, squealing like heathen, belly-dragging oompa loompas. I was certain the hungry bastards would eat me for sure if they ever caught me one of these days. I threw a barrel of pears in one direction to distract them and bolted in the other, hopping over their electrified fence. It was lunchtime, and someone was furiously ringing the damn bell.
I trotted up the lane to the house. I met the fervent bell-ringer at the front door. It was Katelyn, who, it turned out, was my polar opposite. She stomped around like a crazed lunatic all day long. I could never understand her heightened sense of urgency. Everything on this plot of land seemed to simply flow the way it intended. All it seemed to need were some fences, which it had. She was always ten steps ahead of me, though, racing through her chores. In the beginning, I would try to wake up before her, but it didn’t help. She carried a wicked pace that made me dizzy.
Katelyn was a young girl at age sixteen, as heavy footed as a gorilla, a thoroughbred country bumpkin with long, thick, straight blonde hair stretching the length of her back, and sea-glass green eyes. We had developed a brotherly and sisterly bond. She had an older brother who was living abroad, and I awkwardly wandered onto the farm in his place just days after he flew the coup.
After lunch, Katelyn asked me to help her with the sheep. Something about slaughter, sausages, and an angry ram. She lost me at sausages, and my mind drifted. “So you’ll help me?” she asked, interrupting my gastronomical daydream.
“Sure,” I agreed without knowing what on earth I had agreed to, but I knew I had the afternoon free. We cleaned up lunch, and I followed her out towards the sheep’s pasture.
“We need to herd the whole flock inda pen o’er there”, she explained, “and separate out the ones ready for slaughter.”
“Those poor, plump souls,” I thought. “How long ‘til we could have lamb sausages?” I wondered.
“Just watch out for dat ram, Chevyitz. He can be nasty,” she nervously confessed as we split up to flank the flock.
“An angry ram named Chevyitz?” I wondered. Fear struck me suddenly like a fallen apple on an unsuspected dreamer. “Probably been having his way with his flock of ewe,” I imagined. “Bet he’d defend his conjugal rights at all costs,” I believed, wide-eyed now, and motionless. My stomach lurched, and I felt my lunch scurry to a corner of my gut to hide. I wish I had listened closer during lunch when I stupidly agreed to this kamikaze mission. Now there was no turning back, and I could not let her see how terrified I was.
I had never seen this maniacal nineteen-year-old girl afraid of anything. I once saw her spank a bull for chasing the family dog. I thought she was fearless. It was usually I who was afraid of all these strange farm animals. I never knew what they were thinking, and it worried me. I imagined even the grass-eating herbivores were sizing me up at all times. I suppose I was projecting. I could not stop salivating over the sight of all the potential steaks, sausages, and burgers roaming that stretch of land. Karma is a strangely calculated thing, and I suppose it was catching up with me. I was about to learn that it, literally, cannot be out run.
Katelyn and I continued toward our chore. The sheep’s pasture was just down the lane, and it would take the rest of the afternoon to round up the flock and pull out the fat ones. We decided to split up and flank the herd from opposite sides. She stopped to tie her shoe, and I continued down the lane toward the sheep’s pasture. I was halfway to the gate when I heard her call from behind me.
“Michael!” she yelled.
“Yeah?” I answered, half turning back in her direction.
“You’re gonna need a stick!” she warned.
“Shit!” I thought, and quickly remembered her warning of Chevyitz. I grabbed a stick without breaking stride. I continued down the lane when I heard her call again.
“Michael! Wait!” She yelled. “You’re gonna need a bigger stick!”
“Fuck!” I thought. “What the hell am I going to find out there?” I wondered. I imagined a fire-breathing, four-legged beast with fangs and horns and red beady eyes, but I knew I had to go on. Katelyn was a young girl, and she needed my help. I ripped a dead branch off an old wretched apple tree and stripped off the stray twigs. It doubled as a walking stick as I continued down the lane. It was thick and burly, and there was a small but sharp thorn pressing into my calloused palm. I squeezed my club tighter, piercing the skin, as I slowly slipped through the gate into the field.
The sheep’s pasture was totally unkempt and wild. Thick patches of thistle grew chest high, almost high enough to hide a herd of sheep. Puffs of white curly wool peeked through the weeds and floated above the crab grass like an ominous cloud. I waded my way through the tall weeds towards the flock. I was far away from the pasture’s gate now and approaching the herd.
My heart throbbed with anticipation, but nothing happened. I realized my legs had stopped moving. I had momentarily entered a state of limbo. A few rogue neurons firing in my frontal lobe teased me back to awareness. They wanted to know how this event would unfold. They were dying to see just how ugly and vicious this animal was. They were like moviegoers at a horror flick, drenched in suspense. I started tiptoeing further and my first step snapped a small twig. The noise sounded thunderous in my sensitive state, and I cursed the gods for their villainous ways. The crack echoed off the back hillside and sent a shiver up my spine. The sudden eruption of noise splintered the afternoon’s stillness like an axe through a log. I heard the sheep shifting and rustling. A huge square head slowly lifted from the weeds. It was the fiend, Chevyitz.
Chevyitz took a moment to settle his marble-sized pupils on my silhouette. I was only ten yards away. I looked back to the fence to plan my escape if things were to get hairy and was overcome with a sudden terror. The fence was too far away to make a run for it if he decided to charge. I anxiously awaited his next move. His pupils narrowed. He seemed to have me in his sights. He pushed a big belly full of air through his nostrils. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I wondered if he had farted through his nose. I knew nothing of these farm animals. Then he did it again, shifted his weight to his hind legs, stuck out his chest, and stomped the ground with his front hoof. I wholly understood this body language, and had a good idea as to what would happen next. I had a fraction of a second to think, and my mind flooded with a million thoughts.
“What kind of demented creator would waste their time laboring over such a disgusting breed? Couldn’t Noah have left this one behind? What was Chevyitz so protective of? What did he really think was at stake? Like I was just dying to sneak in there and romance a mess of wool that stunk like fermenting gym socks. Don’t worry pal, I don’t like ‘em that hairy. What kind of filthy creature would mount a she-beast with a rump covered in dingle berries, anyway? For that matter, what kind of raunchy female would lust after a male who pees on his own head?” My mind rested, ready for answers, but Chevyitz had drawn his line and was about to make a move.
At this very moment, I left my body and was somehow replaced by a barbarous Neanderthal. My stick became a club; potent doses of adrenaline filled my veins. My heart raced, but I lost all nerve. Blood pumped furiously throughout my body, swelling my muscles. I firmly planted my feet, bent my knees slightly, squared my shoulders, gripped my weapon like a knight ready to joust, and let out a crazed, rebel yell. Chevyitz reared up like a slingshot, leveled his head, and sprung towards me like a line backer. I jabbed the monster square in the forehead with the stick and stunned him. He stopped dead in his tracks. He looked bewildered but otherwise unaffected. I ignored the latter part, though, and prematurely unleashed a victorious roar. “Agh!” I screamed, raising the stick above my head. I was winning, or so I naively believed. Then I realized the true extent of my accomplishment. I confused the dumb brute, sure, but that was all. The fight was not over. In fact, it had just begun.
It took several seconds before Chevyitz realized that all I had brought to this savage match was a stick. He eyed me again with a renewed sense of confidence, backed up several feet for a running start, and charged me again. Again, I rammed him with my stick. It was the same result. He was stunned and stood there, baffled.
“How dumb was this poor bastard?” I thought. He quickly reared up for another go. The adrenaline was running thin in my veins, and I could feel tremors coursing through my legs. He charged for a third time, and I panicked. I threw my stick in the air and sidestepped the ram just in time to avoid an injurious blow to the groin. With one final surge of adrenaline, I grabbed the hairy animal by its wool, swirled around with his momentum like a disc thrower and threw the furry ogre several feet. He floated peacefully for a few still moments. Then he gracefully landed on his feet and scuttled off a few yards.
“Holy shit, I threw him! You want some more of this?” I thought. My testicles quickly swelled with a congratulatory dose of testosterone, but Chevyitz suddenly turned and reared for another attack. My mood quickly turned. “You stupid beach bum,” I scolded myself. “What in the name of Jesus are you doing out here in the middle of this dung-infested field? You’re bound to slip on a cow patty and knock yourself unconscious. You were raised on microwavable meals and high fructose corn syrup, not raw cream and beef liver. You’re not made to go toe to toe with these savage creatures. You’re not a goddamn cowboy. Run you moron! Run!”
The adrenaline had totally left my system, and I had lost my stick. I tried barking at the thing, but he was apparently deaf. It had no effect. I had no choice but to flee in defeat. I started sprinting toward the fence without waiting for his advance, but I knew he could not be far behind. He was a simple brute, run by a simple program: eat, sleep, procreate, and ram things. I had unintelligibly turned on that last program.
There I was, racing through stinging nettle and sharp thistle, skating on the occasional huge steaming pile of cow crap. It was roughly a one hundred yard dash, and I was halfway there. The lactic acid was building quickly in my thighs. I contemplated slowing down and peered over my shoulder mid-sprint. The beast was running me down and gaining. I yelled, but this time in fear. Being rammed in the ass was not appealing, and the fence was just thirty yards away. I could hear the ram’s hooves beating the ground in pursuit. I was almost there, but he was right on my tail. There was no time for fiddling with a fence gate. I was yelling wildly now during the final ten yard dash. I hurled myself over the fence. I flew horizontal and perfectly parallel to the ground like a super hero. I cleared it perfectly and landed flat on my back in a hedge of blackberries. I was in pain, but I was safe. Chevyitz stared me down, feckless but defiant, from his side of the fence. I hurled an apple at him and hit him in the flank. He turned and scuttled off, leaving me to catch my breath.
Katelyn suddenly appeared from around a bend. Apparently, she ducked into the brush when she heard screaming. She lay down next to me, and we were quiet for several minutes.
“What happened out thay?” Katelyn asked, flopping down on her belly and propping herself up on her elbows. “I heard yelling,” she added, waiting impatiently for a story.
I let out a big sigh. “I’ll tell you at dinner. You think we can have some garlic and herb lamb sausages tonight?” I asked, my eyes following an amorphous cloud that quickly blotted out the sun.
“I think all we have left is chorizo,” she answered.
I smiled. “That’ll do.”
About the Author
Michael Postel is studying and writing poetry in Brooklyn, NY. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and is a food sustainability advocate when not writing. He has work published in Daily Love, Rose and Thorn Journal and Lowestoft Chronicle.