The Distance Below, the Horizon Ahead

Rusty Barnes

Weldon stood naked atop a bridge in the near-dark. Goat-boy, hammered-toed, ass-faced—he'd been called all these things—rightly so, for he was an ugly son of a bitched-up mother—and so it was in his mind to jump, though Mama-Goat said he shouldn't—stuffing another round of cheese snacks into her maw—stretching her hands out to him from her TV-tray, waiting for the cable to come back in, to bring her the Food Network again, so unconcerned as he galumphed past her naked, his manhood hanging forth under his plump tummy like a skinny snake—What was she thinking? Every day he walked past her so she could slap him on the rump and tell him to be good, and today Weldon the Goat-Boy was day-born naked to boot, yet she said nothing, nothing to dissuade poor Weldon and his nude and shredded goat-bones from heading out the door—so Weldon the Goat-Boy sighed mightily and returned to his consideration of the distance below and the horizon ahead, and thought: Where was his goat-girl, the lady love who would sweetly sing him to sleep during the lightning fury of his awful dreams, who would quiet him when the colors ribboned across the sky, so late at night it was early morning, like when he woke up early and rolled over to contemplate the world as it rose for him outside his window, pretty color blue, pretty-color pink and yellow, oh the prettiness of it all, so pretty. Pretty like Goat-Girl. Goat-Girl kind, Goat-Girl good, Goat-Girl like his remembered Grandma shishing him—shish, boy, shish goat, shish boy—to sleep with smooth lips and callused hands, warming his cold face with her warm bosoms; Goat-girl playing in the Tackaluckey Stream, splashing Weldon with her lovely rounded hooves, kicking over rocks for crayfish to boil in the tin-can pot-au-feu, nuzzling his cheek with her warm nose and lips, oh where was Goat-Girl? The bridge over the Tackaluckey Stream, was it high enough to see her, and from which direction would she come, and how would he recognize her, and would she dress her tiny rounded hooves in satin to meet him, and would she bound up on her front feet in joy, and would she love him like Grandma, and would Mama Goat let her—no Mama, leave Goat-Girl alone, Weldon would say in a loud man-voice—and together they would trip-trap along gruffly to Tackaluckey Town Square, proper town, where Mama wouldn't take claw-foot hammer-toed ass-faced Goat-Boy, Weldon—and Goat-Girl would point with her nose at the vanilla and together Weldon the Goat-Boy and Goat-Girl, her satined hooves clicking on the pavement, would lick unconcernedly at their cones—Weldon would hold Goat-Girl's for her, gladly—until they were done. And no one would stare. Weldon looks low as the ground and high to the sky, and far as he can see out, past Tackaluckey Town proper and MoorishVille and Land-o-Plenty, the Tackaluckey Stream below him ticking the rocks and chuckling to itself happy-like that Goat-girl was there, waiting for him, and so he jumped and landed in the shallow stream-bed and his naked knees went to bloody pained ruins and hammer-toed ass-faced Goat-Boy Weldon didn't feel it, not one little bit, because as he jumped the sky spat forth sparkles of light in purple and blues and deep reds and all the colors of morning, in celebration, he knew, of Goat-Girl, because he loved her and she was coming for him in the stream-bed as the water ran across his ruined knees and he heard the dull roar of the town, as the other children cried and shouted for the colors, as it was Independence Day for real, for him, because he, Weldon, the Goat-Boy, loved his Goat-Girl.

Rusty Barnes lives in Revere MA. He's published stories in many places online and off. See for more details.