(continued from previous post)
With a supple ease unfettered by his enormous size, the buffalo twisted his feet gently and in one fell swoop, flowed like a porpoise playing in the sea down onto the ground and stood facing Hiram. And then, he began to dance.
Rising on his back legs the buffalo pranced and bowed, trotted sideways and back then twirled like a Sufi dervish in wild circles, head tossing backwards and forwards, tail making exclamation points here and there to the untimed rhythm. The air filled with the aroma of bad cabbage soup and somewhere in the distance a dog began to bark.
Hiram clambered unsteadily to his feet and the buffalo reached out with a huge foreleg – which he placed on Hiram’s head. “Come with me,” the buffalo said. “We’ve got to talk.”
Placing all four legs on the ground, the buffalo ambled away towards the hills in the distance. Hiram ran after him and as he reached the buffalo’s side the snow began to fall. It fell in a solid thick blizzard of white freezing ice. The buffalo turned white, and Hiram struggled to keep walking beside him, the snow reaching up to his thighs. He lifted each leg with all the strength he had up and out from the snow for each perilous step and the one after it.
“Son,” the buffalo said, in a deep voice like the smoke rising from trains. “Your eating habits are horrible.”
Hiram gasped and almost fell face-down in the snow, stumbling sideways into the buffalo as he strove to regain his balance.
“Here you are, longing for hamburgers. Fries! Onion rings. Iceberg lettuce with a wad of dead tomato and paralyzed carrot strings with ‘Ranch’ dressing! Chocolate cake too, no doubt. Why, son. I remember when you used to be a real cowboy.”
Hiram was suddenly no longer walking beside the buffalo in the deep snow. Instead he was laying in a bed, an old four-poster covered with any number of darned quilts. The air was freezing outside the covering of quilts, and the dog was still barking like a banshee, in sharp shrieks. A woman lay with her back to Hiram, sleeping, motionless – and he could not remember who she was. But still the buffalo spoke to him.
“Do you at least remember how to make Son-of-a-Bitch-Stew????” It was the buffalo again, roaring out the question at Hiram with his terrible head turned and thrust directly at his face, angry steam rising from his nostrils, while all the time the smell of bad cabbage soup grew stronger and stronger.
With a start, Hiram remembered. Yes, he knew how to make a son-of-a-bitch stew. He knew it well. And as soon as he could get away from this cantankerous buffalo, he would make it. He would make it and again become the cowboy that he used to be. There would be a new life, a rebirth, a saving grace which would enter his life with the knowledge regained by the making of the stew.
He would make the stew, now. He closed his eyes and prayed to be freed from this buffalo smelling of bad cabbage soup, this snow that buried him. And also to remember who on earth this woman was and why he was in this bed with her.
The air shifted with a small vacuous sigh. The bed shook, the buffalo whined like a puppy. Hiram’s eyes opened. He was ready to cook. The was just one more problem. He’d now become a large glorious rainbow trout, tied onto some other cowboy’s horse.
“Mighty fine little mare this feller has,” he thought, as he gasped, expanding his gills gently for more air.
Though we’re not sure at this point what happens to Hiram next, whether he becomes a real cowboy or remains forever a big trout or perhaps someone’s next meal we do know how to make our own Son-of-a-Bitch Stew. Follow this link to find the recipe for the elegant variation called Son-of-a-Bitch-in-a-Sack.
He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimneypiece:
He looked again, and found it was
His sister’s boyfriend’s niece.
(Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno)