I opened my tiny bathroom window and looked up at the cows and sheep. I said, “Moo,” and “Baaa.” They looked down at me, chewing thoughtfully. I breathed the fresh air. It really was a beautiful scene. I took a picture, but looking up through the camera distorted something in my head and made me dizzy, so I lay on the bed for a while.
I went to a little diner up the road. They specialized in crepes. I had a crepe for dinner, made with chicken, and then a crepe with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. I had a cup of coffee. I eyed the waitress secretly. She was raw and beautiful, with the blackest wind-blown hair, no make-up, red cheeks, and a long neck where you could rest an ear to feel her words, a soothing French lesson in your sleep. At the end I imagined she looked at me longer than necessary with her black eyes. I felt my scrotum tingle and contract. I said, “Merci.”
“You stay at the motel?” She nodded in that direction.
“Yes. Oui.” I swallowed.
She turned, trailed a dish towel over her shoulder, glanced back once and shook her head.
Back in the room I stripped, put on my terrycloth robe with the company insignia, and masturbated, thinking of her. Her vagina was like the warm crepe with whipped cream.
After my shower I opened the little window. It was almost dark, but the cow and sheep silhouettes were there. I heard chewing. I said the word silhouette a few times. Surely that must be French.
I settled at the desk to make my calls. I’d finally connected with Daividson, my boss, when there was a tremendous bang on the back wall. The room actually shook. Could there be earthquakes in Quebec? There were some smaller thumps, then a long, mournful cry. “What the hell was that?” said Davidson. “Where are you?”
“In the room. I think there may be an earthquake.”
The next crash caused me to drop the phone. It bounced under the bed. I could hear Davidson under there, squawking like a chicken. From the back wall came a Moo with a distinctly French accent. I found a flashlight in my suitcase and went to the bathroom window. The scene gave me chest pain. Cows and sheep alike were rolling down the hill. Well, the sheep were rolling. The cows were more like flailing. In their rolling, the sheep seemed almost content, cushioned as they were. But those angular cows with big, flopping udders: it was loud, violent, frightening. The sheep hit the siding with a muffled thunk, hopped back up and climbed the hill. But the cow impacts knocked me down. How could they survive this? Oh, the humanity! Or rather, the bovinity! But they were getting up, slowly, testing those knobby legs, cushioned on their bags of milk. One reached her head back and flicked the screen with her tongue. She said, “MMMMMrrh,” and I tasted the sweet clover on her breath.
I dialed the front desk. I was out of breath. “The cows!” I said. “The sheep!”
The manager whispered something in French, then said to me, “Ah, yes. At night, thees adaption, not so good.” I could tell his hand went over the phone, that he was laughing his ass off.
“Sir, I’ll have to check out, if they don’t stop.” But he was gone.
The wall was quiet. I looked out the window to see a few cows standing in groups, nuzzling each other, licking the wounds. Tails went straight and piss steamed. There was a little “Maaa,” and I looked down to see a white sheep face querying me. I opened the screen and hung out and sunk my hand into its wool. It was unbelievable. The sheep didn’t move, and I just wanted to leave my hand in there, but someone was knocking on my door.
I expected the manager, apologizing or offering a refund, but it was the waitress. Her hair hung forward. She looked down at her feet, which were placed tightly together like a little girl’s. “I am so sorry,” she said, still not looking up.
“What do you mean?” I wondered if she’d given the wrong change, taken advantage of an American.
“About the aneemals.”
“My father’s. Something gets into them.” She looked up, swept the hair from her face, struck me with her black eyes and a beauty that could change the shape of the world. Cows and sheep and men could not hold to the slope.
I moved towards her, slowly at first, picking up speed. She closed my door. She still smelled like crepes and there was powdered sugar on her cheek.
Finally I put my ear to that neck, listened as she sang.
Alouette, je te plumerai.
Gary Moshimer has stories at Smokelong Quarterly, Pank, Storyglossia, Word Riot, and other places.