By Bread Alone
Buy Now - NZ Buy Now - UK Buy Now - USA
From her position near the clouds, Esme could see The Goat tense up as she lifted her head from the newly planted nasturtiums on which she was feasting and clapped eyes on the boys coming towards her.
As Charlie and Rory moved nearer closing in on The Goat, however, Esme was amazed that instead of leaping away at great speed in the direction of whatever was handiest, more often than not a nerve-shattered Brown, The Goat stood her ground. As the familiar little boy and the strange new man approached she simply looked at them with interest, her head cocked to one side in a contemplative and not particularly combative fashion.
“Don’t tell me the bloody Charlie Edmonds charm DOES work on goats,” Esme said to herself as she pressed her face closer to the window and Brown, eager to stay wherever The Goat wasn’t, pressed his head against Esme’s knee. “Unbelievable!”
In the garden, Charlie and Rory got within five yards of The Goat before Rory’s confidence clearly gave out and he stopped and handed the jug up to Charlie.
Rory pointed at The Goat’s rear end and Charlie’s gaze followed the little boy’s finger. Esme could not see the look on his face but just imagining it gave her a thrill. She sipped her tea as Charlie took a tentative step forwards. The Goat, whose face Esme could see, seemed to be looking almost coquettishly at him. Esme could swear the ruminating bloody mammal was batting her eyelids as Charlie came right up to her and slowly, slowly, slowly, apparently taking instruction from Rory, started to bend down and proffer the jug towards The Goat’s nether regions.
At that moment, the delightful creature spun around, quick as a flash, lifted both hind legs in the air and kicked Charlie so hard in the bollocks that he staggered backwards, the jug flying in the air as he tripped over a spade lying in the grass behind him, and fell on his behind at Rory’s feet, clutching his groin and clearly in considerable pain.
Esme, her smirk gone, leapt to her feet, the stool screeching across the floor behind her and ran to the stairs, leaping down them and shouting in panic, “Pog! Pog! The bloody Goat’s got Charlie!” Brown skittered and scampered behind her as she bounded down the stairs two at once, still a time consuming effort, grabbed a tennis racket from the hallway and dashed outside and around the side of the house to where she could see that The Goat was now scratching at the ground with her front hoof, clearly getting ready to charge her wounded foe and his little friend.
“You evil bloody bitch!” Esme cried as she ran towards them hurling the tennis racket in her fury as she did. Charlie was sitting up, looking pale and shaken but clearly at least conscious and Rory was crouched behind him, being brave but obviously frightened.
The tennis racket sailed nowhere near the offending animal - Esme had never been good at throwing things -but The Goat saw it all the same and did not appreciate the sentiment. Turning her attention away from the boys, she narrowed her nasty little eyes and instead launched herself with an almost balletic spring after the exposed and weaponless Esme. Esme gasped and spun around, only to see Henry coming out of the house towards her red in the face and waving his stick. Despite her fear of being mauled by The Goat, her dread of leading the vicious animal to her father-in-law and having to live with the consequences of that forced her to half-spin again and swerve around the other side of the house. If she could make it to the gate she reasoned, trying not to hear the rat-a-tat-tat of The Goat’s hooves beating a frightening and fast approaching rumpus behind her, she could probably jump it, despite her jeans being a size too small, and leg it up the steps of the windmill to safety.
“Help!” she gasped, as the hoof beats got closer. The Goat had very pointy horns, after all, and hysteria was snatching at her as she imagined those horns piercing her bottom and removing big chunks.
“Help!” Her bottom was not her best feature, but she was attached to it, nonetheless.
The fence lay straight ahead hardly more than 10 yards away as Esme’s legs burned with adrenaline and her breath tore at her lungs. She was so close! But not close enough. With an evil rent, she felt something rip at the denim of her jeans just behind her left knee and hysterical and panicked, she stumbled and plunged forward with a desperate cry,
hearing as she did a terrifying clanging followed by a spine-chilling shriek and a loud thump, none of it anything to do with herself hitting the ground.
Gasping for air and in a state of total confusion, Esme realised that she was still alive, but that it was very quiet. She twisted around to see Charlie towering, perilously close to her, over The Goat’s motionless carcass which lay near her feet. The shovel he was holding appeared to still be vibrating slightly which left Esme to assume that The Goat had worn it around her head with quite some force.
Before she could think or speak or move, Henry limped around the corner, equally breathless and agitated, with Rory gingerly bringing up the rear.
Esme watched his face as he beheld the spectacle of The Goat lying there with her tongue hanging out of her mouth and blood dribbling out of her nose. At that moment, Pog’s head, wet from being in the shower appeared out of the window on the fourth floor above them. He squinted, as if he couldn’t quite make out what he was seeing.
“What on earth is going on?” he asked.
Henry had not yet regained his breath, Charlie was still stunned at the level of his own violence and Esme remained riding an emotional rollercoaster between bewilderment, horror and hysteria.
Only Rory had the wherewithal to answer his father.
“The Goat’s dead, Daddy,” he said with much less emotion than one might have expected. “She kicked Charlie in the nuts and he killed her.”
Esme grabbed at a lungful of air and looked up at Pog who was frowning now in a strict fatherly way.
“Don’t say nuts, Rory,” he said. “It’s not nice.”