08-28-2011, 10:18 PM
Sixty-nine-year-old Rubielle Picher glided her battered blue Bissel carpet sweeper across the threadbare carpet of her living room in her North Las Vegas home, humming a gospel tune as she worked. Despite her advancing years and the arthritis that afflicted the joints in her hands when the weather turned cold, she was remarkably resilient, still independent at an age when most of her peers were confined to nursing homes or assisted living facilities. She drove her own car, bought her own groceries with the help of a wheeled trolley her granddaughter gave her for Christmas ten years ago, did her own laundry, cooked her own meals (and for the family on holidays), and cleaned her own house.
This last point was Mrs. Picher's proudest accomplishement. Ever since she was a young bride in Galveston, Texas, she had always kept the respective homes she lived in with her husband (now deceased),her three children,(now grown and married) and a succession of cats (Mrs. Picher always preferred cats over dogs because of their reputation for cleanliness) clean and tidy. In her opinion, cleanliness was next to godliness, a maxim she had drilled into her offspring practically from birth. When her children were growing up, housework was a daily routine; now that she was alone, just a weekly cleaning sufficed.
There, the carpet was done. Mrs. Picher picked up the Bissel sweeper to empty the dusttrays into the trashcan standing outside next to the back door. Still humming her hymn, she crossed the kitchen to the wooden storm door leading into the back yard. Upon opening it, however, she noticed a foul odor in the desert air, a dirty smell, a smell of some sort of excrement. Thinking the sewer lines had backed up, she set down the sweeper and went back into the living room. She knew the sewer lines ran down from the house to the drains under the streets. Maybe the problem lay there, she figured. If not, then she'd have to call City Maint--
Her reasoning crashed to a stop the minute she looked out the large living room window. What she saw scared her out of her wits. Outside her house were four monstrous black and white cows grazing on her front lawn. The biggest of the lot turned its head and looked directly at her. To Mrs. Picher's horror, it mooed at her.
Poor Mrs. Picher shrieked and ran for the phone on the side table next to the sofa. Her withered fingers shook as she punched nine-one-one on the keypad. "Help!" she screamed into the phone. "I got cows here! They're right on my front lawn! I'm trapped here all alone! Please, someone come rescue me!"
"Now don't panic, ma'am," the dispatcher assured her. "We got Animal Control on the way. You live at 7570 Dealy Street, is that correct?"
"Yes! Please hurry!"
"All right, ma'am, help is on the way. Just try to remain calm and stay in the house, all right?"
"All right." Mrs. Picher hung up the phone and took refuge in the rear bedroom. She needed to lie down for a while.
Meanwhile, the neighbors on Dealy Street emerged from their homes, curious about the cows grazing on Mrs. Picher's lawn. Some held their noses, unable to tolerate the smell of the animals--and their manure, which lay in clumps on the lawn attracting flies. Some parents warned their kids to stay away from them, so as not to "get hurt"; others allowed their children to see them up close, encouraging them to "say 'hi, moo-moo!'" or other nonsense. A brave few approached them, petted them, talked to them as if they were household pets, even posed for pictures with them. All, however, kept wondering how they even got here in the first place. Those who had watched the news recently informed the others about the trailer incident at the highway truck stop and the chaos that followed. "They must've just wandered over here," they said.
The cows, oblivious to the attention, kept peacefully grazing. The Dealy Street residents, still curious and amused at the sight of live cows in their neighborhood, kept nervously gawking. One concerned neighbor went up to Mrs. Picher's house to check up on her. Mrs. Picher answered the door cautiously, affirmed her knowledge of her uninvited guests, and quickly closed the door again, too terrified to go out.
Then came the sound of thunder. The cows started, their ears twitching and nostrils flaring. The booming came not from the sky but a pimped-out Pontiac Thunderbird cruising down the street with sixteen-inch woofers hammering out the latest rap music at paint-blistering volume. The cows took fright and stampeded away, the largest of them lumbering behind struggling to keep up. The neighbors cried out in horror, sweeping up their children and retreating to their homes for fear of being trampled. The occupants of the Thunderbird, reveling in the chaos they had created, chased the panicked bovines down Dealy Street, blaring the horn and laughing all the way.
Mrs. Picher peeked out of her living room window, staring helplessly at her ruined front lawn.
The cows ran mindlessly down the street until they came to the main road. They would have rushed right across the busy intersection if not for panicked drivers screeching to a halt and honking their horns in warning. Frightened and disoriented, the four cows wandered aimlessly up and down the intersection, blocking traffic and creating more tension for the drivers and themselves alike. Trapped, they reacted defensively by kicking out a few headlights within reach and butted their heads against whatever vehicle they came across. Unable to back up, some commuters abandoned their vehicles and made a run for it, calling for help on their cell phones.
It was during all this mayhem that Criss Angel made an appearance on his Harley. No one noticed him, much less cared--they were all trying to escape the rampaging cows in the intersection. Fearing for his own safety for once, Criss retreated the other way, dodging cars lining the road. The minute he got his bearings, however, he found himself in familiar territory: the grounds of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
As he gazed at the lush green lawn surrounded by an wrought-iron fence, a plan began to formulate in his mind: if he could somehow herd the cows onto the lawn of the church, then they'd be penned in long enough for the AC officers to capture them. The grass should be enticement enough for them, he rationalized, and the fence was high enough and strong enough to contain them. And he had had some experience in herding from his brief stay at that dude ranch where he had taped the Burning Man episode, so he felt confident in his ability to carry it out. It was a long shot, but what else was there to do?
Determined to save the cows and the city, he roared off back to the intersection. He reflected in hindsight that he should have consulted with the priest before herding a bunch of cows onto the church's lawn, but time was of the essence. He had to reach those cows before it was too late.