08-28-2011, 10:32 PM
Patty Cohen circled the cow in her backyard with a plastic cleaning bucket, wondering how was she going to get the milk from it. Her two children, Sasha, four, and Ryan, two, sat under a dead tree some distance away, clutching each other in terror of the huge beast their mother had bought home with them. Patty had told them it would give them milk, but so far she had been unsucessful. She had been born and raised in urban areas all of her life, and though she took for granted that milk came from cows, the process of getting that milk was a mystery to her.
Still, she was determined to try for her children' sake. She was desperate: the welfare check wasn't due for another two weeks, and the WIC benefits didn't start until the beginning of the month. Her part-time job barely covered the rent of the tiny ramshackle structure she and her children called home. She had given up hounding her boyfriend for child support--the lazy (bleeper) had ridden off into the sunset on his motorcycle, never to return. It seemed all her life Patty Cohen had lived on the edge of homelessness from the day her father abandoned her and her mother, leaving them as destitute as she herself was now.
After paying what bills she could afford and their pantry practically empty, Patty was desperate to do anything to feed her kids. When she saw the five runaway cows plodding along the road, she quickly overcame her initial shock and saw a golden opportunity to save her kids from starvation. With a head of wilted lettuce as bait, she succeeded in luring one of the cows to her backyard, leaving the other four to wander where they would. One was enough, she thought rationally; the backyard was way too small for the whole herd.
Once she corralled the cow in the yard, though, the problem of how to get milk from it rose up before her. She looked under the tail several times, even jerked it up and down like a pump handle in an effort to get the milk flowing. No luck. The cow twitched its tail and just kept munching the sparse grass in the yard. Undaunted, Patty kept trying. She lowered herself onto the ground and looked under the cow to get some sort of clue. Then she saw the udder, tucked underneath with its four teats sticking out like soft fingers. Maybe that was where the milk came from, she reasoned.
She carefully reached under the cow and took hold of one of the teats. She stroked it gently, then tweaked it. The cow started, mooing irritably. Patty shrieked and jumped away. Sasha cried out in horror, clutching Ryan closer to her. Too frightened to try again, Patty picked up the plastic bucket and walked over to her kids.
"Did you get any milk, Mommy?" Sasha asked.
Patty sighed. "Not today, baby," she replied. "Maybe tomorrow. We'll just let the cow get some sleep tonight and try again in the morning."
Defeated, the Cohens trudged back into the house. Patty remembered there were some ketchup packets she had filched from the local McDonalds restaraunt lying in the kitchen drawer. Mixed with a little water, they could at least have some soup for dinner that evening. It was better than nothing. Maybe tomorrow they'd have better luck with the cow.
Unbeknownst to Patty Cohen, her neighbor, Royce Shavers, had been observing her efforts with the cow. Having seen the news broadcast that day about the runaway cattle, he, too, saw a golden opportunity for himself concerning that very same cow: call the cops, turn it in, and collect a reward for its capture. The first step was easy--a quick two-minute phone call was all it took. Of course, he couldn't very well claim the reward for himself when it was in the Cohen's back yard; he had to make it appear he had captured the cow himself. And that meant doing a bit of cattle rustling on his part.
He found some bungee cords in the back of his Firebird and made his way to the Cohen's yard. Royce was a bit intimidated at first by the size of the cow, but his greed for reward money emboldened him. He approached the animal cautiously, holding up a bungee cord fashioned into a noose. "Nice moo-moo cow," he crooned softly. "Easy now. That's a good moo-moo cow. Don't be afraid. Just gonna put this around your neck and take you home."
The cow kept on grazing, oblivious to Royce's presence. This is gonna be easier than I thought! he gloated. "Now, just slip this over your head," he said in a patronizing tone as if the cow was an infant, "and everything's gonna be all right. Yeah, just slip it over your h--"
A sharp burst of pain in the back of his head interrupted him. Royce whirled around and saw Patty Cohen standing there, clutching a straw broom in her hands like a rifle. "Stay the hell away from my cow!" she ordered him angrily.
"Your cow?!" Royce exploded. "This ain't your cow, (bleep)!"
"It's my cow and I'm keeping it!" Patty insisted. "Now get off my property or I'm calling the cops!"
Royce laughed derisively. "(Bleep), I already did!" he said triumphantly. "I saw that cow, I called the cops, and I'm claimin' the reward! You ain't gettin' (bleep), (bleep)!"
"We'll see who gets (bleep), you (bleeper)!" Patty shot back.
She swung at him with her broom. Royce grabbed it and tore it out of her hands, flinging it away from her. Then he siezed her by the wrists and wrestled with her. Patty screamed as she struggled to free herself. Royce pinned her to the side of the house. Trapped, Patty kneed him right in the groin. Royce withdrew, doubled over in excruciating pain, cursing her as he went down. Patty ran to fetch her broom, her only weapon against her opponent. Royce recovered enough to chase after her. Patty took her position between him and the cow, her broom firmly in her hands. "Back off!" she ordered him.
"(Bleep) you, (bleep)!" Royce retorted, lunging at her.
Patty hit him squarely in the face with the broom, sending him reeling. The cow, sensing trouble, trotted to the other end of the yard, away from the all the action. Royce swore at the top of his lungs and resumed his attack. Patty fended him off with the broom as best she could. "Stay away from my cow!" she shrieked at him. "It's mine! I need it to feed my kids!"
"That ain't your cow, (bleep)!" Royce shouted back at her. "I'm gettin' the reward for it, and that's that!"
Their fight quickly ended by order of the LVMPD officer who had just arrived with the Animal Control staff. Royce smiled triumphantly. "Now you're in trouble, (bleep)!" he gloated. "I get the reward, and they gonna haul your ass to jail!"
"We'll see about that!" Patty retorted.
The sergeant walked over to the feuding neighbors. "Okay, what's going on?" he demanded.
"This man's trying to steal my cow!" Patty replied indignantly.
"This ain't her cow, man!" Royce argued. "I was just doin' my civic duty and returnin' it to you!"
"Civic duty, my ass!" Patty sneered. "He just wants a reward!"
"Shut up, (bleep)!" Royce snapped.
"You shut up!" Patty snapped back.
The sergeant and his partner separated the pair, each taking one of the parties aside for questioning: the sergeant with Patty, the partner with Royce. "Okay," the sergeant said. "Now, how did you come across this cow?"
"I saw it with four others, just going down the street over there," she said, pointing toward the main highway. "Seriously, there were five cows just walking down the street!"
"We know, ma'am," the sergeant said. "How did you get this one home? Did it follow you or what?"
Patty sighed deeply. "Look, I got two kids inside," she told him. "There's no food in the house except some ketchup packets from Mickey D's. They're hungry, and I ain't got no money to buy food or anything else for them. I just wanted to get some milk for my kids, that's all. When I saw this cow, it was like a miracle for me--for all of us. So I found some lettuce in the fridge and lured it here. I tried to find a way to get the milk out of it, but, well..."
"You don't know how to milk a cow," the sergeant finished for her.
"No," Patty confessed, "not really, but I was still trying to figure it out when that guy over there came into my yard and tried to steal it from me!" She looked up at the sergeant piteously. "I just want to feed my kids, officer!" she wailed. "I ain't got nothin' to feed them with! It's either the cow or go to bed hungry!"
"I understand your plight, ma'am," the sergeant said sympathetically. "But you can't keep a cow here. There are ordinances against keeping livestock in residential areas. Now, we can arrange for the local soup kitchen to get you and your kids something to eat, okay? But we have to take the cow."
Patty nodded resignedly. "Okay," she whispered. "Just remember one thing--I did it for my kids."
The sergeant went to assist the Animal Control officers in loading the cow into the trailer. Sasha and Ryan came out of the house and toddled up to their mother's side. "Mommy?" Sasha spoke up, "where are they taking our cow?"
"It's okay, baby," Patty assured her daughter as she gathered Ryan into her arms. "They're taking the cow back to his mommy and daddy."
Sasha seemed satisfied with that explanation. Animal Control took the cow to the trailer and struggled to load it inside. The cow had either some past memory of being confined in the original trailer or a sense of claustrophobia; it simply refused to go into the trailer, despite the pushing and pulling from the sergeant and the AC officers. After several frustrating minutes of forceful persuasion, the cow finally entered the trailer. The sergeant slammed the doors shut and bolted them quickly, for fear the animal would escape. "Well," he panted, wiping his brow, "that's the last of 'em!"
The AC trailer drove away quietly. Meanwhile, the sergeant's partner had his hands full with Royce and his side of the story. "I'm tellin' ya, that lady stole that cow!" he insisted. "I tried to take it back for ya, but she kept hittin' me with that broom of hers! I'm the one who called ya! I'm the one who turned it in! She wanted to keep it for herself! She's the criminal here, not me! You should put her in jail for it! I was just doin' my civic duty as a law-abiding citizen, that's all!"
"We'll take care of your neighbor, sir," the officer said. "The important thing is that we got the cow back."
"Yeah, that's the important thing," Royce agreed. "So, when do I get the reward money?"
"The reward money?"
"Yeah, you know, the reward for turnin' in the cow," Royce reminded him. "There's gotta be a reward, right?"
"Uh, sir," the officer hedged, "there was no reward posted for the cow's return. Never has been."
"But I called it in!" Royce protested.
"Yes, sir, and we appreciate your co-operation, but there's no reward for reporting a missing cow."
Royce was aghast. "You mean after all the trouble I went through to get you people to come here and get that cow outta here, I ain't gettin' nothin' for it?"
"Afraid not, sir," the officer calmly replied. "But we appreciate the call, anyway." He turned to leave. "Thank you and have a good day, sir."
Royce's rage boiled over. "You sons of (bleeps)!" he exploded. "You (bleeping) ripped me off!"
He kicked the flimsy chain-link fence separating his house from Patty's. "You (bleepers) owe me!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. "I but my ass helpin' you find that (bleeping) cow, and you (bleep) me over! You lyin' mother(bleepers)!"
The sergeant and his partner rushed back to subdue the angry man. Royce swung his fists to fight them off. Patty, meanwhile, grabbed Sasha by the wrist and ran into the house, Ryan clinging to his mother like a baby monkey. She slammed the door behind her and watched the police tackle Royce Shavers from the safety of the living room.
With practiced ease, the two officers pinioned Royce's arms behind his back and handcuffed him. "You're under arrest for assaulting a police officer!" the sergeant told him as he and his partner hoisted him up to his feet. "You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and held against you in a court of law. You have the right to counsel; if you can't afford counsel, one will be provided for you. Understand?"
A grunt for a reply. "I'll take that as a yes, then," the sergeant said as Royce was frogmarched to the cruiser and shoved him inside. With their prisoner secured, the sergeant turned to his partner. "Quite a day, wasn't it?" he commented.
"Yeah," the partner agreed. "So, what'd she tell you about the cow?"
"She wanted to feed her kids," the sergeant told him. "Says she ain't got no money to buy food for 'em, so she lured the cow to her house to get some free milk. Thing was, she didn't know how to milk a cow."
His partner laughed. "Anyway," the sergeant continued, "I promised to get hold of a soup kitchen somewhere to get her kids some food. She's not a bad lady, just desperate."
"So, I guess the big Las Vegas roundup is over."
"Yeah, I guess it is," the sergeant concurred. "Six cows, one bull." He nodded to Royce sitting in the cruiser. "And one jackass."