A couple of weeks ago, on a moist, chilly morning, I was drinking the day’s first coffee when a text arrived from my wife. “Someone murdered one of the goats.”
We’d recently moved to New Orleans’ slightly more suburban West Bank, where we could have more space, enough for my wife to keep goats. The plan had been to use the goats to help fight the post-Katrina blight that everyone complains about—tangled jungle that takes teams of men, gasoline, and garbage bags to clear away, our goats would devour. The city agreed to pay my wife to keep eighteen goats at a neighborhood park that had fallen into disrepair. For most of the last year, the goats had lived safely in a giant, beautiful, wooded area not far from the Mississippi River.
I sped off to the park, four miles away. As I rolled down the park’s main paved road, then across a verdant baseball field to the goats’ red mobile barn, I passed no one. Locked inside, sixteen goats pressed their noses against windows, watching me step over the waist-high electric fence that encircled their barn and about an acre of unkempt brush; whenever the animals ate one area bare, we’d move the barn and fence to a new feral plot. I walked over to where Calvin lay, on the edge of the stripped bare forest, his head missing. “Jack is missing too,” my wife told me. Calvin and Jack were the sons of our extra-small miniature pygmy goat, Wille. We thought he was too short to mount any of the female goats until one day, Caldonia popped out two tiny miracle babies that, four months later, still resembled kittens.
I trudged into the woods that the goats had cleared, looking for Jack’s body or Calvin’s tiny head. The electric fence, disconnected now, had been humming when my wife arrived earlier—a human intruder would have turned it off before entering. Back where our electric fence ended, the park’s chain-mail fence had been bent upwards, perhaps to accommodate passage. Farther down, an animal had dug under the fence recently. Otherwise, scouring our fenced-in acre, I found nothing.
Back at the barn, the police officer we had called, plus a lady from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had arrived and were talking to my wife. She’d let her favorite goat out of the barn; tall, skinny Jesse is so well-mannered and loving that someone must have bottle-fed him from birth and let him sleep in their bed. The cop, who seemed polite and genuinely concerned, brought up “devil worshippers,” which seemed so absurd it forced my mind in the other direction. “Any dog with a particularly strong jaw could have grabbed Calvin’s head in its mouth like a tennis ball,” I said, “then given it a couple casual shakes and popped it off clean.” Everyone else shook their heads in disagreement as they marveled over the clean cut—no tearing, and somehow, no blood.
I didn’t want to mention the teens. But without much else to say, I grudgingly described six preppy white boys and girls who I’d encountered a few days ago. CLICK HERE to read the rest of this piece at The Awl…
Or watch this TV report about the incident: