The Show Goat

📅 Published on November 21, 2020

“The Show Goat”

Written by Geoff Sturtevant
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.30/10. From 10 votes.
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The police cruiser rumbled down the long gravel driveway, trailing a moldering cloud of dust that’d hang there until they left. About halfway down there was a sign nailed to a tree that said: IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU’RE IN RANGE. Depicted below this tender sentiment was the shadowed silhouette of an AR-15. Sheriff Ron Ball doubted the man at the driveway’s end could actually hit him from here, but he’d sure be a fool to try. Ball couldn’t hit the man from here either, but the last thing this day needed was a needless situation.

Most situations, Ball had found in his twenty-some years of law enforcement, were just that—needless—and this one was likely no different. It gave one a sense of needlessness, being a steward of solutions to needless problems, but Ball supposed someone had to do it. It was just what he was supposed to do.

Deputy Dingle pointed at the clever little sign as they passed. “See that there?”

“Yeah. What about it?”

“Well, kinda funny.”

“I don’t believe ‘funny’ is the intention, Deputy.”

“Well, I thought you just said how you had a ‘funny feeling’ about this one.”

“Oh, I do,” the sheriff said. “After twenty years of sifting through bullshit, you get a sense when something’s funny. Not funny like a clever little sign, Dingle. Funny like a criminal tryin’ to outstrip the law.”

They rolled on. At the culmination of the long driveway was a little ranch house with a tarpaper roof. Sheep of all size bleated to announce their arrival: piccolo, tenor, baritone, and one that sounded like a busted kazoo. Stepping out of the car, Ball spotted the particular sheep in question. He knew it was the one, because it looked a little like a busted kazoo itself.

Dingle got out and put on his sunglasses. He only shut his door after Ball shut his. They made their way to the front door.

Before the two men could get there, the screen door opened, and out stepped the man of the house. Ball noted, through his keen police-instincts, that the man seemed a little uneasy. Maybe even a little guilty.

“Well thank heavens,” he said.

“Mr. Laundry,” Ball said, “What seems to be the problem?”

“Well didn’t they tell you?”

“Laundry?” asked Dingle. “Did I hear that right?”

“That’s right, sir.”

“Well, how’d you get a name like that?”

“Figure his ancestors did the laundry,” Ball said.

“Oh, right… That makes sense.”

Laundry shifted a little uneasily. “Gentlemen, I got a situation here. Not sure it’s the time to—”

“I hear you had a little run-in with an unwanted guest?”

“Well, that’s puttin’ it mildly,” Laundry said. “But yeah, that’s about the size of it.”

“And the fella’s still here, I gather?”

“That’s right. Just around the corner there. In the pen.”

Ball gave Dingle a nod, and they followed Laundry around the side of the house.

Laundry led them through a rickety little gate and into an animal pen. It appeared the pen was a kind of co-ed affair with a number of different animals walking around. A few ducks, a threadbare sheep which didn’t look much better than the busted kazoo, an unidentifiable specimen of poultry Ball took for a maladjusted turkey, and a nice little goat, perfectly black, but with a fancy little white beard.

“That’s the poor goat that was victimized,” Laundry said. “His name’s Liberace. Grade-A, FFA show goat. But humble as the day is long. Even more so now, I reckon.”

But Ball and Dingle were not especially focused on the goat that moment. Nearby was a shoe. The shoe by itself wasn’t so suspicious on its own, but it appeared to have a foot still in it. And attached to that was a good amount of leg. A little red meat dangling out the end of it. The dirt underneath had turned brown where the blood soaked in.

“Hey!” Dingle said. He clutched his stomach.

“That there shoe and that there leg is the guy’s who was assaulting poor Liberace.”

Dingle looked about to barf for a moment, but his Adam’s apple bobbed, and he choked it back. It was well-known that the deputy had a delicate stomach. “Well goddamn. Where’d the rest of him go?”

The farmer was patting the little goat on the head and muttering words of consolation.

“Don’t you worry, Liberace, these men are here to take care of things. They’ll make sure you get your justice.”

Ball approached the lonely leg and stepped on the toe of the shoe. The leg stood up straight, the bone visible in the end of it. It looked to have been sawed clean through. He took his foot off the shoe and the leg fell over again. A few ducks waddled away in disgust.

“Seems like some manner of justice has already been delivered.”

“That fella there raped my show goat! FFA certified.”

“This fella here?” Bell indicated the leg.

“I thought dispatch said he’d shot an intruder,” Dingle said.

“That’s right,” Laundry cut in. “I legally and justifiably shot the man for intruding on my property. But I also have the right to seek damages against his estate for what he done to my goat. Ain’t that right, Liberace?”

Ball and Dingle looked at each other, then at the goat. The goat was contentedly chewing a mouthful of grass. Landry appeared to be chewing too, but it was just the muscles working in his jaw.

“Where’s the rest of him?” Ball asked.

“Rest of who?”

Ball gestured at the lonely leg lying in the dirt.

“Oh. Aside the leg? Rest of him’s over there.”

Landry took the two officers around the side of the house where the penned-in area continued. There, by a dilapidated old doghouse was a pile of what used to be man, but was barely identifiable as so. Beside the missing leg was a botched attempt at the removal of another. Along with that, the man seemed to have been partially field-dressed. His gut was sliced down the middle with his vittles hanging out from whatever gristle normally kept ‘em in there. Blood was everywhere. It was a mess unfit for Satan’s stewpot.

“Jesus!” Dingle said, his knees wobbling. “What’d ya? I mean… I thought you said you’d shot him! Mmmmph!” He gagged.

“I shot the man, that’s correct. And not until I clearly identified him as a legitimate threat to my life and liberty.”

A goat bleated, and they turned to see Liberace coming around the corner. He walked up next to Sheriff Ball and just stood next to his leg. Ball scratched the goat on the nose.

“So this the man they said violated you, little fella?”

“That’s him, all right. Dirty, raping sonofabitch.”

“Do you know who the man is?”

“No, sir, I never seen him before in my entire life.”

“Deputy, go ‘head and check if he’s got ID on him.”

Dingle hesitated. His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. “Maybe you could do it? You’re in charge, after all.”

“That’s right. That’s why I’m questioning the suspect. And scratching this goat while I’m at it.”

“Suspect?” snapped Laundry. “The only suspect here is that one right there!”

“Well, I can’t exactly question him, can I?”

Laundry glanced at the corpse. “Well, I’m only sayin’…”

The dead man still had his jeans on, and Ball noted there did indeed appear to be a bulge in his front left pocket.

“Right there in the man’s pocket, Deputy. Go ‘head and grab that out.”

“I don’t have any gloves on…”

“I didn’t say to check his prostate, I said to grab his wallet.”

Resigned, Dingle took a deep breath and stiffened his upper lip. He walked to the body and squatted next to it with his head turned. He probed a thumb and forefinger into the man’s pocket and extracted a worn and bloody wallet. He held it out like a dead rat.

“Bring it here, Deputy.”

Laundry, Ball noted, was shifting his weight from foot to foot. After twenty years dealing with the general public, Ball had learned a thing or two about body language. Most people didn’t want to talk to him at all. And the ones that did were mostly talking bull. Especially the ones that looked nervous. It got old after a while. Real old.

“Just hold that open for me, Deputy. No sense gettin’ both our hands dirty.”

Dingle huffed. He held open the wallet displaying the expired driver’s license. Chester Simms.

“Oh, I know this fella,” Ball said. He compared the picture to the mess in the dirt. “Knowed him at least. Wouldn’t know him for lookin’ at him now, would ya?”

“He’s the one we brought in for stealing? Month or two ago?”

“He’s been stealin’ since he was a teenager. Tell you what, though. I never knew him for a man to cornhole a show goat. Matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever known any man as one to cornhole a show goat. How ‘bout you, Deputy?”

“No sir. Can’t say I ever have.”

“Laundry, how ‘bout you? You ever known a man to cornhole a show goat? I mean before this fella right here?”

“Not in a million years,” he said.

Ball scrutinized the man. “Hmm. Well you don’t look that old to me,” he said.

Ball patted the goat gently on the head. He looked it over a little bit, then straightened up and scratched under his hatband.

“Deputy, this goat look traumatized at all to you?”

“Traumatized, Sheriff?”

“You know. Like it might’ve been made love to without express consent?”

Dingle wrinkled his forehead and appraised the little goat like something on a used car lot. “Hard to say for certain, Sheriff. He looks alright to me, but it’s hard to tell a goat’s feelings by lookin’ at ‘em. The thing about goats—they got a way of just standin’ there.”

“Well, I’m no psychoanalyst, Deputy, but I’m sure if you wanna find out if that goat’s been fucked or not, you’re gonna wanna have a look at that end of it.” Ball raised his chin to indicate the other end of the goat. The part you wouldn’t usually give a scritch.

“You sayin’ you want me to look at its ass?”

“Well I don’t know where you’d fuck a goat, but I got a pretty good idea that’s where this guy was thinkin’.” He pointed with his chin again, this time at the disemboweled corpse. ”If he did indeed fuck it, that is…”

“I already told you that’s what he did,” Laundry insisted.

The goat bleated, but not necessarily in agreement or disagreement.

“Well, why do I have to do it?”

“You’re the deputy. I’m the sheriff.”

“Well then, who’d know better than you? I got no experience in that area.”

“Well, I’m here pattin’ the goat on the head. How am I supposed to pat it on the head and look up its ass at the same time? I’m a sheriff, not some kinda contortionist.”

Dingle huffed again, but the sheriff’s reasoning was undeniable. Reluctantly, he walked around back of the goat and leaned over with his hands on his knees. “This is goddamn undignified,” he muttered.

“See anything?”

“A goat’s asshole, mostly.”

“Well, how’s it look?”

Dingle squinted. “Is there a way it’s supposed to look? I got no frame of reference, Sheriff.”

“Does it look like it’s been…put upon in some way? Get in there, Dingle. Get in close and have a good lookie-loo.”

With a note of distaste on his face, Dingle got down on his knees and got right in close to the goat’s ass. “I don’t exactly know what I’m lookin’ for…”

“Does it look like anyone’s been rootin’ around in it?”

“It’s hard to say, I just…aw, shit!”

Dingle fell back on his ass and elbows.

“What’s the matter, Deputy?”

“Goddamn goat just shat right in my… mmmph!”

“Deputy! After what this poor goat’s supposedly been through, the last thing it needs is to be made ashamed.”

“This is goddamn undignified,” Dingle muttered.

“Say, I don’t know what you boys are lookin’ fer,” Laundry said. “But I assure you it’s just like I said. I mean, just look at him—he don’t need the stress. Poor thing’s had his world turned upside-down.”

Ball looked at the goat. The goat chewed.

“Well, maybe you’re right. How ‘bout we just take a statement then, and let the poor fella be for a minute?”

“Sounds reasonable.”

“Deputy, you writin’ this down?”

Dingle brushed the dirt off of his trousers. He pulled a scratch pad and pen from his back pocket. “Go ahead.”

The sheriff patted the goat. It shook its tail and let out a few more pellets. “So it’s your contention, Mr. Laundry, that you came outside and saw Mr. Simms here making love to your prize show goat.”

“He was fuckin’ it, that’s correct.”

“And then what happened?”

“Well, I seen him. I told him to stop right there and put his hands up.”

“And when you said that, where were the man’s hands previously?”

“Well, on the goat, I guess. Where else’d they be?”

“On the goat’s back? Like this?” Ball put his hands on Liberace’s back. The goat bleated.

“Yeah, just like that,” Laundry said. “Just exactly the way you got ‘em now.”

“And what did he do when you told him that?”

“Well, he just kept goin’.”

“Kept on…humpin’ the goat?”

“Went right on fuckin’ him. Right in the ass there. I tell ya, Sheriff, I was so damn mad, I coulda smoked a pickle. So what’s a man to do?”

Ball nodded, crossed his arms. “Well, I agree with you, Mr. Laundry. I don’t think there’s a jury in the world would convict a man for defending his FFA show goat against such an assault.”

“Well, that’s right. And I’d appreciate it very much if you could get his deceased person out of my goat pen.”

The sheriff eyed the body, stroking his mustache in contemplation.

“Just how many times you shoot him, you said?”

“Well, just once, I reckon.”

“Just once, you said?”


“And he ended up like that?”

Laundry looked at the mess on the ground. The flies had already started to gather on it. “Well, I must’ve hit him just right.”

Ball was standing with his hands on his hips. He reached up to scratch under his hatband. Laundry was shifting back and forth on his feet a bit. “You gettin’ this, Deputy?”

“Yessir. Shot him once, hit him just so.”

Ball took his sunglasses off, folded them, and tucked them in his shirt pocket. He regarded the mangled man in the dirt. He looked over his shoulder, but the aforementioned shoe with the leg in it was not even visible from here.

“You’ll forgive me saying so, Mr. Laundry, but I’ve never seen a man shot once to end up in such a condition.”

“.308 huntin’ rifle. Good round. Never can say what it’ll do to a body…”

“.308. Ain’t that what you used to kill that buck, Deputy?”

“That’s right. My daddy’s gun.”

“And when you shot it, what exactly happened to it?”

“Well, it started to run off, then I guess it realized it’d been shot and just sat down.”

“Any of its legs blowed off? Nothing like that?”

“Naw, legs stayed put. Didn’t shoot him nearly as good as this fella.”

“So you say it’s possible Mr. Laundry here shot this man once and he ended up in such a state?”

“Well, I’m no forensicist, but…that’s what the man says.”

“I don’t see why all the suspiciousness,” Laundry said. “I’m just a man lookin’ out for his goat, same as you or anyone else would.”

“Well, how’d you account for the one leg bein’ so far away from the rest of him, Mr. Laundry? I can’t even see it from here.”

“Dog coulda dragged it.”

“A dog? Must’ve had to be a big one. What kinda dog you have?”

Laundry wiped his nose on his shirt sleeve, then wiped his shirt sleeve on his pants. “Well, I don’t have one myself. Figure one coulda come in through the fence.”

“And where’s it now?”

“Well, must’ve run off.”

“Run off.”

“Well, that’s feasible,” the deputy said.

The sheriff threw Dingle a glance—the one he used to say: pay close attention. With more than just your eyes and ears. The police instinct wasn’t something you were born with 20/20. It was more like a little baby you had to raise to adulthood.

“Well sir, I’m willing to entertain the idea that some cosmic anomaly caused this man to disintegrate the way he did when you shot him just once with that rifle. See, in my line of work, you’re apt to come across all sorts of little curiosities. Ain’t that right Deputy Dingle?”

“Well, that’s right Sheriff. Every morning I wake up I think to myself I’m apt to see something curious today. And most of the time, that fact bears out.”

“See, all I have trouble wrapping my mind around is that a fella would do such a terrible thing to such an adorable little show goat. It’s just unconscionable.”

The goat bleated in agreement.

“We’re in agreement there, Sheriff. It’s a goddamn abomination. That’s why I did my civic duty and put him down when I could.”

“Which is why I aim to make sure no jury might see things otherwise, thereby puttin’ you, Mr. Laundry, a moral paragon and model citizen, in any potential legal dilemma. By conducting a thorough investigation, of course.”

Ball felt a tug at his trousers and saw Liberace had begun to nibble on ‘em. He patted the goat on the head and pulled his pants loose.

“Deputy, do me a favor and go have a look at the fella’s pecker there.”

“What? Whose pecker? You mean the chickens?”

“Well, the dead fella. Just go pull it out. See if it’s got goat shit on it.”

A pause.

“You pullin’ my leg, Sheriff?”

Ball shook his head. “‘Fraid our county’s woefully short in the forensics department. Inevitably, some of that responsibility falls on us. But maybe Mr. Laundry over here could save you the trouble anyway. Waddya think, Laundry? If I have Deputy Dingle here to pull the man’s peter out, ya think it’ll have any evidence on it?”

Laundry’s eyes were wide. “You mean to pull out the man’s peter?” He was shifting faster on his feet now. Looked like he was holding back a gallon of pee.

“You got something you wanna say, Mr. Laundry?”

Laundry took a breath and restored his resolve. “I do not. I already told ya what happened.”

Ball sighed. “Dingle, go fish out the man’s peter. If it’s still remaining, that is. With Laundry’s exceptional rifle here, it might’ve ended up somewhere else entirely.”

“Bare-handed? But Sheriff!”

“No need to be so formal, Deputy. Police work is dirty business.”

“Dammit… Just undignified.”

Dingle steeled himself and kneeled again by the body. Turning away, he seized the zipper of the jeans and yanked at it, losing his grip several times from the blood. Finally, with it pinched firmly between his fingernails, he was able to zip it down. He looked back at Bell.

“Go ‘head, it won’t bother him any.”

“Not worried about him bein’ bothered…mmmph!”

Dingle, with a look on his face like he was reaching into an unflushed toilet, fished around in the man’s fly until he unseated the bloodless and flaccid prick. Once he had it out, he recoiled, clutching the offending hand to his chest. Then he wiped his hand on his pants and stuck it in his pocket. He turned away and heaved.

“Well, how’s it look to you, Dingle? Look like it’s been up a goat’s ass?’”

“Can’t tell by lookin’ at it.”

“Well, have a look at it.”

“I said I looked at it. Have a look yourself. I’m not feelin’ so hot.”

Ball ambled over and looked down at the man’s pud. There was really no way of telling whether it had been anywhere inappropriate. Not by lookin’ at it. Dingle was right.

Bell returned to where he’d previously been standing and patted the goat on the head. “So far, our investigation remains inconclusive,” he said.

“Well can’t ya just take my word fer it? I told ya all I know.”

Bell stroked his mustache. “We’ll need to move this up the chain of investigational procedurism is all. Soon as my deputy gets his bearings there. You alright there, Deputy?”

“Un-goddamn-dignified,” Dingle said.

“Maybe so, but a man’s life hangs in the balance, Deputy.”

“Man’s deader’n shit, Sheriff; only thing I see hangin’s his pecker.”

“It’s not his life I’m talkin’ about, Deputy. It’s innocent ol’ Mr. Laundry I’m worried about. If it turned out we couldn’t prove Mr. Simms here was indeed guilty as charged, then where would that leave poor Laundry? In a steamin’ heap of trouble, for all we know.”

Laundry’s face went white when heard that last part. “Well dammit, fellas, what do I gotta do?”

“You already done what you had to do. Now Deputy Dingle’s gotta get down there and examine the suspect’s wiener a little more. Gotta sniff it for evidence.”


Dingle had half a smile on his face, but it quickly straightened out as he realized Ball wasn’t joking.

“You can’t expect me to do that, Sheriff, I’m no sniffer of mens’ peters! Live or deceased! Besides, I got no frame of reference!”

“The hell you don’t. Very same goat here just took a frame of reference right in front of ya. All you gotta do is have a sniff and see if the aromas match up.”

“Aw hell,” Laundry said. “Is that really necessary?”

“Unless you got something else to tell me, Mr. Laundry. Anything might’ve initially slipped your mind, maybe?”

“I most certainly do not! I told you boys what happened, and that’s all I got to tell ya!”

Ball took out his shades and put them back on. He took a step toward where Laundry was standing. A little mourning dove flew out of a locust tree and lighted on the fence. “You told us something, all right. For twenty years now, that’s all people’ve been telling me. Somethin’. Whatever they think is gonna make their problems go away. Or just make me go away. The minute you walk in a room, people start changing what they wanna tell ya. Nowadays, seems like the second I pin on this badge, someone’s waitin’ to feed me a line of crap.” He took another step closer to Laundry. “And that’s what I think you’re doin’ to me right now.”

“Aw, hell…” Laundry waved a hand in dismissal. But his eyes showed something different.

Ball took his shades back off and looked him dead in the eye. “See, I’d hate for the Grand Jury to get an idea you lied to the police about any of this. If that were the case, they might even deem this an unjustified shooting. And who knows what’d come of that? Life in prison…death penalty… The way I see things, Laundry, is this man either fucked your goat, or you went and fucked yourself. And I mean to find out which one. And that’s why Deputy Dingle here is gonna have to suck that man’s dead dick. Just to check if it tastes like goat shit.”

“Wait, what? Mmmph!”

“Aww hell…” Laundry looked different all of a sudden—a little like he was gonna cry.

“How ‘bout now, Laundry? You got something you wanna tell me?”

Laundry’s jaw was really workin’ now. A fella like him could only bear so much on his conscience. And by the state of the half-disassembled body nearby, Ball knew he hadn’t the capacity to bear this one out.

“Fuck,” Laundry said. “It’s like you said…The fella was fixin’ to steal a chicken. I caught him doin’ it before. Just gets me so mad, that’s all. Another man thinkin’ he’s justified to take your property. But after I realized what I’d done, I tried to…”

“You tried to make it all go away. And when you found you didn’t have the stomach for it, you went ahead and called me. Good ol’ Sheriff Ball, to come down here and clean up your mess. That right?”

Laundry looked away. The goat bleated, and Sheriff Ball scratched it under its chin. He looked back at Deputy Dingle, gave him a little grin. The look on Dingle’s face was plain astonishment. The little dove cooed disinterestedly and flew back into the tree. Ball guessed it’d been rootin’ to see Dingle go the distance. He had to wonder how long this investigation might’ve gone on if either Laundry or Dingle had the stomach for what they’d signed up for.

“Aw, what’s it even matter?” Laundry said.

“Beg your pardon?” asked Ball.

Laundry took a breath, wiped his nose on the back of his sleeve. “You know… I’ve been farming this land since before you were even sheriff, Sheriff. And sometimes it feels like I’m only holding the spot for the next fella that’s stupid enough to farm it.”

“Now what do you mean by that?”

“You raise chickens, the coyotes get half of ‘em. You grow crops, the rabbits eat half of ‘em. Whatever you end up with, the government takes half of it…” He shook his head. “I used to get upset about things, but not so much nowadays. ‘Cause when it comes down to it, we’re all just playing our parts. This fella here, he was supposed to steal a chicken, because that’s what chicken stealers do. And I figure I was supposed to shoot him, because that’s just what I ended up doing. And I’m sorry for lyin’, Sheriff, but it’s just like you said: we lie to ya because that’s just what we gotta do to keep playin’ our parts. Like some big, pointless game that just keeps goin’ and goin’. And no one ever wins, because the game never ends. And no one calls foul, because the game itself is foul. And it doesn’t matter how good or bad you play, because when you’re done playin’, you’re done playin’. And there’s another one’s right behind you waiting to take your place. Another farmer, another sheriff, another chicken thief. And nothing in between makes a damn bit of difference.”

The three men just stood there a minute. It seemed no one wanted to be the next to talk. Only the soft sounds of the animals in their pens, the chickens scratching in the dirt, The crickets in the brush beyond the fence. The goat chewed. The man on the ground, eviscerated as he were, just kind of laid there with his dick out.

Liberace was the one who broke the silence. The sheriff came out of his reverie and patted the little goat on the head. He’d always wondered what exactly goats were trying to say when they bleated like that. They seemed perfectly happy, just chewing, looking around, shitting every so often. And once in a while, they’d bleat. It’d taken him twenty years to realize it, but suddenly, Ball knew exactly what the goats were trying to say. They were saying: “Fuck it.” And Ball found he couldn’t agree more.

The sheriff cleared his throat. “You keep hogs, Laundry?”

“Hogs? Yeah, I got hogs. Pig pen’s just on the other side of the house. Why?”

“Curious creatures, they are. Eat just about anything they see. Damnedest thing—I’ve seen ‘em eat their own, even. Skin, bones, teeth, everything. I’ve wondered about that. But I guess that’s just what hogs do.”

A pause. A tacit understanding.

“You figure maybe your hogs might be able to…tidy up around here?”

Laundry raised an eyebrow, turned to the mess and back to the sheriff. “Now that you mention it—hypothetical of course—I suppose if given the opportunity, they just might. If that were to happen. In a manner of speaking, of course.”

Ball straightened up and nodded to the deputy. Some of the color had come back into his face. He turned back to Laundry. “Maybe you oughta let ‘em stretch their legs a bit. Fraternize with the ducks and the chickens and even ol’ Liberace here.”

Laundry nodded. “It’s a fine idea, Sheriff.”

“Any thoughts, Dingle?”

Dingle appeared to mull on that for a moment, then said: “Little gray-area, I’d say, Sheriff.”

“I’d say so too. But I’ve come to believe that’s where the game is played.”

The three men looked at each other. A questionable triumvirate under a wide-open sky, beyond which the trillions of stars and all their planets revolved without a hitch. There were no lightning bolts from the heavens, no one struck down. Not even a peep from the dove in the locust tree. Ball looked down at the goat, but Liberace offered no disagreement.

“He’s a pretty goat, Mr. Laundry.”

“Well thank you. FFA certified.”

“Well, keep an eye out nobody fucks him.”

“Will do, Sheriff Ball. You two take care now.”

Without a word, Ball and Dingle made their way back to the cruiser and got inside. Ball put his key in the ignition and just sat there a second. From between his thighs came a sound almost otherworldly. An unabashed, crackling fart that went on an uncommonly long time.

The men met eyes, but not a word passed between them.

There were no words left that needed saying.

Ball put the cruiser in drive, and the two went back up the driveway.

“Just a little misunderstanding,” Ball said into his radio. “Yeah… Nah, no worries at all… Copy that… All right now.”

Autumn was just setting in, and though it was early afternoon, the sun had already passed its apex in the sky. The leaves had lost their luster, and the dry, dead ones crinkled under the wheels and spun in the wheel wells. Out on the main drag, there was a little dead dove on the roadside the sheriff was pretty sure he hadn’t seen on the way in. One of its wings twitched, like the bird’s dying effort to wave goodbye. Or give them the finger, perhaps. The sheriff had never known a dove to do such a thing, but every day was filled with curiosities.

A million light-years away, a star exploded. An earthquake shook the alien terrain of some uninhibited world no one even knew about. And all over the sprawling circle of the earth, there were acts of impropriety so dastardly, even Laundry couldn’t have thought them up himself. The liars were lyin’, the stealers were stealin’, and some sick sonofabitch had his pecker up a show goat’s ass. Somewhere. But not here. Not today.

“Say, Sheriff,” Dingle asked, “you weren’t really gonna make me do that back there, were ya?”

“Back where?” Ball said.

Rating: 9.30/10. From 10 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Geoff Sturtevant
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Geoff Sturtevant

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Check out Geoff Sturtevant’s critically-acclaimed collection of short stories, Occupational Hazards: The Blue-Collar Omnibusnow available on Occupational Hazards is an omnibus of acclaimed novelettes from the “Return to the Dirt” and “Just Speculating” collections, and new, exclusive stories only available in this book. The stories exemplify the unsavory side of our everyday existence. Existentialism, absurdism, and outlandish humor merge with ordinary, workaday life for a unique and hilarious perspective of the human experience. Occupational Hazards is an unflinching ride through the absurdity of it all. Not recommended for the faint of heart or easily offended. But if meaty stories are what you’re after… I hope you’re hungry.

More Stories from Author Geoff Sturtevant:

Persistence of the Flesh
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Persistence of the Flesh

Everything Inc.
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Everything Inc.

Anything For My Bubela
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Anything For My Bubela

The Protuberance
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The Protuberance

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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