“Calm down,” Ellison said, restraining his impulse to jump up and down like Marcia. He took her hand.
“I’m not exactly afraid, you know,” she said, looking at her fingers in his, experimenting by holding onto his hand a little. “It’s more like excited.”
Ellison laughed and did not release her but drew her into him for a tight hug. Before he knew what he was doing he kissed the top of her head and sighed. Marcia blinked furiously, and then she forced herself to relax. He hugged her again and looked over her at the commotion by the stock pen.
The goats were running a crazy loop around the inside of their enclosure, seemingly intent on winning some sort of race. The small horses stood aside, moving as need be to get out of their way, not much interested, he thought.
Cassie, Frank, Alan and Jeremy all stood in the middle of the ruckus looking at the little bull who was now stealing hay from the goats. He would grab a portion and amble to the tree with it where he let it go. Ellison could see a small cache under the tree even from where he stood.
Why the little bull didn’t stop and eat what he already had, he had no idea. Baby could steal hay from the goats all night long as far as he was concerned; he liked being exactly where he was, holding Marcia in his arms and doing nothing more than breathing. Ellison thought he had never felt so at peace.
Marcia turned in his arms and snuggled into him. She heard another sigh. Emboldened, she raised her lips to his and automatically Ellison kissed her back. This is sweet, he thought.
This is magic, Marcia thought.
“Damn it, guys, get a room,” Leon commented, walking past the pair with his mother, who gave him a swift jab in the ribs. “What? What did I say?” he asked.
“Keep walking,” she said, looking sidewise at her brother and struggling to keep the grin off her face. “Just keep walking.”
Marcia barely noticed them as she leaned upwards to deepen the kiss. Ellison kissed back. A few minutes later when he was seriously considering the picnic table in front of them for carnal purposes, he opened his eyes and was shocked to see they had an audience. Blood roaring in his ears had prevented him from hearing the frantic shouts aimed at them from the animal pen. Seeing Baby standing yards away looking at them and tossing those long horns in seeming frustration got all his blood back where it was supposed to be and in double quick time.
He very carefully moved Marcia out of his arms and stood her behind him. Were you supposed to stare an animal down or was it one of those ‘don’t look them in the eye’ situations, he wondered.
Time was moving slowly. They had the picnic table between them and the bull. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Cassie and her men walking up. He felt Marcia stand on her toes to look over his shoulder. She froze. The bull was suddenly right in front of them and time abruptly went into overdrive.
Baby jumped his front legs up onto the bench, lowered his head into the box suppers that were spread over the table and picked up one in his mouth. With that box he then proceeded to sweep the rest of their food off onto the ground before he tottered and fell off the bench and back to earth, getting his legs stuck between bench and table in the doing.
All Ellison could think about were the horns. Baby was a miniature bull to be sure, but the horns were sharp and the horns were close. He started backing himself and Marcia away from the table, knowing not to run. In what seemed no time they were out of the clearing and where the automobiles were parked, along with all of the other guests.
Cassie, Frank, Alan and Jeremy were busy disentangling the little monster from the picnic table. Baby immediately shook them off and began transferring cardboard deli boxes to his spot under the tree where he had amassed a lot of the goats’ hay.
“What’s he doing?” Marcia asked, peering into the setting sun at their hosts and the bull that had just completed his third trip.
“I think he’s gathering food for himself,” Leona said, trying not to laugh. “Seems like he wasn’t content with the hay he took from the goats or the grain he knocked down near the horses, he had to have our food as well.”
“This is a bull we’re talking about?” asked Ralph, inexplicably using his flashlight to try to see it better.
“This is one of Cassandra’s babies,” Marian corrected. “They’re all a little weird. She told me this one was hand- raised on milk and Mrs. Baird’s Bread.”
“But we were eating sandwiches,” Marcia interposed. “Mine was a turkey sandwich.”
“At least they weren’t hamburgers,” Leona said.
“Or barbeque,” Leon said.
“Or roast beef,” Ralph added. “You didn’t have a roast beef sandwich in one of those boxes did you, Ellison?” he asked.
“Ooooough,” little Leon said, making a gagging motion with his hands.
“What did I tell you about making that noise again?” snapped his grandmother.
COPYRIGHT 2010 BY GRETCHEN RIX. Photos by Roxanne Rix