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2002 Note: "My Husband Turned Out to be a Goat" was practically written to spec for a local humor magazine called "Hard Times"; I'd met the editor somewhere. He was excited about the story and called me up the day he got it to say he'd use it in the next issue. But the magazine only lasted one issue, probably because most of the material was of the quality of   "My Husband Turned Out to be a Goat".....

My Husband Turned Out To Be A Goat

Copyright 1983, 2002 by Bruce Jaeger. All rights reserved. 

     I first met Billy while leading a class trip to a dairy farm just outside of Hastings, Minnesota. He met the bus full of rude, screaming children at the gate and, without saying a word, led us up the two-rut driveway to where the main house and the barn crouched nestled between two rows of windbreak cottonwoods.
     The farmer, Mr. Davis, quickly got the kids quieted down by the simple method of grabbing the first boy, dragging him over to the pen where the pigs grunted and snorted fiercely, and threatening to throw him or any other troublemaker in. It worked, and after that point I've never led an excursion with less trouble.
     Through all this, Billy remained silent, although I could see the sparkle of amusement lighting up his large brown eyes. And all the while Mr. Davis was showing us the barn and the milking apparatus and the modern computers, and explaining to us the the different attributes of the Holstein and the Guernsey and the Jersey cows, Billy would stand next to me, never choosing to say anything, but showing me through his mere presence that he saw something in me more than a harried schoolteacher.
     When the outing was over, Mr. Davis and Billy and I herded the children back into the bus, and we made our way back to the cities. I remember still the way Billy stood by the gate as we left, a long stem of grass clenched in his teeth, staring sadly yet expectantly after me. I was not kind to the children on the trip home.
     That night, I did what I knew I'd have to do; I drove back to Mr. Davis's farm. I didn't know whether or not Billy would be there, or if Mr. Davis would see me first and think I'd come back in answer to his own not-too-subtle hintings. I nearly turned back several times, but the thought of a sleepless night, and the remembrance of Billy's sad, wishful stare always kept me going.
     He must have heard my old car approaching, because he was waiting at the gate, eager and with little pieces of dinner stuck in his beard to show how he'd raced to meet me. I opened the car door and got out; before I could even make a timid greeting, he'd crawled into the car and across the other side. So be it, I thought, and I took him all the way back to my apartment in a northern suburb.
     The love we'd made from that night on was all I'd ever read about, and I was soon pregnant with our first child--the first, I'm proud to say, of four. They all resemble their father very much physically, and all share his silent mannerisms. But Billy himself began to change.
     At first content to stay around the apartment while I supported us on my meager teacher's salary, the time came when Billy started, I think the farmer's still say, "feeling his oats." He would roam the hallways of the apartment complex, and what I'd always enjoyed as his silent naughtiness the neighbor wives mistook as animal lust. They began complaining, and their husbands began threatening.
     And finally I came home one afternoon from the school to find Billy gone. Pillows were ripped to shreds, and the garbage was tipped over and spread all across the kitchen floor. I asked Billy Jr., the youngest, if he knew where his father had gone. He replied "Naaa!" meaning, I guessed, that Billy hadn't left any parting message.
     I waited that night and the next for Billy to return, but finally swallowed my pride and retraced my old way back to the Davis farm. There, to my shame and disgust, I spied Billy having his way with a filthy sheep! Mortified, I ran back to the car, slammed the door and cursed my goodbyes.
     But then I smiled, remembering my wonderful children, and I hurried home. The poor little lambs must be hungry, I thought, as I sped back through the night.     


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