by Brady Udall
Roy growls and gives me the evil eye from inside his doghouse. He’s flustered; I’m fairly certain this is the first time in his life a six-foot-three Apache Indian holding a goat has walked into his backyard in the middle of the night. Roy, there under the comfort of his own roof, seems to be trying to come to a decision. He doesn’t know whether to raise hell or to make friends with me. I slowly take a step closer — no sudden moves — and ask him, as sincerely as possible, not to make any undue racket. He pokes his head out of his house and yaps, causing the goat I’m holding to let loose a thin stream of piss down my leg.
I suppose this ought to be explained. Roy is the pet of my ex-wife Amy and her new husband Howard, whose backyard I am currently lurking around in. The goat is a present for my seven-year-old son, Tate. Tate is somewhere in this immense, tacky house and my plan is to get this goat to him without Amy or Howard finding out about it. This is Scottsdale, Arizona, close to midnight and not too many degrees shy of a hundred. I would be untruthful if I didn’t say I was a little drunk. I have dead grass in my hair and my belly feels like it’s full of sharp sticks. Small, silvery fish are swimming around in my head, flashing behind my eyes like coins.
I’m positive that what I’m doing is the correct, the honorable thing. In that earnest, heartbreaking penmanship of his, my boy has written to me at least half a dozen times asking for his pet goat, and no matter what my wife has to throw at me, the injunctions and restraining orders and so forth, I am going to get it to him.