COW & MILKHere’s my own response to the story challenge I posted yesterday. (Write a story of 500 words or less that includes a cow, a barber, and a child.) Hope a lot of you take part as well. Find all the details about participating here.

 

FOR LOVE OF BERNADETTE

 

Herbie was a barber. And he was good at his job. He had customers from all over the county. But Herbie didn’t like his job. He’d inherited the business from his father, but he’d never enjoyed it.

What he really wanted to do was own a dairy farm. Every evening when he finished work, he drove out of town and cruised by Old Man Swagle’s farm, looking at the fields of cows and the neat homestead – and dreaming.

Sometimes he’d stop, walk to the fence, and pet the cows. They knew him by now and came to him, but there was one particular brown and white lady who made sure she got the most of his attention. It made him feel loved.

If only he could manage to buy the farm. Old Man Swagle had put it on the market last year, but so far no one had met his price. Herbie had some money saved, and he’d talked to the bank about a mortgage, but Isabelle, his betrothed, said he’d be a fool to leave a secure business and go into debt for a cow farm. He used to love to talk about his dream, but lately, he’d just stopped mentioning it to Isabelle. He didn’t like the quarrels it led to. Sometimes he wondered …. But … they’d been engaged a whole year. It wouldn’t be right to back out now.

One evening, as Herbie sat on the fence and petted his favorite cow, Swagle’s 11-year-old grandaughter came running across the field. He knew she visited often, and today she hailed him. “Hi,” she said. “Grandpa sent me to fetch Bernadette.”

“Oh, is that her name?”

“Yep. Grandpa let me name her.” She gave him a speculative look. “ My Grandpa said you want to buy this farm.”

“He did, huh? Well he’s right, but I don’t think I can.”

“Oh,” she said, hanging her head in disappointment. “I sure wish you could buy it.” She looked up. “My Grandpa is getting really tired and wants to come into town and live at my house with me and Mommy and Daddy. I stayed all night last night, and I heard Grandpa praying a long time that God would send someone today to buy the farm and take care of the cows the way he does.”

Herbie felt tears rush to his eyes.

“Why can’t you buy it?”

He cleared his throat. “Well … the lady I’m going to marry doesn’t want to live on a farm.”

“But you love cows. I can tell. I’ve watched you petting them and talking to them.”

Herbie nodded.

“And you’d keep them and take care of them just like Grandpa does.”

Herbie nodded again. “If I could buy the farm.”

“You know what I think?” she said.

“What?”

“I think you should tell that dumb lady to marry someone else, and you should come and live here with Bernadette.”

And Herbie did.

 

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