“Revenge of the Mad Cow” by Joe A., IPWW student

My mom and I lived in a small two-bedroom red-brick house. Our front yard had four pine trees and a giant oak that became my hiding spots, forts, climbing domain, and all-around playground. The neighbor to the south owned a plot of land that was humongous to me, as long as two football fields running east and west. At the neighbor’s fence line was another fence separating their yard from a big cow pasture.

Being mischievous (as many children are), I would play in my backyard and have the urge to throw things, thinking I was a great quarterback or some outfielder in the major leagues. So, what better way to perfect my skills than throwing apples? And what better way to measure my success with distance and aim than throwing apples at cows 50 yards away?

The cows seemed to enjoy eating the apples. But my main intention was to hit the cows, like playing dodgeball-except the cows didn’t get the dodge part down. Every now and then, I’d be dead on target and smack a fat cow with my apple ammo. I couldn’t tell if it hurt the cow or just irritated it. After what happened later, I am 100% certain the cows didn’t forget my apple attacks. One day my best friend Brad and I were headed to the wooded trails at the end of our neighborhood.

We decided to hop the fences and take a shortcut through the cow pasture. About five minutes into our journey, I heard a faint rumble in the distance. I stopped, turned around, and looked back to see a stampede of cows running toward us. I didn’t even know cows could run! Brad and I screamed and ran for our lives from the thunderous sound of running and mooing cows.

Finally, we made it to a fence. This was one of those old cow fences with squares of wire six by six inches wide. Good to climb on and over quickly but easy to put a foot through too. In my haste to climb over the fence, my foot snagged, and my shoe fell off, landing in the cow field. There was no time to jump down and get it because the cows were already there. What was the farmer feeding these things? Jeez, they were fast. Were these Olympic cows?

So there I was, one shoe on and one laying directly under one of these giant bovine creatures. The cow seemed to have a personal vendetta against me. Was he the one I routinely pelted with apples from my backyard?

The squares in the fence were large enough to reach through, so I slowly tried to grab my shoe. As I reached in, the mad cow snatched up my shoe and began chewing it like a cud of grass. What the hell? First cows that run, now cows that eat shoes.

Trying to explain to my mom how I lost my shoe seemed more dangerous than any renegade cow. With our day ruined, I took the slow walk of shame back home. This story is my fondest memory of my first home.