The day cousin Ollie turned church into a rodeo
Burt’s Eye View
“Ma, we’re leaving for Sunday school,” cousin Ollie yelled as the two of us 9-year-old boys bolted out the back door of the farmhouse.
“I have a bad feeling about this grand plan of yours,” I puffed as we ran to the barn where we left the bicycles.
“I ride to church all the time. It’s just down the road.” Ollie checked the baling twine he’d tied from both bicycles to a red wagon with plastic sides built up like a fence. “Even you can pedal a half mile.”
“Not the distance. The cow.”
“Calf,” Ollie pulled open the door leading to the stalls. “Blossom is a Jersey calf. Hand me that little halter.”
“Tell me again why we are taking a cow to church.”
“Calf.” Ollie fitted the halter over Blossom’s reddish, fawn-like head. “It’s a surprise object lesson for Sunday school. Grab another chunk of straw to pad the bottom of the wagon.” Ollie led the calf out of its box stall and helped it hop into the Red Flyer. He closed the plastic gate.
“How does Blossom help Miss Janice teach class?”
“We’re studying the story in Genesis about Pharaoh’s dream of seven skinny cows eating up seven fat cows, and how Joseph was able to tell Pharaoh what his dream meant.”
We towed the wagon like a couple of draft horses on wheels dragging an ox cart with no ox.
“Right,” I said as we bumped down the road on the way to the little country church. “The dream meant that there would be seven great years of harvest, followed by seven years of famine. But why a calf?”
“Because I can’t fit 14 cows in my wagon, duh.”
“Again, why a calf?”
Ollie grinned. “When Miss Janice gets to the part about the cows, I’ll walk Blossom into the classroom. It’ll be great.” He paused. “Maybe I should have rounded up 14 chickens to represent the cows.”
They’d have been lighter. Blossom might weigh only 150 or 200 pounds, but that was more heft than Ollie and I combined. “Where are we hiding her until the lesson?”
“In the nursery. It’s for babies, like Blossom. You can help lift her into one of the cribs.”
“It would work better if she grew chicken wings.”
We slipped Blossom in through the back door of the church and somehow got her laid down in a crib. We covered her with a baby blanket festooned with pink kitties before heading to Sunday school.
“Ollie,” I whispered. “What happens if someone takes a baby to the nursery?”
“Blossom won’t mind.”
“A mom might.”
A mom did. The scream shrilled right through the closed classroom door. “A giant dog! Look what that beast did to my sheets!”
We heard a baby giggle, a calf bawl and tiny hooves clatter down the hallway. Crashes. Shatters. Grownups bellowing: “It’s a bear!” “That’s a cow.” “It ate the curtains.” “How’d it get into church?” “Where’s Ollie and Burton?”
I nudged my cousin. “Is this one of those places where they kill the fatted calf?”
“It’s not the calf’s hide they’re looking to tan.” Ollie scrambled from his chair. “Our bikes are right outside that window. Climb, Burton, climb.”
It’s a good thing that Pharaoh didn’t dream about skunks.
Cole’s other career is writing fiction for kids. We hope this is a sample. Ask him at email@example.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at www.burtonwcole.com