“Stop fiddling with the stereo!” said Jack.
Mel recoiled back into the passenger seat and frowned.
“It’s too loud,” she said.
Jack grunted and took his hand off the wheel to twist the knob on the radio’s stereo.
“Stop whining,” he said. “The driver has final say on all things stereo.”
He took the knob between his finger and thumb, and twisted it clockwise with the delicacy of a heart surgeon making his first incision, feeling each click of the dial as he turned the volume back up. The numbers on the display in the dash climbed one by one. He took one eye off the road to count each step.
“Asshole,” said Mel.
Jack shrugged and picked his beer can out of the cup holder. He took a long swig, burped and put it back. He reached across to her and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
“Next time,” he said. “You can walk.”
Farther up the road and around the next bend, a herd of cows grazed by the side of the road. The pickings were slim tonight. All they had to choose from were half-trampled weeds and a few roots. One cow picked her head up and looked across to the other side of the tarmac. She could swear the grass looked greener on the other side of the road. If only her dim-witted herder had the sense to see that and take them there. But he was too busy swigging from that gourd made of her sister’s hide. Asshole.
So she bided her time. Soon enough the herder got filled with the foul liquid. He pressed his legs together the way humans always do when their bladders are full. He turned his head left and right, then went to the bushes and stood by a tree to pee.
This was her chance. She turned away from the herd, slowly so as not to spook the rest and placed her hooves on that rough, black surface. She took a tentative look over her shoulder and saw the herder was still watering the tree. Silly man.
The cow was halfway across the tarmac when a light waxed into view from around the bend. One of those noisy beasts with legs that go round and round was coming. No worry. As long as she moved slowly it would see her and go round. That’s what they always do.
Back in the car, Mel was having a cow. The speakers in the door beside here were so loud, she could feel the sound waves from the subwoofer hitting her legs.
“Would you just turn it down?” she said. “I can’t even hear myself think.”
She reached forward and turned the knob counter clockwise, bringing the volume down.
Jack frowned and slapped her hand away then twisted knob back up. This time, he took both eyes off the road.
Their car came round the inside of the bend at a little over 50kph. On the other side of the bend, the cow on her hunt for greener pastures had reached the middle of the road. She froze, blinded by the headlights.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw a large figure blocking his path and reacted as fast as the alcohol in his system would allow him. He grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and turned left, a fraction too slow. The right side of his sedan crashed into the cow’s hind-quarters. The car’s fender crumpled in on itself. The cow’s back legs snapped at right angles to its knee. She tried to resist the impact force with her remaining three legs but she was already on her way down. Her rump acted as a ramp, lifting the right side of the car into the air.
The Toyota travelled a few metres solely on its left-side tyres. Jack turned the wheel back and forth, trying to regain balance. All in vain. It dropped off of the wheels and onto its side. The window on Mel’s door shattered. Her head skidded on the asphalt.
The car rolled onto its top. Jack dropped out of his seat and onto the roof of the car. He landed on his elbow and it cracked on impact. White bone with shiny blood jutted out of his forearm. The last thing he saw before he passed out was Mel hanging from the seat above him, held in place by her seatbelt.
The herder was in the process of shaking off the last drops of pee when he heard the crumpling sound of metal folding in on itself along with the dull thud of flesh being pounded. He stowed his member and rushed to the road.
There he found his cow, laid out on its side. She moaned and mooed and thrashed her legs in the air. The back two bent in unnatural positions with bones sticking out of the calves and thighs. As useless now as a cigarette snapped in half, held together by a scrap of paper on one side.
There was nothing for it. A cow with two broken legs cannot be saved. He took a knife from the sheath on his belt, covered the cow’s eyes with his other hand and delivered the mercy-slash across her neck. The blade cut deep, severing the artery in one slice. Blood spurted out. With each heartbeat the pressure dropped and her thrashing legs died down. It took her thirty seconds to die.
When he couldn’t feel the cow’s heartbeat anymore the herder walked to the wreckage of the car, crunching glass under his sandals. It lay on its top, smoke coming from the engine block. He went round to the driver’s door, and spat on it.