A goat called Joe
Oxy Moron, Contributor
Recently, I, Oxy Moron, got the biggest wake-up call of my life. Just when I thought I was a shining example to young people around me and in the wider society, the head of one of our universities is advocating mythical role models for Jamaican males. A figment of someone's creative imagination he has suggested, no skin and bone people such as I am.
The story in The Gleaner said, he "is urging authors in the region to start creating positive mythological images of Caribbean men in an attempt to engage the psyche of males". So, crestfallen, I took up the challenge and have written a story about a ram goat named Joe. Here goes.
In the village of Ramgallam, the phenomenon took place some years ago. All the black ram goats in the village, except Joe, bleached their hair. It was the common feeling that the she goats had an insatiable urge for rams who were as white as snow. Despite the egging of his bleached friends, who boasted that they had she goats in a bungle, Joe decided he wasn't going to bleach. He was a proud black ram.
One day, as Millicent, the scraggy, big-kneed she goat strutted by, Joe called out to her. Millicent stopped, looked at Joe from head to tail, cut her eyes, declared, "Yuh black and ugly like!" and continued on her merry way.
Joe was not moved by any means, because he knew that when he looked into the mirror all he could see was a handsome face, atop his long, black beard.
Two days after Millie spurned him, Joe met Bethune under a mango tree. The already fat and rotund Betty was stuffing herself with juicy mangoes. Upon seeing Joe, she pretended she was just lazing away and hiding from the afternoon's sun.
"How yuh doing?" Joe asked in a friendly tone.
Betty turned and looked the other way without saying a word. Soon after, Bobby, one of the bleached goats came upon them.
Immediately, Betty got up and ran off. You could see the pep in her step. Bobby butted horns with Joe, and whispered, "All a wi a dweet, so do de right ting an tings wi gwaan fi yuh." And with that, he went into hot pursuit of Betty, who had stopped around the corner, anticipating Bobby would come after her.
Joe lay under the mango tree, thinking about what Bobby had said, and that all the she goats seemed to have no eyes for him. His reflection was interrupted by Hazel, the old brown she goat who had mothered many kids, and wasn't finished yet.
"Is what yuh thinking bout, Massa?" she enquired upon approaching Joe. Upon hearing Joe's response, Hazel said, "Mek dem gwaan, man. Wha a sweet dem wi soon sour dem."
Two weeks after Hazel's prophetic utterance, panic and distress took over Ramgallam. The rams were getting very sick and some had already died. Then it was discovered that it wasn't just any ram, but the ones who had bleached. As the situation got severe, they were all perturbed, as no one could pinpoint the cause of the deaths. The goats just got weak, listless for days, and semi-conscious before passing out.
Subsequently, it was found that the toxicology reports had similar findings. All the dead goats had a certain poisonous substance in their systems, and that it had come from the bush they had been eating to whiten their black coats. The substance had slow poisoned them, though it had bleached them in a short period of time.
It reached the stage where only Joe, and a few brown ram goats, were left in the village of Ramgallam. And then the mating season came along.
Joe, the robust goat, who lived alone, could not rest in peace. Even though he locked his gate, the she goats jumped over his fence to get into his yard.
One morning when he heard a loud butting on his door, he jumped out of bed to investigate. It was Millie creating all that ruckus. She smiled, batted her eyelids, and gave Joe a goat-eye dreamy look. Joe went back into his room.
Soon, he was back on the veranda with a smug-looking Betty right beside him. And what do you know? Millie just waltzed right past them into Joe's room, saying as she went along,
"Don't keep me waiting, darling. That other one may leave, my time now."