FICTION: Have a Cow

The cow was on top of my bed, with my girlfriend. Nothing kinky. I grabbed my digital camera and started pointing the camera at the cow. The cow was big and smelled like a cow. Monica kept fixing her hair, probably thinking I was going to photograph her as well. I kept pointing the camera at the cow’s hooves but it would never focus properly. I hate this camera, I kept saying. In the room were some people we knew, friends who were also photographers. They kept saying, it’s not the camera, it’s the shooter. Another one said, don’t have a cow. They all laughed. I went ha ha ha, imitating a fake laugh. Then the cow moved its legs and scratched me. I don’t think it did it on purpose. I felt the sharp edge digging into my arm. It cut me and there was blood.

Earlier that morning I had been kissing Monica. I had stubble on my face and wondered if she liked it or not. We got along, and now we were getting more along. We had never kissed before. The cow wasn’t on the bed then. It was her idea to get the cow. Actually it was my idea but she said, let’s do it! We had no idea what we would do with a cow once we had it. The cow was kind of a pet. Like a cat, but bigger and instead of saying meow it said moo. Why do cows say moo and not meow or woof.

I loved my life that day. I was young, had a girlfriend and a cow. And a camera. And a purpose in life. I had the camera and I liked using it. That was my purpose in life. What more could I ask for. Maybe to get paid doing what I loved, which was photography. You point and shoot. You have to be brave, or cruel, or lucky, to take great shots. I like my shots to be of something never seen before, or of something seen before but shot in a new way never seen before, or shot in an awkward way that wouldn’t be considered ‘good’ photography. Fuck the punters. Whatever that means. Open your eyes. There are a million ways to do something. What you want to do is the one that belongs to you, that you don’t think about. Thinking and talking are overrated. Guts and instinct (could be the same thing) are better. But it takes training to get guts to do what you want – actually, no. Guts doesn’t need training. That’s the whole point of guts.

We finished the photo shoot and I got some great shots of a cow in bed. But then the novelty was wearing off and the smell was getting on everything, which was kind of kinky, and by then we wanted to do the next best thing on top of both our list which involved a bed without a cow. Some people would have included the cow. My advice is to have a cow in your bed, anything that will throw your whole life off kilter. It doesn’t have to be a cow. You could wrap your arm in blue tape for all I care.

Fred Mugford is a writer and artist born in Los Angeles, California, living and working in London.

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