Yesterday I visited my hometown of Newton. As I made my way around the square I noticed a familiar shape moving across the road. Tall and broad, the man-shaped mound was hunched over at the shoulders and neck, his head occasionally popping up so that his eyes could scan his immediate environment for dangers as he made haste with quick, sure steps.
It was Cowfucker Bill, whom I hadn’t seen in years, and only ever think about when some urban legend about bestiality comes up; which is not so very often, fingers crossed.
I met Cowfucker Bill when I was 14 and working at the Maid Rite. He was a large man with medium length dark hair slicked into a neat part. He was pasty and ruddy, but also muscular. He had a deep voice an an unfortunate amount of acne for a 24 year old.
“Who is the new guy?” I asked my co-worker Ryan.
“Dude, you have never heard of Cowfucker Bill?” he replied uncomfortably loud.
Indeed I had not. I had spent the middle part of my childhood away from this place, and must have missed out on some of the local myths during that time. I was assured that everybody knew about Cowfucker Bill, except me, as he was the stuff of legend.
“How do you know he fucked a cow?” I was skeptical.
“Two people saw him doing it, man. Dude really fucked a cow.”
There was more to the story. Cowfucker Bill had been raised by his grandparents. He was considered socially leprous from a very young age, due to his strange silent brooding and manic temperament. From a very early he had become the target of not just bullies, but of every other kid trying to virtue signal their own normality through cruelty to the freak.
Eventually the cruelties thrust on him peaked with the cattle coitus rumor in his early teens, which he was still contending with a decade later when I met him.
Ryan insisted it was true, and so did all the older jock assholes I worked with. I didn’t believe a bit of it, but it seemed like I might not be target numero uno for awhile, so I was happy to have Cowfucker Bill on board.
I tried to be nice to Cowfucker Bill, but I was often given the choice of joining his hecklers, or becoming their secondary target. There was no way I was gonna become Goatdiddler Josh my freshman year, and first year back in my hometown in more than six years, so I cowardly joined the bullies, although with low enthusiasm, which my adolescent mind used to kind of justify it.
As I got to know Cowfucker Bill, he seemed like a pretty nice guy. I had moved around a bunch those past several years, and even though I had learned to gain some social pull wherever I went, I had also always befriended the loners, weirdos and social pariahs. Bill reminded me of several of the people I had hung out with on rainy Saturdays, watching Star Trek or drawing pictures of semi-trucks with, unbeknownst to my ‘cool friends’.
But he also shared their darkness. A barely buried seething that was always waiting to strike. And a sort of privileged nastiness towards those who would try to get closer to them. So while I came to like and empathize with Cowfucker Bill, sometimes he was a total shithead. In those times I would cast my own insults and tirades at him. I would push him until he was red in the face and would throw off his apron and run out back to seethe a bit before someone else went and helped calm him down.
I was warned to be more careful. Not just because he was mentally unstable, but because a childhood of being bullied had inspired to him to work out and become muscular as an adult. He would roll his t-shirts up at the sleeves to show them off, probably an attempt to warn off predators. The combined look of his hair, blue jeans and sleeve-rolling was like some kind of 50’s greaser straight from The Outsiders.
My tongue had been sharpened by my adventurous childhood, and so ‘careful’ was not something I so easily spoke. Plus I was unreasonably sure an adult wouldn’t beat up a kid, since that was a boatload of trouble, and Cowfucker Bill didn’t seem like the type for trouble.
One day I straight up asked him if he had indeed fucked a cow. His air vacated him in a full body spasm of exasperation.
“No…” he replied uncomfortably. He seemed to want to say more, while simultaneously never wanting to have to ever talk about this again. I left him alone.
We worked together for another year or so. The same game, me trying to be as friendly as possible without seeming overly sympathetic outwardly and sometimes joining in on games of Fluster the Cowfucker. Sometimes we talked and got along well, and other times we infuriated one another.
He once threw a spatula at me and it fucking hurt, although I was probably asking for it, or had previously and not yet gotten it. This was not long before he put in his two weeks notice at Maid Rite. I was pretty miffed about the spatula incident, so I was looking forward to his final night.
We had a tradition. On your final night, some grotesque prank was your destiny. Me and Ryan and another coworker took charge of Bill’s finale.
Combining elements of past pranks we filled a bucket with every liquid foodstuff at out disposal, with a few solids for punctuation. I hauled the five gallon bucket of slop onto the roof and waited for my time.
The others inside put Bill on trash duty, which would send him right into my path. This was the plan, but it was taking longer than I expected. Finally I saw his head poke out the door below, looking around for signs of fuckery to come, before deciding it was clear and stepping out.
I unleashed the bucket of bad will, ketchup, soft-serve ice cream mix, hamburger grease, pickles and a dozen or more other edible messes onto him.
As the liquid arced out onto him, my heart dropped. He was wearing his nice leather jacket. He must have been waiting to take the trash until he was leaving for the (last) night, and so was not just wearing the dingy t-shirt I had expected.
He emanated a Yeti-like howl and stared death into my eyes from below. I hopped down onto a fence and then jumped onto the other side, as Bill made his way to where I would end up. He was screaming about his jacket as I took flight. He gave chase, all the while explaining the importance of that jacket to him, and how I had just ruined it. I laughed as I ran, but after a few blocks I started to get pretty nervous.
“Chill out, dude, it’s just a prank.”
I turned around and saw that he was crying. Behind him Ryan and others from the Maid Rite crew were chasing, probably not so much to save me, but more as spectators to my eventual beating. As Cowfucker Bill’s sobs rose, he lost momentum, and eventually slumped down in a ball of anger and sadness, shaking and crying.
I stood from half a block away as my co-workers caught up to him. They blamed me, but it was no use. It was obvious we had all been in on it, but Cowfucker Bill’s spirit was too crushed to crush me or anyone else.
They helped him up and walked him back to the store and his car. I followed, keeping a safe distance, and feeling like the World’s Heavyweight Asshole Champion. As he got in his car I hollered that I would pay for his jacket, and I would have. But he would have none of it. The jacket had some other personal value that could not replaced.
Bill’s dignity could not be replaced.
For years after I would run into him around town. He was always cordial and never brought up the incident. To me each time was a horrible reminder of personal failure, but to him I was just another person who had treated him cruelly, which included most of the town.
Except the old people, the old people just loved Bill. He would chat with them like they were the most important people he had talked to that day, and in return they treated him like the most respectful person in Newton under thirty, which he probably was.
So when I saw Bill the other day I wondered how he could still be in that godforsaken town of bullies. My friends and I had escaped for good reasons, but none as good as rampant bestiality rumors. How could a man endure a lifetime in a community that had so abused him?
Maybe he just really loves it there.
Maybe it is the exceedingly high percentage of old people in Newton.
Or maybe he has his own metaphorical roof he is waiting on, wondering what is taking so long before his big moment.
If Bill ever opens fire and takes out a few dozen Newtonites, I say we let it slide. Nobody deserves it more.