Next up in the Summer Short Story Writing Challenge is Vicki with Great Uncle Rastislav Returns (Sort of) starring Stan, Erik, and the kids . You can find the picture that inspired this story HERE.

Many people think that being on vacation is a good reason to be slovenly and skip certain routines, especially those that include physical fitness. Yes, I am only human. Lying in bed with Erik draped over me as the gentle waves of the Pacific Ocean lapped at the edge of our patio made getting up to run difficult. Making love before the children woke up sounded ideal, but, training camp was now only two weeks away so in shape I must be. Rousing Erik to run with me got me nowhere. Too many rum drinks out of coconuts at the luau last night he claimed.

So, I pulled on some black shorts, checked on the children sleeping in the adjoined suite, and walked out of our little cabin. The sun was up over the island. I breathed in tropical air and let my mind touch briefly on the feel of warm sand under my bare feet and the light breeze on my face.

“Is good waking up to see you Oahu in full nature beauty,” I murmured, stretching down to touch my toes. After a few hamstring warm-ups, I set off at leisurely rate, my pace slow, my mind calm. I thought of many things as I pounded over soft white sand: the rich food that I had eaten last night and how I hoped I burned some of it off, the tour of the Pearl Harbor Museum we were taking today with the children and how important that was for a new American citizen such as me to see. I also thought of our pets who were being taken care of by Tennant and Jared. I would call them later today to make sure Lucy was eating her food. Cats could be finicky.

My mind was full of small things so when a short, fat goat ran into me with its head, I was clearly unprepared for the attack. I stumbled a bit to the side. The goat blatted at me, lowered its head, and made another charge. I easily jumped out of the way of its tiny but hard head.

“What for is all of this about little goat man?” I asked, reaching down to place my hand on his head. He shook free, yelled in my face, and then bumped my calf with his knobby head. I looked up and down the beach. Nothing but expensive tourist cabins, palm trees, white sand, and beach birds flying overhead or running along the surf on long, spindly legs. “Where is your home?”

He circled me; his black head held proudly. Such a funny little buck, and yes, I knew he was a boy goat. They have a distinctive stink from urinating on their beards. I’d spent much time around goats and other farm animals as a child in my homeland so I knew such things.

The goat, who was only as high as my knee, nudged my calf with his head. I patted his back, running my hand down his side. He was skinny. Which stood to reason. Goats did not eat sand. Perhaps he was thirsty too as they could not drink the ocean water either.

“Well, you have no collar and need big saving I think. Billy Goat Gruff Man, may I pick you up?”

He ran off. I chased him, finally catching him when he ran out into the sea. The water on his fur did not help his musky odor, but he seemed to settle into my arms as I carried him back to our seaside bungalow. I slipped in through the sliding door, tiptoed past Erik snoring loudly, and eased into the children’s bedroom. The goat made a funny loose-lipped goat sound. Three small heads popped up off their pillows.

“What a cute goat!” Eva exclaimed as she threw off her covers and scrambled from her bed. They climbed out of their beds, all three of them, and surrounded me, reaching for the tiny black pygmy goat. Noah was leaping up and down in sheer joy. I dropped to one knee and placed the goat on the floor. The children settled in around him, my daughter wrinkling her nose at his aroma. “Oh, Papa, he smells bad.”

“Yes, that is the way of boy goats. He is hungry and thirsty I think. Let us find fresh water for him and see if we can order up food from room service for a good goat.” I nodded at my own wisdom.

Noah hugged the goat. The goat tugged on one of his golden curls which made the boy laugh and laugh. I waved the children to one of the three big beds in their suite, and we made a call to room service for a gallon of water, a deep dish for soaking feet (pets were not allowed here), and a platter of fresh fruit.

“Goats do not eat garbage as you may see on the cartoon shows,” I explained to my three little ones. “They like good vegetables, hay, grains, and fresh water. These we will get for Billy Goat Gruff Man to make him happy. Then we will look for his owner.”

“Can we keep him?” Pavel asked with big pleading eyes. I was ready to say no with great force but then I looked into those three pairs of sad eyes and my ‘no’ melted into a sloppy ‘maybe yes but we must see what Dad thinks’.

“We will speak with your father as soon as he wakes up. His head is big from many coconut drinks last night so—”

A ragged scream from the next room pierced our secret whispering session. It sounded like my husband when he has that bad dream about the vice-president of America trying to make him eat pickled squid.

“Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!” Erik screamed. I ran into our room, the children on my heels, to find Billy Goat Gruff Man standing on Erik’s back nibbling on his flattened but still curly curls. “Stan! Oh my God get this monster thing off me! What kind of Hawaiian beast is it? It smells like Satan’s sweaty nut bag!”

The three little ones giggled. I had to smile as well. “Is not demon nut bag, just tiny little goat I find on beach. Oh, be mindful of where you walk children. Billy Goat Gruff Man has dropped tiny goat berries on the carpet… and on the bed as well it looks.”

“Stan, oh my GOD, what the hell…why is it eating my hair?! Wait, did you say it shit in the bed?!”

“Just tiny poops,” I replied then padded over to lift the goat from my grumpy husband’s back. “Not bad big like cow poops. Like poop berries. I am liking him much, Erik. He has flubber lips and a thick beard that reminds me of my great uncle Rastislav.” I sniffed the goats head. “He smells like great uncle Rastislav too now that my brain makes a think of it. I think it is case of reincarnation! Can we keep him if his owner is not to be found? We can name him Rasti and feed him apples and sweet grain!” The children all shouted in agreement.

It was hard to understand Erik’s reply after he buried his face into the pillows, but I think it might have been a yes. Or many bad words in Swedish…


The End