Stan Wilkerson hurled dung at his own front door. He aimed at the eviction notice nailed there, but, as with many things in his life, the turds flew wide. His door and the front of his house started to turn an ugly shade of brown.
Stan had gotten the farm from his father, who’d gotten it from his father, who’d gotten it from his father. For over a century the farm had prospered from one Wilkerson to another. But the winds had prevailed differently on Stan, the last of the Wilkersons.
The sheep herds that had numbered hundreds in his great-grandfather’s day and thousands in his grandfather’s day had dwindled in his day to four well loved pets and an overabundance of loans. He loved those sheep—Karate Lamb Chop, Wooly Mammoth, Super Mutton, and Colonel Sweater—but bill collectors do not let you pay your debts in love. As hard as Stan worked, the money always seemed to be on the other side of this shearing season or that odd job.
Stan never looked at the mail anymore. It only contained bills he couldn’t pay. Thus the eviction notice on his door had not surprised him. Stan had five days to get off the property or he’d “be forced off.”
After flinging dung at his frustration he opened his wallet and found two wadded up dollar bills. The stash under his bed afforded another four dollars and thirty-seven cents. And the cookie jar he’d tried to forget about only yielded another three dollars, sixteen cents and half a stale cookie. With no money and no other hope, he turned upward. He’d attended church as a boy, but hadn’t made it to a service in quite some time. He got down on one knee and tried to think of what to say. After a long pause he said, “Ummm… God, I don’t remember any fancy prayers and you don’t owe me a thing, but I need a miracle. Thanks in advance, your… Uh… Your Godship. Sincerely, Stanley James Wilkerson. Amen”
As Stan got up from the floor he noticed something outside the window. Stan blinked and looked again. Colonel Sweater stared at him, chewing his cud, floating at the second story window. Stan jumped to the window for a closer look. Sure enough, Colonel Sweater stood on nothing but air.
Stan ran down the stairs, tripped on the front rug, recovered, turned down the hall, dodged furniture, stepped around misplaced tools, hopped over piles of laundry, and burst out the back door. Blue, empty skies greeted him.
He looked down and saw Colonel Sweater standing firmly on the ground chewing his cud. Stan looked down at him, then up at the window. He looked back at Colonel Sweater. Gravity had clearly begun to work again.
Wooly Mammoth and Super Mutton stood in the field behind him. All eight feet touching the solid earth. Colonel Sweater swallowed his cud then *hack* coughed it back up again and chewed.
Stan put his hand on Colonel Sweater.
The sheep felt normal.
“BAAAAA!” Colonel Sweater said. He didn’t bounce or give way he stood firm and solid.
Stan pushed again, harder.
Colonel Sweater bleated and bucked. He caught Stan in the stomach with his rounded horns, knocking Stan too the ground with a shout.
Colonel Sweater grunted and sauntered off.
Stan sat up and shook his head.
Colonel Sweater looked back and bleated.
Stan blinked and looked up at the sky.
The next day, with the eviction imminent Stan decided to shear the sheep one last time. Wooly Mammoth went first, but his name didn’t translate to his coat. Stringy and dirty, Stan would barely make ten bucks on the lot. Super Mutton and Karate Lamb Chop weren’t much better. Last came Colonel Sweater. It seemed that overnight his wool had changed from the stringy mess of his compatriots to a lush forest of downy, golden wool.
After bucking through the shearing gate, crushing Stan’s leg with his body, and then nearly escaping the farm’s fencing altogether, Stan got Colonel Sweater in place and set to work. He finished shearing one side of the Colonel and set to work on the other. When he’d finished the second side he looked back at Colonel Sweater. He scratched his head. “No wonder they’re taking the farm,” he said. “I missed half his coat.”
Stan set to work and in a few minutes had sheared the first side again. White, fluffy fleece mounded up all around Stan and the Colonel. Stan leaned back to admire his work. “Dang,” he said and started shearing the second side again.
It went on like this for several rounds, longer than Stan wished to admit in later retellings. Finally he sat back and waited. Before his very eyes the wool grew in length and quality. Stan looked at the mounds of beautiful wool all around him. He hadn’t even noticed how much he had sheared. “Holy sheep dung,” he said out loud. (At that moment Colonel Sweater decided to provide some)
Stan continued shearing Colonel Sweater all night. When it got too dark to see, he grabbed every flashlight he could find. When the batteries gave out he made a makeshift torch out of a rusted rake and an old shirt dipped in kerosene. He did not want to give out before the miracle did. When the battery died on his clippers he grabbed some scissors, when those got too tangled in the wool he got out his hunting knife. It was the finest, softest wool he’d ever seen.
At dawn Colonel Sweater collapsed from standing stiff-legged all night. The miracle gave out with the sheep.
To Be Continued…