“Don’t kull the bull,” wheezed my great grandfather Dennis. “Uht wahsn’t hus fault.” (He was from New Zealand, so he sounded like that.) 

GRAIN thought the bull, as Dennis blid eout and doyed.

The bull woke up from a stampede dream, stood the rest of the way up, stretched, and fucked a cow. Time to punch out for the day. Or was it? The farmhands were stabbing him in a way that suggested they wanted him to march in a new direction. 

NO thought the bull. He tried to express it physically, too, but the farmhands weren’t having it. They just kept on stabbing him, on both sides of his body, to make sure he walked in a straight line.

FINE thought the bull. 

He walked into a small arena, and found himself staring into the wet, stupid eyes of my great grandfather Dennis. 

GORE thought the bull. 

“Preesunah wun wun wun wun wun foive.” said my great grandfather Dennis. “Oim heah fuh ruhkluss eelkahuhluhsm und troyson, und fuhnush–“

He didn’t have time to fuhnush. 

The bull did what any bull would do, if government officials poked it with spears and waved a red cape in front of its target’s guts. 

6 Comments

  1. Bud Smith

    Oh my god, this was wiiiiiiild. The dialect REALLY works for me here. I have never read a story in New Zealand dialect and this is one of the only stories where I think it could use a little more dialect. I laughed my ass off whenever it slipped into phonetically speaking, Dennis, the grandfather is a really cool character and I almost wanted him to do go a little farther with what happens in the aftermath of a bull being slaughtered like this for sport. When we are forced to watch and even take part in some kind of cruelty, how does life work to balance it out. I could almost picture the anecdote continuing to a conclusion like — the death of the bull and the math equation of terror and gore must be balanced with life and joy and how do humans do that? They tenderly fuck away the pain. The person being identified as the grandfather works to presuppose the birth of the father who has since given rise to the narrator. It would make sense to me that the grandfather’s frustration at the massacre of this animal would lead to an action such as creating the father of the narrator through the other side of the coin when it comes to the actions of humanity, a gentleness in the face of devastation which creates a tiny laughing pink bambino.

  2. Jack O'Connell

    I lolled a lot at the bull’s thoughts. Hilarious. It seemed like after that and the well-executed dialect you could go anywhere and be inside anyone’s head or voice. I’d keep it almost exactly as it is and keep reading more of what you write about what’s around this scene.

    The dialect bleeds into the narrator’s voice once or twice, which is a choice I would consider– does it get you more than a quick joke? or would preserving the dialect for denis be more effective.

  3. Saxon Baird

    I echo Bud’s sentiments about using the New Zealand accent and spelling it out phonetically a la Irving Welsh (and countless others). Additionally, I would like to see where the story would go if fleshed out into possibly something generational. I like the idea of this bull being a sort of character in a family history that inadvertently directs the direction of three generations later. Perhaps, that’s too heavy-handed….but its one idea I think could be played with.

  4. Benjamin Niespodziany

    This is such an interesting one! Really unique voice and personification, and (as mentioned before) a dialect I hadn’t seen on paper. I’d definitely recommend you expand on the dialogue as it’s quite fun to mouth (as an American haha). FINE thought the bull. GORE thought the bull. These little jabs as standalone paragraphs are nice as well.

  5. Bill Merklee

    I’ve been warned away from writing in dialect, but it totally works here. And brilliant to be in the bull’s head. This sounds like an execution. Was this a common form in old NZ? Part of me wanted to know more about the surroundings, and the circumstances that led here (beyond what Dennis starts to recite before he’s gored). But then this is largely from the bull’s POV, and what does he care for any of that? I love that Dennis’ last thought was for the innocent animal.

  6. Greg Oldfield

    Jesse,
    Bringing us inside the bull’s head was something different and intriguing. The humorous quips worked well. I guess despite all the bull’s bravado, it must still see at some point that it’s entering a life and death struggle. Instead of the grandfather’s perspective, I’d be fine reading this all from the bull as we follow it through this setup. There’s a range of emotions that echo humans before a slaughter, and I think that can be built in to add more of that dualistic balance.

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