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The Legend of Cowman

Cowman was born from the depths of my imagination. I made him up one afternoon a few weeks ago, as I tried to concoct a weird or somewhat scary story to share with our grand-niece and grand-nephews at last weekend’s family reunion.

“I don’t want to terrify them,” I said to my husband. “I want the story to be memorable without preventing them from sleeping that night. I might need your help to make it believable.”

My husband nodded in understanding. We’re a team.

So, last weekend, our family members gathered at Jack Hill State Park to reconnect after a long pandemic year. We rented a cottage so we could all stay out there together and maximize our bonding time.

“When you guys have on your pajamas and are ready for bed, I have a scary story to share,” I said to Lydda (8), Andrew (7), and Lawson (6) on Saturday night.

In record time, they jumped into their PJs and tucked themselves deeply into the covers of their beds. I winked at my husband, walked into the kids’ room, sat on the edge of the bed next to a window, cleared my throat, and took on a very serious tone.

This is the legend of Cowman. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, an old farmer lived on a dirt road not far from here, and he tended Vidalia onions and 20 head of cattle.

The old man loved his cows so much. He had named each one of them as if they were his pets. He talked to them every day and petted them and took great care of his cows. Then one day, a neighbor man came over and suggested that the old man butcher a few of his cows and give everyone in the community free steaks and hamburgers, but the old man didn’t want to do that.

“I just can’t do it,” the old man said. “I’ve promised my cows they can live out their days in my green, grassy pasture.”

The neighbor got angry and left.

The next morning, the old man heard a horrible noise and ran out of his house toward the pasture. The neighbor was in the field with a bloody butcher knife. He had killed one of the old farmer’s favorite cows. The old man ran up to the neighbor and hit him over and over again with his fists. The neighbor fought back, and suddenly, the old man fell to the ground. He was dead — dead as a doornail.

The neighbor ran away and hid, but guilt got the best of him. He told his wife what had happened. His wife, who attended church every Sunday, convinced her husband to do the right thing.

“If he is really dead, we will call the police and confess,” she said to her husband.

The next morning, as the sun was rising, the neighbor and his wife walked to the old man’s field. They found a puddle of blood, but the old man and the cow were gone. They had vanished without a trace.

Legend has it that at midnight that night, the cow and the old man became ‘one.’ Under the Georgia moonlight, Cowman was born — the body of a man and the head of a cow. Cowman aimlessly wanders the woods, pastures, and parks of South Georgia making a horrible, crazy mooing sound. In fact, I heard that Cowman was spotted not too far away from here just yesterday.

At this point in my story, something (someone) just outside our window started making a loud, God-awful noise — part mooing, part the distress call of an animal being murdered, part cat cry, part werewolf howl.

I looked at the middle child, Andrew, who was curled up next to me. His eyes were as large as saucers and his mouth was wide open. He grabbed the comforter and pulled it over his head for safety.

“What in the world was that?” I asked.

“Cowman? Do you think that it’s Cowman?” Lawson whispered in his tiny voice. He and Lydda were sitting straight up in their bed and pressed up against our niece, Ansley, who was trying not to laugh.

Then we heard the crazy moo-ish howl again, much louder this time.

“I think it might be crazy Cowman, but don’t worry, we’re safe in here,” I said.

You could have heard a pin drop as the kids strained to hear the call again.

“Well, time to go to sleep,” I said, getting up suddenly and walking to the door. “Good night! Love you guys!”

Needless to say, the kids didn’t go to sleep for a while, and the next morning, Cowman was still the topic of conversation.

Now some of you will read this and think we were cruel to tease the kids like we did, but surviving the night after listening to a scary story is somewhat of a childhood rite of passage. It’s good, clean fun. It’s bonafide bonding time.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that the kids are still talking about Cowman nearly a week later. Cowman, a figment of my imagination (and the kids’ imaginations, too) is part of history now, alongside Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Mothman. May the legend of Cowman live on forever, and if you ever see a creature with a man’s body and a cow’s head, please contact me immediately.

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