I see in the paper where somebody called the cops on poor old Willy the Goatfucker—
must have been somebody new around here. Old Willy is a sort of fixture in these parts, part of the landscape, you might say, and besides, I don’t believe a word of it anyway, or at least the part about kicking the goat.
I can believe that he was drunk alright, and I wouldn’t put it past Suzie the Goat to be butting him into the ditch on the Old Halo Highway, but Willy loves that goat—not in the way his handle might lead you to believe—but the way people do love their cats and dogs and cockatoos and such. So, if Suzie did knock that old man into the ditch he wouldn’t climb back out and kick her one, or at least not seriously, like he really meant to hurt her.
Despite his moniker, he’d never have unnatural relations his goat any more than he’d kick her but, you know how it is, if your name is William and you go around walking a goat named Suzie on a lead rope all the time, people will naturally find it funny and give you a funny nick name, at least when they talk to each other, though, of course, they’d never call him that to his face.
And what difference does it make if a man gets drunk and takes his pet goat for a walk anyway? This is America, the Land of the Free, and you would think a man should be able to drink a little and fall in a ditch without some busybody calling the cops on him. Hell, I bet the cops didn’t even bother to look into it. They all know Willy Williams. Everybody knows him, just another old busted-up logger living in a run-down old farmhouse.
Willy lives up the hill there a little from the Tall Cedars Trailer Court on the old Williams place which is about the oldest place in the valley, I think. Augustus Williams, his great-something-or-other granddaddy, settled there back in territorial times because the wagon broke down and he couldn’t go no farther—which is something that happened more often than you might think back in those days.
Willy’s lived alone since his wife left him thirty-something years back. She left him one afternoon after announcing that she was never coming back. She called him up later that night saying, “Honey, I’m sorry I called you a prick,” which sounded good to Willy until she added, “because a prick is a part of a man and you’re the sorriest excuse for a man I ever saw.” I suppose that explains some of the drinking anyway.
Mostly I think the logging accident that left him with a crooked back and considerable pain is what led him to the bottle, though, since the Williams family wasn’t noted for imbibing any more than anybody else around here. The accident happened a year before his marriage broke up and I suppose that had something to do with her leaving him like that, all broke and lonesome. Of course, I don’t know for sure because no one really knows what goes on between a man and his wife and why. Some things it’s just better not to know.
Well, he’s got Suzie to keep him company and I guess it’s easier on him to bump heads with that old nanny goat than it was with his wife. Of course, Suzie don’t cook or clean but Willy can cook for himself and, living alone, he isn’t too concerned about keeping up with the house chores. Like the rest of us here in Halo, he’s getting by.
Robert Leo Heilman has been writing professionally for thirty-four years. He is the author of three literary nonfiction books and in 2013 wrote and directed a documentary film about civil disobedience. He lives in Myrtle Creek, Oregon, a small town where the poverty rate runs at twenty-five percent. Robert recommends UCAN Food Bank and the Douglas County Library Foundation.