New Mexico, 2009, we were driving down an old road
in the middle of nowhere at midnight. The road was a dark two-lane rural
road. “Never stop on that road,” I remember my grandpa telling us before
we left Barstow, California. “It’s near a prison,” he said. “Once, a man
was driving down that road and some guy waved him down acting like he
needed help. So the driver pulled over, and a second guy snuck in from
behind and pulled the driver out of the car, knocked him out and stole
his car. The two men were prisoners who had escaped earlier that day.”
My mom had been paranoid ever since Grandpa told us the story. She
hugged the steering wheel and turned on the high beams. My dog, Spokes,
was curled up next to her in the passenger seat, and my brother Jeremiah
and I sat in the back. Jeremiah played his DS while I just stared out
the window into the mysterious dark night. “Oh my gosh, look, a kangaroo
mouse!” my mom exclaimed suddenly.
“Add that to the list of animals,” she said. We had road tripped across
the entire country and were now on our way back home. Along the way we
had seen a ton of animals, dead and alive, on the side of the road, and
my mom decided to keep track.
“Look, a fox!” I said excitedly.
“I keep seeing these huge dark animals out in the field,” said Jeremiah.
“I can’t tell what they are…”
“Where?” I asked. He pointed. Out in the field I could see large lumpy
“Jeremiah, those are bushes,” I said dully.
The next thing I saw was so unexpected I didn’t even have time to so
much as think to scream. In the glow of our high beams, a cow’s large
head appeared out of nowhere. The cow was attempting to cross the
street. There was no room to swerve without hitting a car coming towards
us on the opposite side of the road, and there was no time to hit the
breaks. Our only choice was to brace ourselves. I could see its eyes
growing wide and round. I saw the glistening of the cow’s brown and
white fur under our headlights. My mom gave a little shriek and I closed
my eyes. I remember feeling a huge jolt of a bump as we hit the cow. I
opened my eyes to see broken glass and the cow’s cud spray across the
windshield. I bit my lip, trying not to cry. Next to me my brother still
playing his video game, merely glanced over his shoulder. In the
passenger seat my dog lifted his head and groaned loudly, annoyed he had
been woken up. In the front seat my mom was freaking out. “Oh my God! Oh
my God, we just hit a flippin’ cow!” she exclaimed hysterically. “Are
you two ok?” she said.
“Yes! High score!” my brother yelled. I burst into tears.
“It’s ok, Khrys! It’s ok!” my mom said.
“We just killed a cow!” I replied.
“Honey, right now I’m more worried about us. I can’t stop here though…
what if we break down? Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that just happened!
And there’s no cell phone reception!” Clearly she wasn’t done flipping
out yet. “Hang on, let me try calling your uncle again….” We all waited.
After about twelve calls, it went through. “Mike, we just hit a cow! I
think we might break down! I don’t know how much farther the car will
drive and I am on the road with the prison.”
She began telling the story, muttering almost every curse word
“Mom!” I scolded.
“Sorry,” she said, “I’m just freaking out now! Mike what do we do?!”
He told her to just keep driving, and that he knew where we were and
there was a gas station coming up soon on the right. He would call the
police and meet us there.
Thankfully, we made it to the gas station, even though car parts were
dragging in the road the whole time. My uncle and a police man were
waiting there for us. “Stay in the car,” my mom told us. “I want to make
sure there isn’t any—”
“Cow guts on the car?” said my brother insensitively. This only made me
cry even harder.
My uncle opened my door. “It’s ok, you guys, you can come out now.” He
chuckled and gave us both hugs. I looked at the front of our car. It was
totally dented in. One of the headlights was completely smashed and wire
was hanging out. No gore though.
“Don’t cry,” the police officer said, “Honestly, the cow did more damage
to your car.” I sniffed.
“Really?” said my brother.
“Oh yeah,” said my uncle. “Semi trucks hit cows and they get up and walk
away,” he laughed. “Fifteen-hundred pound cow versus your eight-hundred
pound Scion, that cow probably got away with barely a headache.”
The next morning, while our car was in the shop, we went to grab
Starbucks for all the family with my uncle’s truck. My mom was on the
phone with her best friend Johanna, telling her about the little late
night adventure. “And it did more damage to us!” I heard her saying.
On the other line, I could hear Johanna saying, “Oh well, it was an
accident. These things happen,” she added laughing, “Don’t cry over