So Cleo boldly went where no other sheep had gone before: trotting up the hill to the woods, to find her way to a wild wolf and a wild wolf’s mouth.
Something must be terribly wrong with the world we live in though, because she only found Pigli.
It was a beautiful spring morning, April 1, to be exact. Sunny and crisp, with fresh yellow crocuses dotting the pastures and dainty wild violets peering out every here and there. The mountaintops were still snow-capped and chilly. The semi-darkness of dawn had not yet dissipated from the innermost realms of the forest, and Pigli was sleeping late again. Not that that deterred Cleo. As soon as his eyelids were rolled up, she closed in like a Japanese warrior. She immediately bowed, greeted and uttered:
‘Here I am. We can begin to fight. I have settled my scores with life. You are the last one I need to settle.’ (“Bold approach”, she congratulated herself with an inner smile.)
‘Excuse me?!’ Pigli squinted and pulled his ears straight back. He had barely awoken and was a bit confused. You have to excuse him. He was not his – well— usual quick self at this early hour.
‘Well, ok, you stand a fair chance of winning, I’ll grant you that.’
‘What are you, deaf?’ Cleo said with her natural self-righteous indignation and scanned him from head to toe. ‘Look, if you’re a grandpa, just direct me to somebody younger, someone who has more fire in him, I’m looking for a real opponent, not just anybody.’
‘Listen. Are humans shooting a documentary again? I hate it when I have to touch raw flesh before the camera and make believe I enjoy it. These environmentalists are a real pain in the butt. How much did they pay you for this?’
‘I beg your pardon?!’ It was Cleo’s turn to feel insulted. ‘What environmentalists?’, she said hysterically, understanding exactly zilch of the entire situation. ‘How dare you? Nobody paid me anything. The kind of cynicism one comes across these days…! I’m here because I hunted you down. That makes you my prey. What, you think that because I’m a sheep, I can’t hunt? Now, if you’ll have some dignity…p-leaaaase!’, Cleo said.
At this point Pigli’s eyes popped out of his long face in absolute disbelief. His jaw fell.
‘What on earth came over you, lady? You know, there’s still time to plead temporary insanity before you really hurt somebody. I mean, have you taken a look in the mirror in the last hundred years? Oh yeah… you’re to die for. Hahahaha! This is… this is hysterical!’
Pigli almost suffocated with laughter. But Cleo the Sheep continued to stand there, dignified to 42 degrees of stiffness, and to stare directly in front of her, profoundly insulted. So he felt it was time to bring in some pragmatic reasoning.
‘Look. You’re so ancient I’d probably have to stew you in vinegar for a week and even then my teeth wouldn’t sink in. Besides, where would I find vinegar. Or fries, for that matter? See, you’re just creating dilemmas. Stop giving me headaches. Oh, wait. I know what’s going on! April Fool’s Day, I get it! Very funny. I bet they put you up to it, didn’t they? I swear those rabbit jerks are really pulling my strings, trying to get me committed to an asylum.’
‘Will you shut up and be a little serious about this? I’m not laughing, am I? Although’, Cleo added in a low voice, ‘you should really see a vet about those teeth. I bet that’s why you’re so grumpy. But anyway. There should be rules here. What vinegar, what fries? I’ll not have you make a mockery of it. If you win – and I must emphasize if – then I expect you to at least devour me in a wolfish manner.’
Between you and me, at this point Cleo could hardly bring herself to remember how come she had admired wolves so much as to risk being eaten by one. But she was totally entangled in formalities and didn’t realize it.
‘Fine. If you insist.’
‘Err… So how will you do it?’
‘Are you at it again? Look, if you got such a death wish, why don’t you just hara-kiri yourself and I’ll drop by later to chew on your remains, how about that? We’ll make believe you lost the fight fair and square. I really ain’t got time for this. I’m tired.’ And he yawned.
Pigly turned and started to walk away in slow motion. He’d been overcome by a violent stroke of… total lack of enthusiasm. It happened to him quite often these days. Cleo contemplated his suggestion for a while. Then the small shimmer of a teardrop came up in her eyes and a nervous knot clogged her throat as she stuttered:
‘But what… what … what if the ravens get me before you?’
And she began to leap along in his footsteps baaing hysterically the whole time.
‘Well, don’t worry about the ravens. I should think you scared them all away by now’, said Pigli through his teeth. And then to himself. Oh, boy. Why me…? I need a nap.
(to be continued)