Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shrewdness (03/07/05)
TITLE: The Taming of the Shrewd
By Matthew Morgan
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“Are they out there, Bob?” Tilly asked, her tail twitching.
“I think so.”
“I hate being a sheep. The farmer is too old and senile to defend us and we’re helpless without him. We can’t run faster than those wolves. Our teeth couldn’t defend us against grass growing. And these hooves, Bob? They hardly keep us from falling over.”
Bob laughed, “Those aren’t out only defenses, Tilly.”
“Yeah, I can be a sweater and hope they scratch themselves to death?”
“Tilly, we have shrewdness.”
Bob tapped his temple. “Field smarts, Tilly. We use their motivation to our advantage.”
“Their motivation? Three words for you: leg – of – lamb.”
“Hey, pipe down, young ‘uns. Some of us are counting people in this barn!”
"You’re not sleeping, Uncle Shep! You’re spinning yarns.”
“Well, we could be sleeping. Regardless, one little peep could let the wolves know we’re here.”
“Good night, Uncle Shep.” Bob straightened Tilly’s bright red bow. “I’ll take care of the wolves, Tilly.”
“Be careful, Bob” she said, kissing him on the cheek.
Walking out to the gate, Bob causally munched grass. Even as the low growl tickled his ears, he kept eating.
“Ahem, I said, ‘growl.’”
“Oh!” Bob said with surprise. “Excuse me, Mr. Wolf. Are you eating this grass?
“Wolves don’t eat grass. We eat other things. Things like sheep.”
“Oh,” Bob said, chewing grass.
The wolf scratched his chin, perplexed. “Um... do you happen to know where I could find a nice juicy sheep?”
“Mmmh,” Bob mumbled. “Yef, I voo.”
Bob gulped down the bite of grass. “Must be two dozen in the barn down there.”
The wolf’s jaw dropped. “Two dozen?”
“Give or take. They’re tough to count when they’re bunched together”
A second wolf joined the pair. “Louie, are you playing with your food again?”
“Ed, this is my friend -”
“Bob was telling me he saw a two dozen sheep over in that barn.”
“Louie,” Ed whispered, “if we get close to them, that farmer will have our hides – literally. Let’s just eat this sheep and be content.”
Bob laughed, coughing out some grass. “Me? I’m no sheep. I’m a Hereford.”
“A cow, Bob? Aren’t you a little small?”
“I’m a calf - got years of growing to do.
“If you are a cow, Bob, where are your spots?”
”Oh, that’s weirdest thing. I was grazing behind those tanks over there. Apparently, one of them leaked and got all over me. Poof! All my beautiful black spots disappeared.”
Ed and Louie glanced knowingly at each other. Louie said, “Well, uh, thanks Bob. We have to go.”
“Okay, see you around.”
Telling the other wolves their plan, they slipped down to the tanks and rolled in the chlorine until their black coats turned white.
The wolves slunk down to the barn just as the sun rose. As the last of them slipped into the back door, Louie gasped in horror at the empty barn – with the exception of Bob’s head poking from around the front door.
“Sorry, guys. No hard feelings?” He quickly shut and locked the door behind them. The wolves heard the sound of the other door latching as well.
Bob trotted around the barn to the other sheep just as the old screen door to the farmhouse squeaked open and banged closed. The ancient farmer squinted into the early morning sun, its rays reflecting off the deep wrinkles in his face.
“Perfect,” Bob whispered to the other sheep. “He’s not wearing his glasses.”
“He can’t find them,” Uncle Shep whispered. Bob turned to see a pair of thick glasses on his uncle’s face.
“Looking good, Uncle.”
The farmer called into the barn. “Okay little sheep, time for shearing.”
The next night, Bob and Tilly snuggled in the field, watching the stars. As Bob glanced towards the forest, he thought he saw the glint of pink flesh running away into the darkness.
He smiled … shrewdly.
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