Literary Newsletter by Jeff Richards, Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2020
I seem to have a thing for cows. Not only in Lady Killer, but in my first novel Open Country: A Civil War Novel in Stories (2015) and in my present effort, Nothing Left to Lose, a memoir of the sixties, cows play a weighty role. That is why I’m calling my newsletter Ruminations. The content of my newsletter may vary but I promise to give some of the backstories to my novels, perhaps some writerly advice as much on what not to do as what to do, and personal background such as my love of blues music. The purpose of this effort is to encourage you, the reader, to delve more deeply into my writing, in particular at this time, Lady Killer.
“On the other side of the fence where the farmland started, a cow was mooing for all it was worth. Sometimes, in the morning, he would hear the same cow, or maybe it was another one – dozens of cows dotted the fields, mooing plaintively. It was a dairy cow – he could tell by the udders. What she needed was milking, but she was lost to the rest of the herd and couldn’t find the trail back to the barn.” –from Lady Killer by Jeff Richards
“He was trying to banish the thought from his brain when he heard the sound of a cowbell. He looked up over the stone fence and saw the cow meandering leisurely down the field towards an apple orchard, turning its head first to the right at the Confederate line of battle then to the left at the Federal. That’s when Walker Price saw a Confederate cavalry lieutenant jump over the stone fence on a dun-colored Arabian and gallop straight towards his line. He pulled up at the last moment, yanked off his kepi with a flourish. Bowed to the Yankees. His blue eyes sparkled. He smiled blissfully. Walker stood up.
“‘Is that you, cousin?’ he gasped. ‘Is that you, Raymond Ellis?’” –from Open Country: A Civil War Novel in Stories by Jeff Richards
“I was on the verge of falling asleep when I heard the rumbling of a truck idling on the other side of the fence. I turned my head. The headlights of the truck outlined the cows. They were shifting about. Casting long shadows. Mooing frantically. The driver turned off the engine and doused the lights. I was thinking cattle rustlers but, of course, this wasn’t the nineteenth century or a TV cowboy movie. Then I heard some tittering sounds. Teenagers. And I thought cow tipping, but that was an urban legend. You can’t tip over a 1,200-pound cow even if it was asleep. Then I saw the flare of a match followed by the boom-boom-boom of a long string of fire crackers. They tossed the firecrackers over the fence in the midst of the restless cows. The cows hesitated for a moment as if not quite sure what to think. Then the foremost cow took off down the fence line. The others followed. I shook Rick awake.
“’Stampede,’ I yelled in his ear.” –from Nothing Left to Lose by Jeff Richards