Woolly Jumper

I came home from the city to find a dead sheep on my doorstep. It wasn't the first time. The locals in my village can't afford their pity for wounded animals on the roadside so they often leave them on the doorstep of my veterinary surgery, ring the bell and run away.

I clear up the pieces - and their consciences - by treating the animals and claiming the costs under insurance. Sometimes they're too badly injured and don’t make it. The butcher repeatedly asks me to give him the carcasses, but I refuse. It's a decision he's not pleased with.

He's not the only one who's unhappy; last week the insurance company refused to pay for a small pony I treated two months ago which someone - and heaven knows how - left on my drive. They called me in to meet them at their head office in the city. It was a long meeting where we talked in circles and I left it exhausted. Another animal on my doorstep when I arrived home after a long drive meant an unwelcome long night ahead.

"This is for you!" The boy's voice sounded like Terrence, the single child of the butcher, and a spoiled brat. The sheep was probably another one of his practical jokes. The first time it was a chicken from his father's shop. His second stunt was a frozen chicken from his mother's freezer with feathers glued to it. The cheek! Now I knew he was trying it on again.

The sheep looked well made, but I wasn't to be fooled. I walked around the practice to my adjoining house and let myself in through the kitchen door. It was good to be home in my own space, no loud city noises, just the background purring, chirping and occasional whimpering of the overnight animals in my temporary care.

I put the kettle on and checked my four-legged, feathered and scaled friends whilst I waited for it to boil. It was nearly ready when I heard scratching at the surgery door. I wanted to ignore it but my conscience knew better.

Carrying animals in my line of work has made me strong, but this sheep was a struggle. It seemed to be more wool than flesh and I couldn't get a good grip. I got there, though, and the sheep got to the triage table.

Living near a farm means that I treat sheep often, so I was on autopilot when I carried out the routine checks on this one. Its heart was beating quickly but strong, and although its eyes were larger than usual, they were bright which was a good sign.

"That's strange," I muttered, "Canine teeth?"

"All the better to eat you with!" The wolf jumped, flinging the white sheepskin to the corner of the room and smiled a toothy smile. “Now, about that insurance…”

Paul Sterlini
Jul 21 2020

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I loved this, Paul - a lovely build up to the Red Riding Hood moment 🙂

Jennifer Lucas
Nov 27 2021

Very clever!

Janette Ostle
Aug 28 2020

A funny blend of red riding hood and James Herriot, loved it!

Tony Spencer
Jul 27 2020

I really enjoyed this!

Rod Webb
Jul 23 2020

Well written and well structured. It held my interest making me curious and engaged with the plot. A very surprising and clever ending. Like Aesop's fables, it is worth reading again and again!

Wanda Sterlini
Jul 23 2020