Even before the car turned into their driveway, Wilma and Edgar could see they had visitors.
“Is that what I think it is?” Edgar said to his wife of forty years.
“I believe so,” she answered.
“Oh, well.” He peered out at two small goats. They had taken over the small porch—one nibbled at the leg of Wilma’s rocker, the other rubbed its backside against a porch post.
“That post is loose,” Edgar said.
“Aren’t you going to park?” Wilma asked.
“Reckon so.” Edgar removed his foot from the brake. He stopped shy of the carport, not wanting to lose sight of the goats.
Locked in her own stupor, Wilma was thinking of all the times she’d asked Edgar to screen in the porch. Her concern had been mosquitos that kept her from enjoying late afternoons outside.
She looked at the largest of the goats—the one with a clump of hair hanging from its chin. An image of Edgar in his fifties leapt from her memory—he’d sworn he’d never shave the goatee. She smiled, thinking of the day he had.
She wondered, aloud, “Where did they come from.”
“Probably the goat farm down the road,” Edgar said.
“They travel that far?”
“Oh, yes, farther.” Edgar wanted Wilma to stop talking. They would have to go in to bed soon; it was already past eight. He could feel her restlessness.
“We’ll have to go in,” she said.
As the couple sat in silence, the goats began prancing around. The older goat came to the very edge of the porch and looked squarely into Edgar’s eyes. The animal let out a loud, “Blleeeeaaahhh.”
“They’re testing us,” Edgar said.
“Well, I don’t like it.”
“Now, now.” Edgar patted her left knee. Her dress had ridden up her leg. He felt the warmth of her skin beneath his hand.
She said nothing. He could feel the tension running through her.
He hoped she wasn’t recalling all his foibles. That’s what she did now. He was too distant, too independent; then other times he was too nice, too cloying. He knew she was waiting for him to get out of the car and chase the goats away. Then she could go straight to her room, get out of her travel clothes, and lie down on her bed, alone.
The goats romped some more; one hopped onto Wilma’s rocker and fell back as the chair rocked suddenly.
This made Edgar laugh. “Look at them. I wish I still had that kind of energy.”
“Blah,” his wife said.
There was something about the way Wilma said, “Blah.” Edgar could feel his hand, still on his wife’s knee. A flash of old desire nudged him, touched him deep—much as if a sexy woman had bumped against him, and he was forced to pay attention.
Edgar couldn’t understand it, but he felt young again, ready. He looked into his wife’s eyes and squeezed her knee.
“You old goat,” she replied.
Juyanne James is the author of The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories (Chin Music Press, 2015) and Table Scraps and Other Essays (Resource Publishers, 2019). Her stories and essays have been published in journals such as The Louisville Review, Bayou Magazine, Eleven Eleven, Thrice, Ponder Review, and Xavier Review, and included in the anthologies New Stories from the South: 2009 (Algonquin) and Something in the Water: 20 Louisiana Stories (Portals Press, 2011). Her essay “Table Scraps” was a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2014. She lives and teaches in New Orleans, Louisiana.