Truth is stranger than fiction. I’ve read a lot of strange things in my day. Sister had all these books about wizards. Harry Potter, she called them. Kids running around casting spells, flying around on broomsticks. That’s some weird stuff. The wife’s into Fifty Shades of Grey, I think that one’s pretty strange, how this business executive gets this lady so hot with all these rules. My son likes these Game of Thrones books, and he says there’s all kinds of weird shit there, like there’s a funny rich dwarf who winds up controlling everybody. Strange, I know.
But that don’t compare to all the shit that’s happened to me on the police force. I tell you, if you haven’t been out there, you might think books have some crazy things, but seven years in these streets, you see things stranger than anything anyone could dream up. Why, a few years back, I fell asleep in my squad care and awoke from uneasy dreams to find myself transformed into a talking goat.
The uneasy dreams weren’t the weird part. I mean, some of the dreams were kind of weird, sure. There was this one where I was walking along this bridge, like the pedestrian part of a railway bridge, but the bridge kept spiraling off, and not just like a spiral staircase, but like a corkscrew, so I was going sideways and upside down, and it had looked like it was only about 80 feet across when I started but the distance of the bridge kept getting longer and longer, and I forgot what city I was in. But that was just a dream. And even though the dream was weird, it wasn’t weird that I had the dream. I ate two kielbasa and a Dr. Pepper, and I usually have weird dreams when I nap after a kielbasa.
But when I woke up, I found my front hooves on the dashboard, and my horns scratching the fabric on the ceiling of the Vic. When I’d gone to sleep, I’d had hands and hair and a hat and a uniform, like a normal person, but suddenly I had hairy, bony legs where my arms used to be and face felt very furry. I looked around for my radio, and tried to grab it, but I just kicked it under the passenger seat, and I went down to look for it. My horns got wedged under the glove compartment, and I had to shake my head really hard to get free. The glove popped open. There was a map of the State of New York in there, and an old roll of Necco wafers. I started gobbling them down, wax paper and all, and I was still hungry so I started eating the map.
Around then I heard my partner Wong calling my name, and I was relieved. Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure of what was going on, and he sounded as concerned and confused as I was, so I was glad he was on the case. I raised my head up and “baaaa”ed at him, and that was another weird thing, because normally I don’t “baaaa.” He didn’t respond, but he kept calling my name. I “baaaa”ed louder, but he just looked around. His eyes wouldn’t meet mine. He even looked behind him.
“Kulawik!?” he said, “There’s a goat in the car!”
I realized he wasn’t talking to me at all. He didn’t see me, or didn’t recognize me. “Baaaaa” I said. “I’m right here.”
“Kulawik?” he said? He seemed confused.
I looked i his face. “Wong? Yeah, Wong, it’s me. Wong? What’s the matter? What’s this about a goat?”
“Kulawik…you’re a goat?”
“A goat? I look like a goat?”
“Wait…what!? Look like? You are…”
We went back and forth like that for a while. The whole thing was really strange. Earlier that day, I had been getting along pretty well with Wong. He’s kind of reserved and a little mean, so we weren’t the warmest partners at first, but we had started to bond more in the recent months. We were talking a lot about exercise routines that morning, some about basketball, and a little bit about our families. But now here he was, talking to me like a stranger, and I was talking weird too, basically like I couldn’t get through to him. There’s a way that one strange thing—getting transformed into a goat—made everything else in my life different. That was one of the strangest conversations I had with Wong. And on the way back to the station, I ate the whole map, that was another strange thing. I never used to eat maps or anything like them. I ate a stack of napkins too.
Things kept getting strange when I went back to work. Nobody knew how to handle the fact that I was a goat. All the union rules were written for people. But cops had a culture of sticking up for one another, and though nobody had ever worked with or been friends with a goat before, nobody wanted to say anything bad about me or acknowledge anything unusual or imply that I should be taken off my shift. But I could tell people didn’t want to sit beside me at the cafeteria, and there were little things, like going in for my physical. The doctor noted that my height and weight had changed. “This is highly unusual,” she said “you’ve lost 3 feet 8 inches, and 47 pounds. And you’ve grown a significant amount of body hair. I’ve never met a medical specimen that changed this often. However, your vitals are in working order, and, uh, I don’t think it would be right to fail you based on human standards, so I’m going to advise you be approved for field duty.”
But no sergeant wanted me on their unit, even though I’d been a pretty popular cop and had my pick of assignments before, and even though I was pretty popular on the force, maybe even more so after becoming a goat. They said they didn’t want the paperwork. I said if they didn’t want the paperwork, I’d eat it. It was a little joke I had. I was trying to use the joke to get them to actually throw away some paperwork, because at the time I couldn’t get enough paper.
They put me on boat duty, on one of the escort boats that goes alongside the Staten Island Ferry, but I said I didn’t know if I could swim. None of them knew if goats could swim in general, either. Eventually I got put in a foot patrol in Red Hook.
They fixed me up with a hat with horn holes in it so I could wear it without damaging it., strapped a gun to my back leg—even though I couldn’t shoot it or even pull it out or even hold it, they thought a cop should have a gun, and they also gave me a badge and an ID in the form of dog tags. Now, even though I was a goat, they called them dog tags, that’s as strange as anything I’d said.
First block of patrol, we got a man walking up the other way, and I just got the feeling he was a threat, and got it in my head to head-butt him. I lunged forward and hit him the middle of the stomach. He staggered back on this right foot, spun, and fell.
“What the fuck, you crazy goat!?” he said, and stood up, moving toward me pretty violently. I ducked under his punch and butted him again in the stomach.
Then he became pretty abusive, screaming about crazy goat cops, and I got ready to butt him again, and I connected. My neck hurt a lot more than I had thought, and so did my head, and held it with my hands in pain. That’s how I found out I had hands, and was a human again. And some onlookers got it on camera, but only that last part where I was human again, in full cop uniform, headbutting this man.
So that’s strange. You’ll never find that in any book. How could you make that up? The truth will always be stranger than fiction. Now let me tell you the story of how I saw a woman swallow a whole Italian sub—well, a whole half of one—in one bite.