It was our first home in a new land. A humble 6 birth caravan, situated several kilometres out of town, on land that was once arable. Within a week of our arrival, a crowd of children were gathered near the ruins of an old stone barn on the grounds of the caravan park. Loud deliberation drew me nearer and as I approached, the sickened bellowing of a terror-stricken beast became audible. I edged through the crowd and before me was a large bull, tied with a chunky rope, yet still squirming. Every so often, the bull would take a lunge for freedom. Then another. And another. Realising that escape wasn't imminent, the bull began to paw the hard ground before him and snort. Cloudy puffs of nerve-breath pulsed from his nostrils.
Suddenly, a loud, authoritive voice behind me. “Move beck, now, ok?”
With this, the stranger motioned with his hand for the crowd to move away from the ruin. A mass exodus inched back, not too far, though, as prevailing curiosity is often a strong need to be filled. Furthermore, the stranger wasn’t telling us to go.. We just had to move back…
“Go on, move beck!” We moved back some more, like a choreographed troupe.
The stranger lifted his other arm and positioned the butt of a rifle, cradle-style in his neck. He aimed at the writhing bull. Silence. The stranger was standing very still. Then, slowly, his finger squeezed the trigger….
It only took one shot. The bull swayed from side to side. There was a gasp, and several cries from behind me. The once whitewashed walls of the old barn drew my attention: splatters and streaks of bright red blood, starkly shocking, defaced the aged patina. Then, as the bovine carcass thudded to the floor, a semi distorted mass of muscle and sinew, I realised what I had witnessed.
I had witnessed a slaughter.