Rolling Calf

by Lisa E. Dunn

Chased by Gary Dunn
One morning, before the break of day, Papa and Jay got dressed and walked down the road to wait on the bus. They were going to the city and had to catch the only bus that passed their house at four-thirty in the morning.

It was a cold and misty morning and the place was so quiet that you could hear the wind whistling. Jay was afraid. He’d heard stories about all sorts of ghosts who walked this road trying to find their homes and families.

Papa and Jay had been waiting for only five minutes, when Papa suddenly remembered something that he had forgotten in the house. “Wait here, I won’t be long” he said. And off he was, leaving Jay all alone...

Jay didn’t know how long his father was gone. All he knew was that it was the scariest time in his life. Soon after his father left, everything changed. The place was no longer as quiet as before, the trees seemed to be clashing loudly against each other. And the mist got so thick that, looking down, Jay could hardly see his shoes. The place also seemed darker than before; there were hardly any street lights except the one at Mrs. Mark’s gate, and even that one Jay could barely see.

Everything seemed to come alive, and then – out of nowhere – came the clanking sound of chains.

Cla-clang! Cla-clang! Cla-clang clang!

Rump! Rump! Rump!

Something was coming in Jay’s direction with great speed. He couldn’t tell what it was, just heard the sound of chains dragging towards him and the stumping sound of something running as if it was being chased.

Then he remembered: “Yesterday was Mr. Mike’s funeral”. Mr. Mike was an old man who worked in the market, he was a butcher.

Jay was overtaken by fright. Oh dear! What was he supposed to do? He could not run because his father told him to stay put. If he moved and the bus passed he’d surely be in trouble. He had to stay!

But should he close his eyes? He wanted to. He was too afraid to keep them open. But he also worried that if he did shut his eyes, he would not be able to see what was coming at him. What to do? He was still pondering this question, when his eyes made the decision for him: they closed by themselves.

Jay was getting hotter and hotter by the second. His heart was beating loudly and felt like it was moving out of his chest into his throat.

The sounds of the chains were getting closer, louder and heavier.

Jay could feel the threat of whatever was coming on the back of his neck. Goose pimples were all over him. He held up his shaking hands and put them over his face and realized it was dripping with sweat.
His mind started chanting loudly, the same chant over and over:

Rolling calf, rolling calf
Don’t you stay
To see the rolling calf
Get out of the way
Of the rolling calf

“Whoi! Whoi! Whoi! Somebody help me ! Mr. Mike…the rolling calf is coming for me!”

Jay took off. He ran into the direction of his house. His knees were up to his chest and his feet gave him great speed.

“Help me! Help me! It’s coming for me!” he shouted while running as fast as he could. Without realizing it he ran straight into his father, who was as frightened as Jay was. Trying to find out what could have caused such fear in Jay, he held Jay and said, “Boy, what’s the matter?”

“Rolling calf! rolling calf!” Jay answered.

“Rolling Calf?” Papa held Jay aside and looked over his shoulder, down the road. Then Papa smiled, and, looking at his frightened son, he said, “I didn’t know Mr. Joe’s cow was a rolling calf?”

“No, not Mr. Joe’s cow. A rolling calf is down there…”

Jay spun around and looked down the road. But there was no rolling calf… Only Mr. Joe’s red cow. The animal had gotten loose.

“I thought … I was certain…I thought it was a rolling calf…” Jay mumbled.

“Did you see the rolling calf?” Papa asked.

“No, I didn’t! I heard it coming and shut my eyes and ran up here.” Jay answered.

“So you thought Mr. Joe’s cow was a rolling calf?” Jay’s father laughed and laughed and laughed. Then he said, “Let’s catch your rolling calf, tie it to a tree and send a message to Mr. Joe.”

When they got on the bus, the only thing Jay could think of was how he had just acted. He had run from something that had not even been there.

It was funny; Jay had created his own fear and had run from it. He’d also had his father laughing and he knew that his father would tell his mom all about it when they got home.

But that morning had also made Jay stronger. He decided that from then on he would bravely face anything that came towards him before making assumptions.


About the author

Lisa E. Dunn is a Jamaican living in Manchester, Jamaica. She has a BSc. degree in Public Administration from the University of the West Indies, Mona, and is working on the thesis for her Master’s degree in Government. In 2009, she co-founded the A Brighter Day Foundation, with the mission of easing the burden of poverty affecting Jamaican children. Through this foundation she has worked to increase literacy in schools by donating books to schools and leading reading sessions with children in schools. Her experiences working to increase literacy have led her to add to the existing body of children's literature by writing her own books. Every story written is based on the experiences of real life children and is intended to teach, to inspire, or simply to entertain.

About the illustrator

Gary Dunn is a Jamaican freelance artist and entrepreneur in the hospitality management field. He has a passion for art, which was his major in school. His interests include drawing, painting and graphic design.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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  1. Brings back Memories of the stories we used to tell on country trips

  2. You go Lisa. Take them back to their roots.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Very exciting, had the perfect climax... loved it!

  4. Great message... We need to stand up and face anything that comes our way.

  5. Great message. We need to stand up and face anything that comes our way...



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