Scapegoat by Will Cordeiro

Todd, our hired-hand, clipped the goats’ hooves: a citified, a clean, a bit sissified boy. Left too long, they’ll prance around lame, having elf-slipper toes or tottering with high-heels like some two-bit drag queen. You’re supposed to scrub the crud and manure with a toothbrush then trim parallel with the growth rings. He took quick snips with bolt-cutters without first washing their feet. Those filthy young bucks, he said, they ain’t worth my time.

The nannies, they bleated if he cut ’em too close; sometimes they’d bleed—their voices as thin and tragically pitched as a spoiled child’s. Todd up and left us for days without warning. We joked amongst ourselves he had satyriasis since all he’d said was that he needed to check on his girl in town. We didn’t miss him, really. Work was getting slow again, nobody buying our meat. So when he returned one day in January, I hinted we might need to cut back on our overhead.

The next morning we found his scrawny body bluish and stiff; dark lipstick on his mouth, with which he smeared the note; his own long fingernails continuing to grow.