David Duchovny, known as an actor, screenwriter, and director, has added a new title to his résumé: novelist. Holy Cow is a rollicking, globe-trotting adventure with a four-legged heroine you won’t soon forget. This excerpt is followed by a clip from the audio book of Duchovny reading the next chapter.
You like that? My editor told me if I add some sex, curses, and maybe some potty humor, this will sell better to my “audience.” I don’t know who my audience is. I want everybody to hear this story, but my editor says human adults won’t take a talking animal seriously (“Why not?” I asked. “What about Animal Farm and Charlotte’s Web? Babe?” And she goes, “Elsie, Elsie, Elsie, times have changed, and anyway, this isn’t an allegory, this is a true story . . . blah, blah, blah”). So she’s gonna market it as a kids’ book, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Which is fine by me, I like kids, but then she says, “Adults are gonna read this book to their kids so you have to sprinkle little inside jokes along the way with some allusions to pop culture from the last thirty years so they don’t get too bored. Just make sure you make a reference to Gilligan’s Island or Star Wars or Depeche Mode or Chia Pets or something, cover the decades—sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, aughts—and the occasional penis joke.”
She gave me a bunch of movies to look at to see what she was talking about, but they kinda bored me, to be honest, like they were trying to talk out of both sides of the mouth. But I guess I get what she means. There should be a wink now and then. That’s okay. So some of my readers know what’s supposed to happen when we get up there with the bulls, you know, cue the funky bass line and the bad acting. That’s another thing: humans are so weird about the sex. It’s like pooping, folks, everybody does it. That’s my next book, The Educated Flea. But don’t worry. This is a PG story. Wink wink. Hey, man, don’t hate the playa, hate the game.
My editor also told me my story should be written “more like a screenplay than a book ’cause that’s where the big audience is—not books anymore, but movies.” So that’s what I’ve been attempting wherever possible. And she says animated movies are the biggest movies of all, and that animals are often the stars of animated films. I say, “How can I write it like a movie if it’s a true story?” And she literally jumps out of her chair and says, “Goldmine! The first animated documentary! Goldmine! Just write out the dialogue without quotes and underneath a character’s name and they’ll think it’s a documentary screenplay and it will make it longer to boot. And remember to put something in like ‘The names have been changed to protect the blah, blah, blah.’”
We’ll see if Hollywood calls. I’ll have to lose some weight. I’m as big as a yak. I also have some very specific casting ideas about who should play me, but my editor says if I put them out there, it will step on the toes of the producers. She says producers like to think everything is their idea. So I’ll hold my tongue. Jennifer Lawrence.
Anyway, I have to admit the sound the bulls were making was a bit mesmerizing. We were drawn to it, Mallory and me, it was like the sweetest music. Sounds that had been stupid to us the day before were now like the Beatles. (Pop culture reference, check.) Weird. I don’t get it. But it’s natural, happens to us all. We were making our way up to the bulls and the bulls now knew we were heading their way and boy oh boy did they start to get pumped up. Snorting louder and pawing the ground and showing off by running and smashing into one another. Mallory and I were pretty jazzed that they were putting on this whole big show for us. Made us feel like a couple of special cows. Made us feel pretty and . . . bullish. (You’re welcome.)
When we got up to the fence, the bulls were like, “Hey there, baby girl . . . ” and “Whassup?” trying to be cool, and it was then I realized, yeah, we got outside our gate, but we didn’t think about the bulls’ gate. Mallory realized this at the exact same moment I did (’cause we’re bffs) and we both said, “Oh no! How do we get this gate open?” Now, to be totally honest with you, I was somewhat relieved. I didn’t feel I was totally ready to enjoy the company of a bull without a nice, sturdy fence between us, but I couldn’t really tell Mallory that. The bulls were freaking me out a little this close up. Weird energy, if ya know what I’m sayin’. The bulls are now like, “You want me to knock down this fence, little lady, ’cause I totally will, I will knock this shit down,” and similar-type stuff, and Mallory is just grinning away like a moron. So I say, “Let me go find something I can smash the latch with, something heavy,” and Mallory is like a zombie at this point, she’s like, “Sure, sure, whatevs,” and I’m like, what happened to cows before bulls and hoes before bros? But, really, I get it, I do, and I love her to death, my Mallory girl, wherever you are. So I say I’ll be back in a few minutes and I sneak down the hill on little cat’s feet.
David Duchovny is a television, stage, and screen actor, as well as a screenwriter and director.
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