The Rolling Calf

My name is Peter. I was 10 years old, living with my mom and dad in St. Catherine, Jamaica. We lived near the biggest butcher shop in the town. My mother used to tell me stories about what happened to dishonest butchers when they died. The butchers would turn into rolling calves. 

Rolling calves are half man and half cow. They are wrapped in chains. They wander around searching for sugar and molasses. They come out after dark and chase anyone they see. I would laugh at these stories—men coming back as rolling calves. Mom would say, “Yes. Listen for the sound of the dragging chain. If you ever see one of them, run to the nearest intersection. You will be safe there.” As a young boy, I did not believe. 

It was January 1, 1986. We had just celebrated the New Year, and I was going home from a party. As I passed the intersection, I heard a noise, but I just laughed and said, “Come out, Mom, and stop playing. I do not believe in rolling calves.” When I looked up, all I could see was two big red eyes, filled with blood, looking at me. I saw a big, red, half-man, half-bull. It was a rolling calf for real! I was so scared I think I peed my pants. Then, I remembered what my mom said: “Run to the intersection, and you will be safe there.” I ran as fast as I could and spent the night in the intersection, trembling. In the morning, I told my mom what happened, and now I believe. Rolling calves are real.


''Doran Edwards is a medal-winning surfer from Boston, Jamaica. He arrived in the U.S. in 2019. He studies at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central branch, where Winsome Pryce-Cortes, the site manager, is his teacher. Doran Edwards published a poem, “Ask My Mother to Sing,” in LR19.