Once upon a desert time, way back when Bob Hope's tortoise-shaped house was but a blur in a vision-questing Cahuilla's nightmare. Way, way back in the day, when not even the highest vista from the Santa Rosa Mountains would yield a golf course view ... There was a herd of sheep:
A herd of sheep, frightened by a thundering fall storm, wool singed by lightning fires, so scared that they fled to an old man's hut, a man who had promised to guard them from heavenly fire and hungry coyotes, in return for their wool, and their faithful obedience. Roaming around aimlessly with no one to guide them caused heavenly fire to rain down on wayward sheep, the old man warned them:
And at first their was hemming and hawing among some in the herd, wondering whether this could be true, or they could trust the old man, but when they turned around, they were met by the glare of the old man's dog:
And just then, lightning whipped the horizon. The sheep bleated and cried, huddling closer, and followed the old man, with the old man's dog following close behind. "SEE!" the old man thundered, pointing to the horizon, "The Great Shepherd has spoken!" And he led them to the back of his hut where he had fenced off land, and in that fenced land he sheared their wool, and painted numbers on each one.
Two generations passed, and a young sheep was born and Daryl was his name (yes, his name was Daryl, look it up):
Daryl was barely out of gangly lambhood, when he was caught outside the pen, having dug up a fence post. The old man's dog caught up with him and bit at his heels. Bit and bit until he yelped and jumped his way back into the pen. "OW OW OWWWW! Don't taze me, man!!"
"WHAT?!" barked the dog.
"I mean don't bite me, man!" Daryl yelped as the dog chomped at his hind legs.
"DOG! I'm a DOG, stupid!" growled the dog.
"OK OK! DAMN --"
"And DON'T CURSE -- there are low-lying clouds tonight, the Great Shepherd is nigh!" the dog snarled.
"I mean DARN, HECK, SORRY!" Daryl yelped as the dog bit his woolly butt one more time and Daryl squeezed back through the fence break.
The old man came out of his hut to see what the hell -- I mean, what the heck -- was going on. "What in the Great Shepherd's name is going on here?"
The dog pointed at Daryl and told the old man what had happened. The old man fumed, towering over Daryl, yelling "How DARE you destroy the safe haven I have sacrificed so much of my time to build you?"
"Um, well I ... um, was -- "
"WHAT? You were WHAT, sheep?!"
"I um,was bored...and I thought I saw a-a-a ... g-g-goat ..." Daryl stammered, bowing, eyes lowered, and scratching at the dirt with one soft hoof.
"A WHAT?!" yelled the old man, alarmed. "How many times have I TOLD you along with your brethren that if you EVER see those evil beasts you MUST tell me so that dogs and men can be rounded up in time to bring them DOWN!"
Daryl kept looking at the ground, and finally whispered, "But he looked like a -- one of us, but with, with -- "
Suddenly Daryl felt crushing pain against his back and thought he'd been hit by lightning by the Great Shepherd and felt like he was on fire. But when he staggered back on his shaking legs, he saw the old man swinging his six-foot wooden staff at him again. Daryl leaped away just barely, away from the old man.
The other sheep were now at the front of the fence, faces pushed up against it, bleating for Daryl to come back.
Daryl was more frightened than he'd ever been in his short sheep life, and felt warm pee trickle down his woolly thighs. But he could not stop, he just could not. There was this pain, this burning searing thing heavy and furious as desert sun, that told him that if he did stop, if he did turn back, he would implode, burn to ashes from that scorching knot's unbearable gravity. And Daryl ran, and ran into the canyons, where hungry coyotes, deadly scorpions, wretched rattlesnakes, and worse...those Shepherd-forsaken creatures, dwelt.
And the sky fire, the angry Great Shepherd's sky fire, crackled over him, and Daryl's bladder finally ran out of scare-piss, and he evaded a coyote pack on his way to a smoke tree grove where he rested.
And then, as Daryl woke from nightmare-riddled sleep in full moonlight, a shadow passed over him, and he turned around, and there it was, again ... And then ...
Two long years went by and no sight nor sound of Daryl. The sheep quietly missed and looked out for him in the canyon's shadows every sunrise and every sunset. But loudly they proclaimed "good riddance," for the dog and the old man's benefit, and maybe trying to believe it themselves.
Then one day, just before the last rainwater stream from the Santa Rosas was soaked up by the summer sun, a lamb saw a shadowy figure against the darker shadows of a boulder. The lamb pressed closer to the fence posts and watched as the shadow came closer, and closer, and ... oh Dear Great Shepherd, the shadow spotted the lamb watching him, and the shadow hollered "HEY BABY BOO! It's your uncle Daryl! CHECK OUT MY BLING!"
The dog heard, and came tearing around the corner of the old man's hut followed by a pack of dogs from the old man's village. Some of the dogs yelped and turned tail, but most were still high on the thunderous sermon that the old man had just given, about sin and redemption and the virtue of fearing the Great Shepherd above all, oh sacred fear! So on they tore, straight on! Straight into ...
... Daryl's crown of horns.