Pumpernickle was a transformational monster. He could turn into whatever scared you most. If you were scared of bugs, he would turn into a closet full of cockroaches. If you were scared of snot, he would turn into a giant booger.
But on top of being scary, Pumpernickle had a knack for trickery, which he displayed over and over again on poor Helen, the little girl that lived in his farmhouse. One time he transformed into her mother and told her to shuck a truckload of corn by hand. And another time he switched around the hands on the old grandfather clock, then turned into a rooster and crowed at 3:30 in the morning. It was unfortunate for Helen to be the butt of Pumpernickle’s jokes, but she was none-the-wiser. She just thought she had terrible luck. Whenever Helen passed through town, everyone felt sorry for her, and sighed, “There goes that Helen Matthews… bless her heart…” None of this phased Pumpernickle though. He was consistently pleased with himself. And so, when Helen’s mother told her to take the cow into town for the county fair, Pumpernickle giggled to himself, swirling and whirling to become Bluebell, Helen’s brown and white-spotted heifer.
On the long walk to town, Pumpernickle could barely contain himself.
“Hee, hee, haw, haw, the havoc I’m going to wreak!!”
As they approached the registration table, Pumpernickle was shaking in his hide with excitement.
“Name?” asked the man behind the folding card table.
“Helen June Matthews.”
“Not your name, girl. The COW’S name.”
“Oh, this? This is Bluebell.”
Right as Pumpkernickle was about to jump on the table and start tap-dancing, the man spoke up again.
“That’s one impressive cow! I wouldn’t be surprised if she took first place! You’ve got some stiff competition out there today, but this one’s got a glint in her eye…”
Pumpernickle stopped dead in his tracks. He could be a winner?! He’d never even considered such a notion. As Helen led him to his place in the judging tent, his mind began to spin: Oh, the possibilities life as prize winning cow might have to offer! Tricking and scaring Helen was all good and dandy—but, come on, a prize-winning cow!?! Such glory, such attention, such pride! He admired his beautiful brown and white coat, smacked his big ol’ cow lips together, and put on his game face. He was determined to win.
Old Dotty and her fellow judges came marching into the tent with their pencils and pads ready. They circled around, jotting down notes, ticking off boxes, but then they approached Pumpernickel and Old Dotty stopped short.
“Well, gosh darn-it, if that ain’t a purdy long body with sturdy strong legs!”
Darryl from Chester’s Chicken Farm chimed in, “Sure is! No signs of cow-hock, sickle-hock, or bow-leg here.”
Dickie, who had just graduated from Augusta’s Agricultural College, agreed: “Yup, no irregular wearing of the hooves either. And that is some of the most consistent muscle definition from neck to rump I’ve ever seen!”
“Well, I’ll be, them dew claws are exactly identical in size!” shouted Fred McKinney.
Finally, Old Dotty announced, “Well, boys, I think we needn’t go any further. We got ourselves a winner! ‘Best in Show’ for dairy cows goes to… Bluebell!”
Forgetting himself, Pumpernickle jumped in the air with such force that he nearly split through the top of the tent. Everyone present gasped in awe; they had never seen such a sight. The cow was over the moon. Helen was also overwhelmed for she, herself, had never won anything before. She grabbed the blue ribbon from Dotty’s hand and sprinted to Bluebell, throwing her arms around the cow’s neck and hugging her tight as she could. It was the first hug Pumpernickle had ever received. And he didn’t hate it. It was actually pleasant.
From that day forward, Pumpernickle was always sure to balance out his transformational tricks with transformational treats.