A couple summers ago, I worked as a stable hand on a farm just off a main road that led into town. The farm used to be a safe haven for illegal immigrants to squat in outside of Chicago, but it’s been restored since then. Up until this point, I had mostly worked cleaning out horse stalls, a taking the cattle in and out of pasture, and making sure all the animals had food and water. One day, my boss, let’s call him JC, asked me to stay late and watch the stable for him while he went out to a horse race in a nearby town.
I accepted, of course, otherwise, this’d be quite the boring story, and not all that scary. So, I ended up stocking up on snacks and bought an entire 2 liter of soda to keep in the old Gator cart we had in the barn. I drove around the property a few times to make sure everyone had gone home for the night and brought the remaining horses inside before I decided to head inside and take a break and eat some dinner. Right away, I knew something was wrong when I found the large doors leading into the section of the barn JC’s horses were in wide open. I didn’t see anyone inside, and I had initially assumed my boss had come back early, so I parked the Gator outside, blocking the exit so if somebody was sneaking around, they’d have to climb over. I looked around for about twenty minutes, coming up with nothing, but I did notice that the pen in the barn that the goats were kept in was open and the goats had escaped. A couple of the goats were still in the pen, but the rest had made their escape. I now made it my duty to wrangle the rest of the goats before my boss returned, otherwise I’d be in a heap of trouble. As I walked about the rest of the barn and stable, I managed to find and chase back all but one of the goats. I was at a lost as to were the last one was at, before I heard a loud crash from the kitchen area of the attached offices. I headed over, but strangely enough, I could hear something else. It sounded like one of the goats had tried to run out the still open barn doors.
I raced over as fast as I could, only to catch what looked like a pair of rather large, Hispanic men climbing over the Gator I’d left parked in the way of the doors. I was about to tell them the stable was closed for the day, when I noticed one of them was armed. I could see the handle of what looked to be a gun sticking out of the waistband of one of the men, and before I could hide, they spotted me. Thinking fast, I blurted out the first thing I could think of.
“Hey! Either of you seen a goat running around here?!” I called out. They looked puzzled for a moment, before they replied. I didn’t know much Spanish at the time, but I did catch the word ‘cabra’ which, if you don’t know, is the Spanish word for “goat.” I shrugged my shoulders a bit, watching the two men before I decided to duck around the corner, pretending to resume my search of the missing goat as I leant against the wall, straining to hear. The two men talked for a bit more, and I could hear them trying to open the doors to some of the horse stalls. They were locked, which thankfully proved to be enough of a deterrent to cause the men to leave. I had initially presumed they were looking for the medicine we kept locked in the storeroom on JC’s side of the stable, but it soon dawned on me that these men were looking for my boss’s main racehorse. Thankfully, she was with JC, in an entirely different county.
I stayed there, listening from around the counter for what felt like an hour, but in reality, it was barely five minutes. The men tried to move the Gator before leaving, but had also given up on that after discovering I had taken the keys out of the cart. They eventually left, and I soon followed after, deciding that minimum wage wasn’t worth potentially being shot over. It wasn’t until nearly six months later, after I’d found another job, that I discovered my former boss had accumulated an unfortunately substantial amount of debt with some loan shark in Chicago, and then had been caught selling drugs from the stable, and it finally clicked what those men were looking for that day. They were looking for my boss, and their money.