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Suddenly Boobs Bovian appeared through the brush carrying a pitchfork. He confronted the bull. "Damn it all, Junior, I've told you not to come over here when they're playing at the tennis games. Keep your fat butt over in the south pasture." Boobs gave Junior a hearty stab in the flank with the pitchfork, and Junior bellowed and lumbered away, flattening Christmas trees.
"Sorry about that, boys," said Boobs. "Fool creature is curious. I guess he can't figure out what you fellows are doing out here in short pants hitting a ball back and forth." He scratched his head. "Damned if I can, either." Boobs followed Junior over a hill and disappeared.
"Were we at love-40?" asked Harrison, used to these interruptions. I had no idea if we were even on earth.
We decided to try again the next day, and for a while everything was somewhat better. The game proceeded smoothly for a set and a half; the Stroh's were cool and the wind fresh and light. But once again there were surprises in store for the urban player.
As I rushed the net on a short return of Harrison's, a huge shadow passed over the court, soundless, black and threatening. I dropped my racket and covered my head. Harrison's forehand shot caught me painfully in the shoulder.
"Why did you stop?" he wondered.
"Was that a bird? A big one?"
"Red-tailed hawk," said bird-watcher Harrison. "The light plays funny tricks. The shadows look real big, don't they?"
A few days later I felt ready for anything rural tennis could throw at me. It wasn't just that I'd been losing consistently, or that Boobs Bovian's German shepherd Revenge had snapped a ball out of midair near my racket and ripped it to shreds. It wasn't the thunderstorm with lightning that hit the net post, or the wolverine with rabies that died at the service line one day. No, it was the fact that I could now anticipate. As Chris Evert can move unerringly to the right place to return an overhead smash, now I could steel myself to deal-with what rural tennis could throw up at me. At least that's what I thought.