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Conversation with Raymond S. Choimski

Choimski, Raymond S.
Mackin, Jeff
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers
Raymond Choimski talks about a goat and Vietnam.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jeff Mackin interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
JM (Jeff Mackin): OK, this is going to be the recording of Ray. And here we go. All right, Ray, uh, go ahead, and, uh, just tell me the goat story.
RC (Ray Chiomski): OK, this was when I was a young man and I was in the service, I was drafted, went to Vietnam, and we were on patrol one day, I came from, uh, Quang Tri-.
JM: Quang Tri, // OK. //
RC: // -Which // was in Vietnam, it was the, the borderline of North and South Quang Tri.
JM: // OK. //
RC: // So // we were going into this little village, there was this squad, that's 12 men, with a platoon leader, who was a second Lieutenant at that time, and we come into this village, and I'd never been there before, so everything is, the first time you see it, you're kind of amazed and you're, you're cautious, // you're looking. //
JM: // Right, you // don't know what is in the village.
RC: Right. And there is this big cement circle in the mid-, middle of the square, so I thought it was some kind of fountain-.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -But I couldn't // tell because I was in a distance.
JM: // Uh-huh, //
RC: // I knew // it was a, it looked like a dog, uh, roped to this cement thing, so I got closer and say, "God, it's a dog." And guy says, "No, it's a goat."
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // So I // said, "OK." Well, I'd never seen a goat before, 'cause, I don't know why, // I just never did. //
JM: // You're from // the city-.
RC: // Not-. //
JM: // -You know. //
RC: -Not in the wild. I'd seen them in the paper and on television. So I walk up to the goat and I pet it, and you know I was talking to it and it gave me this look. And I, and I look over at this cement thing and what it is is it's their bathroom, that's their commode.
JM: Oh, // OK. //
RC: // They // come out and they sit on it and they go to // the bathroom. //
JM: // Oh, OK, OK. //
RC: So I guess this goat was a guard goat.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // He was // protecting this sacred commode.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // So I turned // around, I didn't think nothing of it, and all the sudden this goat come in and whacked me in my ass so fucking hard-.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -Put two spike // marks in the back of my leg, my leg was bleeding, I'm turning around, I got a tear in my eye, and all my friends, 12 guys are laughing at me, "Look at the fucking dopey. You idiot, that goat just kicked your ass."
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // The thing // bit me in my leg, I jumped up and I shot the fucker 50 times-.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -With my M16. //
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // They're grabbing me, saying, "You can't shoot their animals. They're a sacred thing." "What? It's a goat, it's a goat. // Did you see what it did? See what it did?" And they grabbed me by my collar and said, "Get out of here. That's going to screw everything up, you can't do that, you just can't." "Didn't you see what it did?" "Well, you still ain't supposed to do that." So, I guess I'm not normal, // but-. //
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: I thought I was normal // at that time. //
JM: // It was // self defense, right?
RC: I, I, I was, I was, I was, I slipped, I slipped. I lost control of reality there for a minute. I thought I did the right thing.
JM: What did you guys do after that?
RC: After that we went out, and we drank and got real stupid.
JM: [Laughs] OK.
RC: And then we all talked about it and everybody // joked me-. //
JM: // ( ) The goat. //
RC: -And from now until 1972 I have heard that from so many people, and I am, uh, the goat man. I am the worst person that ever lived.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // Your children // are going have horns-.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -They're going to go "baa" // and I said, "OK. There is something the matter with me."
RC: But that is my number one recollection of a very bad and unusual, embarrassing, // experience. //
JM: // Were the, // were the people in the village around?
RC: They were psyched. They come running out of their hooches with shovels and rakes and yelling // all kinds-. //
JM: // Oh, shit. //
RC: -Of things, and I was putting another clip in and I was going to shoot them, too.
JM: // [Laughs] OK. //
RC: // At that point // everybody was, "No, no, no, no, no. You can't do that, you got to go."
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // And I was, "What the fuck did I do wrong?" //
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // "You just shot their," // you know-.
JM: // Their goat. //
RC: // -"Their goat." //
JM: Yeah, they might been the last // one in the-. //
RC: // Well, they're // fucking, "Well you don't do that."
JM: // Well no. //
RC: // Well, I // guess I don't know how to act. I was an 18-year-old kid.
JM: Well, you're 18, I mean, hell, you're overseas, you've got a gun.
RC: I took, was taken totally off guard.
JM: Uh-huh.
RC: It was the most embarrassing situation I have ever lived in my life.
JM: // [Laughs] ( ) //
RC: // But I felt right in // my heart, that I did the right thing.
JM: Yeah, // yeah. //
RC: // So, // what was I gonna do as a kid? But I // guess-. //
JM: // Well. //
RC: -What, he didn't like the color green?
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -Or didn't // understand my, my-.
JM: // Well, you said it-. //
RC: // -English accent? //
JM: -Was a guard goat, you know, maybe you were // in a-. //
RC: // I pet it, // it looked at me normal, you know, I didn't, I mean it didn't try to bite me.
JM: Hmm.
RC: But then when I turned around, it gives me a good fucking double shot, right in the back of my leg, and I never felt so much pain.
JM: Uh-huh.
RC: And to have men, laughing at me and, I mean falling on the ground-.
JM: // [Laughs] //
RC: // -With tears down their eyes, // and they make me feel so stupid, that I just.
JM: // I don't // know if you should feel stupid. // You-. //
RC: // Yeah, uh. //
JM: -Entertained them at least.
RC: // Yeah, I.//
JM: // You know? // You gave them a good laugh.
RC: This story has been going on for 28 years.
JM: [Laughs] They're probably still telling it.
RC: I, I, I, um, I, uh, I made a name for myself.
JM: Yeah, you did.
RC: I'm a sick person.
JM: [Laughs] OK. All right, all right.
RC: OK. Anything else you need from me-? [Laughs]
JM: // No. //
RC: // -Before // they come and take me away with the white suits?
JM: [Laughs] Nah. They're not going to take you away Ray. Oh, my god that's a good one. OK.
RC: I hope this came out.