Joao and the cow

There's often a whiff of natural justice when a crime writer employs animals—wild or domestic—in a character's demise. Whether it's a gator scripted by Carl Hiaasen or a pig of Tim Dorsey's, the fauna are behaving as they should. The victims, not so much.

So why is it that in real life, it's the seemingly innocent who get flattened by random beasts?

Take poor Joao Maria de Souza. Lying there in his bed, next to his wife, fast asleep, and a cow falls through his roof.

© Kurt | Stock Free Images

Now, I am not bereft of feeling for this man's family, and from the look of his roof (the one with the cow-sized hole in it) he probably worked hard for everything he had. I'm sure he deserved a good night's sleep much as anybody.

But you gotta know this guy wound up with one of best bar stories in heaven. I can hear him now, "Yeah, really. Saint Peter couldn't believe it either."

Animals tend to show up a fair bit in my own fiction, and they're not always friendly. Or hungry. What they are, most of the time, is oblivious to the intentions of the human world they inhabit. They're just animals, doing what seems right to them at the moment.

Like "Rickie's Pig", or Hiaasen's gator, or just a squirrel looking for a warm place to sleep.

Or a cow out for a walk on some guy's roof.