It was bad when we hit the buffalo; how the bus careened, and jarred awake those who had been sleeping. I was surprised the bus didn’t topple, that the little Lao girl who had sat herself on my lap stayed put. We ran to the window and beheld the raw, ugly thing staring at us: a white buffalo that the drivers and shepherd had to pull out. She was halfway down the bus – that’s how long it took to stop – and when they yanked her out the red dirt road got even redder. Her mouth dripped with blood, and she mewed in enough miserable octaves to break your heart. One leg was gone, the other was hanging, and that’s when the mother took the little girl from me. That’s when we went outside to sit by the river, and piss in the electric green grass, and wait until they figured out what to do, on our way to Luang Nam Tha.