31 October 2015

Eerie & Scary: Three Point Turn

     As the sun barely touches the horizon line, Tinker and the dogs are going the long way to the pavilion, down the hollow to the foggy pond, and up the other side. They break out of the woods near the fence to the pasture where Twila's free range mobile chicken coop use to be. Bourbon arrives there first, and waits without sitting like he usually does.
     The three four leggers behave differently with Tinker. They're alert, all business as if stalking an enemy. Ethel is on Tinker's left only a few feet away. Bourbon is at point. Merry, is the right flank, far right. That's always the formation of the four when they walk in the woods. Merry sometimes gets distracted by squirrels near the stone wall taunting her until she barks so crazy Tinker has to call her back. But today, there is no squirrel. No crows in the field. No sparrows in the tangle of wild grapevines. Dogs. Tinker. Fog. Woods. Cold. The hard frost last night gives the appearance of a light snowfall. Spider webs quiver. Leaves scream to break free, fall to the ground, decay, rest in peace under a black casket lid cloud cover. Its all good for Tinker, a man not put off by dark or chill to the bone conditions.
     Once on the path Ethel stays closer, Bourbon goes farther, and Merry doesn't look back for squirrels. Approaching the pavilion Tinker shifts his jacket, unzips a left side pocket, and slides his cap backwards over the knit hat underneath. He stops. Ethel and Merry stop. Bourbon continues towards the pavilion. Tinker watches as Bourbon begins to sniff his way around the stones set in the ground not far from the hemlock grove. The dog stops, looks at Tinker, and then moves back to the pavilion for more sniffing. Tinker moves over to where Merry is standing by the old oak tree. He scratches behind her ears, and whispers in a voice as light as milkweed silk. Bourbon's sniffing ends. He runs over to Tinker and Merry. Ethel stays on the path not looking at anything particular as she sashays over to the pavilion, jumps up on a bench, and gets comfy. Its only then that the others take a seat at the pavilion.
     They sit watching dead shadows shift in a gauzy sunrise. Canada geese fly over. A squirrel jumps from branch to branch until it blends into the gray. Merry watches without flinching. The Earth is stretching awake as Tinker waits for movement, sound, anything that looks out of place like the shape in the photographs they saw last night. In the distant woods like a freight train the wind is rushing through the tree tops, big wind, determined wind, cold wind, branch breaking wind.
     Thump!
     Tinker run towards the sound. Across a small area of tall grass, a gray shape is crouching and running down over the hill. He yells, "Stop!" It doesn't. There in a thick wood with downed trees crossing every which way, Tinker stops. The fallen trees form a corral. Ethel is too old or else too tired to jump or crawl under to get to Tinker. Instead, she waits where there's room for her to move around. It takes Tinker time to find a way out of the pick up sticks mess. The wind doesn't help as it thrashes thinner branches in his face. His boot catches a log, and as he tries to grab another to pull free, his other boot sinks in mud as he goes down, scraping his jaw on a branch. Ethel is barking. Bourbon runs over and under the logs to reach Tinker. Merry is growling and barking at something over the hill. Tinker pulls out his weapon, and hides it inside his sleeve. The wind is fierce, and on the horizon towards the house, the sky is a fiercer darkest Prussian blue. Tinker makes his way across the fallen trees carrying Bourbon. The four reach the path when another thump is heard, this time from the hemlock tree. Tinker turns and runs to the sound. A loud crack rips the air as a tree falls on the path.
     "Enough." Tinker says aloud, "Let's get home you three."
     At the house, Edna is alarmed to see him bloody and muddy.
     "What happened!? Did it attack you?" Edna asks as she wipes blood from his eyes with a wet towel.
     "A tree fell in the woods."
     "You're not a tree." Edna says in her comfort voice, "Did you find anyone there?"
     "A tree did fall, right after whoever it is jumped from the tree causing me to run towards it like I did the first time I heard it. I fell before that when I was chasing it. If I didn't run after it the second time, then tree would have fallen on me, and the dogs."
     "Are you saying it was protecting you? Did you see who it is?" Edna asks as she opens the first aid kit, "I think you need this cleaned out and stitches. There's bark inside that will hurt if I do it."
     "Then I'll clean it out." Tinker insists.
     "I don't think so."
     "Tweezers?" Tinker replies.
     In the mirror he wipes away debris and blood with a cotton swab before pulling out bits of bark, wincing each time.  He apologizes for being wrong, and asks Edna to drive him to the clinic. On the way he asks her to take the back road so he can show her the hill below where he fell. Its almost dark as night when she stops to look up the hill as he fills her in on the details.
     "Tinker." Edna whispers.
     He turns to see in the road the gray form of a person hold a handing forward to stop.
     "Turn around Edna."
     "That's it? That's who or what you saw?"
     "Yes. Turn please."
     "Are you scared? I'm not scared. Can't we get out and try to talk to it?"
     "No and no. If it wants to chat, then it wouldn't be holding a hand up to stop. We can get to the clinic from the main road."
     "I'm turning." Edna whisper as she back up the vehicle for a three point.
    



    

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