The Bears

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Title: My dearest friend,

The second, first barbecue of the season in Northern California had also been a wonderful experience. The mountain dwellers were friendly and receptive to a youngsters chit chat. The food was delicious and well prepared. The evening beautiful and as full of stars as my memories of your own smiling face. I even let my self dawdle on that last kiss on the mouth you might not have wanted to give me in public. But you had, and with a smile.

I'd spent a wonderful hour that evening using the phone in my camera to give you images of the party and in return you sent back images of paintings you had just finished and questions about the people and places I'd sent you. I knew I was three hours ahead of you in Hawaii, but I'd still wanted this future to have you there to share these wonderful moments.
  It was a noisy and raucous affair.
  I'd even asked one of my favorite two friends how they met and heard a love story similar in some ways to ours. The best part was knowing it had a happy ending which reinforced my constant smile on any topic relating to you as the sun went down. In the end I finished the daylight hours teaching hula hoop lessons to hoots and hollers from wives watching ecstatic husbands bodies, and husbands impressed by the dances of their wives and favorite friends. It certainly seemed to be a good night for all who came to the event.

  There was a poker game attended by the men after the sun went down and the ladies gathered in blankets by the campfire to talk about needing to paint more this summer and who got the worst dose of testosterone from the 3 boys and a car mechanic of a father.
  The men sat in an old radiator shop from the 1920's trading quips and bluffs alongside more beer and an ever increasing room temperature. It was good comradeship and I even pretended to be the brother of a man I'd never met before because all in attendance felt we looked so alike. They even demanded we show our licenses and hands to verify we were not married and too progressively minded. I'd even stated that I was the older one and he got all the good looks.

   Around One in the morning I'd had enough and saying my good byes and even giving out a few deserved hugs. I got into the truck and headed down the back streets towards the mountain pass and home. I'd not had much to drink myself, but a handful of snap peas I grabbed on the way out the door got me through town and to the base of the mountain pass.
   As I drove, I remember staring at the reflection of the stars in the lake as the sky was so clear and the ambient light so low. I rolled down the window to feel the ever present cool breeze coming off the mountains and clicked on the high beams for the truck as I entered the base of the pass.
   As I began my climb, I saw the eye shine of so many critters I became awestruck at the health of the woods still clinging to secret stashes of deep snows and a warm late spring. Raccoons, Rabbits, Badgers, Coyotes, Deer, and even a family of mice looking creatures all showed themselves to my headlights and scattered fearlessly before the roar of the engine climbing the twisty and steep road.

   It is at the top of the pass, by the look out for the whole valley I'd stopped to take a picture of on my way to the party. That I saw the bears.
   Now bears are quite common in these parts and they are black bears, which if anyone knows anything about the difference between black bears and Grizzly bears can attest. Black bears are kinda like big golden retrievers who are curious, but scared to pieces of people.

   It is not uncommon to see them roaming in pairs as they check out whatever their nose tells them is interesting and enjoy all the kinds of mischief noses leads to. But this is irrelevant to the scene I came upon. You see, there were two bears in the road but one of them was clearly dead.
    I came to a stop about 30 feet away and my headlights told a grim tale of what happened on that road. Tire tracks freshly skidded, A large vehicle of some sorts had lost pieces of grill and a headlight, blood showed were the bear had bounced twice from the road to where it's body lay. Another bear stood over the dead body looking without flinching into the headlights of my truck and right at me.

  It took me a few seconds to piece the whole scene together but it's right then when the live bear opened it's mouth and let out a wail to break the silence. It was the sound I'd made once when a women had broken my heart in Portland a few years earlier, it was the sound of pain leaving a body to tired to hold back so much love. It was a sound I hope to never hear or make again. I couldn't move, I couldn't even breath.. I was crying. The world was now a whisper.

  The bear stopped it's wail as suddenly as it had started it. The energy from it's roar resonated in my mind but the hum of the motor and the unblinking brightness of the headlights were all that answered the bears poem about it's sense of loss. A timeless moment passed. Then I watched the bear turn slowly and make for the trees. It didn't look back at me at all. it didn't make any other noise beyond the crunch I imagined and the sound of the trucks motor. I finally breathed..

  I saw no other animals as i finished the drive home. I realized I'd never turned on the radio or pulled the ipod from the console. In silence and with the last snap peas, I made it to the parking lot of home and jogged up the lighted path to the lodge. I was eager to get safely out of nature and into my bed. 


Created: Apr 01, 2014

Tags: story

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