Friday, October 5, 2012
The fifth day of my writer’s retreat.
I’ve cleaned the cabin thoroughly now, disposing of the mice nests, the ruined clothes, my father’s hats, and my mother’s toiletries. I need to take one more run to the recycling center to get rid of the last remaining bags of trash.
The recycling center is six miles away. The drive there is beautiful, especially at midmorning with sunlight streaming golden over the barns and houses. Yesterday when I made the trip I thrilled as my car raced up and over the hillocks and around the curves. With each bend in the road a new vista stretched before me. Beautiful green pastures rimmed by hardwood trees now in brilliant array. This is why I came. This is why I am here. This is where I want to be forever. I’ve got to get past this bear fear. I can’t let the bear ruin my joy. Low hanging clouds covered the mountaintops but the leaves below sparkled red and gold and purple. I don’t think I’d seen the trees so resplendent. In the past when I visited the cabin it was either too early or too late. It’s now just right.
When I reach my car at the bottom of the mountain, a bag of garbage in each hand, I discover that I’m blocked in by a pickup truck with dual rear wheels. I stash the bags in my car and honk lightly at first and then louder until Earl comes out of his house with another man trailing behind him.
“Am I in your way?” the other man shouts?
He seems affable.
Earl starts in immediately with his bear sightings and the man joins in.
“That’s right, I saw some bear scat up on the ridge, right there by your cabin.”
“That must have been a while ago,” I offer. “There’s nothing there now.”
What I’m really wondering is, what were you doing up on the ridge by my cabin? Apparently lots of people use this property to hunt and walk. The walking is okay, but the hunting scares me.
And I don’t like people walking around while I think I’m living in seclusion. There are no curtains in the cabin. There aren’t even locks on the inside of the doors. The only locks are on the outside. I guess Daddy always thought he was safe when he was here. That must be some kind of mountain code. You don’t mess with a house when the owner is there. I guess the assumption is that the owner will have a gun. But this owner doesn’t. One of the first trips I made, after I settled into the cabin, was to the hardware store in town. I bought a lock for the inside.
“Do you want to borrow my ‘Equalizer’?” Earl’s friend asks, meaning his gun. He’s smiling, but he’s serious. He’d loan me a gun.
I thanked him but offered that I’d probably just “equalize” my foot right off. That produced a hearty guffaw.
He seems like a nice man. He told me he’d been to St. Louis and had gone up in the Arch. He also visited Branson, which he thought was wonderful. And then he said he stopped at “the library” too.
“Truman?” I asked.
He liked the Clinton library? That had to be a good sign. But not one to trust. I don’t much trust people here. Not that I’m afraid of them. I just don’t want to risk saying anything that might be controversial. I don’t want to talk about the election or the fact that I listened to the October 3 Presidential debate on my transistor radio in the cabin, whooping every time I thought Obama scored a hit.
I really don’t trust Earl! I don’t like the way he looks at me.
“You alone up there?” he asked when I first arrived.
“I’ve got my dog.”
I don’t think I sounded defensive. And in truth, Wilson isn’t much of a defense! I just don’t want people to know my business. I should have told Earl’s friend I have my own “equalizer” up at the cabin, thank you very much!
I’m trying to develop my mystery novel, but it’s hard to write or to think about anything scary. I’m scared. All this talk about bears has me looking over my shoulder and glancing up each time a twig snaps! A twig! That’s just stupid. Twigs snap all the time in the woods here. And the tin roof pings and pongs as it heats in the sun, and again as it cools down at night. A five-hundred-pound bear, or the one-ton creature Earl tries to threaten me with, would do more than snap twigs!
Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash