Friday, March 29, 2013

Things Found While Cleaning Out the Garage

Bob hadn't intended this to be the day he cleaned the garage, but looking at the heavy rain falling outside the open overhead door, he supposed it was as good as any. Uncommonly heavy rain for here, for this season, it reminded him of the fall downpours back home.

Gradually he passed through the stacks of boxes and upon shifting the layers of flat materials leaning up against the wall he was surprised to find the deer skull hanging there. It seemed undamaged by all that stuff he had just moved, but he felt guilty, for not having been more careful.

He reached out and took it from the wall and…

Little Head-Bob watched in awe as the rain came down in nearly solid sheets, the trees lit up by the lightning that flashed over and over. He had never seen a storm like this in his young life and he instinctively backed up to the far wall of the nest hole, against the warm living part of the old tree. It had shielded his family from the weather all his life, perhaps it would still do.

Over the rain and the roaring of the creek, now a surging smashing thing he did not recognize, his keen owl ears picked up the sound of something running down the hill. It crashed through the brush toward him as though in flight or panic.  He could hear it coming, leaping and darting, changing direction every time the lightning flashed or the thunder struck.

Terrified, the doe came so fast it never had a chance to stop before it got to the raging creek. Now twenty feet wide and over twelve feet deep, the once tiny creek was carrying everything in its path downstream with it. 

Watching from his nest, Little Head-Bob's eyes flashed wide, shocked, as the deer's reflexive leap carried it high up, out over the creek and almost to the bank on his side. Then plunging into the roaring water the deer tumbled out of sight and was just - gone.

Lightning flashed and across the creek he saw a shadowy thing standing as though looking his way. He shivered and blinked but then the shadow was gone, obscured by darkness, as the lightning faded.

Another flash of lightning and Bob looked up from the skull in his hands and there out through the rain across the street, where the water ran swift through the ditch, he thought he saw a shadow. Something with four legs, something there… and then gone.

Little Head-Bob blinked in the sun, drying his feathers as he dozed, dreaming of a man who walked along the creek bank. The man stopped, looked at the pile of dead brush stuck under the tree fallen across the creek, and caught the glint of light off something there.

Bob waded into the knee-deep creek, careful of the slick moss that covered rock bottom, trying to watch where he was going while still keeping an eye on that spot in the brush.  Hedge thorns raked the back of his hand as he tunneled it into the pile, back almost to his full arm's-length, before finally catching hold of the thing. Carefully bringing it out he was surprised to be holding a perfectly intact deer skull, too small for a buck, staring back at him.

Little Head-Bob watched as the man climbed backed up out of the creek, the skull of the storm-killed doe in his hand.

Standing in his garage Bob jumped, startled out of his reverie, when his wife poked her head in to call him to dinner. He looked down absently at the skull in his hand.

"Are you still hanging on to that thing?" she asked.

"Uh-huh. Be there in just a minute, Hon" he replied.

She cocked her head and looked at him kind of side-ways like she did sometimes. Then half grinning, she turned back to the kitchen, closing the door behind her.

Bob found a push pin there in the tray and reaching up high on the wall stuck it in.  He hung the skull and his memories far up this time, out of everyday life's range, not quite so easily covered.

It just seemed to matter somehow.