Monday, June 1, 2015

Part 139


Well at least the Duck Goulash didn't go to waste.  It wasn't exactly properly appreciated but then again I have to remember a person isn't supposed to do something so they get appreciated for it, they are supposed to do it because they appreciate the doing.

Oh no!  Where are all these old sayings coming from?!  I'm turning as strange as the old lady.  Not that old lady, the one I was thinking of yesterday,  I mean the new one.  Carp!  Maybe I'm the one that is three-quarters crazy now.  Old ladies, bears, dogs, ducks, and puss brains.  They are turning my brain to mush.  OK, forget it, I don't want this notebook to turn into something that reads like a soap opera ... geez, I'm all turned inside out.  I hate feeling this discombobulated, like I don't know what I'm doing.  It used to be writing in this notebook helped, now I'm not so sure.

I don't know what this notebook is supposed to be about.  Half the time it is just a place for me to vent.  The rest of the time it is a mix of fear or boredom or just being lonely.  Maybe that is what all notebooks or journals are ... a place you can spew.  Let's face it, life has been pretty spew-worthy for a long while.

I used to ask Mom why she kept a journal - what she called her House Account Book - which was sort of like a cross between a garden journal, a book on the house budget, and a personal diary - and she told me it was to help get things out of her head so that her mind wasn't so cluttered with stuff she wanted to remember but didn't necessarily want to have to remember all the time.  I wish I knew why I like this notebook so much.  I'm not too far from running out of paper and I only have a couple of pencils left.  Better figure it out sooner or later before I have go to the work of finding more.

In the meantime ... less confusion, more clarity.

Yesterday was depressing.  Last night was not much fun either as something was prowling around which leads me to think I should start figuring out a way to string our supplies up in the trees or risk losing them.  I can lock the hot dog cart but that won't stop a bear or a determined human.  For that matter when the women are gone maybe I should try stringing me up in the trees ... maybe like a hammock or something ... or a tree house or hunting stand.  I'd take a hole in the ground if I had one only something big might dig me out or I could get blocked in.  I think I like the tree thing much better after all.

This morning was better, pretty good actually.  At least for a while.  There were ducks down at the creek which gave me the idea of using my fishing net for something other than fish.  I managed to catch three ducks in one throw ... well four but the forth one got away so it really wasn't caught.  Man were they angry ... and noisy.  I stopped their quacking as quickly as I could and then got on about the business of getting rid of innards and feathers.  This is where things got more interesting than I had prepared for.

It seems that bears are not averse to duck innards.  I'd tossed the nasty stuff to the side on top of the ashes of the pyre until I could set it to blaze again - there were still bones that needed to be dealt with from the smellies and yesterday's puss brain.  Dumb me.  I was never this careless in the North Woods and why I would be so stupid here I don't know.

My first inkling that something was up was a low grunt.  Before I even turned I knew what it was and before I finished turning I was heading for the nearest tree.  Bear must have wanted something a little more lively than duck innards as it came after me at a trot ... not too fast but not slow either; just speedy enough that I wasn't far up the tree before it was at the trunk.  I guess either the young male bear was in the mood to play with its food or it was hungrier than I thought before it was climbing the tree after me.  Great.

Then there was barking.  I thought either I was going barking mad or God decided I needed wolves on top of bears.  But then I realized wolves don't arroooooooo and don't have big floppy ears.  Three more dogs shot out of the underbrush to go with the first only they had short ears and big round faces ... and sharp teeth.  Lastly out of the bushes came what I thought at first was another bear ... only bears don't carry shotguns.

KABLAM!!!!

The bear fell out of the tree.  Heck, I nearly fell out of the tree.  It sounded like a freaking train had exploded.  When I dared to come out of my crouch against the tree trunk I saw the injured bear fighting with the dogs.

"Get out of the way!  Get out of the way!!!" the lump of humanity bellowed that looked like a walking mound of furs and rugs.  It took me a moment to realize she was talking to the dogs and not me.

KABLAM!!!!

The shotgun went off again but didn't deal a death blow.  As a matter of fact it only hacked off the bear and it turned on the gun owner who squawked and tried to reload but wasn't going very fast.

I'm an idiot.  A grade A, first class idiot.  But if I hadn't joined in there would have been another corpse for the pyre ... or part of one anyone after the bear finished off what they wanted.

I slid down the tree and grabbed the rifle that Sgt. Shelly had left for me and I ran up and stuck it in the bear’s ear and pulled before my good sense had time to catch up.  I summarily landed on my backside and then cracked my head on a rock where I fell over because I hadn't really had time to set myself for the recoil.  As for the bear ... well I'd like to see the living creature that could take a rifle going off point blank in its ear and survive beyond a few steps.

I came to with dog noses in my ears, shirt collar, and another part of my anatomy they had no business sniffing.

"You ok?" I heard a scratchy old voice ask.  I was afraid to answer.  The dogs where getting a little frisky and I had a feeling had I opened my mouth they would have licked in there too.  The voice snapped, "Get off you blasted muts!  Let me see what it is."

As soon as the dogs gave me some breathing space I said, "It is me."  Hearing my voice got the floppy eared one all excited again and back it came sniffing.  I couldn't help it.  Dog noses tickle when they get under your collar.  I squealed.

The old lady laughed and said, "Henrietta seems ta like you."

"Tell her thank you but I bathed not that long ago," I responded right before dissolving into squeals again.  How do dogs know your one ticklish spot?

Finally I was able to get up and away.  "Down.  Geez you crazy dog.  Do I look like a squeaky toy?"

"Ya sound just like one," the old lady laughed.  "Now what's a child like you doing out in these woods all alone?  There's bad men out here."

I looked at her and I could see a bunch of loose screws floating around behind her eyes but I could also tell she was harmless.  Or as harmless as people get these days.  I learned the difference in the city.  Some homeless were ok ... some were definitely not.  "I'm not a child ... I'm sixteen.  And I'm not alone, my patrol will be back today."

She tilted her head and she looked just like a bird ... well sorta anyway.  She wasn't especially built like one but she pursed her lips and blinked at me so that it reminded me of a curious blue jay.  "Hmmm, one of those are you.  Heard they were getting kids younger and younger.  Different in my time but my parents and grandparents said it was that way in theirs.  Got anything to eat?"

"Will have if my ducks aren't ruined."

As it turns out the duck carcasses weren't ruined.  And as it turns out Mary - that's the name of the old woman - is crazy all right but she knows stuff too.  Like how to deal with a bear ... and how to share.  Tonight we shared the ducks.  Tomorrow we'll share the bear.  She's got some drying in some kind of folding oven she has rigged up.  Some she chopped up and cooked for the dogs.

"Providential I ran across you.  Hate to see all this meat go to waste or attract them freaks from the city.  If your friends come too-morry then even more can get eat before it spoils."

Having learned well at Dad's and Mr. Svenson's knees I asked, "Why hunt something too big for you to eat before it spoils?"

She nodded her head.  "Don't normally.  This fella here though, he was becoming a nuisance.  Felt him tracking me for a bit then he caught up and kilt one of my dogs last week so I been trackin' it to give it some justice back."

I figured I was the last person to complain about that and then she noticed what I was doing - gathering nettle with gloves on - and that I knew about plants and she started quizzing me and I actually learned a couple of things once I got beyond being irritated at her being so nosey.  She also kept trying to nose into the hot dog cart so I put a padlock on it after I took out all the supplies I needed for the duck goulash.

Mary said she ran away the "home" where her kids had stuck her before Z-Day.  There used to be more older folks with her but the others had either died or given up and gone back to towns that they had passed.  "Lotta foolishness if you ask me.  Who wants an old woman or old man?  Ain't like there is much we can do.  The kind of man that would want us around I ain't interested in being around if you ain't too young to understand what I mean."

I understood all right.  Gross.

I think Mary is like me, she was hungry for someone to talk to ... or to talk at since she didn't seem to need me to answer most of the time.  It wasn't until the sun went down that she stopped talking.  Now she lays in a small tent near the fire with her dogs ranged around her for warmth and protection.

I kept thinking that the patrol would get back today, then tonight, but I guess I need to give that idea up.  It wouldn't be all that smart for them to try and move in the dark.  There's been no word on the radio either.  I mean nothing.  Probably because there is nothing to hear.  Or maybe the radio just isn't strong enough to get through all the hills and mountains where I'm at.  Or maybe I'm doing something wrong.

I'm just glad Mary showed up even if she is crazy.  Being crazy together seems to be better than being crazy alone.

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