I looked around,
thinking somebody else had come onto our property, but even as I did, I knew I was in denial. I’d seen the bear
move its mouth.
The creature waved the paw in a decidedly human fashion. “I’m right here, pal,
talking to you.”
great reluctance, and wondering if somebody had slipped something into my lunch,
I looked at the bear, fumbling for what I might say. I cautiously took another
this a sign of dementia?
father had died at ninety-eight with full use of his mental faculties. My
grandfather on the other side had reached his mid-eighties and had been sharp
until the day he died.
sorry,” I said carefully, fearing I’d misread the situation. Perhaps this was a
badly malformed human. If so, he might understand my surprise, he probably
received it all the time. My kinder instincts came into play. “You just caught
me off guard, hiding behind the lilac bush and all.”
creature came entirely into the open,
revealing that the rest of him did, in fact, look like a bear. The only thing
even close to human was its face and the fact it walked on two legs, apparently
need to hide,” it said. “Do you have someplace
I can go?” It looked at my house.
though it looked helpless, I hesitated. Marjorie was off in town for most the
night and I was alone. If this creature
had malintent, I wanted to make sure my wife wasn’t left wondering what had happened
are you hiding from?” As I asked the question, I looked at my watch and noticed
there were only a few minutes of daylight left. The sky still had plenty of
light so it was difficult to conceive that twenty minutes from now it would be
dark. I rarely had, if ever, noticed the
setting sun in the city.
don’t want to know,” he said. At least, I was starting to think of it as a he.
I avoided looking between his legs to
determine gender. It seemed the polite thing to do even though it appeared to
be mostly animal. “Trust me, it really is better you don’t know.”
shook my head. “I’m not one who is opposed to giving a little help, but this is
sudden and I’d rather like to know what I’m getting into if you wouldn’t mind.”
strained my mind to be polite to the
creature, but it seemed the civil thing to do.
nodded in a distinctly human fashion, making my other desires for empathy want
to kick in even more. Perhaps I had been too quick to judge. He could think and
speak. If I were ever put under oath, I
would have to testify he seemed self-aware.
howl cut through the warm evening air and it was like the little ball of fur
had been hit with a jolt of lightning. He bounded up and turned, sniffing the
air while looking every which way.
let them out already?” He shook his head. “Oh man, this is not good. This is
not good. She never lets them out before sunset. Never. I thought I had more time.”
nothing to worry about,” I said, assuming he was afraid of the wolves. “I
haven’t had any problems since they were reintroduced.”
shook his head, reminding me of an earnest little boy.
Dang it all, I
could imagine Marjorie saying, her voice brooking no discussion. Some half-beast thing shows up on our
property, and you start assigning human emotions
“Listen, listen,” Fuzzball said, his voice turning into a high-pitched squeak. “Those aren’t wolves and we need to get inside!”