These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Friday, January 27, 2006

old brown bear part 1

the old brown bear walked around his den. it was a comfortable den he shared with his wife. its walls were smooth and worn from ages of living there.

old brown bear came up to the entrance and looked around. the woods were still and noiseless. he frowned. his appointment was late and that's something he hated. he was a busy bear and he had things to do and people so see. or was it the other way arond.

old brown bear was head bear of the little group that lived in the section of the woods. he'd been their leader for years. never been contested for it. sure he'd had seveal young bears try to take over, but he was much too strong and powerful. he had th support of the entire group. he could very well die as leader of this little clan.

he stepped out of his den and walked over to a tree and began to claw at the bark. he needed to sharpen his claws; they were getting a little ragged in his old age and he liked to keep them nice and clean -- and sharp of course.

he's only begun his ritual when he heard rustling behind him in the bushes. he turned arond and saw tree branches clearing. out stepped a small, light-colored bear. there was a look of worry on her face as the bear made its way toward old brown bear.

before the bear could speak, old brown bear turned on her, quick. he bounded to the bear in a few bounds and over took the smaller bear. before the other bear could react, old brown bear was on the other bear, his open maw revealing long jagged teeth.

"you're late, sonia," old brown bear said, thick droplets of saliva dripping from his mouth and onto sonia's fur.

"i'm sorry, old brown bear. i'm sorry," sonia said, eyes closed.

old brown bear grunted and stepped off of her. he went back to the tree and began clawing at the tree again with both front claws. he ignored sonia.

sonia, meanwhile, got on all fours and shook herself of dirt and leaves. she wiped at her face where old brown bear's saliva had dripped on. she walked up to old brown bear.

"i'm sorry, old brown bear," she repeated. "i was detained at the lodge. there was a discussion on what berries were better to eat and i got caught up in it."

"silly convesations, merit silly excuses, sonia," old brown bear said, still not facing her. "one of these days you'll be engaged in some inane conversation or discussion and miss the train at the station. and you'll have no one to blame."

sonia reddened. she hated when he chastized like that. he had a knack for it. that's one of the reasons she hated to talk to him. and it made no difference, alone or in a group,he'd still hadve the better of you and embarrass you.

"well, i came to talk to you because i found a new berry patch," sonia said. "that's one of the reasons why that discussion interested me."

old brown bear stopped clawing at the tree and turned around to look at sonia. his expression had changed. he's gone from annoyance to being pleased. he sat on his large haunches and scratched at the bald spot on his head.

he'd received that spot during a forest fire when he was leading his group of bears away to safety. a falling branch landed on his head as he bounded away. the smoldering branch had burned off a large patch of fur between his ears and it had never grown back.

perhaps it was this permanent reminder of his heroic action that kept him from being booted as the clan's leader or from a serious challenge from the older, more stronger bears in the clan. either way, this had served as his badge of courage. and he wore is proudly, often walking with his head slightly inclined so the other bears could see it.

as he approached, it was often the first thing the other bears saw. it was a constant reminder of who old brown bear was.

"berry patch," old brown bear mused. his eyes had glazed over as thought of eating fresh berries raced through his head. he licked his lips with his tongue.

"I thought you'd be interested in that," sonia said, now relaxing, though still standing several feet away from old brown bear.

"tell me how did you find it?" old brown bear inquired. "we've searched all over and have found nothing."

sonia didn't reply. she remained quiet eyes fixed on the ground.

old brown bear sensed her hesitation to divulge the location and grew both anxious and angry. he wanted to know the locaton. more berries would be helpful to the clan.

he decided, though, like he had in many cases that showing his anger would not be prudent. aftera all, you draw more flies with honey instead of vinegar. inwardly, he smiled. he had always liked that particular saying. a personal favorite of his.

"come now, sonia," old brown bear soothed. "you can trust me with the location. after all, i am the leader of this clan of bears. one of my main attributes is trust."

sonia moaned. she had heard about his wily ways and how he poked and prodded until he got his way. that's how many things got done, for good or bad, in the clan.

she finally looked up. old brown bear was smiling at her. his old eyes stared at her with no sign of malevolence or deception. they were almost fatherly, wise.

"it for the good of the clan," old brown bear said, knowing he had sonia exactly where he wantd. he knew the look of someone who had conceded. he'd won. again.

sonia sighed. "okay, i'll tell you. you're right. it's for the good of the clan. but..."

"but what?" old brown bear said quietly.

"but...i just want credit for having found the berry patch," sonia said.

old brown bear's brow furrowed and his eyes blazed with anger. but just for a second. then it was gone and the furrowed brow emained. and it looked more like a questioning gesture than anything else.

"rest assured, sonia," old brown bear said. "rest assured."

even though a voice deep inside her mind said not to believe old brown bear, she went against it and told him where she'd found the berry patch.

to be continued.


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