I tossed and turned for most of the night, finally falling asleep just in time to hear my Leghorn hen gearing up for a rusty hinge style crow. And tapping on the window? Oh ferfucksakes! I pulled my pillow tighter over my head. I needed to sleep!!
When the tapping got louder, and another bird joined in, it was deffo time for me to haul my ass out of bed. I turned on the coffee pot, let the girls out in a roiling tumble of feathery bums.
The two annoying birds were Carl and Colin, a Gold Shafted Flicker, and a Red Bellied Woodpecker, respectively, as they introduced themselves. I tossed some mealworms on the windowsill. They gulped them down, then shimmered into people on the back steps. I was rather getting used to that shape shifting strangeness.
“News flies fast.” The yellow haired man stated.
“We are here to see if you were okay.” the red bearded man said.
“I’m okay, but it would’ve been nice if you had waited until it was a decent hour.”
“We are sorry.” The pair really didn’t look the least bit sorry.
“Bullshit!” I snapped. They both broke up laughing. I handed them more worms for the road. I washed my hands and poured my first cup of the day. I peeked out at the girls. Both woodpeckers were watching them also.
“How is your King?” I asked as we went down the stairs. They looked at each other.
“He was hurt by your mate.” Colin stated, staring at the brick patio.
“That idiot is NOT my mate any longer.” This day was not starting out well. “I divorced him. I have NOTHING to do with him any more.”
“Cora will peck his eyes out.” Eww. Carl nodded in agreement. Not that my ex didn’t DESERVE to have his liver eaten. But I didn’t want any of the People to get sick either.
I needed to see the deer man, to make sure HE was alright. I turned, went back inside, and threw some clothes on. Carl and Colin were obviously waiting. “Where does he go during the day?”, I asked.
“He sleeps in Big Meadow.” Colin informed me. I really wanted to ask if he slept alone, but it wasn’t any of my business. I knew that TRUE deer were crepuscular, feeding at dusk and dawn and active at night. It was a bit after dawn so he should be back in the Big Meadow, so that’s where I’d head first.
The Big Meadow was just like it sounded, a big freaking meadow. There were saplings, thistles, tall grasses, multi-flora roses, and other neat things. I was going to call his name, but I didn’t know it. Dumbass on me. I sent my wakeup callers to go in and find him. It was a couple of acres and there was no way that I could locate him without some help.
They flew away in a search pattern like feathery Coast Guard helicopters. I waited and waited. It wasn’t either of the Woodpecker boys that came back, it was Sy, the Blue Jay girl. She shimmered into person-ness. "I am so glad that found I you. Our Tigernae needs help.”
“But I thought iron didn’t hurt you.” I managed to say, with my throat tightening up.
“He didn't want to worry you.”
Fuck! I was gonna kick his ass when I found him for lying to me!
The Woodpeckers were hanging off a Buckthorn branch, looking down. Sy took me by the hand, dragging me into the brush surrounding the Big Meadow. He was lying curled up halfway between person and deer…any other time I probably woulda been scared shit-less. He looked rather centaur-ish, only with deer legs and antlers, with his man’s torso and arms instead of horse bits. I wasn’t even thinking of looking any closer or at any other parts than I needed. The bandage that had been put on by the paramedic had been soaked through. Hell, he was going to need more than just another band-aid. He was going to hafta have that looked at: he was going to the hospital whether he liked it or not. Somehow or another, three birds and a person were gonna stuff him into a teeny car made of iron, (At least a Fiero was made of plastic)and take him to a vet or to the people hospital to get taken care of. We decided that I would drive to the end of the street, and they’d bring him along the secret path and we’d go...somewhere! I had no idea what kind of ID "The People" would have and asked.
“We have a place where our "normal" papers are kept.” Carl responded.
“Could you get his for me please? We’ll need it for the ER.”
He flew off to get them and was back in a flash of black, white and red. I shoved them in my pocket and ran back to get the car. I was out of breath when I got to the rendezvous spot. I cursed the smallness of the Bug as they shoved him into the car.
Dammit!! I hadn’t given my birds a thought! Shit! “Can one of you stay with the girls? I don’t trust that Larry won’t try and get them.”
The deer man shimmered into full human form and held it for a couple of minutes before he changed to deer and back again, then to half, then to human…I took his hand and he turned his head to look at me with glassy eyes. “You lied to me, you jerk. But we’ll fight about that later. I have to take you to the hospital or at least the vet right now…I have your papers and you should be okay. I can have the bill sent to my house, so don’t worry about that either.”
I stopped quickly at the house to grab my wallet, and check on the girls. Carl, Colin, and Sy were already perched on my chair watching the chickens so I knew they’d be okay. I also dialed the police station informing the watch commander that since last night, the man that had been shot had gotten sick and I was taking him to the hospital. Since it was a gunshot wound, it would be photographed as evidence for my ex’s trial.
It was a short trip, being as the fact that I blew red lights and stop signs and drove like a freaking maniac. I burst through the doors and got some orderlies to help me with getting him out of the car. He was extremely pale and there were now blood smears on the front seats of the rent a bug and on me. Oh boy. I wondered if they could detail that out. They got him into a wheel chair and rolled him inside. I pulled out his papers so that they could check him in. I told the girl at the desk that he had been shot last night and patched up, and the cops knew about it, but obviously something went wrong. They took his vital signs, and typed it into the computer. The check in nurse handed me back his papers. He had his Blood Type listed, the mysterious Cora Crowe as next of kin, and I finally saw his name. My eyes could’ve fallen out!! Pan Stanwood! What an absolutely horrible made up name! Pan was a GOAT man not a DEER man!! I’d hafta talk with him when this was over.
Since I was the one who brought him in, I begged the staff to stay with him, saying that he’d want me to be there. I hoped I wasn't lying.
I had to go over the previous night’s adventure to the ER staff. They plopped him onto a gurney and started an IV. I think I was the only one who caught the hand turning into a hoof for just a second, even though the nurse seemed to stop what she was doing and stare. Dammit! Steel needles, steel bed, all sorts of electronic junk. Oh brother. This was going to be interesting. Iron, iron everywhere, and not a drop of bronze…I think I was getting loopy from lack of sleep and obvious worry. I even thought about asking whether they could find some obsidian knives…
I sat quietly on a stool in the corner. They pumped him full of blood and the usual D5W (I watched Emergency growing up), whatever the dextrose and water solution was called these days. They peeled off the soaked bandage that had been put on the previous night. I felt light-headed like I always did around blood, but determined to see this through. The stitches had pulled open, understandably shape shifting prolly didn’t help hold things together. They swabbed the wound out with something that looked like iodine. Except for some whitening of his lips, he didn’t say a word, but I could tell it stung like Hell.
The nurse dragged over an X-ray machine so that they could see what might be the deal inside. I got booted so that they could do it with out frying everyone’s DNA. I wondered if they could see deer bones or people bones or some of each…They didn’t use film anymore, it was all digital. The bullet could be seen quite clearly even by these non-professional eyeballs. They made a copy of the X-ray for the cops who had now arrived to take their own pictures. It was a steel jacketed hollow point. More fucking iron! Dammit! The cop was explaining that hollow points expanded when they hit the target to cause more damage.
I shivered. "What if it had actually been AIMED at either of us?"
“You’d prolly be dead.” the cop replied. “If he could have aimed correctly. His sights were so off, he’d have been more likely to lose a couple of toes.” I was relieved, sorta.
But I really just wanted the stag man to be okay. A doctor was finally called in and they would be extracting the projectile and saving it for evidence. The cop had his little baggy ready. They put a local anesthetic into "Pan's" upper arm, which got furry and brown for split second because of the damned needle. Couldn’t they have used a sea urchin spine or something? I was the only one watching, thank the Gods. He reached out to me and I took his hand and held it as they worked. It was very close to the humerus and a couple of nerves, but except for a few flinches, grinding his teeth and crushing my phalanges, he was very stoic about their digging around.
When the bullet was washed off, examined, photo’d and dropped into the baggy, we could both relax a bit. At least my ex wouldn’t be getting out any time soon. He was being held in the County lockup. He had no ties to the community and could probably connive someone (cough-my mother-cough) into bailing him out and helping him flee.
The doctor gave him a tetanus shot in addition, then stitched him up very well layer by layer, (I felt more queasy than I thought possible) gave him a prescription for antibiotics, put his arm in a sling, and we walked out with a supply of bandages and more instructions about keeping it clean and dry, how to look for infection, etc. They took him out in a wheelchair, I paid his co-pay with my charge, and a nurse waited until I got the car and brought it around. We got him folded into the Bug and I took off for home.
He shimmered into deer-ness as I waited to make the turn to get onto the main street. I poked his side. A little kid was staring with his mouth open, yanking on his mother’s arm and pointing…My deer man raised a hoof in greeting. I poked him again, HARDER. He shifted into a person. Obviously he couldn’t help it in his weakened state. “But mommy he WAS a deer! And he was in that CAR!!! The lady was driving him and he waved at me!!! MOMMY??!!!” I just KNEW he was gonna be put into time out for lying…even though he was right. Sorry kid!
Carl and Colin were waiting when I pulled up. They wrestled him out of the car, being extremely careful not to touch it themselves. They headed for the backyard. I stopped them. “Wait a second. He’s not going anywhere except straight up to bed.” I pointed them towards the house. I unlocked the door and told them to put him in my bedroom. The second one was sorta messy and I needed to make up the bed, so mine would do for now. There at least was a half bath tucked into the roof line on the second floor so he wouldn’t have to go up and down the stairs if he had to go. Then I wondered if he was house-trained. At least I had Pet Stain remover for when my birds had their infrequent accidents that would help me in that regard.
I was glad that I had gone for a wooden sleigh bed rather than the wrought iron one which had been my other choice. We saw him safely in the bed and I told the Woodpecker boys to keep an eye on him while I went to fill his prescription. There was a phone on the night stand, and the TV remote, a radio, and a bunch of books stacked on the floor. I could pick up the RX in a couple of hours, and maybe hit the market if there was something he wanted, or maybe the pet shop, or the feed store, in case he wanted some wildlife food.
I got back to the house, checked on the girls, and headed upstairs to look at the patient. In sleep, he had gone back to deer form. That must make sleepovers interesting, I thought.
Sy flew onto the window sill and shimmered. “He's very weak. He will heal better this way.”
I hoped so. If I had had any visitors, I’m sure they’d wonder why there was a White Tailed Stag in my bed with his front leg in a sling. It was hot enough that I was thinking of turning on the ac, but I turned on the fan instead. It had plastic blades so that might be okay, I figgered. I faced it so it wouldn’t blow on him, but still could move the air around.
I went downstairs. The birds had all flown away after they saw that their leader was in good hands (What was I, Allstate?). I tried working; I really did, but after an hour, I said fuck it, called in and left a message to tell my boss that I wasn’t feeling well and could I take a couple of days off? I would still check in though.
I grabbed my very late second cup of coffee, and sat out with the girls. They clustered around me and I broke off bits of a stale piece of bread that was going to be toast if I had had time this morning. I HAD really wanted to eat it, but whatever…My Silkie/Cochin rappelled up my leg, snagged the whole thing off my lap and ran for the hills with it. Mayhem or mayHEN, if you’ll pardon the pun, ensued. I laughed so hard at her trying to fend off all comers to her ill-gotten gains that I thought I would pee myself. I heard a clunk from the upstairs window and there was my deer man watching me watching my girls. He obviously had forgotten his lovely rack and whacked the window. He smiled sheepishly and waved. I reciprocated.
I sat for a bit longer, before I went back inside to see what my house guest was up to. I ascended the stairs. He had gotten back into the bed and was resting.
“Are you hungry? Would you like me to make you something to eat? If I don’t have it, I can run out and get it.” REAL deer eat shoots, leaves, and whatever they can filch from your garden. “I have things to make a salad if you’d like…”
“Meat more needs to heal, ponder I.” He probably had that right. So I’d make a run to the grocery story when I picked up his meds. I found some nice tender steak tips marked down, I’d slice em really thin and stir fry them with some oriental veggies. It was close enough for lunch time anyways. It took a while at the pharmacy. I was picking the drugs up for someone else, and they wanted to make sure it was kosher. I had left my home phone and I rather hoped he knew how to use one because they called him. They finally let me pick up the drugs and get on my way.
Once back home, I gave him a dose of the antibiotics. He said that he didn’t need anything for the pain, but would ask for aspirin if he needed it. I didn’t know what a deer’s pain threshold was, or what an NSAID might do to him either. So I’d wait until he needed something. I had baby aspirin in my Chicken First Aid Kit, if it came to that.
I made lunch, the girls came in looking for theirs too, so I gave them some of the veggies. Then shut them into the porch so they couldn’t beg and jump and make pains in the asses of themselves. The dippy Leghorn complained about the ill treatment, not that they didn’t have fans, a radio and a TV of their own…sheesh! Spoiled brat poultry!
I plated the food, then called up the stairs to tell him lunch was ready. I was half way up when he started down. He was back in person form which was good because I had read somewhere that cows could only go UP stairs. I didn’t want to know if it was the same for deer. I only had stainless steel cutlery, but I scrounged up some plastic forks from various fast food places. He smiled approvingly as he settled on the wooden chair. Everything was bite sized so we didn’t have to use knives. I was thinking of him using the arm too much. At least it was his right arm and he seemed to be left handed, like me.
“What this is?” He sniffed at the plate.
“It’s steak tips and veggies stir fried with some teriyaki sauce over rice.”
“Good smells does it.” he commented. I hoped he wasn’t allergic to anything in it as he polished off the serving.
“I have more if you’re still hungry.” I offered.
He held up the plate.“Not eaten this day have I.” He commented as he started in on the second helping.
I sat across the little table from him, trying to stare at him without looking like I actually was.
“Closely looking are you. Sire and Dam tell you not rude is?” My eyes flew to his face. I was busted and blushed enough to make me feel like Rudolph and his red nose. “Care I not. Look wish all you.”
“I hate to think how many people have just stared at you…and it IS rude. I apologize.”
“Friends are we. Fine is it, C’hoar Bihan Durotriges.”
I had done a bit of research. “C’hoar Bihan translated to “Small Sister” or in Breton/Brythonic. I could deal with being called his Little Sister, I guess.
Once lunch was done, I did up the dishes, scraped the few scraps from MY dish into the girls’ bowls and let them back out again. The deer man stood as I finished rinsing the pan. He was taller than I had thought or my ceilings were very low...prolly six of one, half dozen of another.
“Go, must I.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Mated are you to another. Unseemly is it.”
Ferfucksakes!“One more time! I am divorced!! I HAVE NOTHING to do with that asshole who shot you! The matrimonial bonds are broken. I am NOT married anymore!”
I led him into the living room and sat him on the couch.
“Understand this do not I. Mated for life is.”
“Not in the human world these days…Half of all marriages end in divorce.”Or death if you read enough true crime books.
“A shame is that.”
“Some people shouldn’t get married in the first place, others grow apart over the years.”
“Yourself?” he prompted.
“My mother wanted grandchildren and butthead was the likely candidate…”
“Like dam your do not you?” That was a touchy subject.
“Not one bit.” And I found myself pouring out all of the hurt and shame and anger that I had had growing up, including being sent away for a whole summer because I had “issues”. That BITCH was the cause of my whole year‘s worth of magazine subscriptions of “issues”. I was fine being myself, but she wasn’t. Having a “normal” daughter who had a “normal” marriage with a “normal” man would keep her standing with her gossipy old klatch of church going harpies.
He put the non-hurt arm around me and I put my head on his shoulder. It was a wonderful feeling. I had never had such a GIFT given to me. I tried not to break down and cry, but my throat closed and that was ALL I could do. I had never told ANYONE about all that shit. I had thought I’d take it to the grave with me. I was soo embarrassed. I tried to stand, but he wouldn’t let me.
“Release this to needed you. Never Dam yours meet again you.” My deer man was right in that. I would not be speaking to my mother unless it were life or death, and the next time I saw my ex it would be in court, where I hoped he’d be sentenced for a very long time in jail. "Pan" sounded really angry about how I had been treated growing up. Wow! I had told all the professionals the same thing and they had sided with HER…noone had evah sided with ME!
It was getting dark and the girls were straggling in. I had to make sure that they were all present and accounted for. He finally let me up so that I could see to them. Everyone was fine and got their evening lovins. When I turned around he was standing in the doorway to the porch watching. He seemed to do that a lot. Prolly wondering how the other half lived. I must’ve been a curiosity to him as well.
"The People" couldn’t go into a "Natural’s" house unless they were invited. Sorta like Vampyres…the real, blood sucking ones, not the new age, glittery ones. I guess there were lotsa rules. He was able to come into my house without an invite because it had been a special circumstance, I guessed. Other than that, it would’ve been like he had hit a brick wall, or a force field. Carl and Colin had been able to because they were with me and their leader.
He hid a yawn behind his hand. It was still early for me to go to bed, but the day had been a bit of an adventure and I was tired, too. I gave him another antibiotic and sent him on upstairs. I made sure the back door was locked, and the front door too. The windows were okay open.
I didn’t have anything guy-ish for him to wear to bed. He’d have to sleep au naturel. I cleaned off the other bed, and turned down the covers. I shouldn’t have worried. He turned into a deer and settled down on the floor. Guess you couldn’t get too much more au naturel than that. I came in to get something cool to wear for the night because I only had the one fan. “Your room is this? Sleep here must you. Might not insist I?”
“I can take the one just across the way. It’ll be okay.”
“Insist do I.” He stood and shimmered into person-ness. I went quickly into the other bedroom and changed. I returned to my bedroom. He held out his hand, and I took it. He brushed a quick kiss onto my cheek and I climbed into my bed. He shifted back into deer form and laid his head on the mattress next to me. I touched the cool nose, the bristly whiskers and the rough smoothness of his antlers. I turned onto my side so I could get a better view. I noticed a couple of holes in his ears…I ran my fingers over them.
“How’d you get those?” I queried, still running my hands through his somewhat stiff fur.
“Told you captured when?” I nodded. “Tagged was I.” Ouch.
“Did it hurt much?” I kissed my fingers and touched the holes again.
“Pinch like it was. Earrings made I have to fit. From my antlers made.” Neat.I would like to see them sometime. But at least I knew he didn’t have any ickies, like Chronic Wasting Disease, or whatever else deer could get. They tag wild herds to keep track of them too.
“Glad it wasn’t too bad then.”
“Caged was part worse.”
“Again, I’m sorry about that. I guess they were trying to help the deer population and didn’t understand about your People.” He nodded.
I put my arms around his neck and gave him a hug. I must've fell asleep like that. In the morning, I had a human bed partner. Sort of. He was in that half way mode. So the arms that held me were human, and the chest my head was on was human too, all the way down to his waist, but the rest of him was deer. I felt myself tense at the strangeness of having a man in my bed, even if he was a stag, too. He raised his head. “Okay are you? Mind you did not hope I? Comfort needed you. Gave I.” I scratched under his jaw and rubbed his closest ear when he went to full deer. I rolled back over and moved closer to him. I felt safe and warm and just loved and cared for, something I had really never known.
It was quite late when we finally arose. I heard my Leghorn crowing so I knew she was going to be in a bad mood. My night shirt had ridden up and I was glad that I had left my underwear on, but I still could feel the heat of his legs against the back of mine. I reached back and it wasn’t a deer leg I felt, it was a human one! I jumped up and promptly fell onto the floor because I had been tangled up in the sheet. He shimmered into deer-ness and stood in a protective stance on three legs.
“Wrong what is?” he questioned.
“You…you…you were a guy!” I yelped. He looked at me as if I had lost my friggin mind. Maybe I had…it was okay when he was a full deer, or a half a deer but not when he was a full person. What the Hell is wrong with you Elizabeth?! I asked myself.
“That I am also.” He stated calmly. I felt like all my nerves were standing on end. I had to get out of there PDQ!I fled to the kitchen, turned on the coffee and let the girls out. My Leghorn pecked my leg to express her displeasure before she followed her sisters into the yard. I turned around for a second and heard a sharp BaGawk that was soon followed by more! I grabbed the baseball bat.
“You fuck!” I yelled before I was even out the door. I almost stumbled over the phalanx of feathered bodies at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like Larry had brought a friend. Crap! A bunch of chicken loving compadres…a fox, a raccoon and a possum.
“Leader ours is here, heard have we. Keeping for hostage you are? Hurt is he?”
I heard another call and the birds were falling all over themselves to get back in the house. It was Jamaica and Bo along with Colin,Carl,Sy and Cora. I felt that they were friends, or at least interested in keeping things going smoothly. Larry’s bunch, not so much.
“Here am I, Larry.” His words from behind me made me jump out of my skin. “Plotting still see I. Brought rebels more.” He turned his gaze on to each in turn.
“Pete” The fox bowed his head.
“Lola” The raccoon bared her teeth.
“Virgil” The possum immediately flopped over, playing dead. I think I would’ve too, if I had been on the receiving end of that commanding voice.
“Leader weak, needs leader new. Keep to times up.” Lola stated, obviously agreeing with whatever Larry thought. Stupid bitch.
“Kept us safe not have I?” The deer man stated, coming closer to the opposing team. His allies shifted nervously. I still had the bat and I would be damned if anyone would hurt my friends.
“Yourself not.” Larry said. “Cihuatecuhtli killed you almost.”
“Fault hers not.”
“Same. Matters fault not. Did it she did.”
I felt a squeeze on my leg. “Tham!”
“Don't be foolissh. If Larry harms you, it will harm him. Not good.” The Garter Snake said when I picked him up. He coiled around my arm.
This was a fucking Mexican Standoff and I wanted no part of it. It was time that I took back my yard. “Larry, Lola, Pete, and Virgil! Welcome here you are not! Invited you are not! Leave you must!”
All of "The People" looked amazed that I said the words, and in the correct formal way.
“Gasst Ssacre!” Tham swore from my elbow.(I presumed he meant Holy Shit.) The two canids, and the raccoon froze and the possum writhed. All four winked out of sight, like mist in the sun. The deer man’s allies shimmered into people and gathered around me. I was hugged more times than I thought possible. The young birds didn’t know their own strength and I knew I’d have a few bruises, but it was worth it to see the admiration in the stag man’s eyes. I had never realized that reading a crap load of rituals in books would’ve been such a good thing.
He kissed my cheek in front of all the others and I once again felt loved and respected. Tham said something that I didn’t catch. Everyone nodded. The deer man seemed to see me differently for the first time. I didn’t quite know how to interpret the look.
“Your night things still are in you.” I blushed…I hadn’t even thought of anything other than keeping my girls safe. Putting real clothes on hadn’t even crossed my mind.
“Would you all like to come in for breakfast?” I had no idea what I would be serving, but I could figure something out. I had plenty of eggs still, so maybe it was omelettes all around…It was probably late for the birds of prey to be having breakfast, but everyone came into the kitchen.
I seated them at the dining room table and started cooking. I made toast and eggs and brewed another pot of coffee. These were the first guests I had in the house besides the deer man who I had to remind to take his antibiotic. Somehow or another they all had clothing anyways. Naked folks hanging out in my kitchen might’ve really sparked some interest. I sent the girls back out so they wouldn’t beg. I set up plates and plastic silverware.
“Recalled iron, ar keniterv.” Sy said. Ugh...more words for me to look up.
“Ar plach good is she.” the deer man stated fondly, smiling at me.
“Cook good too iss sshe.” Tham stated, patting his stomach. I thanked him with a kiss on his scaly cheek. “I don't think I need to eat for a month.” Colin and Carl looked like they’d never been in a house before. They hadn’t either. They rather talked over one another telling me how they had never remembered being in one even as little boys. I was shocked and I‘m sure it showed on my face. They were children once? Hmm…a mystery to solve. They looked like they were teenagers. Sy looked around that in her late 20‘s. Bo and Jamaica looked a bit older. My house guest might’ve just hit his mid 30’s, near my own age.
I caught the deer man’s warning look out of the corner of my eye. The Woodpecker boys shut up. Interesting that was too…
Sy offered to do the dishes…I didn’t think she had a domestic bone in her body, but it was nice of her to do it. I had another cup of coffee and sat at the table, looking at all the new friends around me: a snake, some birds, and a deer. My mother would have an absolute fucking COW and I was down with that. Sy took my cup and I went upstairs to get dressed. I tossed on an old Tshirt that had a Mountain Lion on it and some old shorts. I would’ve LOVED to have a shower but I had company. I came back down and only the deer man was left. “Thanked again you did they. Reciprocate will to have.”
“That would be nice…” I hedged. I had no problem eating almost anything. I could’ve gone on Fear Factor and chugged the worm shake.
“Tired still am I. Rest more need ponder I.” Prolly was a good idea.
“Okay you go back up and take a nap.”
“Me join you will?” Man, was I tempted. I still had to call into work to check in. I did so, then watched the girls dirt-bathing. It was so peaceful. My birds would be fine if I wanted to join him in bed. There wouldn’t be anything going on. I wouldn’t let it.
I found him in the bed. He had the sheets tucked around his bottom half. I wasn’t going to see if it was deer or human, but he had put his hurt arm back in the sling and that was human all the way up to his chest and face. “Antlers my like do you.” He said, as they shimmered into existence. The tines were bare, but the parts closest to his head were covered in velvet-like skin.
He almost purred as I scratched around the base of them. He pulled me close and once again I felt comforted. “Reason no except like I.” The feeling was mutual: I DID like having someone who I could touch and whom I didn’t mind being held by. He kissed the back of my head and I scooted a little closer, being careful not to be in proximity to his lower half. I didn’t need that to be added into the mix.My deer man, I still couldn’t think of him as Pan Stanwood…sheesh. I kissed his cheek, running my fingers along his antlers before I left. He had gone fully to deer in his sleep.
I checked on the girls. They were in wallows that had to be halfway to China. I left a note on the bedside table. I wanted to get a walk in because the weather was calling for Tstorms in the afternoon.
I suited up, took the rent-a-bug and drove to the Park. It almost seemed like something was missing…well, one of the big draws was sleeping in my bed at the moment. And it looked like I was going to have an escort. The Skunk man was leaning against the Welcome to the Park sign.
“Don't walk too fast.” the skunk begged, as he hugged me.
“I never got to thank you for helping us the other night…”
"It's nothing. You can call me PePe.Like Pepe LePew." I laughed. He shrugged.
We started our walk. It took a while because he kept stopping to rest, but we did alright.
"Is our Tigernae okay? Was he badly hurt?”
“He’ll be fine. The doctors took the bullet out. He just needs to rest and heal.”
I know we got some odd looks, especially when Tham and a Turkey, who told me to call him Mel, joined us. Guess us “Naturals” needed the protection…
"Ar vignoness Dorsset told off Larry.” Tham was telling my companions. “The wordss sshe knew.”
Mel shook his head and set his wattly neck to wobbling. “An enemy she has made.”
“Guys!” I stepped in front of the animal person trio. “I didn’t do it to piss off Larry and his gang. I did it to keep my birds safe from him.”
“How did you know the words?” PePe questioned.
It was my turn to shrug helplessly. “I just did.” There was lots of speculation over that. We had made it all the way back to the start. I thanked them, got into the car and headed home. How DID I know the correct words to say and how to say it so that they just went poof? I must’ve read it somewhere…
I thought back to the Changeling stories in Irish legend and Carl and Colin…was there some truth to that then? I pulled into the driveway, checked on the girls, then went in and sparked up the laptop. Too soon, I was plinking away, reading legends from all over the world. Could my deer man’s "People" really have just stolen all these innocent children? Fuck. I couldn’t help shivering. The poor parents with children that just up and died for no reason…not knowing that their REAL children had been taken away and fostered somewhere/sometime Else.
What the Hell had I brought into my house? Did Mr. Jim know all of this and was okay with it? Fuck fuck fuck I swore, before I burst into tears. I LIKED my deer man.
“C‘hoar Bihan? Okay you are?” He put a hand on my shoulder.
“No…and I don’t think I’ll ever be again…” I sniffled.
He looked over my shoulder at the picture on the screen. It was of a devil stealing a human child and replacing it with one of his own. “Is this what you do? Steal children and replace them with pieces of wood with a Glamour on them? Leave a Faerie child who will die within a few weeks because the parents don’t know how to take care of them?” I was screaming at him. He folded my more than unwilling body into his embrace.
“C‘hoar. Ever not gentle you with?”
“You’re a fucking deer.” I mumbled into his chest. “I’ve never heard of a were-deer.”
He chuckled and I heard the vibration in my heart. Dammit.
He closed the offending window, and took my hand. I didn’t want to go anywhere with him, so I dug in my heels. “Way hard me make this do.” He took me in his arms again. “Eyes please closed.” I didn’t want to do anything he told me. So I kept my eyes open and regretted it. It was almost like going through a StarGate, a WormHole and the scariest roller coaster evah! All at the same time. When we landed he let go of me and I hit the ground. I think I left half my internal organs back at the house. I was woozy and nauseous and dizzy and absolutely awestruck.
It was like the forest where Hansel and Gretel got lost mixed with our Park. He dragged me along the pine needle strewn path. My footfalls were quiet thuds, while his made practically no sound at all. There was birdsong from all around and I could distinguish the different birds’ calls.
I heard a “caw” of a crow from above and a ebony skinned woman shimmered in front of us. “I cannot believe you brought her here.” She scolded.
“Learn must she. No choice did have I.”
“There is always a choice.”
He shook his antlered head. “Time this not.”
“This is the first female you‘ve brought here, Never any other.” The crow woman sighed. “Show her our home, then…”
We continued along. I recognized a couple of "The People" that I had met in the Park. Most of the inhabitants looked shocked speechless. Which was my reaction when I saw his home…if you could call it that…
There was a square lighthouse centred in the middle of an island in a small bay. Around the head lands were some small places made of stone with eyebrow windows. There was also a row of standing stones, a dolmen and a stone circle that looked like it had just been erected. All of the stone had a lovely pink shade to it.
“C‘hoar, my home is this.” I stopped dead as the path coiled along a cliff ending at the moat of a castle that was surrounded by a pentagon shaped wall. The drawbridge was lowered as we approached. The chains that allowed it to fall were of bronze. So obviously iron wasn’t allowed here. There were towers in each of the corners and for some reason it reminded me of what I’ve always pictured Tintagel might’ve looked like and the forest we just walked through would’ve been a pissah place for Lancelot and Guinevere to have met for trysts. Where WAS my mind headed?
I had read more than enough myths to know that if anyone ate or drank at one of the Fae Courts you were up shit’s creek without a paddle. Were they Seelie or Unseelie would be my next question, if I had been able to think at all…I finally stopped dead before I got my feet on the bridge. “I’m sorry, but I can’t go in there…”
The deer man cocked his head. “Why you can not, C‘hoar?”
“If I get trapped in your place, I might not get back home for a thousand years or more. My girls need me and I can’t be gone for all that long because I‘d lose my job too…” What a lame excuse it was. If things were different, I would certainly be happy to poke around…
“Back take you I then.” He put his arms around me and in a flash we were back in the house. “More read, less learn, C‘hoar.” He brought the window back up and pressed me into the seat. “Told tales, right not always. Questions ask can you. Tell will I.” He kissed the top of my head and went back upstairs. He was basically saying go to the horse’s, umm, deer’s mouth, if I had questions to ask.
Was he telling me that most of what I read was bullshit? Hmm. According the clock we had only been gone for a couple of minutes, but it seemed like maybe an hour. Okay, so that was true…would I hafta make a list of the real stuff and the BS stuff? I might hafta or I’d go nuts.I peeked out at the girls…they were still fine, shaking off, creating clouds of dust. My brain hurt and my insides felt scrambled. I called the girls in, added fresh water and some millet sprays for them to enjoy, closed and locked the back door and went back upstairs.
Damned deer man was waiting for me. Fuck. I needed to think things over. If I was involved with ANY of the hidden realms and their denizens, I was in way way WAY over my head. The only protection would be iron or steel. But that would hurt the good guys too.
I got into the bed, tucking the sheet around me like I was a blintz. He kissed the top of my head, shifted into deer mode and he went to sleep. I rested comfortably with him curled around me.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I got up and started my day even though it was way way WAY before my alarm. I felt rested anyways, surprisingly enough. I let the girls out, and sat in my usual chair with my cup of coffee and muffin. I was rather amazed I wasn’t wasting away because ALL of them were begging...Dang! The Silkie/Cochin was even trying to rappel up my leg. I even tossed a few crumbs to the chipmunk that was sitting on a weathered stump.
After I drained my mug and refilled it, I let the girls stay out. They should be okay if I went inside and took a shower. The window looked out on the backyard in any case. I stripped and turned the water on. I lathered my hair after checking outside once. I rinsed and peeked. Okay, so I was paranoid. I didn’t want Larry helping himself to a free chicken dinner. I would beat the ever-loving SHIT out of him and make him into a fucking coat. If he wouldn’t listen to what his leader said, neither would I.
I repeated as I stood and rinsed off. I used an Apple-y scented shower gel.. It always made me feel nice and spring-y actually. I checked the girls again. The chipmunk was back and seemed like it had brought some friends. I had a mixed flock of songbirds, a couple of robins, a cardinal and a blue jay. I figured my birds were going to be fine.
I found a tank top and some ratty shorts because, except for my walk, I wasn’t going anywhere special. It was going to be in the upper 90’s with way too much humidity. I got my gear together, wondering why I didn’t shower AFTER I walked, but whatever. I told the girls to take care, got in the car, and drove to the park entrance.
They’d open the main gates at 9 so I had a bit of a walk to get to the trails. But that was okay. It was paved like the bike path so there was nothing to it, and it was a good warm up. I locked the car, turned on my music, slung my water bottle in its holder around my body and started. I had my headset around my neck so I could hear if someone snuck up behind me, but could still sing along with the music.
“Come Alive” by the Foo Fighters was playing as the deer man met me at the start of the Scout trail. Interesting synchronicity, I thought.
“Expect to see you, I did not this day.” He said.
“I try to walk almost every day. If I can get out early enough, it’s not too hot and I can go longer.”
I found myself telling him about the doctor’s orders, and that I had actually lost about 40 pounds just by walking every day. “Fine you look to me.” I felt the blood rush to my face. I would never be a lollipop head, thank the Gods. I loved to eat too much. I was fine with my roundness, there was just not so much of it. And I did get winded a lot less. I tripped on a root by not paying attention, but he grabbed me before I got a mouthful of dirt. “Not graceful you are.”
“Understatement. I can trip over my own shadow.”
He gave a quiet laugh, released his iron grip on my waist, and took my hand. It was nice to hold hands with a friend…Wow! That really had never been a part of my life: a friend, a companion…
No one had been good enough for me growing up…so I didn’t have any friends. Once I was on my own, things had changed radically. I partied, I over indulged…but I had booze buddies, acquaintances and work pals rather than friends.
We strolled along the Scout path with its rock walls, ups and downs and bridges. I saw animals that would’ve run and birds that would’ve flown away stay and watch us go by. They cheeped and squeaked greetings to my companion. The deer man just inclined his head, taking his due as the leader of them. A chickadee swooped down and landed on our intertwined fingers. I stopped short and pulled my fingers away from the sharp little talons, but he seemed to listen to the little bird. “Mate that is yours is returned.” Dammit!
“We’re divorced. He’s not mine anymore…I’m not mated to him.” Shit…I was talking like THEY did.
“Not natural he is. Like him, I do not.”
“Me either.” I replied.
“Error of his ways he must be taught.” That didn’t sound good.
“You’re not going to hurt him, are you?”
“Too kind of heart are you, C’hoar Bihan Dorset.” How the Hell he figured out my last name wasn’t even worth going over and I didn‘t know what the other words meant. “Here wait for me you will.” I went back a bit on the trail, found a flat stone and sat. Even if my ex WAS a dick, he didn’t need to be beaten up.
“Will hurt him not he sshall.” I leaned back and almost fell off the rock. Okay, NOW I was listening to a snake. It was a rather LOVELY Garter Snake though and snakes had never given me the willies. “Tham, may I be called.”
“Nice to meet you.” I stuck out my hand as he shimmered into person-ness. That right there shoulda freaked me out and caused me to run to the hills, but I just moved my bum over so that the very skinny, non-blinking man could sit next to me. He shook my hand and his felt just like a snake skin I had touched once. “Run away mosst perssonss would. I am impresssed. Like sserpentss you do?”
“I’m not afraid of you, if that’s your question.”
“Mosst perssonns fear my kind.” I shrugged.
“You’re not too venomous. Why would I?”
The snake man‘s, Tham’s, face, broke into a huge smile. “Our Tigernae hass chossen well. Ass did Mr. Jim."
A blue jay was hanging around, too. “Ssy! To ssee you nice it iss.”
The bird shimmered into a slight woman with jet black hair with white and sapphire blue stripes wearing blue jeans and a black shirt. “I don't know about that, Tham. She is new to us and we are new to her."
We chatted about silly things until the deer man returned. “Sy! Fine family is, presume I.”
She nodded. “Chicks are growing too quickly.”
“Not upsetting you was Tham?”
“I happen to like some snakes.” The serpent man blushed, shimmered, and slithered into the underbrush. Sy, the Blue Jay was next to go, leaving the stag man and myself sitting too closely on the rock.
“Trampled your mate wish I.”
“Yeah he IS a jerk. Did you talk to him as yourself, or as a deer?” Which one was his TRUE form? Shit! Did I really want to know?
“Man to man spoke we.” Oh boy…that must’ve gone over well with my ex. He didn’t like confrontations. He’d run away, then work himself up into a lather to do something stupid later on.
“Goring him might’ve worked better.”
The deer man snorted. “True could be it. You leave alone will now he?” I certainly hoped so.
“I’ve not heard of a deer killing a person here, but I would prefer it wouldn’t be someone I know.”
“Last resort violence is. Use it do not like to I.”
I didn’t like to either. Some circumstances just called for it. Like the assholes who didn’t quite get the message to fuck the Hell off…and to take a large sidestep into the nearest black hole.
“Finish walk you would like with me?” The deer man asked. I still did need to, so I agreed. He reminded me a lot of Mr. Jim and I missed him again…dang. “Why sad you are?”
“I miss Mr. Jim and you reminded me of him.”
“Alike are we?”
“Not really, but somewhat.”
“Natural too he was.”
“He didn’t turn into anything did he?”
The deer man chuckled. “A person just.”
“How do you know if someone’s ‘natural‘?”
“Things many. Animals like. Gardens grow…” That left me off. “Heart kind. Earth love. In you things these are.”
“Even though I’m from the city?”
“Live now here. To you called we. Like you more need we.”
Even with all the hippy dippies jumping on the eco bandwagon, there was still more places that needed saving.
“Are there other places like the park here that have your kind?”
“World all over.” That was good to know. I had read of some of the old Shamans in the rainforest who would die to protect their homes…maybe it just wasn’t their homes…
“Show you day some like to.”
“That would be really nice, thanks.”
“Welcome are you.” Then I thought of how to get a passport to some of those places and how much it would cost…That certainly put a damper on the travel. And I’d need someone to watch the girls who wouldn’t eat them. I couldn’t believe I was even thinking that way…dang!
It was an easy time with the deer man…we walked and talked…it was amazing that I could have a conversation with a person that didn’t involve accounts receivables, accounts payables, IRA’s, or taxation, or how much money they wanted or how long until the next big thing came around the corner and dropped into their laps…
We discussed the weather, whom I had met so far of the people, how they had taken their names…mostly from their Latin names. White tailed deer were Odocoileus Virginianus. He didn’t look like a “Virgil” or an “Odo” or a “Lee” to me…He would have a more “regal” name, I thought. I knew that hawks were “Buteo” but didn’t know the rest of it. Common Garter Snakes were Thamnophis and Blue Jays were Cyanotta, so those made sense for “Tham” and “Cy” to be used as names.
“Thinking hard are you.” I had sort of stopped in the middle of the path while I was going through things in my mind. I really couldn’t do two things at once cuz Gods know I could trip and fall, or walk into a tree because I wasn’t paying any attention. I had almost yanked his arm/leg out of the socket.
“Sorry.” I muttered. “I was trying to figure out what to call you…” He smiled.
“Guess it not you might not easily.” All of a sudden I was reminded of Rumplestiltskin.
“If I guess your name do I get a prize?” He laughed out loud.
“Not I think, C’hoar Bihan Dorset.”
“Remember I too the tale of weaving straw to gold. Read we all can. Learn did from books we. School went to I. Language yours difficult is.” True, dat. Modern English grabbed words from all sorts of other languages.
“What is your original language since it‘s not English?”
“Brythonic, Gallicum, Frankish called it is these days I remember not.” I’d hafta do some research…because neither of those words sounded familiar to me while the last one did. And it certainly explained the strange wording that he and his people used. And the completely unknown words that he used in front of my last name…hmm.
“Thinking done you are?”
“I guess so.”
“Finish your walk may we, then.” We had gone around the path a couple of times and he escorted me back to my car. My ex, being the swell fellow that he was, scratched swears and epithets into my car’s paint…I swore loud and long. My companion cringed. “Speak like that maouzen should not do…”
“Yeah, well, but look at my car!” I yelled.
“Fix it can not you?”
“Yes. But it still sucks that I’ll need to have to take the time off of work.” I noticed that he didn’t get too close to the cars. I recalled that the Fae didn’t like iron and cars were made of steel which was made from iron…
“Sorry I am suggestion took he not.” I was too…I’d hafta take pictures when I got home. More evidence against my ex. I had hoped that having the stag man talk to him would’ve made a difference, but obviously it hadn’t. It had just gotten him madder. Shit. Back to the police station, I’d go…
I’d hafta go to court, the Officer told me, since the ijit was keeping up the harrassment. I would have to bring everyone who had contact with him in for statements too…How the Hell was I going to stuff a deer in the Tempo, I’d like to know.
I headed on back home with a date to appear. My girls were fine, like I knew they’d be. Since when had I trusted my beloved birds with strangers? But they weren’t really strangers, were they? They were more aptly called neighbours.
I called in and worked for a while. Then I took a break and photographed the graffiti on my car. It would be going right into the shop as soon as I uploaded the pictures and saved them to a disk. At least the repair shop had an opening and my insurance would let me have a loaner for a couple of days. It was a Lime Green Volkswagen Bug…WITH the optional flower…Dollars to donuts, my deer man would try and eat it. I burst out laughing, startling the girls. It felt good to laugh. I almost thought that I had forgotten how.
I finished work, called in, and started dinner again. It was just a salad with tomatoes, and cukes and Italian dressing. I washed the dishes, then went to the park to get another walk in. It was still hot, but the sun was going down. I went to the end of my street, hit the secret path and went in. I went by the thicket where the deer man had grabbed me that one time. I couldn’t tell if anyone was in there because it was so thick. I kept on going, singing along with my songs. It was harder when I was going up the hills, but I did better than I had before. I heard someone coming up behind me and moved to the side of the bike path. “Move too quickly, you do…” panted the Park Person. “Out of shape, I must be…” I stopped and found a bench so he could take a breather. He bent over, rested his longish nailed hands on his knees and gasped some more. I noticed the white stripes in his sleek black hair. I had NEVER seen a skunk in a hurry, so it must’ve been important.
“What’s the problem?”
“That God damned sonofabitch!” I snarled.
“I think YOUR tail is up.” the skunk stated with a snicker.
I HAD to laugh. “I guess so. If we need to get there quickly, shouldn’t you sorta “change” and I could carry you? Just let me know where I need to go.”
"They are nearest the Blue Trail by the lake.” The man shimmered into his skunk shape. I plucked him off the bench and we headed that way. Now, I know that skunks stink. They always will. He WASN’T bad smelling at all, which sort of surprised me. He really wasn’t any worse than a ferret which is in the same family. I held him like he was a cat, sort of cuddled in my arms. I took the small shortcut that he pointed out and we were there quickly. My ex had the deer man at the end of the dock against the railing. I dialed 911, while standing in the brush still, and told them that my ex was holding another person hostage at the dock in the pond at gunpoint.
The deer man was speaking quietly, trying to reason with him, but my ex was ranting about how HIS wife didn’t need another man, only needed himself. And that he should stay away from someone else’s property. “Property?!“ I ground my teeth and sorta squozed my furry burden. He squealed at me, and I apologized before settling him on the ground.
I strode over, and yelled. “Hey asshole, why don’t you leave the guy alone?”
He spun and the gun was pointed my way…oh shit! “He fucking started it! Telling me that you could talk to whomever you wanted. You're my WIFE!”
“Oh for the Gods’ sakes, you jackass! You married me for my money and I married you because my mother badgered (no offense, I told the skunk) me into it. You didn’t love me and I sure as Hell didn’t love you. You are a worthless piece of shit! You’re trying to scare me into going back to you, well that’s NEVER going to happen…cuz you’re gonna end up in jail being a bum chum to someone named Rico for stalking me. As for this gentleman here, he has every right to be in the park as I do and not be hunted and assaulted because you have a stupid idea trapped in your fucking empty head…”
He came off the dock and started towards me. “Okay, now what dumbass?” I thought to myself.
“Since I can’t have you, noone else will either!” The deer man gasped at the threat, and the skunk, blending into the shadows raised his tail in alarm.
“That’s the OLDEST line ever, and it’s still bullshit!” I told my ex bravely, watching the gun, and hoping I didn't disgrace myself by shedding my intestinal lining on the ground.
I saw him pulling the trigger in slow mo. My friend shimmered into deer form, barreled towards him, and knocked him flat on his face right in the bulls-eye range of the black and white stinky kitty! Mr. Skunk got him dead centre. The gun barked and all of us jumped. I couldn’t figure out where the bullet went. It was just in time too as the prowl cars pulled up.
“Oh God!” One of the flat foots bawled.
“He’s not going in MY car“ the other one argued.
They called for a "paddy wagon" instead.
“So what happened here?” One cop asked while we waited. The stag man courteously let me talk first.
“You know the fact that my ex has been stalking me, well he thought that this man here was having a torrid love affair with me. We’re not, we’ve only just met and we’ve taken to walking together, but we’re just acquaintances…”
The skunk snickered, and the cops all looked down at the animal.
“Shoved this man when gun turned he on Damzel Dorset and skunk fell over he. Shoot her tried to he!” The stag man told them.
“We got it on the call.” I had specifically left the phone on so that they could get it. “You DID sort of bait him…”
“Well, I didn’t want him to hurt an innocent person.” My deer man looked so innocent that it was painful…
The paddy wagon came in and the crew tossed my ex in the back. He was still gagging and crying and bleeding from a cut lip. “You both will have to come down to the station and make formal statements."
I was okay with that, but my deer man, not so much, but he got into the back of one of the squad cars and tried to get comfortable with all that iron around him. I would take my rent-a-Bug. They took me to the car and I drove to the station once again. It was becoming my home away from home, and I wasn’t really amused about that.
We were taken into separate rooms and quizzed about what had happened. I was sure that they weren’t keen on the coincidence that I was in the right place at the right time to help out. They said that if my ex pressed charges that the deer man could be brought up for assault. Neither of us had thought of that, for sure. It wouldn't have crossed MY mind...
The cops didn’t even want the guy in the holding cell. Not that I blamed them. Another cop took him and cleaned him up and hosed him off, but he still stunk. And even worse, when the gun went off, it had ricocheted off a rock and grazed my deer man! He had been checked out after bleeding a bit on the seat. I guessed the adrenaline rush had made him not feel it. An EMT slapped a bandage on him.
It was very late when we were finally released. At least I didn’t have to take him to the Wildlife Centre. He was given a couple of aspirin for any pain he might have, and to see a real doctor in the next couple of days. I wondered what that might do to his shape shifting abilities.
“Leave at the Park can you me.” he stated when we got nearer my street. “Fine will be I.”
“I’ve read that some of the Fair Folk don’t like iron…Is that from the Milesians defeating the Kelts’ bronze weapons with their own of iron?” I asked, just to know.
He snapped his head around. “Read that too have I. Shape changers moon metal fear…” He snorted. “Codswollop!”
“Yeah, I sorta thought it was bullshit too.”
“Uncomfortable us make, but kill not.” That was nice to know. “Crawling skin caused by iron.” I had that same reaction to Hematite, which was an Iron ore. I also wondered if that was part of the Like Calls to Like deal…
The chain across the gate was still down after the cops had come and gone, so I was able to drive all the way to the Lake itself. I made the loop so that I could head back out once he unfolded himself from the rent-a-bug. He didn’t seem to be in a rush though…
“Afraid of dying, was not I, C‘hoar Bihan. YOU of dying was I.” I felt myself blush. He brushed a kiss onto my temple. “Sleep well.” He shimmered into deer-ness and blended into the woods.
Sleeping well wasn’t on my to-do list for the night. What if he had been killed by my ex? What if HE had killed my ex? What if my ex had killed ME? Who would’ve taken over the secret of the People? Holy Shit! When was it MY business anyway? It was MY business because I had agreed and because I was a “Natural”…fuck me naked.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The racket of bird alarm calls and the ba-Gawking of my girls brought me back to reality. I booked it out of the house and into the backyard. I hadn’t even paid attention to anything else because I was lost in thought. Shit! I grabbed a broom, like that would do any good against anything larger than a chipmunk…pfft.
If nothing else, I could sweep up the feathers that were left...The only thing different was the flock of wild birds in the trees around the yard and every one of them was facing the same way. My ex was trying to get into the yard and there was a Blue Jay dive bombing him. I had the police on speed dial and rang them. They were there within minutes. The bird hadn’t let him get away…it kept him pinned against the hotwire. At least I could hope that he'd make himself extra crispy the way he was yelping.
After he had been cuffed and stuffed, I turned to check on the girls and the wild birds. My girls were still there, staring out the gate at the most recent source of amusement, but the wild ones had flown the coop so to speak. I looked up and there was a single blue jay watching me. With nothing else to lose, I thanked the crow in a blue pin striped suit. It cocked it’s head at me, like it had understood, and flew off. The girls were all talking amongst themselves, but they were all fine.
We trooped into the house and I sat and played some puzzles on a game site…I kept losing to the computer…oh well. At least it was a free site and I wasn’t losing any real money. Not that I didn’t have enough to lose a couple of hundred, but that would be assinine.
I made myself some lunch. I don’t have a clue what it even was. The girls wanted to get back outside because it was nice and they wanted to wallow…parts of my yard resembled moonscapes…but they enjoyed themselves. I went and checked the mail in the box. There was a letter with no address or postage on it. The writing was extremely fancy, like it was torn from a page of the Book of Kells The spelling was archaic…but I was able to figure it out. It read that “The People” needed some supplies, and that since Mr. Jim had thought enough of me to trust that I would keep their secret…if I could get some food items for them…
I had seen Mr. Jim bring lots of bags into his house a few times since I had been there and I KNEW that he couldn’t eat it all himself. He must’ve been buying for the strange people from the funeral. That was the reason why he had such a huge garden! Duh! It hadn’t been just for him; they had been taking some too…
I then wondered how long these “People” had been living in the park and how many “Natural” people had helped them out over the years. I was instructed by the note to just leave the bags at the back of the yard. Someone would come for them.
I was reluctant because I was afraid that someone would see the pick up, or wild animals would take the stuff, or they might get hurt on the hotwire, but I couldn’t turn it off because my girls needed that protection…maybe they wouldn’t…I’d hafta think about that…I thought about how many times I had fed the wild birds and finally convinced myself that this really couldn’t be too much different. I’d do it this once, and see what happened. I gave them that reply on the back of THEIR note, placing it in a small indentation in the trunk of one of the sycamores out in the back yard. Pretty soon I saw a squirrel make off with it. I could only hope that it wasn’t taking it for nesting material.
Going through the rest of the mail, I found that my divorce was finally final! Yays!!! It was a great feeling to not be married anymore. Well, at least not to my ex…Maybe I’d find “Mr. Right” instead of “Mr. He’s just perfect for you…you gotta marry him and give me grandkids before you‘re too old…My friends will be so proud…” I ground my teeth. Fuck that! I’d rather “live in sin” and be happy than be trapped like that again. Maybe I could find a young lover for every day of the week and two for Saturday. I'd have alot to learn though...wonder if they'd mind if I took notes...
There were a few bills to be paid, which I did. My electric and water were negligible because I used rain water for my unsuccessful gardening attempts, and except for fans and the laptop and the TV on occasion and the usual appliances, I lived pretty simply. The girls had their own fans in the summer and a baseboard heater that came with the house in the winter, but I would only use it on the rare January days when their water froze over. My pay was direct deposited and I could even track it online. Yeah, I know, I was a completely wired individual these days. But I was happy, contented even, and that was what really mattered.
I decided that I needed to continue the walk that had been so rudely interrupted by my ex. I left the fan on, and the girls with the radio going. I drove to the parking lot and turned on my MP3 player. It wasn’t too crowded because it was hot and sticky, but if I stayed on the nature trails, I should be okay. Then I had to choose which trail I wanted to do…Green had all the plants and trees. Scout was rocky and hilly and rather hard so that was definitely out. Blue took you down to the Lake, so that was a possibility. Purple was flowers and butterflies and the big meadow…hmm…Decisions, decisions…
Dark and shady made the choice for me. I took the Blue path and then would hit the Green where they met. I got almost all the way through, then had to stop for a break. Sweat was just pouring off me and I wanted to kick myself for not finishing up in the morning…I sat on a bench in the little glade they called the Chapel in the Woods. I never knew of anyone being married there, but whatever…I stared out at the pond watching the Swans and the Geese and the Ducks paddling around, drinking my bottle of water. I heard a chittering next to me, but didn’t turn to look. There were chipmunks galore this summer…You couldn’t swing a cat by the tail without hitting a dozen…I DID finally look when there was a small one tugging at the hem of my shorts, looking up at me with a piece of paper in it’s paws…The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I twisted my head all around to see if anyone was near. Thank the Gods, noone was. It was a reply to MY reply. It would be fine, the missive said. And that they would be sending me a list. Okay, I told the Gerbil with Racing Stripes. Dear Gods, a messenger Chipmunk, who the Hell woulda thunkit?
I sat for a couple more minutes. I knew that there was a Deer-man, a Bird-woman or two, and a chipmunk person…It just didn’t seem real…Maybe in some Charles DeLint Newford story, but to me?!! Hell NO!!! I was a realist, a cynic, level headed as a friggin’ rock!! WHY was this happening to me? Had I done something wrong? Or was it because I was finally doing something RIGHT?!!! Shit…That thought would be mulled over for quite a while.
I headed back to the car. There was a piece of paper under the windshield wiper. I took it and checked out the “People’s” shopping list. It was pretty simple. Salt, Pepper, Milk, Eggs, Bread, Peanut Butter. Some vegetables too. Rice, Pasta…necessary things…What did I expect: a salt lick and some Purina whomever Chow? I guessed it could go either way. A raccoon waved it’s hand in farewell as I got into the Tempo. I just shook my head. I wished I had someone to talk to about this. Mr. Jim would’ve understood. I sighed…That is probably why I was “allowed” into his inner circle…I guess like really DID call to like…I had always been an "earthy" person, more comfortable digging in the dirt, being outside, working in the yard and all of that non-girly stuff…
I went home, made myself and the girls some supper. I washed the dishes and set up the coffee machine for the next day. I then headed out to the market. I took the list with me and bought what was on it for my otherworldly neighbours in the park. The amount wasn’t staggering, just larger than I usually got. Their other source of outside help was gone and I had nothing to fear from them. Well, that was a shock right there…I guess I really didn’t. Even the deer man had helped me get away from my ex…scared the shit out of me doing it, but he HAD helped me.
It took a few trips to get all the bags in from the car, then into the Igloo Ice chest that I had snagged from Mr. Jim’s. I had never seen him use it, so I presumed that his “People” were the ones who benefited from it. I filled it with ice and added the milk and butter. Since all my girls were laying except for the Silkie/Cochin ninny, I had a couple of dozen eggs to give away. I marked that down on the paper.
I put it out by the corner of the backyard, where the fence, and the small open patch before actual woods started, met. I really wanted to see the pick up but decided against it. The girls had put themselves to bed, while I sat and tried to read. It didn’t hold my interest. Neither did the baseball games, or even playing on the computer.Finally, I said "Fuck it" and went to bed.
I was woken by tapping outside the window. “You have GOT to be kidding!” I groused. The sun was out, but that was no reason to be up yet…the alarm hadn’t even gone off! The tapping got louder and moved to the glass. I flew to the window, startling the yellow spotted woodpecker with the red lipstick(beakstick?) smears on the sides of it’s face. “What?!” I yelled. It cocked it’s head at me and stuck out it’s tongue before leaving a note on the sill, and flying off.
I took the paper and turned on the coffee. There was still an hour of rack time before I was sposta be up…ugh. I read the note while incinerating my taste buds.It simply read, "We Thank You. And your birds for their eggs." Shit! I was ashamed of myself. I had no good reason to snap at anyone BUT myself. I was more than tempted to check into the White Jacket Hotel once again or at least head back into the wilds of the city. But who’s to say there weren’t people posing as animals, or was that the other way around, there too? Time for more coffee before I got into THAT philosophical discussion with myself. I let the girls out to roam and do chicken stuff. Then I wondered if THEY were people in bird suits too. I reached for the phone, ready to dial 911, and have myself committed for an extended stay…
I usually didn’t let the girls stay out when I wasn’t there, but I figured that they’d be safe enough, if the “Park People” were keeping an eyeball out for them. I crossed my fingers.
I went to the path I where I had started yesterday. I was basically tiptoeing around it. That made me mad enough to see blood! Would I have to be afraid of that fucking idiot that I had married and divorced for the rest of my life?!! He probably hadn’t even gotten bailed out yet. I went around the trail and onto the bike path so fast, I was amazed that I didn’t leave flaming sneaker prints. I didn’t hear anything over the pounding of my heart, and the slap of my feet against the road. When my legs reminded me that they weren’t meant for the Death March of Bataan, and started to cramp, I had to practically crawl to a bench to rest. I sucked down some water from my bottle, wishing that the lake was closer. Dipping my feet in the cool, snapping turtle infested water wouldn’t have hurt too much more at the moment.
I felt a presence behind me, but didn’t turn. I didn’t need to as the deer-man sat next to me on the bench. I looked towards the ground expecting to see hooves. He wiggled his perfectly normal looking toes and his chuckle made me snap my gaze up to his brown eyes. When they say that someone had doe eyes I knew what they meant finally…They were a rich brown somewhere between a Hershey’s chocolate bar and a Special Dark bar and had the gentlest of expressions. He was wearing brown sandals and cargo shorts and a plain v neck t-shirt. He looked like any of the denizens of my new hometown. I guess that’s what they could do if they had to. I just had to examine him again. His hair was short and a reddish brown color. “Know wish to search for antlers you do.” He said in a low toned, quiet voice. “I have them not in this form. Nor hooves nor a tail.” I wasn’t going to check out his ass to make sure. “Thank you I helping us for. Appreciative my people of your kindness are.”
“You’re welcome.” I replied. Of course, I had a million and one OTHER things to say that weren’t as polite, but were nosy and invasive, but I HAD sorta just met him.
“How many of there ARE you?” I finally asked, after looking him over thoroughly again.
“Not as many as once there was, I fear. In our other forms we’re more like as not to hunted be, or house pets by killed, or automobiles.” I cringed, thinking of werewolves that changed back to human when they died. That would really muck up someone’s day…”But Officer, I really DID hit a chipmunk…I woulda known if I hit a naked person…” “Tell it to the Judge buddy…”
“Are you like the King or something?”
“No, selected was I for position of leader for a year and a day…no one else has spoken up so am I still.”
“How long’s it been then?” I could see him thinking hard.
“20 Seasons. Ponder I.”
“20 Years?!” I yelped.
“No, Seasons-cold, green, hot, red.” Ahh. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, duh.
“Oh…like 5 years then.”
“As you say.”
“How’d you meet Mr. Jim?”
“As you did us…”
“How do you pick who’s going to help you?”
“More is it that each other find we…”
His speech was archaic, almost Yoda-like…but I could figure it out…I HAD read Beowulf in the Old English and the Volsunga Saga in Icelandic, and The Canterbury Tales in Middle English. That’s not even taking into account the Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and the language of the Mayans and Aztecs. Some things just stay with you, I guess. My mother had never read Fairy Tales because they would twist your mind so that you saw things behind every tree (like wtf was wrong with that?) or Winnie the Pooh with the talking animals or Old Mother West Wind or almost anything that would make a child interested in nature and the world around them. Dull dull dull things like Dickens’ Great Expectations, Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I brought a sappy romance home one time from the library and I had to take it back because she didn’t approve of it.
“Can you leave the park? Like go other places?” Well, that was a stupid question because they came to Mr. Jim’s funeral, and to my house. “Never mind…I know the answer.”
“For a short time might we leave…not away for weeks or months…Longest was five days once. Caught and caged was I.” The anger in his voice made me want to comfort him. I put my hand on his arm, involuntarily.
“I am sorry.”
He looked down at the place where we connected. “Touched we are not…hmm.” His eyes flicked to mine quickly. I moved to pull it back, but he held it there with his free hand. “Missed this have I, ponder I.”
When a crow flew over and called, he abruptly slid away on the bench, moving his arm away like he was guilty of a crime.
“Don’t tell me…That’s your girlfriend.” I joked.
“No. Mated to her not am I .” I was sorta relieved. “A mate yet have not do I.” I was even more relieved…but what was I thinking?! I just got my divorce in the mail. I was sitting like a sweating lump of jello near a guy that could change into a deer…wtf?
I stood. “I have to get back to my girls and get some work done…Nice talking with you.”
“Walk with you might I to trail, then?” No skin off my nose, I thought.
He moved with light deer-like steps(duh) while I felt like an elephant wearing platform clogs…sheesh. We got there quicker than I thought possible. He held the bramble aside so I could go through without getting scratched. “Again may I see you?”
“I DO come here often…”
He smiled a dazzling smile, lifted a hand in farewell, and I headed home. I went straight to the back yard and there was a hawk eyeballing my girls. The brazen thing was sitting right on a fence post. They were all huddling en masse under the Brahma whos hackles were all out. I marched over to the bird of prey who didn’t move except to look down its beak at me. “I am NOT after your King. All we did was talk, so don’t be a jealous bitch!” I turned and ushered the girls back inside.
Within a few seconds there was a knock at the front door. There was a thin twenty something man with long arms standing on the top step. He had a well trimmed beard with tinges of red in his hair. “Jealous, not am I. Female dog, most assuredly not. With the stag mated, No.” I didn’t know whether to shit or offer him a mouse. My Brahma was all flared out, just like she had been when the hawk was watching them out back. All he had to do was drool at one and I would let her loose on him. Another hawk stooped and shimmered. Oh ferfucksakes… She shook her dyed red shoulder length hair and examined my flock. “Good to eat nothing here, Bo. And hers they are.” I saw one of the new neighbours gawking at my company because I really didn’t have any.
“JW’s” I said, waving and wearing a big fake smile.
“Your birds watch shall we.” The hawk man named Bo stated.
“Not too closely, I hope.” I shot back.
“Food they are not. Yours they are.”
“Delicious eggs were.” The female said. “Off we must be.” With another shimmer, both were back to hawks and flying off.
I took a shower, then called in and started to work. I worked through lunch even with the pecking, biting, clucking, and climbing up my legs…They HAD food and water in their bowls…sheesh. I finished at the usual time, called in, and started dinner glad I had never had a taste for venison. We had Suddenly Salad because it was too hot to cook much and I added some fake beef (Can’t call it chicken with them staring at me) and corn on the cob.
I let the girls out again just in time to see a grey-brown dog stop short as it spotted us. “If you are one of the People, let me know, or I’ll clobber you and wear your tail as an pendant.” I reached behind me for the aluminum baseball bat that I bought for such a contingency and advanced toward the coyotl (that IS the correct spelling from Nahuatl) From out of the corner of my eye, I saw a buck clear the electric fence without breaking a stride and get between me and the canine. The coyotl sat, then both shimmered into people shape. The coyotl still LOOKED like a coyotl with a long sharp nose and shifty eyes.
“Larry! Keep away told you were.”
“Looking just was I. Curious was I.”
The deer man snorted. “Food they are not.”
“Tail mine thou would wear, Cihuatecuhtli(The Lady in Nahuatl)” He turned his yellow eyes to me. No wonder they wore sunglasses and hats. “Hmmph” He scoffed. “Attempt it, then.” I was more than up for the challenge, and raised the bat in a stance that would‘ve made Albert Pujols proud.
The deer man stepped in front of me again. “This allow shall not I. Hurt him not you will.” Shit. I lowered the bat.
“He goes after my birds, I’ll flatten his ass. I don’t care WHAT you say.” I told the deer man.
“Heard the lady did you not?” He stated. The coyotl shimmered and scampered away.
“He was full of shit, wasn’t he? He was going to try and eat my birds.”
The deer man shrugged. “He is Coyote.” In most American mythologies, Coyotl was just like Wile E. Coyote. Too smart for his own good and all his plans blew up in his face.
“I met a couple of Red Tailed Hawks this morning, too.” I commented to keep talking to him.
“Jamaica and Bo. Good that is. Mates they are and heart friends to mineself.”
“Do all of you have names?” He nodded, but ignored my prompting look.
Ahh, a stag man of mystery…”Well enough I know you not.” I could understand that. At least I knew three of them: Jamaica and Bo the Redtails and Larry the Coyote.
“Comfortable, now are they.” He indicated my girls grazing on the lawn. The Silkie/Cochin wandered over and pecked at his ankle. He scooped her up and scratched her neck right at where the back of her little comb attached…I could almost see her melt. Then I had the most unexpected thought of how his touch would be with me. Eek!! There were things to take care of that if that was what I wanted: Craiglist, the internet, and items that came in brown wrapped packages…
He placed her gently back on the ground and she toddled her fuzzy butt off to the others. Out of all of them she was the most approachable and she had balls of brass. It was rather like the little yippy dog that took on a Rottie and won.
He shimmered into deer shape and bounced over the fence and was gone into the woods. At least he could’ve said “Good night.” I sat in my usual chair and watched the girls do chicken stuff until the mosquitoes were getting aggravating. The girls wended their ways back into the house and settled down for the night. I sat on the couch with the light on low, just listening to the cicadas buzz and the moths bashing against the screens. I thought I heard hooves on the street, but figured I was just playing tricks on myself. I finally went off to bed and fell deeply asleep.
Since Mr. Jim’s funeral I had been having dreams that were so odd, so strange, yet comforting in some way. Last night was no different. It looked like I was in a fairy court. Didn’t I mention I was a voracious reader too, since growing up and I could read what I wanted? I still try to read some of the new novels that come out. I loved mythology too. My Edith Hamilton’s are quite ragged and dog eared.
I was welcomed as a long lost friend. I was hugged and passed along like a potato until I was at the foot of the steps of a wooden dais. There was a King on the throne. His crown perched precariously between his huge rack of antlers. The Queen’s throne beside him was empty and he beckoned me forward. I only took a couple of steps when my ex stopped my progress by waving a gun in my face. The whole scene popped out of existence and I was standing at the entrance to the Park. I woke myself completely up.
That was the first time I had had THAT one and I was pissed off again that my ex intruded into even my dreams. Dammit!