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!