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.