This story is an excerpt from my upcoming book of life stories titled Moonwalks and Unknowns featuring the Trespassers. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know.
Set up: During this story my husband, eight-year-old son and myself live in an unfinished 12×16 two-story cabin on five acres of raw, forested land in the foothills of the mysterious Olympic Mountains within Washington State. We have no power, no running water and use a rough-shod outhouse, even during the worst weather. To shower, we either visit the State Park or John Wayne Marina. Life is not easy during this time.
Every afternoon for a long while I’d look out my dinky kitchen window through the woods out to the road and see a guy in an army jacket with a rifle slung over his shoulder standing on the embankment staring at our cabin. This didn’t frighten me. I remembered seeing him walking the streets when I lived in town. He’d always make a point of waving at me. Same guy. Same army jacket. Same rifle. It was just sort of strange seeing him here staring at our cabin. When I mentioned him to my husband he said, “Oh, that’s Dave. I’ve known him since we were in school.”
A few weeks went by before Duane came into the cabin and said, “I spoke to Dave today.”
Duane always waits for me to ask him “Well?”
(He inherited that annoying habit from his mother. Most all of his siblings share the trait. It gets aggravating. Conversations sure can get drawn out with those Cobb’s.)
I don’t say what’s expected. Minutes tick by. I cave. “Well?”
“He has a brother who lives somewhere down the road.”
Long pause as I try to outwait him. I cave. “Okay—”
“He didn’t know we’d moved here.”
Imagine thirty full seconds slowly tick by while Duane takes his soaking wet boots off.
I cave. “Okay—”
“He thought he might be seeing things because he spied you once through the woods and thought you looked familiar.”
Now he’s using the little hatchet, chopping some kindling on the brick hearth. The bricks are breaking but he’d rather do it in here than outside where the wind is howling and rain is splattering up mud. But I know there is more to his story or he wouldn’t have bothered bringing it up. “Okay—”
“Ya know why he carries his rifle?”
Tic-toc. Can you see me rolling my eyes? Why doesn’t he just spit it out already? Grrrrr. I know he must get this from that Ma & Pa Kettle side of his bloodline. “No. How come he always carries his rifle?”
“Cause he’s been spying on a whole family of black cougars up the mountain. He intends to shoot one to show people he’s not making this up.”
“And what do you think about that?”
“I think,” he stacked some kindling over some paper inside the stove and set the lighter to it all, “that he really believes what he saw; it’s just that, well, I don’t know. I mean, he, well, . . . I don’t know.”
And that’s the first time I’d heard about the big black cats.
During the summer of ‘90, we received a strange call from our neighbor, Jack’s girlfriend, Leah. “Your Mr. Tibbs is killing ducks in our pond.”
(Mr. Tibbs was half doberman and half Labrador, all black and pretty big. He’s one of our two dogs. Although we had no power to the cabin, we did have a telephone. That’s because the telephone lines come in underground from the road while the power lines running through our property via easement, were extremely expensive to hook up to.)
“That can’t be. Katie and Tibbs are right here.”
“You sure about that?”
“Yes. They’re here, lying at my feet beside the woodstove.”
“Well, if it ain’t one of your dogs I’m looking at then it is one helluva big black cat!”
Well, that would be something. Leah’s no city-woman. She’s as country as they come. She’s been farm raised, she hunts, and even knows how to log. “I’m leaving Katie and Tibbs locked in and I’m coming right over.”
“Well, you better drive.”
Leah lived about ten acres over, through the woods, or less than a quarter mile if I walked on the little trail through the woods—our preferred neighborly route—but this time, I thought it wiser to take her advice and drive over.
She swung the door open before I could knock. When we went to look out her sliding glass door where we could view the pond, whatever it was had disappeared.
It was inevitable I’d encounter him, whom I named Ebon . . .
But what I’ll tell you here on this blog post (although there is more to this story within my book) is that since my encounter, every shadow in the woods is suspect until proven innocent.
This blog was inspired by the Daily Post one word prompt: Mythical.