by Roy Harbin
kayhin & durwood
The coon kept running down into the woods heading for the safety and comfort of it's regular haunts down near the stream coming down out of the cliffs above the widow Arnolds house.Barely one season old,,it had never been down by the shed untill this morning,the smells coming from it had overcome the normal aversion to the place.Even the snakey rank smell from the large creature that had been hunting the area lately hadn't been enough to keep his young nose from leading him to the sweet puddles of juice spread across the shed floor.And it had been good,,untill the explosion of sound had destroyed the moment and sent him mindlessly bolting out.
Having regained some of his sense of self and gotten to more familiar surroundings he had slowed a little but was still running pell mell across the rocks broken by skree in the loamy areas between them.Luckily,,he was moving way too fast for the sharp toothed jaws that came from the rocks above to catch him.Scooting even faster he bounded away as the toothy maw crashed into the spot where he had previously been.Never seeing it,,not needing to since the smell told him all he needed to know,,and never beeing able to understand the look in the eyes above the teeth meant he had a grudge holder memorizing his smell,,he continued at his increased pace for well over a quarter mile along and criss crossing the stream.Staying well ahead of the reptilian giant tasting his scent trail over the rocks at a leisurely seeming pace.Neither one was aware of the other prints being laid behind and over both of their print and scent trails.
Deputy Johnathan pulled off of Derwood Road onto Mr's Arnolds train track trestle looking granite gravel drive,,or you could just call it her road since it was about a half mile long,thinking he should have went to the bathroom at Goobers.His bladder had filled up in the time it took him to drive from there to the beatiful place he was driving through.
Thinking,,briefly,, that it was allmost too pretty to pee in,he decided to stop at the spot where the road crossed the creek that ran down from behind Mr's Arnolds ancient house.As he got close,,he slipped his car into neutral and cut off the engine in order to glide into the shady spot he had picked out from down the road,,just a litlle to the other side of the creek.
Braking slightly to stop where he had aimed to,he put it in gear and let out on the clutch.Not pushing the emergency brake in since the spot was virtually level he opened his door and stepped out to stretch a moment.Driving a car around as a job can be confining for an active person like him.Looking around he,,he stepped several feet away from his car down the slope a bit toward the creek to enjoy the view while he did his biz.From where he stood he could see the creek as it came out from under the ancient bridge built out of huge whole logs constructed by Mr Arnolds great great grandfather when he homesteaded the land.
Enjoying the sound of the water bubbling over the rocky stream bed,,he matched it in a way with the sound of his emptying bladder soaking the ground in front of him.Zipping up he became aware of a what sounded like an animal splashing through the water,,the way it seemed echoey telling him it was approaching downstream from the other side of the bridge.Stepping to his left to catch the cover of a few bushes between him and the view of anything coming out from under the bridge,,he kept his eye on the water where it came into view to satisfy his curiousity about what it was.
A smile cracked his face as he seen a young racoon,,drenched and looking all scrawny with what appeared to be an anxious look on its masked mug,,make its way out into the sun and jump onto the rocks right below where the Deputy was half crouching behind the bush.Realizing it looked as though the coons probable path up the bank was going to bring it right past his boots,,he pressed a little closer to the rocks behind the bush and tried to freeze into invisibility.He didn't want to add to the coons apparent bad day by scaring it,,allthough it seemed inevitable.Deputy Johnathan also didn't want to get bit and have to go get shots.Or stitches.
His ploy allmost payed off,,but as the coon came even with him,,it looked dead at him and leapt straight up about 3 foot high, came down,bounced twice like a basketball untill it caught traction then rocketed up the path and out of sight,chittering all the way.
Bursting into virtually helpless laughter,Deputy Johnathan spent a couple of minutes getting back up the bank to his car,then another several minutes leaning on it while getting the guffaw attack under control.And another few minutes getting the giggles to subside.Sitting there wiping the tears from his eyes with his bandana he failed to notice the bright blue brand new car until it braked to a stop and the driver called out,"Everything all right officer?",through the open window.
Standing up and walking toward the vehicle he said,,"Yeah,,I've just seen one of the funniest sights in my life,that's all." Leaning over to look into the car at the passenger he then looked back at the driver and said,,"The real question is,,are you two okay?What brings ya'll aout here in da stiks?" Flashing a smile worthy of Goobers cultivated variety,,he looked back and forth between the two,,then dropped the smile and asked,,"Huh?What are you two doing out here?"
The driver,,looked at the passenger then back at Deputy Johnathan and said,,"As far as I know officer,,we're going to Marvin heres Grandmothers house." Looking back at the passenger he said,,"Tell him,Marvin,,".A tiny sounding voice seemed to float from the far side of the car,,"ye-yes,officer,,where going to,," he stopped,,cleared his throat while sitting up straighter and repeated himself in a more solid sounding manner,,"Yes,officer,we're going to my Grandmothers house where I will be living for a while.My name is Marvin Arnold."
Comprehension came to the Deputy as he remembered the conversation with the Sheriff early."Oh,,so you're Mr's Arnolds grandson,,hi nice to meet you Marvin,,I was just on my way to her house to check out her shed,,she said something broke it down last night,,had to stop for a pee break."
The driver popped the door latch saying,,"Pee break,,that's an idea whose time has come,,excuse me officer." Stepping back so the guy could get his door open,,Deputy Johnathan laughingly said,,"Watch out for wet coons coming out of the creek." With a quizzical look at the Deputy the man simply said,,"Uh,,okay,,I will." and headed to the same side of the bridge the deputy had been on earlier.
Marvin,,having gotten out of the car and moved around as though loosening stiff limbs stopped,looked at the deputy and asked,,"So,,what were saying about the shed door at my house,officer?" Seeing and hearing the evident concern in the young fellows voice,,Deputy Johnathans tone got more professional as he recounted the report as he had gotten it from the Sheriff,ending with,,"and like I said,, I was on my way and had to take a leak,,then a coon coming up from the creek and me had a funny interlude which I was getting over when you showed up." Marvin asked,,"So,,she's okay,right?She wasn't hurt or anything was she?" as the driver walked back up and a sound like a giant egg hitting a huge hot skillet inside a big cave while someone beat on 10,50 gallon plastic drums erupted from the upstream area on the far side of the road,opposite the side they were on.They all snapped their heads in the direction of the sound and sort of froze while trying to get a sense of what the sound was.
That sound got punctuated by what could be describable as the sound of an axe against a big hard tree about three times which was followed quickly by the rumbling,hissing sound changing into a harder more growling one with much more bass and a changing of pitch as though the source were moving quickly around.This was also accompanied by the sounds of tree limbs and brush being beaten,mutilated,snapped and what sounded like an odd growling and grunting as though something was struggling with something else amongst the scrub,trees and stones along the stream bed about 30 yards up.
The driver reached into the car and grabbed a digital camera,thumbed it on and held it pointed in the direction of the sounds.Marvin quickly walked around the car to stand by the drivers side front tire and asked the deputy,, "What is it officer,,can you tell?","No." was the answer.
The driver said,,"Hey,,look at the trees,,they're moving,,something over there is big.Do you carry a big caliber pistol, Deputy?" He had the camera properly aimed now to pick up the sight of the trees moving in sympathetic rythym with some of the sounds."Man,oh,man,,what is it,,a bear fight?A grizzly attacking a moose,are there moose and bears around here,officer?"
He turned and looked at the officer,,catching with the camera the Deputies pale,clearly astonished face say,,"I have no idea what's making that sound,,I've never heard anything like it before."
As the driver turned back around to continue videoing the jostling trees,,everything went silent and still.The sounds had simply ceased,,there was no commotion of any sort.Then from what seemed about another 100 feet or so into the heavy woods off the their left,,another explosion of sound occurred.This only lasted about 2 minutes long,,and no commotion among the trees was visible.The driver still shot at the spot the sounds appeared to be coming from,capturing them into the device.
With a voice trembling in awe over the event,,Marvin asked the Deputy,,"Are you sure my Grandma was okay?" Looking at Marvin as though he had just snapped out of a dream,,The Deputy responded with,"I was,,but I need to go check on her,,see what she says happened and get back down here to see what kind of tracks might be left out there." He started stepping towards his patrol car.Without looking back over his shoulder,,he said,,"You boys don't need to be here with whatever that was running around right now,,it sounded like something might be wounded,,critters get really unpredictable when injured,so come on.Let's roll out of here!"
The driver asked,,"Can we ride with you,,then we can ride back down here to get my car and look around with you?","I suppose that's okay,,but let's go,,now!",,was the response.The driver ducked his head back in,,did something on the dash board,grabbed something off the front seat then leaned into the back window for a moment before grabbing the keys out of the ignition and quick stepping to the deputys car.By the time he got to it,,Marvin was getting into the front and the Deputy had cranked the engine.With a half hearted,,"aww,,I gotta ride in the cage." the driver jumped in the back after a quick narrow eyed look back at the areas were the commotion had occured.As soon as he was in,,yet before he pulled the door shut behind him,the Deputy took off slinging gravel and dirt,making the rear door shut on it's own.
The driver leaned forward and asked Marvin,,"You still have that digi-cam in your pocket don't you?" , Marvin patted his shirt pocket and said,,"yep,right there,what did you do with the one you just had?" , "I left it running in the back window in case something shows up out of the woods while we're gone.I grabbed the vcr camera though." Holding it up,,he looked at it and said,, " I just put a clean tape in too,,the batteries have been charging since we left,,it should be good to go for at least an hour.And I have my little one too."
Deputy Jonathan was quite but he took all that in,,thinking to himself that these two were a little strange,,but figuring the cameras weren't so unusual these days.The vcr was a little odd,,but he even had a digital camera in his glove box and another one in his evidence collection kit in his trunk.He said in a very official looking voice to the two riding with him,"That might of just been some local wildlife,,a couple of bears maybe,,I don't think we have moose around here but the deer are rather big and get awful feisty at times." The road curved a little where they were and the deputies speed casued the car to drift a little along with the passengers sliding as well,,as they straightened out,,the driver in the back seat loked at the speedometer and seen that they were doing around 60 miles an hour.He asked aloud,,"Are you worried about Marvins Grandma,Deputy?"
The Deputy paused a moment,,but it could have been because he was paying attention to the road as he raced down the gravel grade.When he did respond,,he said,,"Well,,not a lot,,but whatever that was may be what busted her shed door in,,if so,,it means she may be in for another visit,,her fruit juices are allmost enough to make me kick a door or two in,,so,I'm sure some big critter wouldn't hesitate to do it."
Marvin,,who had sort of slumped in on himself after the ride got speedy said in a small voice,,"I hope she's allright.I was just talking to her on the phone and she sounded allright.She did say something about the shed got hurt,,but the coon got away."
"I don't know what that means but we will find out in just a few moments." Taking another slight curve the Deputy started slowing down,,since as they came around they could see the road ended at a giant 60 foot tall boulder setting as though dropped into the spot.It was a strange sight.The 3 story old house sitting about 300 feet from it looked like a dollhouse due to size comparison with the boulder.
Nestled in a picturesque way between two higher rises with a bluff a ways behind it,,the house looked like it was being watched over by the gigantic boulder.They had been coming steadily upwards,,although at a very slight incline since they left the creek bridge,,and this spot was the top of this particular piece of hill.Past the two rises on the right and left,,you could clearly see that the ground dropped to a lower level,,suddenly in some spots.The bluff behind the house may or may not have a drop as well between it and the houses yard,,one couldn't tell what kind of ground was concealed by the heavy growth of trees.
The air of surrealism that hung over the scene was enhanced greatly by the fact that it looked like someone had apparently roughly carved the boulder to make the top part resemble a castles ramparts.Add to that the numerous crags and crevices making shadowy endents looking like windows of various sizes and shapes,,and at first look,it was a castle sitting there.
"Wow,,,that's cool,Marvin,how come you never said a thing about that?" The blonde guy had whipped out a digital camera,,popped a few shots then picked up the older vcr camera and started filming while they drove up to the house.Marvin didn't say anything for few moments,,then said,,"I don't know,,I forgot about it,,I guess.Man,,something destroyed that door,,look at that!"
Stopping out front with the shed door in clear sight rather than pulling all the way up.The Deputy reached into the glove box to grab his camera while the other two got out.Marvin headed for the front porch as a little gray haired woman in a simple dress with a pastel blue apron on over it came spryly out the front door.The screen door banged shut as she released it and she hollered,,"Marvin,,what in the world are you doing in Deputy Johnathans car?Did you get in trouble,son?"
Sprinting the rest of the way,and hugging her,,Marvin said,,"No,,Grandma,,we just rode up from the creek with him.Are you okay?What happened to your shed door?You're not hurt or nothing are you?" "no,Marvin,,I'm fine,,but the dang critter busted my door all to smithereens,,and I haven't went in to see how bad it tore up my canning stuff.I've been waiting for Deputy Johnathan to take a looky loo,,and do a little looky loo meself,,ha,he's a cutey,,,before I go in there,,just so he can write me a report,,maybe that insurance will do some good finally."
Having taken a few snap shots from the vantage of the car,,the Deputy said while coming over to the porch,,"Is that all you have the sheriff send me out here for?To look at my butt?And here abouts every one says you're an honorable woman.","I also said I need you to write me a report for an insurance claim,,young man,,that's 'o fish e all' bidness,,so get on with it and let me mind where my eyes rest." They both laughed,,and the Deputy asked her,,"are you okay?" "Yes,Me and Beauregard both aint had no harm done except a little bit of spooking.But I shot the shed.","Did you hit it?What was it?" "No,,I shot the shed this morning when Marvin called me on the cell phone,,it spooked me and I shot the shed."
Marvins eyes got wide,but he just listened like the Deputy was.Some times,with some folks,,you just have to let it come out at its own pace,,then put the pieces together later.
"But,,I didn't have Papas shotgun ready when that big lizard was in my yard,,so I didn't have a shot at it.I wish I had of though,,look at what it did to my shed door.","Yes,,let's do that." the Deputy interjected in order to motivate the conversation and their location around to the shed where the damage occured.They began walking around to the side of the house to get to the shed where Marvins friend was allready walking carefully around with the camera rolling.As they approached,,he pointed to an area along the ground and said,"There is some track sign along here,,you might not want to walk across it.But you need to look at it officer,,it's awful strange looking."
Holding his hand up and asking Mrs Arnold and Marvin to stay where they were the Deputy started taking photos of the tracks himself.They were odd,,4 toes,,it looked like,,arranged like a chickens,,or lizards,,but around 25 or 30 inches long.There were only two,,one was smudged like it was moving fast and the other was partially on the grass so the front part didn't leave an impression,only the trailing end with the one backwards toe.The smudged one had a partial of the front end of that foot,,or claw rather from the looks of the way it dug into the ground.
Dropping his pocket knife next to the tracks for scale he took another picture,picked his knife up and headed for the shattered door.Taking a couple of pics first he began to examine it.The door was broken across what appeared to be the exact center of the door,,the pieces showing evidence of having cracked horizontally and vertically started at the same spot with splintered wood looking like pulled beef stringing off what seemed to have started as clean sharp breaks.The paint on the door was blackened,,but the wood itself seemd unfazed by any heat.No charring,,nor even a smell of burnt wood,,or paint for that matter.Poking at one edge with his pocketknife,,it flaked off and seemed to turn to powder,,as well as the wood beneath it.
The blonde guy who was steadily getting his perusal on film,asked him,,"Does that look like heat damage to you or chemical agents,officer?","Neither actually,,try not to disturb nothing and step in behind me with that camera after I look inside first.","Okay." , The Deputy then looked over at MArvin and asked,"Could you go to my car,,take the keys from the ignition,unlock the trunk and take out a case marked 'Forensics Kit" please,Marvin." "Of course he will,Deputy Johnathan.Won't you Marvin?" , "Yeah,sure,," , The deputy did say,,"Just that case,,and bring my keys to me when you come." , Marvin hollered,"Okay", as he hustled off to the car.
The Deputy started to step across the debris in the doorway when he said,,"Shoot,,I should have told him to grab my flashlight." , The blonde guy stuck out his hand toward him and said,,"Here,,you can use mine,,but I want it back,dude." Looking up at the guys face behind the cameras viewfinder,,he could tell the comment was made good naturedly by the smiley smirk on the mans face.He said thanks and took the small Rayovac Workhorse from the guys hand.Popping it on,,the bright light dazzled his eye briefly and the man said,,"Fresh batteries from Goobers."
Turning to go in,,he shone the light around the entrance and to the sides as he poked his head in slowly,,letting his eyes adjust to the dimmer light inside the shed.
kayhin and durwood