Saturday, November 10, 2012
White Moon Yellow Leaves - Issue # 2
White Moon, Yellow Leaves
By: V.L. Locey
The morning after our arrival I woke up with a start. Herr Poopbottom was trying to burrow into my nightgown via my sleeve. I was groggy, my mind bound in a pancake and maple syrup hangover. The full bed that I shared with Rhett was chilly. My toes were cold. I shoved the dachshund away less than kindly then rolled to my side. My son was gone and the rustic door to the bedroom was closed. That explained my chilly toes. There`s only one source of heat in the cabin and that`s the woodstove in the kitchen/living room. Leopold was not about to be dissuaded. He leaped and bounded across the bed like an Olympic hurdler. After two minutes of this I sat up.
“You win,” I moaned, hair tousled and hanging over my nose. Bare feet to floor impact made me inhale sharply. I hurried to find my slippers, robe, and heat. Out I went, the dog racing ahead of me. He started bouncing up and down, hoping for a treat. I glanced around as I shuffled towards the cupboard for a dog biscuit and a mug. Aunt Jo-Jo`s small bedroom was empty. Her bed was neatly made. The cabin was silent, aside from a dachshund pirouetting for a snack that is. I found the note propped against the percolator on the gas range.
Went down to #1 to catch up with Rupert….Rhett chose to stay with Jonah instead of sitting with two old people….
Bean and beer kisses-
I jogged to the back door and peeked out. Rhett was sitting on a stump, watching Jonah Big Deer splitting wood. I cracked the door, just enough to hear the conversation but not enough to let Jonah see how terrible I looked. From my angle I could just make out Rhett, bundled up in a black coat and Steelers knit cap facing the wood splitter. I could see nothing of Jonah but his back and the smooth strokes of a well hued axe as it sailed into the air.
“Are you a real Indian?” My son asked. My forehead met the doorframe soundly. Oh. My. God. The child had no filter at all. A crack of wood preceded Jonah`s reply.
“Are you a real white boy?”
“Yah,” Rhett said, the quip sailing over his black and yellow hat. “Are you? A real Indian?”
"You mean as opposed to a fake Indian?” the man asked, placing a halved chunk of maple back to his chopping block. His hair was tightly braided this morning. I had a very naughty image of that blanket of onyx satin falling over my face as Jonah lowered his naked body over mine. Once more I introduced my forehead to the doorframe, this time to drive the wanton thought away.
“Uh-huh,” my son replied, his voice jarring me from the fantasy roughly. “My mom and I was watching a movie once, and she said they were fake Indians playing the Indians.”
“Ah,” Jonah said, cleaving the half into quarters. I opened the door a bit wider to get some cold air to move into the front of my robe. I was suddenly feeling quite warm. “Yes, I`m a real Indian,” Jonah responded with patience.
“Did you ever scalp anyone?”
I burst out the door, my state of dishabille forgotten.
“Good morning!” I nearly screamed. I was so freaking chipper song birds would soon be lighting on my shoulders to sing me a cheery tune. Both males turned their heads to look at me. Rhett smiled. Jonah reached inside my nightgown and caressed my bare breasts with his eyes. A red leaf flittered down in front of me. I was worried my night clothes may spontaneously combust. This young man – key word ‘Young’ – was doing seriously bad things to my state of mind.
“Hey mom!” Rhett jumped down from his stump, his mind moving from the Great Seneca Inquisition of `12 to the capture of a speeding dachshund. Then we were alone.
“Morning Miss Dana,” Jonah said, his fingers allowing the axe to slide to the ground smoothly.
“You can just call me Dana,” I found a lovely mushroom on the side of a pine tree to stare at. “I – He didn`t mean anything by that,” I stammered.
“It`s okay, he`s a kid. It’s the adults that ask those kinds of questions that need a good ass kicking,” Jonah smiled and stepped closer. I caught him approaching in my peripheral. My eyes, traitorous things that they are, left that fascinating fungus and latched onto his mouth. “You okay? You look kind of flustered.”
“Nope, I`m good,” I grinned feeling the cold seeping from the ground through my slippers. “Right as rain as they say,” I tacked for no sensible reason that I could see.
“Okay,” the man shrugged and turned to get back to work. His coat was woolen red and blue tartan and stretched tightly across his upper back. My fingers grew itchy just thinking of touching the wool and muscle beneath it. “If you don`t have anything planned this morning I told Rhett I`d walk the grouse path with him. Thought you might like to come along.”
I stared at that powerful back blankly then nodded. When he didn`t get a verbal reply his head turned to find me over his left shoulder. I was still nodding like a dullard.
“Charades work better if the other person is facing you,” he chuckled. “Go get dressed and meet us at the lake. Can`t imagine I`d be able to keep my mind on the flora and fauna with you looking like you do.”
I ran a hand over my hair. “Wouldn`t want to scare the woodpeckers.” I was hoping to sound amusingly self-deprecating. To my ears I sounded pitiable. He lowered the axe yet kept his sight on the round of oak awaiting the chop to come.
“It wasn`t the effect on the birds I was worried about.”
A thousand and one very erudite replies lingered on my tongue. Instead of using one of those I went with-
“Yeah, okay, good, well yeah, coffee.”
Nothing like brilliant repartee to impress, is there?
I showered in water that felt like it had been piped directly from Mud Puppy Lake. The tiny water heater had been drained by Aunt Jo earlier and no-one had started the generator to get things percolating again. My teeth were chattering as I tried to brush them afterwards. Cracking the door to invite some heat in, I dressed quickly, pulling on a pair of jeans and a russet sweater packed for Thanksgiving Day. The thick turtleneck felt divine, as did the long sleeves dangling past my fingertips. I opted to do just a bit of makeup – light foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, liner, mascara, lip stick, and a dash of perfume. Once I was done I stared at myself in the small oval mirror above the sink.
“What the hell are you doing, Dana?” I questioned my reflection. I was trying to look good for a young man that was probably being nice to me out of respect for my age and family friendship. I dropped my head; hands splayed on the counter, and stared at the toothpaste spots in the sink. Was I really that starved for attention that I`d take a nice gesture and warp it into something it wasn`t? The answer was obviously yes. As if a man like Jonah Big Deer would be interested in a divorced mother who was far from a size two and ten years his senior. I grabbed a washcloth and scoured the makeup off. When I stepped outside, my face was clean, my hair was uncurled, my jeans and sweater were scruffy, and my place in the world was secure once again.
Jonah and Rhett were lakeside. I ambled over to them. Jonah was trying to teach Rhett how to skip rocks. It saddened me that the boy had to rely on a relative stranger to do things his father should be doing.
“So you like football or baseball better?” I heard Jonah asking as I walked up behind them, my hands crammed into the pockets of my heavy fleece jacket. “Try again,” he drew back and released his rock. It bounded several times, making the pristine reflections on the still lake bounce.
“I can`t help it,” the boy replied, his own attempt at rock skipping ending in a single plunk. “My rock keeps sinking.”
Jonah laughed. It was rich, warm sound that bounced off the oak and elm. “Hold it like this,” he then showed the lad the proper rock skipping rock grip again. Leopold chose that moment to explode from the woods. His barks of greeting had the guys once more finding me behind them.
“Hey gents,” I smiled. Jonah smiled back. Rhett threw the rock as far as he could and then ran after the never-tiring dachshund. Around the lake boy and dog went. I was exhausted just watching them. “I`m ready for our hike.”
Jonah nodded and we set off, stopping to wait by the lone dock for boy and dog to finish their lap and join us. Rhett would sleep like a fallen tree tonight, which would save me being kicked in the back and ass until the wee hours.
The four of us began the hike by walking behind the line of camps. The grouse path was really nothing more than a heavily used deer path. Why it`s called a grouse path I don`t know. Over the years humans have made the deer’s path a part of a meandering trail that circles the lake. The path increases gradually at first, levels out, climbs again, and then really takes off. If you`re an intrepid sort you can try to follow the deer up the rocky slope high above. I`ve never been off the path though and didn`t intend to start now. I`d get enough cardio staying on the lane hunters and weekend hikers used.
We walked in companionable silence for about fifteen minutes. Rhett and Leopold were finally beginning to show signs of fatigue when we huffed our way to the first rise. My son fell face first into the dewy leaves, the dog collapsed at his side, tongue lolling.
“Sweet Mary and Joseph,” I panted, slapping my hands to my knees. Jonah chuckled breathlessly. “I need to do this more often I guess,” I added.
“It gets better,” he teased as he walked past me. “Let`s grab a few breaths,” he said. I straightened. Jonah had found a rock formation that looked down on the roofs of the cabins. I shuffled over, my hiking boots burrowing up wet leaves that released that damp smell of forest loam.
“I`d have to say ‘better’ is a rather subjective word, Mr. Big Deer.”
“True,” he patted the rock next to where he was seated. I dropped down on it gratefully. I took in the scenery while my breathing slowed. The air was still and the trees were dropping their offerings slowly. A sugar maple to my right let go of one of the few remaining leaves on its boughs. It fluttered down and I caught it. The ends were dried and curled but the middle held a tint of gold yet. I studied the veins, cradling the leaf carefully.
“I used to think that God had gilded the leaves with gold,” I said. “I think I`ve always preferred the yellow leaves for that reason.”
“I always liked the red leaves myself,” Jonah interjected. I turned my hand over. The leaf joined the hundreds – perhaps thousands - of others on the ground. “When I was a kid Andy told us why the trees had many colors in the fall.” He glanced over at me. “Would you like to hear the story?”
I nodded for him to tell the tale then called my son over. Once Rhett was situated on my thigh Jonah began speaking.
“Once there was a mighty bear that was making trouble for a village. He would circle the village, scaring away or eating the animals the people survived on. Hunting parties were sent out to kill the bear, as the people were close to starving. The hunters searched for days and days, following the tracks closely. One day they came upon the bear and shot him with arrows but it did not kill the bear, his skin was too thick and the arrows couldn`t pierce it. The bear grew angry and killed most of the warriors.
The survivors returned to the village and told their story. Party after party was sent out. None could slay the great bear. One night, as the bear stalked around the village, three brothers had the same dream. In the dream they saw themselves tracking and killing the great bear. They set off to find the bear and free the people from starvation.
They tracked the great bear for days and days until they were at the end of the earth. The bear saw them coming and leaped into the sky. The three warriors followed the great bear into the heavens. The bear was slow and tired because his winter sleep was coming soon. The three hunters were able to get close to the drowsy bear and shoot their arrows into his body. His blood drips from his body and changes the leaves in fall, but, he does not die. He always gets away,” Jonah explained to my wide-eyed son. “Great Bear becomes invisible for a time, but he reappears in the skies as the Big Dipper with the three brothers still chasing him.”
“That`s a great legend,” I said. Rhett bobbed his head in silent appreciation. Jonah lowered his head theatrically and thanked us warmly.
“Someday I`m going to track and kill a bear!” my son, who had sat for a whole two minutes, exclaimed, leaving my lap to find a stick to slay something with. Leopold lifted his brown head from his paws, wagged his tail and leaped to his feet to aid my boy in imaginary bear slaying.
“And there goes your attentive audience,” I laughed and waved at the departing twosome, my hand coming back to rest on my thigh.
“Ah well, I had him in the palm of my hand for a couple of minutes,” the man chuckled. The aforementioned palm moved over to rest on top my hand. The smile fell from my face. My head spun to the right. Eyes as dark as night bore into mine, sending my heart into a funny sort of dubstep kind of rhythm.
“Jonah, what are you doing?” I asked after swallowing. I did not pull my hand away. His was warm and big and calloused.
“I`m being bold and holding your hand,” he answered matter-of-factly.
“I`m ten years older than you.” I had to say it. It needed to be out there in front of his face. He leaned over to the left just a bit and pawed into the front of his coat with his free hand. I sat there like a bump, scared to turn my hand over and grip his yet also scared that he would let go. From the inside of his shirt he pulled a necklace. It was beautifully crafted and decidedly masculine. Five claws were strung on a thin strip of rawhide. Between the wickedly curved claws were silver and turquoise beads.
“Do you know what these are?” he asked, giving the necklace a rattle. I shook my head. “They`re puma claws,” he clarified with mischief tweaking up the corner of his mouth. “I killed the cat when I was down in Florida working with my uncle last summer. Took five dogs and ten hours but we treed her.”
“So you`re trying to show me that….”
“I`m not scared to tangle with a cougar, Dana.”
To be continued….
If you`re interested in my novels, you can find the first of my trilogy Of Gods & Goats in print here at my website—
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And if you`re hungry for a zombie apocalypse story with some M/M heat, keep an eye peeled over at Torquere Press, where my short story will be offered in the anthology He Loves Me For My Brainssss available 1/2/13—
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