I don’t know who made more racket … me shouting “Ahhhhh! A bear!” or the poor bear giving a shocked yelp of “Ahhhhh! A human!” before running back out of the rear door – taking it off at the hinges in case you couldn’t have guessed that one – forgetting that there was a four foot drop at the stairs which he took down at a fast tumble and then running head first at nearly 30 mph first into my mother’s gardening table and then the concrete block wall of the shed directly behind it and promptly falling over in a dead faint. On second thought, it was most definitely the bear.
Cold air rushed into the house from the open doorway and I grabbed my house coat and then my outdoor coat off of the rack by the door and added my boots at the very end. I wasn’t quite sure what to do except to shut the door but I wasn’t going to deal with a bear wearing only a nightgown and bedroom slippers that looked like fluffy ducks … they used to even “quack” when I took a step though their quackers had given up the ghost some time back. I peeked out of the window and the stupid bear just continued to lay there. No way was I going to go out and see if it needed a douse of water or first aid to get it going again.
Almost five minutes passed and it still hadn’t moved … and I still wasn’t going to go check on it. What I wouldn’t have given for a working cell phone … or even two cans with a string tied between them … so that I could have called someone from the house to come up. Well, I didn’t have a phone but I did have the Glock. Not to use on the bear but to send an S-O-S … or at least get someone’s attention. I knew they would at least hear the gunshots down that way.
I went to the front porch, double checked that I wouldn’t be pegging a human, and then let off three shots in fairly quick succession. My ears rang and my wrist was sore where I tried to do the first shot one handed. Geez, stupid never learns. I suppose I could have used one of Jude’s shotguns but I wasn’t a glutton for punishment; the Glock was bad enough, a double barrel shotgun would likely spin me around and put be on my hind end. I went back to the back porch and waited.
Sure enough a few minutes later I hear horses coming up fast. I heard them dismount and Jude call, “Dovie?!”
“Round back!” I snapped feeling angry now that my fright was all but over.
He came running around and then he and Clewis skidded to a halt – Uncle Roe and Butch had more sense than to barrel around into the unknown – when they found me standing amidst the wreckage of the screen door. I had my hands on my hips and said, “Will you look at this!”
I didn’t give him a chance to finish his question but pointed out to the dark lump that continued to lay where it fell. “Kill it!”
“Kill …? Is that …? Are you telling me you took on a bear with that cannon?!”
“Do I look like I have lost my mind? Don’t you dare answer that Jude Killarney. For your information I did not take on a bear. The stupid thing ran out of the house, fell off the porch, ran into the shed, and knocked itself out. Now kill it! I will not have bears thinking they can just waltz into my house any time they please, and especially not without an invitation. It sets a very bad precedent.”
All four men were looking at me then at the bear then at each other. Jude shrugged and then gingerly stepped off the porch after asking, “How long has that thing been out?”
“I gave it the courtesy of having five minutes before I set the Glock off to get up and get out of here but it chose not to take advantage of it. It is still right where it fell over.”
He eased up on it. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. He was about to put a bullet in it when he took a closer look. He called the other men over and they eased up on it too. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. Uncle Roe turned and asked, “Sister, you sure you didn’t shoot this beast?”
“The only thing I did was holler at it. I thought it was Jude trying to sneak up on me so I jumped out of my room and roared thinking to scare him … only it wasn’t him … it was that bear. Now is someone gonna kill it or not?”
“Well Sister … don’t need to kill something that is already dead.”
I noticed Clewis was trying not to laugh but then he snorted and said, “Dovie … you scared it to death. And if you had jumped out at me in that get up you’ve got on I’d probably have died too.”
Well I know good and well that wasn’t possible. “Oh I did not. You’re messing with me now. It just knocked itself out and y’all are being too soft on it.”
Uncle Roe wiped his mouth with his bandana, a sure sign that he was trying to control a smile of his own. “Baby Sister, that bear is done dead already. You might not have meant to but you scared it enough that it run head first into one of them ol’ tobacco spikes that were sitting on that little gardening table Malissa had your daddy build for her right here.”
Since it was Uncle Roe telling me I didn’t have any choice but to consider it the truth. “Wait. It’s really dead?”
Jude looked up and said, “As a doornail. Spike must have been driven clear into its brain when it hit the wall.”
I will likely never, ever hear the end of it. None of them from the main house can even look at me without snickering. Jude is trying not to but can’t seem to help it either. The kids, mine and the others, keep going on about a bear skin rug. Worse, I actually heard them out in the yard fighting over who got to play “Dovie the Bear Killer” next … and that a boy wouldn’t work because only girls could play the part; but the boys could play the bear of course, the girls really liked that particular idea.
It took forever to get things calmed down. They strung the bear up and field dressed it and then took it down to the house to put in the cooler for the night. Lorne seems to have a talent for leatherwork and tanning and is real interested in trying his hand at a bear hide. I’m not at all sure I want the blasted thing in the house. Uncle Roe could only wipe his mouth with the bandana again and told me to think it over before I made a decision.
Jude … aw, I’m not even gonna go there. Everyone finally agreed that if I was up to scaring a bear to death, being up out of bed likely wouldn’t hurt me. But now every once in a while Jude just gets up and walks into his room and I can hear him trying to smother a snicker and laugh. He comes back out, tries to have a straight face, but his eyes are all watery and sometimes he coughs into his elbow … only it isn’t coughing.
If they’d knock it off I would admit to seeing a little bit of funny in it myself but I won’t because then they really would feel free to bray like a bunch of mules. I swear, on some days, a girl just cannot win for losing.