"There is one small movement of the story
that eludes your control, that you cannot even
see, one alien thing with no purpose other than
to teach you that in the darkest corner of the
story dwells a wild force that is too much a
part of you to see, a blind spot, just as you
do not see your own eyes as they sweep the woods
you walk through for danger." —Wilbur Daniel Steele
My Uncle Leonard was a hermit that lived alone
in the Unconscious Forest his whole life. Unc
had a sack of money stashed away, and when he went
to meet his Maker he left every penny to my little
sister Shane. Meanwhile, he left me, a full grown man,
a rusty bicycle and a busted set of drums. I don’t
mean he left me a full grown man, I mean I am a full
grown man. So, why would he go and leave me a load
of childish junk instead of that cold hard adult cash?
Oh, he also left me some kind of a mysterious animal,
and from the very beginning that thingum would turn
out to be even more questionable than the junk.
It was the middle of the night two long moons ago
when the beast found its way to me here in Hmm.
Uncle Leonard’s woodsman neighbor Chuck woke us,
me and Shane, pounding our cottage door with the
coconut knocker. Chuck was a stalwart, self-reliant,
phonebooth-size fellow in mud-plastered boots and
a checkerboard greatcoat, but that night he had
a royal case of the heebie-geebies.
He had drove four hours from the Unconscious Forest
to deliver the news of Uncle Leonard’s passing,
along with the cash for Shane, and the bike, drums,
and critter for me. He drug the goods in and started
back out like a ghost was on his trail, but Shane
blocked his exit in her "Imagine Me Mayor" nightshirt.
We managed to calm the big chap down enough to reel a few
rambling incomprehensible facts out of him, first off
how Unc happened to demise.
"Sudden natural causes," says Chuck, panting. "Or so
said Doc. Weren't present. That there—" indicating
the aforementioned animal, who stood motionless and
undescribable in the corner shadows, fur bristling
and eyes ablaze, "—is Leonard’s only living proof
that survived the fire in explosion."
"Fire and explosion?" Shane says.
"Oh, yes, ma'am, your Unc got to be one wild science
experimenter out there." Chuck twitched and sweated,
eyeballing the animal which in turn latched its gleer
onto me for some reason. "Doc said his death-bed wish
was for me to brang you these gadgets. 'Them dang kids,
Shane and Lemuel, my bonehead blood,' your Unc liked to
call you, with affection. I done as he ast, laid him
to rest on the bluff he daydreamed under the Lights at.
Then I nursed that gasly thingmabob back to health. Oh!"
He reached in his greatcoat and set a small burlap package
on the coffee table. "That there’s a poultice for the
stitches." He run a finger along his ribs area. "From the
"Transplant?" I say.
"Good luck!" says Chuck, elbowing through us and out
"What’s this beast’s name!" I holler after him, but
he peeled out of the village in his Helms van,
leaving us to our minor grief and major bafflement.
We lain our eyes upon the creature that stood blazing
with bad intentions from the dark corner it had
planted itself in. "Unpossible," I say. We looked
at it from different angles. "What and the world
was Unc up to out there?"
"No good," says Shane.
The animal gave the lowest growl that ever been
growled. My footbones felt it through the floorboards.
"So, Unc’s gone on," I say. I hoped the varmint
would appreciate a change of subject from itself.
"Poor old Uncle Leonard."
"Oh, fiddlesticks," says Shane. "He was mean and
lowdown and loved it. We couldn’t stand him and he
couldn’t stand us more."
"Well, you ought to respect the dead, even if you hated
"I respect the dead’s legal tender." She scooped up
her new found cash and flounced back to her room
as if our life had not just took a bad fork forevermore.
I took a seat in my rocker and commenced to rock
real reassuring and calm. keeping one eyeball
on the sole remaining consequence of whatever
Unc’s lurid going-ons had been out in them woods. It
kept both eyeballs on me back. "You could sit down if
you want," I say. It declined with a snort. To act normal,
I took a whiff of the burlap package Chuck gave me and
that stinkbomb knocked my olfactories back to Independence
Day. I was not keen to slap no poultice on no stitches
on that critter’s undercarriage. "I wonder what variety
of a transplant you went and got yourself," I mummer.
From the shadows it glowered at me from the corner like
I personally flang it out of the Garden of Eden. "Hey,
critter, don’t blame me," I say. "I’m only a link in some
spooky chain that nobody asked me would I like to be a
link in it." But why should I care what it thought? Was
I my dead Uncle’s mysterious animal’s keeper? It looked like
I was, for a nonce, but I didn’t got to like it, did I.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Posted by Richard Martin.... at 11:34 AM