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CRIES IN THE WILDERNESS

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bob

Cries In The Wilderness
(The Phone Call)

A faint smile appeared on his whisker-stubble face, as he finished the final page of his short story. Pulling the sheet of paper from his typewriter, he offered an audible sound of relief, which sounded more like a tired sigh, rather than a happy note of satisfaction. Placing it on a pile of pages next to his typewriter, he picked the batch up, carefully tapping them into a solid upright bundle.  Rotating them ninety degrees, he did likewise again, and placed them back on the desk. The Ballad of Bill Bundy was finished. He knew there would be typos, but for now the composition which had become  an “All Nighter,” was completed.

He was ready for a warm shower, and a shave before going out for breakfast. A quick glance at his watch, made him correct his thoughts, he muttered “lunch”. His travel bag was already packed, and he would soon be on the first available flight to Miami. His friend Jason, invited him to come down as soon as his work was completed; they would do a little deep sea fishing. 

Reaching into his shirt pocket and he lifted out a gold locket. Opening it, he smiled at the beautiful young woman whose picture was inside. 

"If only you could talk, Annabelle." 
Carefully he placed it on top of his manuscript, and reached to switch off the desk lamp. 

Jangling of the dial-telephone next to the typewriter made him jump. He hesitated; again it rang, offending his good feeling of accomplishment. Picking it up he answered somewhat irritated...“Hello! “

"Hellooo"...her familiar voice answered softly into his ear; his mood changed immediately. "Ar-Jay, you’ve been in that cocoon of yours long enough. If The Ballad of Bill...what’s his name, isn’t finished by now, you’ve been dragging your feet. It’s time you get some fresh air and blow dust off of you." 

This was Claire’s way of inviting him to leave the big city, and enjoy some time with her in Oregon. After a useless discussion about why he did not have time for a vacation, Ar-Jay accepted her offer. Their conversation drifted to other pleasant subjects.

Ar-Jay and Claire have been close friends since their “teen” years. After graduation from high school in 1942, he was inducted into the US Army, and invited to tour the European continent with the Eighth Army. In doing so, he carried...not by choice, a rifle instead of a pen. Clare enrolled in college to pursue an education in The Arts. She earned her degrees in Women’s Fashions, but was never satisfied with commercial, business activity. 

Shortly before the war ended, Claire’s Grandfather passed away. He willed her a small cabin in the mountain region of Oregon. There, in the beauty of her surroundings, she became a much sought-after artist, excelling in portrayal of wildlife scenery.

When the war ended, Ar-Jay pursued his ambitions as a free-lance writer. Though he traveled a great deal throughout the United States in quest of material to write about, they managed to stay in touch. It was a strange union, yet each followed their chosen path in life. Their friendship never wavered. 

After their conversation ended, Ar-Jay wasted no time packing his travel gear, and prepared for a flight to Oregon.

(The Golden Eagle)

Early morning of his second day in Oregon and armed with powerful binoculars, Ar-Jay hiked to a clearing overlooking a river coursing through the valley, several hundred feet below him. Warmth of morning sun had not yet burned away a light mist hugging the valley floor. From his vantage point, he trained the glasses toward a steep slope across the valley. After several moments he spotted a marten scurrying among the boulders and vegetation, probably looking for its first meal of the day. Panning slowly to the right searching ledges on his side of the valley, he almost missed it.

On a rocky overhang, a beautiful Golden Eagle sat, perched like a statue. It shook itself, and settled its ruffled feathers back into place. Tilting its head slightly, it appeared to fixed its gaze on the other side of the valley. Ar-Jay was certain the eagle had seen the weasel-like creature scurrying among the rocks and vegetation. The marten driven by hunger, was not aware it was being observed...not only by Ar-Jay, but also by the Golden Eagle.

A short distance from the marten, a tiny vole dug frantically near the roots of a berry bush. It evidently caught the scent of a grub, beneath the surface of mossy terrain. Busy in its frenzy to seek out its quarry, the dark shadow moving quickly over it, was unnoticed. Abruptly, the marten was upon the grub-eater, sinking its sharp teeth into furry softness. Too startled to react, this small rodent squealed in terror; then was motionless.

 Ar-Jay had not observed it, nor heard it, but the cries of the vole reached the keen ears of the eagle. Looking back to the ledge and the big bird; a shrill "creeeeeee" drifted toward him. It was out of sync with motion he watched through binoculars. Its wings raised as though testing air currents. Rocking hesitantly from one leg to the other, then calling loudly once more, the eagle spread its wings as a rising thermal lifted it quickly from the ledge. Checking its ascent, it hovered briefly, before drifting across the valley.

Reaching a place high above the marten, the huge bird folded its wings, and plummeted earthward, rolling left then right, dumping air from beneath its body. The ground rushed upward toward him at an incredible speed. Ar-Jay anticipated it might not be able recover in time to stop its plunge, but his fears were unfounded. Wings opened, checking its earthward rush. The big bird rocketed forward barely five feet above rocky terrain, closing the distance to the marten. A hundred feet...thirty feet...ten feet. Ar-Jay’s heart was now pounding as he watched the drama unfold. At the last possible moment the bird’s great wings extended fully, braking its forward motion. Wide-spread talons of the eagle reached forward, clamping reflexively on the marten, when it passed beneath his breast. Pumping wings with premeditation, it dropped to the ground, holding the marten tightly in it's grasp.

Shocked by this unexpected intrusion, the marten quickly realized, it had become a victim, and tried hard to release itself from the great bird’s talons. Undaunted by twisting and viscous snapping, the eagle pushed backward, resting on its widespread tail feathers; then lashing out a foot, it pressed this hapless opponent to the ground. Eyeing for a moment its prize, the eagle raised his  head, and voiced a shrill cry of success. This call floated belatedly to Ar-Jay across the valley. Slowly his wings spread like a canopy, concealing his trophy from view. The marten’s struggles ceased, its growls of rage became cries of terror...then silence.

His heart still racing, Ar-Jay lowered the binoculars. He mentally reviewed the scene he just watched. Turning slowly, he started back toward the cabin. He couldn’t shake the thought of how peaceful and serene it appeared to be in these mountains, but he just witnessed a warlike fact; the meek were always faced with danger. He also realized...being meek was but a rank of sway decided by the size of an aggressor.

A poetic thought flashed through his mind. This scene he witnessed from start to finish, could have been one of his imaginative creations. If he was not satisfied with the result, he could edit the story. The power over life and death was nothing more than a stroke of a pen. In reality though he had no influence to change the scene; he had to accept it. On this day, four cries came to terms with environmental factors of the wilderness. Two were cries of fear and pain, from unsuspecting creatures. A third cry came from the Golden Eagle...a cry of victory. What was...could not be changed.

(Revelation)

Ar-Jay entered the cabin; his wistful senses were waylaid by aroma of coffee, frying bacon and eggs. Claire, in robe and slippers, appealing as always, was preparing breakfast. His thoughts of the wilderness episode faded. The furrowed lines of his brow disappeared, and another emotion sparked in his eyes. Claire glanced up at him noting the sudden change in his expression. Placing the pan of bacon on a cold burner, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and greeted him. 

"Good morning, had you come back any later, I was afraid I would have to throw your portion out to the bears. I’m glad you could make it."

Drawing her close, he squeezed her firmly...Claire briefly accepted his longing for attention, but pushed him gently away. 

"You had a different look on your face when you walked through the door. Is something wrong Ar-Jay?" 

"Yes and no. Still it’s nothing I can’t handle, I guess."

 With her persuasion, he explained the incident he witnessed on the mountain slope. Awareness in her eyes spoke volumes; she explained more with words of wisdom. 

"Welcome to the real world Ar-Jay. There was a time I thought everything I painted, was of my own creation. I don’t remember when, but then I too acquired a new perspective for who I am. Everything I put to canvas is merely a reproduction of beauty that was placed on this planet by a power more talented than I. 

The public appreciates my paintings, because I embellish the mountain’s beauty. I deliberately eliminate ugly sights of fire-damaged forests, caused by lightning, or man’s carelessness. I exclude sights of reckless clear-cutting of our forests, where man shows little regard for our future. The public prefers to overlook maimed, or dead animals that poachers, and irresponsible hunters leave in the woods; animals they have no intention of claiming. Sights of trash and unwanted items discarded in these mountains are disgusting. 

There are many things that do not please me, and most I cannot not change. I paint what the public wants to see, and what God intended for them to have and enjoy. As imaginative creators of the arts, we give the best of ourselves, to appease our own needs to write or paint. At the same time we satisfy the needs of people who are not creative. We allow them precious moments, to steal away from naked truths of their real world. Those who appreciate our work, need their dream-time too.

Ar-Jay realized the fourth cry was one he stifled. It was an inward cry of acceptance of a truth. He was a writer, a teller of stories; his role in life had become very clear. Gazing into her eyes; "I love you Claire; you have a way with words;  maybe you should be a writer." 

Moving closer to him again, Claire grinned and gave him a tender kiss, then murmured softly; "Ar-Jay, my dear, I love you too, but enough of this small talk, let’s eat. At this moment, I suffer from hunger pangs only."

Ar-Jay understood why he Claire put heart and sole into their talents. Artists are performers. Whether their work is true to life, or fictional, it is presented as entertainment for others.  Claire was right...even artists need their dream-time too.

Finish
 


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Tinker

Hello Bob,  This was a delight to read and I stayed with it to the end.  I have been hesitant to step into the realm of short story writing but recently, the bug has been pulling at me.  This is a story that tugs at the emotions in places and keeps the reader in it to feel more.     The story is beautiful.  

The 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are very touching, my favorite part of the whole thing.

I don't deliberately look to edit anything I read, but sometimes things jump off the page at me like the jarring talons of the eagle.  I hope you will not be offended if I point out some technical problems I think you might look at and maybe fix.  This is your story, I am just offering an opinion that if you find it helpful use it, if not, ignore it please. 

Paragraph 2

Reaching into his shirt pocket and he lifted out a gold locket.   

I feel like you over use commas through out which give artificial pauses that interrupt the story line. 

Paragraph 5 

14 hours ago, bob said:

If The Ballad of Bill...what’s his name, isn’t finished by now, you’ve been dragging your feet.

what’s his name, isn’t finished   (remove the comma after name)  

Paragraph 6

14 hours ago, bob said:

This was Claire’s way of inviting him to leave the big city, and enjoy some time with her in Oregon.

 This was Claire’s way of inviting him to leave the big city, and to enjoy 
 

14 hours ago, bob said:

After their conversation ended, Ar-Jay wasted no time packing his travel gear, and prepared for a flight to Oregon.

gear, and

Golden Eagle  paragraph 5

14 hours ago, bob said:

Shocked by this unexpected intrusion, the marten quickly realized, it had become a victim, and tried hard to release itself from the great bird’s talons. Undaunted by twisting and viscous snapping, the eagle pushed backward, resting on its widespread tail feathers; then lashing out a foot, it pressed this hapless opponent to the ground. Eyeing for a moment its prize, the eagle raised his  head, and voiced a shrill cry of success.

Remove the commas after "realized" and "victim"  and "backward"  and "feathers"    This is an exciting rushing action that flows quickly into itself and the commas and semicolon break up the action.  The moment is breathtaking and truly all one motion.   

I am really not looking to nit pick.  And I'm not going over this story with a fine tooth comb.  These places jumped out at me.   It is how I read it and how it effected me.  If this were mine, now that there has been a little time between writing it,  I would go back and read it out loud and hear where the commas break up the flow. 

Treat it like a poem because much of this piece is poetic.  I really loved reading this story.

~~Judi

PS. I've added a link to this story in my response to your blog announcement.   It may help others to find it.  
 


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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