#16 The Wild Woods
(To be read to your child.)
“Come here Frisk! Bad Dog!” Joey Brown yelled at the top of his lungs in the direction of the barn. Out poked the little white dog’s head from the second floor window of the barn.
“Ruff, ruff,” he answered.
Each day it was the same. Twelve-year-old Joey yelled first thing when he got up mornings and Frisk barked back in quick yelps a few feet from his warm cozy hay den.
Most of the time Joey called his little dog Frisk, Bad Dog. When he received the dog as a gift two years earlier, he wanted a huge big bad dog. But, his mother chose little Frisk. Oh, Frisk is a fine dog. Everyone says he is, anyway. But still, Joey wished the dog was bigger, meaner appearing.
Bad Dog bunks in the barn because Joey’s mother will not allow him in the house because of the new baby, Rose. Joey’s mother claims the little dog is dirty, too dirty for a clean house and a newborn.
Joey called Bad Dog again. Next thing, he was scratching at the back door. Today is a Saturday, no school. The pals were off to the woods, to explore and climb the big ancient oaks that stand thick in the mossy woods near the farmhouse and buildings. Bad Dog danced on his back legs as Joey teased him with a small piece of bacon.
“Good dog, Bad Dog.” Joey laughed, bent and patted the animal’s soft fluffy, tight-permed looking head. Joey laughed each time he said “good dog” to Bad Dog, believing it was ever so funny. “Come on, Fluff Ball.” Oh yes, Fluff Ball was another name he called the little dog.
The little animal sniffed the air all around the boy’s knees. He loved the bacon smell. It, of course, came from Joey’s unwashed hands, fresh from the breakfast table. Joey was doing some sniffing of the air himself. Bad Dog didn’t smell very good. Actually, he smelled a little like a skunk.
“You have a run in with an old polecat?” Joey laughed as he threw a mossy twig for Bad Dog to fetch. The dog yipped ecstatically. The twig broke when it landed at Joey’s feet. Snap, snap, a branch fell to the leaf strewn ground beneath the massive canopied oak the pair stood under. More branches fell. Bad Dog’s bark grew faint. He was running toward home, his den.
“Bad Dog, you get on back here!” The air was thick now with skunk. Joey glanced high up in the shadowed canopy. Something was moving. He determined the snuffling sound he was hearing was a bear. Whirling on his heels, he lit off in the same direction as Bad Dog. He sensed the bear was following him. It was. Whoosh, whoosh, came from the massive animal’s mouth.
Joey stumbled. His head hit a rock. Next thing he knew, water was blurring his eyes or the skunk smell was doing it. But no, the bear, THE BEAR, was dribbling water onto Joey’s face from a furry hand. The huge animal dipped his cupped hand again and again into slow moving Elk Creek. The sun was warm on his face, the water cool. Finally Joey came to his senses enough to lay a hand on the wrist of this being that was administering aid. The long fur was warm just as warm as his little white dog’s soft belly, when Joey blew playfully on the tight white curls and placed his cheek to the pink skin.
Joey moved his head to take in the size of the animal. It was humongous. It surely must be a bad dream. He heard in the distance, someone screaming. How annoying. They would not stop. Joey turned onto his knees and got to his feet. When he whirled to lay eyes again on the animal that had helped him, he just caught sight of it running into the dark mossy woods. Finally, he realized that the screams were coming from him.
He walked back slowly to the farm. His head was still throbbing from the fall. The sun teetered and wavered at the top of the near hills. Before he set foot on the narrow animal trail leading to the barn, he had decided that the animal he’d encountered was one of the illusive bigfoots people around this area of
often spoke about. Oregon
Bad Dog yipped from the second floor window of the barn when he recognized Joey emerging from the woods. “Ruff, ruff,” he barked excitedly as he scampered down the ramp and met his master, now smelling not just of delicious bacon but of an odd combination of skunk, of road kill and of the wild woods.