ACT I | Aji 7 July 2018
All Audiences Est. Time: 90 Minutes
Welcome to The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories by Soda Tom. We present today Episode 4 from the first volume of the trilogy, “The Shadows.” ~ pub f⊗ | widgets
4 | the dire wolf
< Her glazy, charcoal eyes instilled a quiet irony; more than a few were seduced by her subtle charm, her oblique demeanor; her paws lie restlessly before her. She had a benign, and innocent scruff of pure white hair, with a ganache of short curls, and a fresh ebon nose. The dire wolf, contently a cub, estimated Sawbones, who was conjuring, “If you suspended your vision, not just blinked your mind, but conjured a blank space in your mind – “
The dire wolf interjected, “ – like your blank mind?”
“If your mind was blank, like a child, our titian sky could become lush cyan, and the two stars of Phoenix; – the welcome eyes of God.”
She drowsed, “Adorjan, no doubt. Stolen, for sure.’
“Nonsense,” offered Sawbones, Yon’s nickname.
“Things are merely available for commerce, and trade,” he said.
“Yon,” or Sawbones, was named Yon Raulyn, both of which 15th Century experts suggest were ancient typos; – Yon for “Jon”; Raulyn, possibly “Rawlin,” or “Rauf.”
Sawbones was ensconced in pilfered Tequila, admiring the memory of salmon light at night, at Taxa, a mercenary post in the orbit of Sombrero, the most remote spot in the Pandora cluster. He waited for Phila, a member of a most pesty species of fly, – a thyreophora cynophila, – infesting Taxa; gangling, and carrot-topped, the flies were hundefliege bone skippers. Yon searched out Phila in the brush near his cave, hissing loudly, “Pest! Pest! Pest!” Bone skippers had been finally extincted by humans; but, as nature’s enigmatic habit, known as Lazarus Taxa, the moon’s namesake, Phila and the skippers recurred in 2009.
Yon rubbed his chin, musing to the dire wolf, “These orange-ry flies can break the bones of your carcass. Bone skippers. Maybe Phila should hang with you?”
The dire wolf said, “No.”
Sawbones pointed out, “You’re my own foot-long, like a hoagie,” referring to the dire wolf’s wee size, no more than twelve inches fore to aft.
The dire wolf glowered, and after a pause: “Foot-long?”
“It was the name of a sandwich, a submarine or ‘hoagie’ sandwich. They were mighty.”
The dire wolf stared until Phila fluttered past Yon’s nose with no respect. Yon’s cave was known as the Cache, and contained a special hoard, a “Mine” of dubious fortune, all belonging to the retired voyager. He was today promoting a new deputy, who was present, and a polar bear of a man called “Tune.” He debuted with a statement: “I’m no foot-long, wolf.”
Tune presumed the rules of the secret habitué: as it were, there were no rules, and none of them were in writing. He brought a gift for the dire wolf, complying with Yon’s advice. Tune scratched the gift against the contour of his weathered vest. It was a Neptune’s Cup, a defunct spore, and bore similarity to a steel wool; amazingly, however, it was alive. Tune said to the dire wolf, “A peace offering, D.W.” He related how the Neptune Cup was his namesake: Nep-Tune. Tune stooped before the dire wolf, “There’s a bit of fish here for you, too.”
The dire wolf tipped Neptune’s Cup to the ground by interval from her perch above the Cache, employing a Taxa cliché: “Bite ’em. Don’t eat ’em.”
A pleasant spring day was emerging about the landing in front of the cave; warm, dry, but it had not been light in eleven years; the rumor was light never rose at Taxa. Sawbones delighted to watch the spore bounce on the gravel terrain, and try to roll upright again. The Cache was hidden by the brush, but for earthen boulders on either side of the entrance; the boulders at the cave opening had become makeshift loungers, the assigned property of the regular loitering party. Sawbones rucked, “It’s time!” And, “This is better than a family of rock rats! Glug!”
“Mmm,” Tune seconded, awkwardly.
A barking deer would usually arise by now from the woods, nare-first, and woof until Yon haplessly demanded him to stop. The deer would stop, and he would inspect the grounds. “We’re home again,” Sawbones smiled.
Yon reached absently for two high-ball glasses, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark; to the dire wolf, both sitting on a boulder, after snapping his lapels with his thumbs, Yon offered, fervidly, “He found an antique radio!”
“Whom,” the dire wolf queried.
“Glug!” pronounced a gray, mega-fauna, — a mega-omnivore, — now setting a tree branch aside with his arm.
It was – “Glug” – the only word the mega-fauna knew, but his brethren listened to the giant, sort-of-bear as he spoke, and to how the prehistoric bear said the word, “Glug,” which became his name. (Yon: “He glugs in tongues!”) One could eschew meaning by how Glug said things. They said he was a bear, since Glug closely mirrored a stooping, large bear, but had also unique features. Sawbones like to say Glug, his forest neighbor, was “like a tide,” part of “a Glug family,” all towering over nine feet tall, with feet sizes in a range to size thirty-fours; the dire wolf told Yon Glug needed snowshoes. The glugs were gentle, confused “bears.” Beauty did not enhance the extinct animals’ persona; it could be observed Glug seemed to possess the body parts other mammals no longer required; with disparate weight, his arms and legs generally drooped to the ground.
Yon fumbled with the switch of Glug’s new radio, and placed it atop a boulder. The station was playing a chorus, — “So caught up in you, – little girl,” — and it prompted Glug to dance. The bear bellowed, “Gluuug!” and became dreadfully immense: But he showed a divine sense of orientation, – one arm swinging upward, the other arm swung downward; his hairy, gray torso and hips swayed in perfect rhythm to a friendly stomp of the chords. His head nodded agreeably to the ancient music.
“Flea Markets, No. 5”
The dire wolf bit into the air, partly in cheer for the bear, and undoubtedly for losing the center of attention. Glug abided the radio, and it usually was an hour to conclude the dance. Sawbones was merry, and merrier, and boasted to Tune: “Glug is part boar. He might be part tiger, too, the legends say. I can’t see it. He looks nothing like a tiger. His brother does; — a bit. Geez though, the mother! Whooo-ee! You gotta to meet the mother, Deputy. Skin-crawling ugly!”
“How’s that?” Tune asked.
Yon whispered into a sorry grimace, “Tune, you got it, you’re quick as a cat. That is why I’ve got to off Glug. Yes, Glug. Now. Right now. He brings the mother to my cave! I tell you, she’s scary: She’s got albino, white eyeballs, and they’re always…beaming at you. I don’t believe her eyes even point the same way at the same time. Beyong! She’s no prettier than Glug, either. Let me tell you. She’s got a dumb smirk, – like she wants to take a bite out of you, but she’s not sure when. Aark! She gives me the creeps. I mean to say, Tune, she’s psycho – the beamy grin, the crazy white eyes, always ogling; – psycho!”
Two men finished a conversation at a side door to the library at New York University library. A U.S. Navy sailor, Nap commented, ruefully, “I can see now why they say the universe is expanding.”
He answered, “I know,” toting a Styrofoam cup of tea. “And the human body is sort of exploding. I saw it on the Science Channel. I’ve used it to explain a few hangovers.”
“Listen,” Nap said. “You going to have to be careful. Hell, maybe she is an alien. Some kind, you know. I can’t give you advice.”
“Yeah,” Nap said, gesturing towards a vehicle with U.S. government license plates. “This was my own time.” He added, thoughtfully, “Hey! Relax. Man’s cells replace completely replace themselves every day.”
He joked, “Encouraging.”
Sawbones, and Tune scaled to the summit of the boulders overlooking the Cache. Yon urged, “Help me with this boulder, Tune. It’s our first job. Besides, look at him: Glug is a klutz. He’ll watch the boulder, mind me, until it rolls right over him. That’ll be that. The end of Mrs. Glug!”
“Yup!” Tune agreed, exhaled, and shoved a boulder ahead of Sawbones, tipping the rock alone from the top of the cave. “Ready; when!”
“Good!” Sawbones said, firing a whiff with a wooden match, and waving to Phila, the bone-skipper, the orangery bug, who was nearby. Yon then instructed Tune, solemnly: “You’ll see a bunch of goats pass on the other side of the trees. See ’em? Good. And then a Roosevelt muntjac.”
“Muntjac,” Tune repeated, bent, and arching with the boulder, beads of sweat highlighting some frustration.
“Deer, the barking deer,” Yon said. “You see him? There’s gonna be a pile of them deer. Then it’s any time. A diversion, you know. I’ll watch, and let you know.” Yon espied the landscape, plaintively counting species: “Muntjac. Barking horse. Barking bunny. Cat, spider, and that durn barking meerkat. Ready?”
“Okay!” Tune responded, sweating more. “Now?”
A moment elapsed until Sawbones hollered, “Let ‘er go!”
The dire wolf sidled up a tree branch to Glug, betraying Yon. She whispered, “They are planning to kill you, Glug-o. Mmmm. Problem is you don’t know what I’m saying.”
The spectacle parade of barking wildlife quickly subsided, but the dire wolf penchant his boulder, leapt at once above the Cache’s opening, and weighed in with a roll towards the men. She whirled to downwards, staring gloomily at Glug, just in case; but the mega-fauna, the sort-of-bear, spotting the on-rolling boulder, could only iterate “Glug!”
A squirrel scampered past a rock, and dove to cling to the bark of a tree; the boulder kept barreling towards the bear, who straightened, his eyes popping, but froze motionless in its path. And the rock bowled into Glug, rolled into the trees, and glanced against some of the timber before, unhindered, gathered speed for hill’s downward incline.
“Glug?” asked the bear. Glug patted his hairy chest with a paw.
Sawbones roared with delight. However, Tune was unpleased. He said, “He’s a shadow. The boulder went right through him. Did you know he’s a shadow?”
Sawbones flayed, “No joke? A shadow. Really.”
A white-faced albifacie, a whekau known as a “laughing owl,” ditched into the brush, and exacerbated the prank with a mischievous, unending chortle.
And Tune glimpsed a fresh reality. Perhaps he had been hazed. “Mmm,” he said, quietly, atop the Cache, surveying the cave landing, and rubbed the palms of his hands. ◊
Theme | “Flea Markets, No. 6” | playlist, nos. 1-15
“The Shadows” is one of three works by SODA TOM.
“The Shadows,” by Soda Tom, Vol. I of III,
from The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories
Copyright (C), 2018; 2017, ff., by the author
All Rights Reserved
Created by Soda Tom