Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dust of the Earth, chapter 23

Welcome to the continuing serialized version of Phantom Limbs' bassist Jim Parks' novel, Dust Of The Earth, a Tucson story about Tucson history, mystery, other worlds, desert mojo, forbidden love, and the fledgling Tucson music scene... (c) by Jim Parks, reprinted with permission

We left off last time with our narrator contempating getting eaten by a mountain lion...

 Chapter 23
"Fear Of Mountain Lions" (c) 2010 by Howard Salmon
It sounded like a catfight - only bigger, louder. I heard the snapping of branches -- then growling and roaring. I peeped out of my sleeping bag and saw shadowy forms tumbling through the underbrush maybe twenty yards away and upslope from the campsite -- the direction Ehmet had left. As the fight continued, I saw that there were three forms, two smaller and one larger, all big cats. I prayed to whatever God I had never before believed in that these forms would come no closer, and that in their struggle with each other would ignore the shivering rectangular bundle nearby. At last it appeared that my prayer was answered. The unholy ruckus ceased.

I spent the rest of the night waiting for Ehmet to return. I called out his name several times before remembering he couldn't answer. After hearing no more noises for half an hour or so, I emerged cautiously from my sleeping bag and found enough coals still aglow to get a new campfire going. Back in my bag, I meted out the sticks and branches I had collected earlier and managed to keep a small fire burning till dawn. Exhaustion overcame fear a few times that night, but I always woke up to find the fire burning low and remedied the situation.

Not long before sunrise, when I could make out the lower country spread out to the east of us, I started to think about searching for Ehmet. I felt like a coward for not searching immediately after the catfight - but realistically, what could I have done? And why had Ehmet left? Did he abandon me? I couldn't believe that he would do that. I dreaded telling the whole story to Don Pedro when I got back.

But all these considerations became pointless when Ehmet limped into camp. His clothes were ripped in several places, and he was bleeding from a wound on his shoulder - the claw marks of a mountain lion. I started to walk to him but he waved me off. He motioned to his camp gear and I packed it up for him. He slung his knapsack on his good shoulder, and I followed him as we slowly made our way back to the lodge.

To Be Continued...

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