Sunday, July 4, 2010

Something's out there.


The neighbors have a Great Pyrenees and that’s a vocal breed. Elbow has one, and Lucy is a massive polar bear of a dog, but she keeps the peace at Sea Pond. I don’t know this one’s name but I do know he’s reacting to something, and so are the horses. Something is out there, near the South end of my neighbor’s place, and the horses aren’t happy, and neither is the dog. My mutts are edgy about the whole affair, and they want to meander around the back of my place, on patrol, and seal off any possible weirdness from that direction. Bert thinks there is something close. The hair on his back is up high. I check the shotgun and leave it close.

I don’t like picking the gun up because I was at a bonfire party last night and I drank far too much. It’s four in the morning now and I can still feel the beer in me. It’s a weird feeling having a hangover and I am not altogether certain I am really awake. This feels dreamlike. Maybe it is. The half moon streaming far overheard, with the clouds sitting still while it moves has an ethereal quality about it. The dark places are darker because of the near light, and the light places are not light enough. Good hunting light, Bert tells me, and he leads the pack into the shadows.

It’s amazing how quickly three dogs become invisible in the woods at night. I can stand at the edge of the yard and know where they are but they have disappeared. They make no sound, no noise, and there is no telling if they are five feet or fifty from me. It isn’t coyotes because they aren’t speaking to us, and they would, you know. They’ll let us know where they are, when they are there, and they won’t come in on a Pyrenees for any sort of prey. You’ll lose one, maybe more, of your packmates tangling with a herd dog that size, and you have to realize someone isn’t coming back if you go into the goat pen with it. How many does there have to be before they give that a try? Eight? Ten? A dozen or so? No, that many and they yammer at night, letting everyone know where they are, and how many of them there are, so no, not coyotes.

It’s a cool night for July in South Georgia and this is such a relief. I know better than to be barefoot out here but I like it. Not coyotes, Mike, then maybe pigs. Pigs are a good guess but they tear up everything in their path. Pigs are easy to track, easy to tell where they have been, and why would the horses react to pigs? No, not pigs because my neighbor’s friends are down for the holiday and they hunt pigs. There are seventy billion wild and feral pigs in South Georgia and the more people hunt them the more pigs there are. These are dangerous animals with real attitudes and the hunters are beginning to develop a siege mentality about the whole affair. Pigs are breeding faster than people can kill them. But no, not pigs, they’ve been fired on far too many times this close in.

Sam and Lucas come out of the woods and snuffle around my feet for a while. Sam doesn’t like it. He goes ears up at the sound of the Pyrenees but he isn’t reacting to the barking as much as he is the why of the barking. Sam growls deep in his throat, a worried whining sound that isn’t a warning of any sort.
The cool breeze rustles the leaves of the trees, pushes the clouds, and through the haze in my mind a realization begins to seep in; there isn’t any sound. There are no owls, no night birds, no critter noise at all except the tolling of the Pyrenees. It’s dead silent in the area.  “Bert!” the call seems overloud in the dark, and I don’t like the way my voice sounds. I have to get him out of the woods, closer to the pack, and it will not dawn on him he’s alone in the woods, or worse, because he’s my dog, he’ll feel safe out there, and he’ll feel safe alone. The twelve gauge is useless in the dark with Bert still out there, and I would have to go get the rifle if… If what Mike? What exactly are you thinking?
“Fuck!” Sam and Lucas disappear from my side and dart into the woods like liquid canine. Something is inside the fence now, and Bert is after it. It’s small, an armadillo maybe, and I can hear it trying to get away from Bert. Sam closes in on it and then there is a moment for frantic activity then nothing at all. A horse whinnies and another nickers back. I can feel it now. The hair on the back of my neck rises and fear, real fear rises with it. The mutts just took something from someone and they are not happy. The Pyrenees begins to bark, and this time I can hear the direction of the bark, like sonar , and the sound is bouncing off my house.
I can feel it. I can sense it without hearing anything, without smelling anything, without sight, and I know it is there. The dogs return from the kill and they know it too now, and this time they stay close. Bert growls, low, ominous, and unafraid. He takes a step towards the house and I say his name quietly. He stops, waits, and Lucas stands beside him, silent and still. Sam presses beside me, waiting. A moment passes, and then another, and finally Bert steps over to a tree and pees. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath.

We have a cat here at Hickory Head. This is trouble I have not known.

Take Care,
Mike

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