I told him. As soon as I saw it in the window I started screaming, 'GET BACK IN THE CAR! GET BACK IN THE CAR' but he made a face and kept walking toward the house and couldn't see what I could see on the other side of the soffit and the big red sugar maple. I knew by the look on his face he was thinking 'hysterical female' but I was losing it for good reason. He was about to walk into a bear.
We have about an acre and a half of woods, a corner property. Across the road and on one side are some neighbors but not too close. Three seasons of the year there is enough tree cover to obscure a clear view, a constant source of frustration to a former neighbor from Newark who eventually couldn't hack country living and moved back home. I could literally sunbathe nude from my own back deck except for the fact that neighbors were so friendly that they often dropped by unannounced and it could be a little awkward. And then at holiday parties it would be awkward again when they'd remind me after they'd had a few drinks and slapped Spouse on the shoulder hard enough to knock him over telling him what a lucky man he was. He despised being told that almost as much as 'Attaboy.'
We're on a circle, again an end property and across the road is the back of a llama farm, and on another side is 70 acres of undeveloped property, then the home of a dead mobster's younger more stupid brother who couldn't be trusted to take charge of the 'family' business so was put in charge of the immediate family's landscaping (read: wood chippers) business, then the Russians, then the Kowalskis' who threw awesome Christmas parties and so on. Behind them was another 70 acres or so of land in conservatorship and directly between us and the Russians was a small circle of woods on our property that was sweet because with our house set back a bit it made it look a little like a fairy cottage from a distance and if you squinted just right.
Our driveway was a large circle or lazy 'D' with the bit of woods in the center and it was through this set-up that I was able to see many animals meandering about, from my giant atrium window in the living room.
Because of all this beautiful land and the way it's situated, there are several bear as well as fox dens. Besides the blue spruces, hemlocks, sassafras and white pines, there are in inordinate amount of oaks on the property probably because there are an inordinate amount of fat happy squirrels waddling around hoarding what has amounted to thousands upon thousand of acorns over the years. In the fall, my driveway has so many acorns on it that although it is paved, it sounds like one is driving on gravel as the acorns pop and crack whenever we maneuver around the circle.
When it rains or is damp, it can be quite slick and so on this cool fall day, copper oak leaves dancing in the air, I could hear the crunch of tire on acorn announcing Spouse had arrived home so I walked over to the front door to greet him. I had been cooking dinner but the kitchen was hot from the oven and I took off my top and stood in my bra the living room not far from the door but where I knew I couldn't be seen from outside when I saw what I thought was my neighbor from Newark's big German Shepherd but it didn't look like a German Shepherd and my mind tried to fit around this large animal rubbing its back on a tree and I realized this animal was not on a leash and my neighbor was nowhere in sight and it dawned on me that the only thing separating me from this BEAR was a pane of glass and ten feet which was okay, but Spouse was already stepping out of his car, his work shoes crunch crunch crunch and I started screaming at the front door while watching the bear startle from the window and they literally ran toward each other like a choreographed ballet, and if not so terrifying, it was piss-in-your-pants funny.
They nearly brushed each other as the bear veered off into the little circle and Spouse ran up the four steps and opened the full-view screen/glass storm door, flew inside, slammed the big door shut, LOCKED IT, then threw his body against the door, glaring at me, ME, who warned him to get back in the car. He was hyperventilating and began shouting at me why didn't I say, 'BEAR! BEAR!' and I told him honestly because the last time I said, 'BEAR! BEAR!' it was to the Russian as he was mending his 8-foot chain link fence, his back to an approaching mother bear and two darling cubs and when I called out to the Russian he just said, 'WHAT? WHAT?' so I just pointed and he ran around in a circle a few times then climbed over his fence just as the mother heard me screaming at him and took off in the opposite direction so I knew that saying, "BEAR! BEAR!' might cause Spouse to allamande left or dosido with Yogi and figured he'd trust me enough to just fucking do what I was asking but he shouted at me NEXT TIME to just don't say anything. I burst out laughing and said, 'FINE' and that was it.
In July we have a giant annual cookout and invite everyone we know. Everyone in town is invited and they can bring anything and anyone with them. We have a great time, many of my friends and family come from long distances to make this party and in anticipation I requested my brother Donny to dig a large fire-pit in the little circle of woods so we could have a bonfire that year.
He spent the week at the house and did nothing but play video games and watch movies and nothing was being done about my fire-pit and I'd had a terrible case of bronchitis which required me to go on a 6 or 8 day regimen of steroids and I developed a very rare side-effect. I became manic and somewhat psychotic for about 24 hours and before I knew it, not only was a fire-pit dug, but it was completed beautifully and frantically by both Donny AND Spouse as I sat in a lawn chair sipping diet decaf iced tea with a pick-axe by my side.
Every now and then they would surreptitiously look up at me and then look at each other but they completed their task, I congratulated them on a great job and Spouse disappeared and returned with a Xanax and a martini for me and a diet soda for Donny then went to hide in the basement. Donny and I sat in the driveway late into the evening talking and laughing and I came down from my side-effect and we joked about that too and suddenly I saw movement behind him and at the same time smelled a very familiar odor and the floodlight wasn't working because Spouse kept putting off borrowing the ladder from the Russian to change the bulb but I distinctly saw a large mammal walking right behind Donny on all fours and I simultaneously got up, grabbed him by the collar and dragged both of us up the steps into the house.
Our noses pressed against the screen door we heard the chuffing and the movement through old brush and debris and I told him to take a deep whiff and he thought it was the most amazing thing and we stood together holding each other and laughing, our hearts beating and adrenaline pumping and we left everything as it was, locked up and went to to bed.
The following morning I told Spouse and although he was thrilled he'd survived the night considering my behavior the day before, he wasn't in any hurry to change the bulb on the floodlight even though I'd expressed concern that a bear might sneak up on us. He chortled and said yeah and dismissed me. He also reminded me about the original bear incident and took the opportunity to chide me again and I said, 'Yes dear. Fuck you very much,' and kept typing as he turned the remote to FOX News.
Now, the Russian liked me. He was the head of some union in Brighton Beach and he and his wife, when I was sick would bring me little care packages of salmon and caviar and other tasty morsels and one day had walked in the house looking for Spouse who had said to him earlier unbeknownst to me, 'Yeah just come in when you get a chance to look at this 'thing'' and ran into a very shocked me standing there trying on a black silk teddy. I was unaware of his presence until he said with his charming accent, 'Vell, Helllllllooooo Beeyooooteefool' and I twirled around in surprise and ever since then he would volunteer to do some kind of electrical work for free.
Thanks to that black teddy, we didn't have to pay a penny to have four ceiling fans, a light fixture and several extra electrical outlets installed. So I personally asked him to please change the bulb and he not only did, but he provided the bulb himself which I thought was very kind. And no, he never once asked for payment, ever. Spouse was livid that I went over his head because he said he was getting to it and I made him look bad and I said he could do bad all by himself and as of that night I would no longer remind him or warn him or do shit for him again since he was always so insulted anytime I offered to help and he said, 'FINE', and that evening ended remarkably well too.
So last night I heard some leaves crunching in the driveway and the cats were in the window and I thought, 'Oh they see Daddy is home' and got up and sure enough he was but strangely he stopped the car midway up the driveway and briefly tapped the horn. I figured he was on the phone with his buddy and wasn't looking for me especially since he insisted he neither wanted nor needed my help but I was curious so I got up and stood behind the cats and saw him standing outside the car, looking at one of the tires. And then I saw the bear behind him. And I remembered that he ordered me not to tell him, not to warn him, not to help him so I let him have his way and the bear ate him.