King’s Dominion, July 28, 2009, 5:50 PM.
Sharp beaver claws and teeth gnawing, grasping; broad flat tails slapping.
They walked along on the crowded hot blacktop.
What a day we have had here don’t you think?
Gnaw—gnaw the wood. Must have wood. Must have lots of wood. Find wood.
Look—a Fudge and Fun stand. Want to have some?
The sun beamed down from low over the buildings across the way.
Oh yes—we need some dessert—here—here let’s walk in the shade it’s hot.
Logs vertical across the stream spaced apart; logs and branches horizontal between the logs tight from the bottom to the top to stop the water. Mud. Slap on mud.
One smirking, one frowning, they went toward the Fudge and Fun stand through the sun between the gaps in the shadows.
Come on! Let’s hurry before the stand closes—
Slap mud on the dam more sticks more twigs more mud good and tight the slap of the tail the water rising. The water rises spreading out and deeper. A pond forms quickly. Deeper, wider. They watch. But must gather sticks; must gather sticks and branches and brush for what’s next.
Reaching the stand, they joined the long line standing in the sun.
This line moves so slow—I hope they don’t close.
I know. Me too.
The line moved forward and they stepped into shadow.
Build the lodge. Swim. Swim. Pile. The great mound is forming in the pond. Cut wood; swim; slap down mud—dig under and hollow out. Work together. Work well together. Everyone had their job. Slapping tails echo through the trees. Gnawing. Gnawing. Down the blacktop came a parade with dancers and a band, the sun glinted off the brass, the music flowed and pounded loud. The hats and jackets were red. The pants were white.
Look at that.
Great hairy warts spread across the pale back of the shirtless man in line before them. He stepped into the shadow. They kept their distance. The parade marched by and was gone but the music faded much more slowly as the parade disappeared around the bend.
Mud. Slap on mud good and thick in the sun the pond rises.
Look! The sign says what they have. They have candy pops—
The shadowy sunbeam glare glowed all around them as the sun sank.
Underwater entrances led to the chambers of the lodge. There was space for breeding and eating to stay alive; their purpose; their sole purpose.
Of all the places to come on a hot sunny day, thought the one. The crowds—there are so many people. Who wants to be around this many people? Better to be at home in the cool reading a big fat book. I don’t really want to be here I don’t want to be here at all—
They stepped forward into shadow once more.
I try to have fun, thought the other. And look what happens. It’s like being with a dead person for all the fun we’ve had. And I really wanted to come here today I really really wanted to come—
The wolverines and coyotes and other predators will never claw through this thickness of heavy mud. It’s safe in this lodge. It is safe it is safe—
All of a sudden two small boys came from the shadows and cut to the front of the line, laughing, gesturing—the person working the stand waved them off.
Get! he cried. Get to the end of the line I won’t serve you if you cut—get to the end of the line—
This is for you mister! called out the blonde boy, flicking the bird.
The boys ran into the sun and across and disappeared in the crowd.
Yeah damned kids—where are the parents? said the warty man.
In the lodge it is now time to breed. To make more of their kind. To have small ones to nurse and make grow and teach the ways.
The warty man paid and stepped away, handing his son a pop. The son licked; green shirt, brown hair.
They stepped up. The man behind the counter said Yes?
He had one blue eye, one black.
I’ll have a candy pop—
I’ll have a fudge.
One blue eye, one black.
They paid. They stepped from the shadow to the sun.
Eat bark. Bring bark and twigs. Eat gnaw swallow in the black of the lodge; the safe safe safe black of the lodge as the sun sets outside. Inside now no different than outside.
Candy pop licked in the shadows as they walked away.
Fudge in the sun melting, dripping. Drops fell on the blacktop. Ants came. Ants are everywhere underfoot, unnoticed, stepped on, dying.
King’s Dominion, July 28, 2009, 6:01 PM.