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Story 6

…but all the while on high alert so as not to suffer another surprise attack from some wild animal. Once in a while, she’d bring her hand up to the pocket of her jacket which snuggly held her fully loaded pistol.

After a while she began to relax more…

Ginger decided she would go out into the woods for the first time since she had been attackedcottonmouthsnakedrawing by some kind of wild animal. She took her fishing pole and a can of worms back to Lizard Creek which is really a small river at the edge of her woods. She stood on the river’s bank for a good while, listening and deep breathing before finally baiting her hook and throwing out her line. She sat comfortably and relaxed against a tree waiting for fish to nibble, then bite at her line, but all the while on high alert so as not to suffer another surprise attack from some wild animal. Once in a while, she’d bring her hand up to the pocket of her jacket which snuggly held her fully loaded pistol.

After a while she began to relax more and more and within a couple of hours she had caught ten fish and was out of worms to use for bait. As she looked around for something to use as bait, she saw a cotton mouth snake near her foot. It had a good sized toad in its mouth and Ginger knew toads make awesome bass fish bait, so she decided to take it from the snake.

The snake could not bite Ginger with its mouth already full of toad, so she grabbed it and picked up the snake just behind its mouth by the head. Then she poured into the snake’s mouth and past the slight openings around the toad, lots of the whiskey she routinely carried in her first aide pack. The snake went limp soon enough and Ginger pulled out the toad, then safely released the sedated snake.

picgingerpigtailsAbout an hour later, Ginger felt something nudging her boot. It was the same cotton mouth snake returning to her only now it had two toads in its mouth!

Story 5

“I wasn’t that scared at the time but thinking about it now if I had been cornered it could have gotten a bit nasty, as it probably weighs about 65 pounds – heavy enough to bring a deer down, as the saying goes.”

pantherThe hunter, a young man, was out of breath as he shoved a drawing of the large black cat at Ginger, explaining,

“It was very sleek and about the size of a tiger. It was like looking at a shadow as it was jet black, as black as you can get. It was very powerful looking and its tail was very long, too. What struck me about its tail was where it hung down its hindquarters it was very long and the same thickness all the way down. It was a perfect bow shape – if you put a piece of string across it, it would look like a strung bow for a bow and arrow set. It was watching us and I think we spotted each other at the same time as we were about fifty – sixty yards away.

Then all of a sudden it disappeared and hopped over a hedge into the scrub land which leads into the woods. I ran up here as I thought there might be a chance of seeing it, but it was gone. It was probably more scared of us than us of it. I wasn’t that scared at the time but thinking about it now if I had been cornered it could have gotten a bit nasty, as it probably weighs about 65 pounds – heavy enough to bring a deer down, as the saying goes.”

Ginger admitted to the man, to the hunter, that she had not seen the animal for sure, but picgingerpigtailsshe had been attacked at sunset, by an unknown animal, over a month ago.

 

Fourth Story

People under distress go into a survival mode. They amazingly get crystal clear about what needs to be done in order to survive…

A few miles north of Ginger’s place, Lizard Creek drops in close to the woods and runs deep and dark. The water is cold because it has slipped, sparkling from the tops of floating ice pieces, melted in the sunlight before reaching the narrow bend of the creek.

Evening of a cold day pushes the wind against leafless branches rubbing and banging them together like bones. The shadows fall down the hillside toward the woods and into the creek. On the creek banks, squirrels bow their heads over acorns like miniature priest statues taking communion. Sound and movement stop. It is a bright cold day passing into the night of a new moon.

There’s a toxic energy to living alone in the woods, Ginger thinks, to herself, pausing for day to change into night on the creek edge of the woods. An uneasiness that flows under the surface of all that lives in the woods. Sometimes vibrating to the surface. Squirrels nibbling nuts one minute, then scrambling into the trees for dear life the next. Violent deaths and killing along the food chain- that is the cost of residency in the wild of the woods. It’s a game of chance with one’s life, mostly. It’s a poison leaching into a person’s mind while routinely living alone out in the woods.

Ginger was making her way back home, but on the path in front of her, something moved. She hollered and wildly waved her arms in the air hoping to scare off whatever it was waiting there. Suddenly, the animal charged her. The force of each bite was like a sledge hammer with piercing teeth. The attacking animal would bite her, stop for a second, then bite her again. Over and over, for about a five minute period of time. Just as suddenly as it attacked her, the animal seemed to walk away.

Ginger lay on the ground, stunned and bleeding. She took stock of her injuries as best she could in the darkness. Mostly, puncture wounds on both her arms and down one leg. Ginger used a branch to help push herself back up onto her feet. But just as she was turning to walk back home, she heard a sound: It was the same attacker, charging her again. She fell hard to the ground, covering her neck with her arms and pressing her face to the ground to protect her eyes.

One bite clamped onto her wrist and she heard the crushing of bone. She screamed out in pain, sending the attacking animal into a frenzy, biting her on her head, her upper back and down the full length of her body. Ginger decided to play dead and held her breath without moving as the animal sniffed her hair and neck, used its cold nose to poked around her body, trying to turn her over. Ginger was dead weight, playing the dead person as best she could to save herself even as the animal continued to bite her on the head and even as she felt blood gushing into her closed eyes and onto her face. Ginger remained motionless. At one point, the animal stood on Ginger’s back for awhile, digging its claws into the flesh of her shoulders before it was gone.

Realizing it was really gone this time, Ginger instinctively sprang into action, got to her feet and ran the ten minutes back to her home. Once safely inside, panting, dry-mouthed and with streams of blood crisscrossing her face, Ginger began reviewing her injuries. Her ear was torn, flesh was hanging from her broken arm, it was mangled, her shoulder was ripped open, but her legs had only puncture wounds, her eyes and internal organs seemed fine. So she treated her own injuries as best she could, deciding she can afford to wait for daylight to go into the closest city for more medical help.

People under distress go into a survival mode. They amazingly get crystal clear about what needs to be done in order to survive, so Ginger slept. In the morning, she painfully walked to the closest highway and a passing rancher picked her up, took her to the closest medical center where she was admitted for a few weeks of recovery after major surgery to repair her serious injuries. To this day, Ginger has no idea what animal attacked her.picgingerpigtails

 

 

Third Story

Ginger thought, to herself,
“I do not like that guy. I must get to know him better.”

picmanstressedoutWay out and deeper into the woods, lived a person in a hollowed out tree. The stars bent over the tree-limbed roof; smoke poured out of the chimney. I smelled beans and meat cooking from somewhere inside it. When she answered my banging at her door, she was silent. I liked that about her. I ran into the nearby bushes and hid there, at first. You see, I knew I was wretched, miserable and poor, a grieving ghost wandering through my nightmare life. I’d grown tired and more confused from chasing one falling star after another, until I was just ready to drop from exhaustion. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own story when I happened to bang on her door in the woods.

So, in the woods when the sun went down and I was sitting on the old rotting tree watching the long, long skies over her hollowed out tree home and sensed all that raw energy that rolled out of her cleared part of the woods and all her busy work around it and all her dreaming which created such a nice cut out of the woods sort of sweet place, and seeing it contrasting my thoughts that nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody except for growing old and death, I began crying and she must have heard me, sitting there just crying my grown man eyes out like I was a small child.

Finally, I move from my hiding spot and wonder about her as I do it. Does anyone care when she comes home? Does she have a father, a brother or an uncle? Does she have anyone who cares about her, and her only, who says to her, ‘I love you, Honey’? I wonder about lots of feelings all of the sudden and I feel a darkness hovering over me, the darkness I fight all the time, the darkness I can’t let fill me completely.

You see, guys like me have no families. We belong to no one and no place. We live an easy life, no people means no mess when we pick up and move on. But sometimes a guy needs somebody to be near him. The moment of moving out from hiding, to be seen by her, was one of those times for me and it settled and hovered and stayed for much longer than a moment.

She pointed to a picnic table, setting on it a big bowl of beans and beef. She said nothing as she motioned for me to come and eat. If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful woman for whom you have hoped and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless, if such situations have not yet been part of your experience, you likely won’t understand the generosity of what Ginger did next.

Reaching out, she first touched my shoulder, gently rubbing it as I ate. Then she pushed the glass of fresh water closer to me, lifting it and tipping it as I drank from it. She refilled my bowl three times and sat close to me without a word uttered between us. When I had finally finished eating, Ginger held me in her wonderful arms and rock me back and forth, while I continued to cry and finally fell soundly asleep on her shoulder.

At some point, during the night, she must have picked me up, carrying me to her bed where I continued to sleep until the next morning. I woke up, feeling better than I had felt in years, totally rested and ready to move on, once again. As I walked away from her home deeper in the woods, I turned back to say thank you and goodbye, but she was already busy cleaning up after me, yet her calm eyes seemed to follow me, thinking or saying something quite comforting back to me as I left her, untouched, forever there, in that nice little place. What were her eyes saying to me? I did not know and could not guess, for she was so much better than the likes of me.

As she watched the stranger leave, Ginger thought, to herself,
“I do not like that guy. I must get to know him better.”picgingerpigtails

 

 

 

Second Story

They claimed Fallon had won the game’s $600.00 pot by cheating, an act that justified his death for them.

Ginger has a good disposition, friendly and likeable to all people, really. She is diligent as a worker, smart and helpful, too. She likes other people and always tries to be a servant to them, but her greatest passion is listening to stories, listening to their stories brings her so much joy! She always has time to listen to the many story tellers she meets as travelers through the woods, going from one city, through her woods, to the next city. Ginger feels meeting story tellers is a real advantage to living full time in the woods as she does.

One time, Ginger met an eight year old boy named,  Robert, sent from his home to spend the summer months with his aunt, a farmer on the outer edges of a nearby city where he’d tend her crops spraying for bugs and clearing the variety of weeds that also wanted to share her fields with the more delicate crops he must protect from aggressive weeds.

Robert had time to share several fantastic stories with Ginger about snow covered bridges, giant creatures who lived in snow capped mountains with the tiniest of folks who were their pocket sized servants and communicated with many talking animals and the like. Robert told Ginger stories about glass slippers, golden rings, silver cups, and jeweled crowns. But his best story ever was totally unbelievable, amazing and truly unforgettable all rolled into one! And guess what? Robert swore it was a totally true story, in fact he promised Ginger it was an absolutely true story!

Robert’s story was about a gambler that he actually knew. The gambler was a poker player who lived not too far away, in the next city. His last name was Fallon. One night Mr. Fallon was playing in the city’s high stakes poker game. During the poker game, he was shot dead, an act of revenge by the other players who felt sure they had been cheated by Mr. Fallon. They claimed Fallon had won the game’s $600.00 pot by cheating, an act that justified his death for them.

With Fallon’s seat empty, and none of the other players willing to take the now considered unlucky $600.00 of Fallon’s ill-gotten gains; they found a new player to take his place in the game and they staked the new player with the dead man’s money.

By the time the police arrived to investigate the killing of Fallon, the new player had turned the dead man’s $600.00 into more than $2, 200.00 in winnings. When the police demanded the original $600.00 of winnings for evidence and for passing it on to Fallon’s next of kin, they discovered the new player was actually Fallon’s own son, Robert Fallon Junior, who had not seen his father in more than twenty years, since his third birthday.

When he’d finished telling her the gambler’s story, Ginger asked Robert, only one question. She asked him,

“What did your father buy with all that money?”

But all Robert said about it was,

“Well, we aren’t farmers, that’s for sure!”picgingerpigtails

 

 

Ginger Dakota

Ginger Dakota had the whole story, pieces of it, anyway, but folks had changed parts of it to suite them.

“I never put up a sign or even gave my office an official name. I didn’t have to. The building was already called, ‘the law office’. That was its name since it was constructed. Fort James had little written history. Its history lived and breathed and passed down in its people. After I had been doing my law practice there a while, ‘the law office’ began to be called, Ginger Dakota’s or just Dakota’s as if that was how my law office was clearly marked on a map, yet it was so only in the minds of the locals.

The law office, my law office was at the end of the long sided city square in the midst of the town. The main road came up from the river banks about a mile, climbed a hill onto the flatland, made a few swerves and dips, passed some housing, a large graveyard, and then it passed an old church and finally it passed a handful of other businesses, went by my office and then out toward the schools and more houses before it hurried on out of town again. Drivers from other places have never seen much reason to slow down when they go through Fort James.

When I am not in my office or in court, I am off running somewhere. If I could have done it, I guess it would have been better to have lived my life in a straight line. You know, like, starting from a place of darkness and going out of it by logical steps through trials and emptiness and into the bright light of the clearing which is Heaven. Like taking the high road from a place of despair and danger, through hardships and toil, avoiding the snares to finally cross over the river of death and entering the Pearly Gates. But that is not how I have lived my life so far, not even how I am as a runner.

I am a distance runner, but my running has been wandering and unrecorded for the most part. Often what has looked like a straight path to me has been running in circles around a track or a doubling back and forth from one side of town to the other. I have been lost, failed to find the easy path from the dark woods a few times. The names of dangers and snares have been made known to me, but only as I have looked back at them. Often I did not know where I was running until I was already there. I have had my share of victories and plateaus, but my runs have come to me or I have gone out to them mainly by way of habit and surprise. Often as in my life, I have received more from running than I deserved. I am an ignorant runner, crossing a busy street in the darkness. And yet, looking back, always I have been protected and somehow led, yes, always led.”

 

First Story

His ears were long and stretched out like flaps of flowing skin down over the rest of his body, on each side of it. When it was night time, he just crouched under his own ears for shelter.

cropped-picgingerpigtails.jpgGinger Dakota lives in a hollowed out tree trunk at the city’s edge. Her home is the very large tree she spent at least a year of her life preparing for the purpose. Living in the woods is a little different from what’s commonly expected. She allowed herself a moment to think back to the day she first found her tree.

She remembered, to herself, that once she saw a Native American leaning against her tree. His ears so big and set so far from his own head that he could hang lots of items on them. His ears were long and stretched out like flaps of flowing skin down over the rest of his body, on each side of it. When it was night time, he just crouched under his own ears for shelter. Even in storms of wind, rain, sleet and snow, he was kept warm and dry by sleeping under his own ears.

Not that his ears did not show the wear and tear from it, you know. If the wind blew hard enough, the assorted nicks and rips and tears which had scabbed over and scarred his ears were visible as thin spots and thickened cracks in the otherwise smooth ear lobes.  Plus, storms flopped them about, inviting others and all kinds of animals to shelter under them. It could be hours of strangers sitting under his long ears and yelping and singing sad songs while the storm fussed outside.  But what was a long eared person to do about it, after all?  And it was nice to be needed during stormy times.

As Ginger stood a moment thinking more about it, to herself, a man from town walked past her along the gravel road.  When he noticed her standing by her tree home, he stopped and yelled over to ask,

“Have you seen my son go by?”

“Mmmm,” said Ginger. “Was he about my age, only taller?”

“Yes,” said the man.

“With big brown eyes, long brown hair and wearing a big smile?”

“Yes,” said the man.

“Wearing a brown jacket and work boots?”

“Yes, that’s right!” said the man excitedly.

“No, I have not seen anyone who looks like that, but I’d sure like to, so I will keep my eyes wide open for seeing him!” Ginger assured the man.

The man turned angrily away, but then Ginger shouted,

“Does your son have really long ears that flap in the wind, that he can crouch under for shelter?”

“Why, no.” said the man as his face twisted up considering such ears and in amazement asked her,

“Are you telling me that you actually saw a person with ears that were long enough to shelter him, someone with ears reaching down to the ground?”

“I have never seen anyone who reaches with their ears,” said Ginger. “All the people I’ve seen, reach with their arms or legs.”

……..to be continued