DARKER THAN A WOLF’S MOUTH

“No, don’t go out there now,” Maria said. “It is late and there is no moon. El es oscuro como boca de lobo.”

“How d’you know how dark it is inside a wolf’s mouth?” Alvin Little grumbled as he put on his boots. “Leave me be.” He paused again, listening. The sound came again, the rattle of sticks tumbling off the pile of kindling just outside the door. “I spent two hours yesterday cuttin’ that kindling and I’m damned if someone’s gonna go stealin’ it.”

“El noche es más mala que Judas,” she protested. “It is unsafe.”

He reached for the door latch, then turned to look at her. “More evil than who? Judas, you say? Where d’you get this stuff?”

He stopped on the sill and shook his head as he peered into the darkness. A pale sliver of moon and no starlight. Heavy clouds blanketing the sky. He chuckled. So this was what a wolf’s mouth looked like. He leaned forward and peered at the wood piled alongside the cabin. He could just see the once neatly stacked kindling. Sticks lay haphazardly at the foot of the pile, as if someone had tried to climb it. Alvin scowled and stepped into the yard to gather them up.

A slight scratching sound came from the wooden roof, but Alvin didn’t have time to do more than lift his head before the mountain lion was on top of him, or hear more than Maria’s single scream before the big cat’s teeth found his throat.

 

Copyright © Loretta Miles Tollefson 2017

Shadows

Dusk was falling on the back country road. The old car rattled on the washboard surface. Susan was driving, giving Carl a break. It had been a long and discouraging day. A shadow moved across the road ahead of her and she slowed. Carl opened his eyes.

“I thought I saw a deer,” she told him. “Up there on the left.”

He leaned forward, scanning the bank. “Stop a minute,” he said. “Look right there, next to the big ponderosa.”

She braked and looked, blinked and looked again. “That’s not a deer,” she whispered.

He shook his head. “It’s a cat. A big one.”

“A cougar,” she said. “Awesome.” And then there was nothing to see but shadows, rocks, and trees.

They grinned at each other. What a great day.

from Moreno Valley Sketches II