All Fall Down
" There are no accidents, all things have a deep and calculated purpose; sometimes the methods employed by Providence seem strange and incongruous, but we have only to be patient and wait for the result: then we recognize that no others would have answered the purpose, and we are rebuked and humbled." – Mark Twain
I knew I was in trouble but I got a reprieve when the lower branches would hold the bear’s weight and broke. Next he tried to shimmy up the trunk but the brittle bark shredded and he couldn’t get a good purchase.
I told him, “Go away you stupid bear! What? You done got your pride wrapped up in this or something?! Typical male of the species is what you are!”
Obviously I should have just kept my mouth shut. I’d stirred Beau up and the beat too. Cranky monster started putting his weight into pushing the trunk over like I was some termite or grub that he wanted. And glory if I couldn’t feel it working. What a mess that was. Beau snarling and growling from his confinement in the sling on my back. His weight and wigglesomeness combined with the weight of my hunting pack trying to make my balance worse as the demented and seemingly starving bear below us caused the tree to sway and make unhealthy noises to go with the growls and grunts he made.
The tree began to lean more and more. I knew it wouldn’t stay up much longer and I worried. All I could do was pray it would be a controlled fall so I could jump. Unfortunately God had other plans.
There was a loud snap that sounded like the shotgun I wished I’d had in the first place. I barely had time to pop the snaps on the sling and pack before my world went black.
I came to when I smelled dog breath and felt dog kisses. Then I heard doggie whines and I jerked the rest of the way awake. Only I couldn’t move, I was pinned solid. I turned my head all over looking for the monster bear only to finally spot him lumbering away towards higher ground. He swayed and stumbled like a drunk. I knew he must have been injured by the falling tree somehow but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t come back once he’d shaken if off. That bear struck me as the type that had had human on the meal a time or two and come to like it.
I knew I was injured too, I just wasn’t sure how badly. My leg burned like fire was running up and down it. I turned to Beau who was still dragging around the pack and checked him over. He was upset but obviously relieved I was awake. After Beau I reached in to the pack and pulled the small hand saw I always carried and started sawing myself loose.
Between the sawing and digging it required, I was three or four hours getting myself loose and by the time I was finally free I was ready to puke and collapse, not necessarily in that order. My canteen was empty and it wasn’t just my leg that hurt. My hands were a mess from digging. My arms felt like they were falling off from all the sawing. My back strained from the unnatural angles I’d been contorting myself in to escape. And my head felt like it’d been squished by a boulder.
I examined my leg. There was no blood. The hurt came from deep inside my leg as well as ran up the sides. It was like getting stung by yellow jackets both inside and out. I had a giant goose egg on my head that was too tender to touch so I didn’t. Beau fetched me sticks until I had a couple that worked for a splint and then a longer stick for a crutch. Some might have preferred to make camp right there but I was still worried about another dance with the bear, so though it was late in the day Beau and I headed back home to the cave.
Every step was a misery. I had more pulled muscles than I could count. I was also bumped, bruised, and scraped. And thirsty. When we finally got to a stream I nearly fell face firs in it but topped in time to use sense and use a filter. Thirst sated I continued on, determined to get as close to the cave as possible.
I was most of the way there when I just gave out without warning. I remember trying to crawl but I don’t know how far I got. Then the light went out.
I heard steps and Beau growling.
“Good dog. Good dog,” the man said. “Son? Better get over here!”
“I would but these blasted birds …”
I couldn’t drum up the energy to tell the animals to run. In fact I didn’t have anything left to give. It was all gone and so was I.