Chapter 15 (continued)
Configurations of Air and Water In the West
Emmylou Finegold sat on a ridge on the edge of a boulder in the golden glow of an outrageous sunset. The clouds parted at the horizon loosing shafts of amber light over the scene below. She hugged herself in slight cool breeze, sighed and pushed herself to her feet.
She still had work to do to get the cows in the barn and the goats and sheep in for the night. She didn’t mind doing these chores in the waning light as the animals were easy for her and knew their routine. There was something magic in the twilight of dusk. “The gloaming” she thought, her lips did not move with her thoughts. Her mind danced but not with the words. Suddenly she realized she was being watched by something at the top of the ridge. She caught the glassy shine of 2 yellow eyes reflecting the last of the sun. She stopped. She had no fear of wild animals, but respect for their power. She stood still, peering into the rapidly dimming scrub and then moved slowly up the boulder and around the path making her body shape as large as possible. She had seen mountain lions, more likely the same big cat more than once. Coyotes she heard some nights yipping and yowling. She knew it was not a bear. She would have heard that for sure. Bears went crashing through the scrub, even the small ones. Might as well make sure, she thought and tossed a stick up into the bushes and heard the almost silent tread of a large animal. Not a coyote. Wolf? No wolves here anymore. Not a cougar, I wouldn’t have heard it at all. Maybe a feral dog. Better be careful those are most dangerous; they don’t fear people at all. She walked carefully down the path knowing she was being followed by a large almost silent animal. She stopped at the dorm cabin on the hill.
“Larry,” she called.
“Yeah, Zatchoo Emmylou,” he rhymed.
“Can I come in for a minute?”
“Why, ‘v course, anytime,”
She came in the front door. There was Larry painting a large canvas of a black bird on a blood red sky, its golden eye reflecting a setting sun and a black bird in a the golden sky of its eye.
“Nice,” she said, “I saw a raven today. It was speaking a language I couldn’t understand.”
“Don’t they all?”
“Well a lot of them say ‘Rock’ or ‘Croak’ and such, but this one said something like ‘tegethnot’
“kind of a long word for raven.” He said.
“Well I’ll get goin’ and leave you to your paint,” she said as she turned back toward the door. “Watch out if you go out there’s some large beastie prowling. Maybe a feral dog. I’m goin’ to put the animals up for the night.”
“You want company?”
Emmylou smiled at his friendly gallantry.
“Ah, I’m not afraid of anything out there as long as I know its there, but thanks anyway. See ya tomorrow.”
“Its not a full moon, is it?” He smiled in comic malice.
“Oh, you go on and paint, silly man.” She went out shaking her head and smiling.
Lin came slowly back to the car looking at the sunset over the ocean.
“How wonderful. Are we staying with the crazy lady?”
“Yeah, babe, we’re crashing here tonight and then we are off to further adventures tomorrow. It’s never dull around Man here.”
Random shook his head and rolled his eyes. They all walked back to the house. The old woman and Karen had gone in and they were talking in the kitchen. Karen looked dangerously pale and slumped in her chair with a dazed expression.
“Hello, Thank you so much, but I can’t thank you enough for getting Karen here.” The old woman walked up to Random and held out her bony hand. “My names Lucille, I don’t think we actually introduced ourselves before.”
“Random Anderson, and this is Steve and Lin Chen.” He motioned toward the others who stood in the doorway.
“Well come in, come in. I’ve got some nice ravioli an sauce on the stove and big salad.” She waved them in.
They ate in silence for a while. Karen ate very little and excused herself. Lucille went with her to tuck her in. Lucille came back about 5 minutes later.
“Poor child, she’s out like a light. I wonder what all she’s gone through the last 3 days.”
As she talked, Lucille bustled about cleaning up the kitchen.
“Now tell me about who you all are and how you happened to find my Karen.”
“Excuse me, Lucille, but was it your son that died in Auburn,” Steve asked.
“No, goodness, No! He was my duaghter’s ex and a good riddance to him.” Lucille waved her hand as if to chase away the thought. “He was no good for no one. Of course I wouldn’t be sayin’ this if Karen were here. She just loved him to distraction. I guess most girls love their daddies no matter what.”
“Well now I can relax a little. It felt like a funeral in here.”
“Well you just relax boys and Lin. You have just become part of Lucille’s family. And you especially Random. Do you do this sort of thing often?”
“No!” Random laughed loudly as he thought of the toy pistol pointed at his face. “I’d be really happy if the rest of our trip is little more sedate.”
“So where were you all headed when your plans changed?”
“We were on our way to Point Reyes to hang out on the cold wet beach,” Steve said. “I don’t think we missed much.”
“And I would’ve been deprived of your charming company.”
They talked on about their lives. Lin told her of her ordeal in coming to America. Random talked about Essie and the break-up that led to his going to Steve’s two days ago. He was careful not to mention the toy gun incident. Steve talked about “Man” and Lin. He told her about Random’s dreams. Lucille seemed to grow more alert and asked many questions of Random about the dreams and what he saw.