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The Sound and the Shoe

by Richard L. Provencher  
1/29/2013 / Short Stories

Before the sun lavished itself upon the earth father and son headed out. Their camper truck needed a new paint job and some rust a little trimming. But, an oil change and fresh air in the tires meant their journey could begin.

Larry, the man's name. Edward's the son; he's seven. Full of steam. Loves the woods. Been camping with dad since two. Mosquitoes didn't mind. But that was then. This is now.

Parked at the end of a trail, an old logger road. Camper reversed for later. Much easier to drive straight out. Checked fishing poles, water bottles and hats on. Fly ointment and lures in pocket. "Worms too," shouted Edward. Then heading out on foot --- Larry's familiar trail. Branches growing over many spots since long years ago. Larry's favourite spot a kilometer away.

Edward liked his name. The formality caused his chest to swell. He's kind of short but his feet are really growing. Maybe it will even out soon. Slap of branch against his face. "Don't follow too close," dad said. The sting brought tears to Edward. Growing up is hard, he said under his breath.

Soon a narrow creek greeted them with its hissing over rapids. Foam flecked water blinked from the sun. Larry helped Edward prepare his dew worm, then plopping it into the stream.

Rain clouds waved hello. And that was not a problem. Rain or shine was Larry's motto. Once plans were made, they were made. Suddenly, a bite and a trout. "First one," boasted the father. "And I just lost one," wailed his son.

Both fished up and down the creak seeking deeper holes. After the limit, five apiece, time for a rest. Sandwich, a pop and bar completed their break. Then Larry had to go. "Back in a few," he said.

"OK Dad." The boy knew what was going on. He'd take his turn after. Good thing he remembered to bring soft toilet paper. He didn't mind being alone in the woods. At least until dad came back. He fidgeted with a stick that became a wand. "It's magic," he thought to himself. Edward pointed it to his smallest trout. "Now you're a jumbo fish," he said. He began to count trees, and then watched sky-shapes roll by. Something snapped a limb nearby. A partridge or a rabbit? he wondered.

The sound came closer. "Dad!" he called. Was that him coming back? What if it was only a rabbit looking for food? Just as a wolf stepped from the woods Larry came into view not more than fifty feet away. Except the wolf was much closer to Edward.

Firs, the boy gasped, then stared. The man was afraid to challenge the animal. This was a full grown 150 lb. male with a flowing robe of mixed white-grey-black colour. Ears perked. Eyes penetrating.

Edward displayed more curiosity than fear. He studied the wild beast knowing from stories shared by dad he would not be hurt if he didn't alarm the animal. But Larry also knew a wolf was capable of one quick thrust to the throat and severely disable any opponent. It was the wolf's turn to observe the man and boy carefully. There did not appear to be any threat to him and his senses were quite accurate. He noticed the man child staring at him, like one of his own cubs. It amused him. The audacity. A lack of fear, but not a lack of respect.

No one made any sudden moves as the wolf moved closer to the man-cub. Then sniffed the shoes the boy had taken off when he sat down to rest. The smell of human was indeed offensive to the wolf who preferred a return to his lair. Three of his own cubs awaited along with his mate. Suddenly the wolf made a decision, mouthed one shoe and sauntered into the woods. His movement was electric, with purpose. He soon disappeared.

Larry rushed forward and grabbed his son in a bear hug. He felt the little fellow trembling. "You were so brave," he said. They both walked to where the wolf crossed into the woods and immediately saw the shoe. "Guess he didn't want a souvenir after all," Edward said. He felt better now. Dad was here.

My first real live wolf, thought the boy. "Wait 'til we get home and tell mom. "Yes, she'll be happy to hear of our adventures," answered Dad. And not far away a wolf thought of his own family and the new scents he would share with his pups.

* * *

Richard L. Provencher

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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