Alone in the woods, part 2
It had been 350 years of anguish for Pow Pow’s remains, particles of bone, hair and dust all conspiring like an army of underdogs unwilling to quit. Explaining how his copious notes were deciphered without eyes to read them, without a brain to interpret them was a moot point. Does a foreign sapling have to explain its origin, before our eyes can accept we see it emerge from the earth? “What remains, do not fail me,” were his last words as he lay dying, withering with the flox in the frost. “Go to the earth, use it’s heat, it’s irrefutable energy, and call me back to life to avenge my people.” And after three centuries and a half, his command to them was finally fulfilled, so he thought.
“This woman and animal before me, still, with the warmth of spring all around us could not be my intended victims! Why great spirit do you continue to torment with this cruel trick?” Pow Pow’s spirit, lifted from death, had no power to reckon as he loomed over these two seemingly harmless beings. The hatchet he held in his own hand felt alien and unexpected. “And where is my anger, my rage?” He bellowed looking up towards the heavens, angry that he felt no animosity towards them, when suddenly like a curtain had pulled on a Broadway play, the carnage was all around them. He was sure the others of the triangle could see what he wished he didn’t have to witness again but was at a loss as to how to stop the show. Their panicked eyes let him know they saw and smelled it too....
....The razor-edged cheek bones reassembling shrunken heads, black moons under tearless sunken eyes, and bloody cracked lips, with limbs so thin, they appeared as skin on bone. The skin of babies, children, men and women covered with various lesions and spots, including large black bursting boils oozing puss. Rotting flesh on live bodies, emanating the ordor of impending death, summoning the tired, satiated buzzards before their necessity. Dead humans, some piled and set ablaze. The acrid coppery metallic stench of their meat and singed hair wretch worthy, eventually turning to ash blowing casually alongside butterflies and feathers off the bones, before settling and composting the earth. Others, left like trash, pressure cookers of gas and brown muck, a maggots feeding frenzy as their final purpose...
And then the show was over, again. Pow Pow searched for guidance from the voice of the great spirit and got no answer, when he realized there didn’t have to be an answer. Nothing could change what happened. No act of violence could avenge the holocaust. His powdery eyes rested on the hidden kindness and strength of the woman and animal in front of him as he dropped the hatchet. “Life is for the living,” he thought. “It is time for my soul to rest. Vengence serves no purpose, for who am I if I choose to harm the innocent?” No, he would not harm them. It was time to join his people on the other side in peace. 350 years of unrest melted with the sun’s afternoon rays dappling through the high oaks. He was ready to accept his fate.
The park police were first on the scene and asked Judith for a description of the perpetrator. Political correctness notwithstanding, she said with trepidation, “Native American looking. In feature and dress. Black long hair, darkish reddish skin, high cheekbones. It was as if he was dressed for a Thanksgiving play and got lost in the woods. He said nothing to me, only searched me and Rocco with his eyes, then he looked up abruptly, so I looked up too, and when I looked back down, he was gone; the hatchet he was holding left right here on the ground where he stood. Rocco started wagging his tail, as if the coast was clear and that’s when I dialed 911. It’s kind of odd. For some reason I never really felt threatened. It really felt like I was at a play and he was the star, trying to teach me something. If it wasn’t for the hatchet on the ground, I’d be the first to say I made the whole thing up. Maybe I did, like some sort of lucid dream, because for some bizzare reason I feel nothing but empathy for the guy, and the details of what transpired other than what I told you are sketchy, yet for obvious reasons I thought it best to dial 911.”
“Listen ma’am, you really should be careful walking alone in the woods. Although this is the first report like yours we’ve gotten, let’s just say I’m happy for both of us, that there was no attack. And maybe you should see a doctor, umm, ya know, and just tell your doc what you just told me, to make sure everything’s okay up there.” He pointed towards his own head. Judith did not take the suggestion as an insult. “I’ll suggest the county police dust the hatchet for finger prints and I’m sure they will let you know if they come up with anything. Expect a follow up call from them. Be careful ma’am. Please?” Something about her told him to say the word please questioningly.
Judith never did see a doctor after that day and decided to keep what happened to herself. Walking the trails daily with Rocco, assuredly, fearlessly, when she gets deep into the woods at the clearing, she stops momentarily, and remembers the day when she was at the crossroad of fear and tolerance. Not much remains in her memory from that day other than the anguish in Pow Pow’s eyes, the pain in suffering all over his face. Whether or not what happened was real is irrelevant to her and does not cause her to question her sanity. The ground she walks on is just as solid and pungent as it was before her time, and all that came before her. Rocco isn’t as sure, because he never walks past that spot, without lowering his tail, until the scent of the earth lets him know they are on safe ground.