take me home,
to the place I belong...
How have I come to relish the quiet days of the visitor center? I used to find them so incredibly unbearable my first two months here. I guess it is easy to come into that frame of mind when I get a bunch of work done thanks to the rain outside. Another day is done, it always feels good to slip into my car and drive slowly away.
...misty taste of moonshine...
Is that Jasper standing beside the road? And where is his car? The drawback of living here, is that we all know each other, so I can't just drive by him.
"Hey, Murray. Can I catch a lift into town?"
"What did you do to your car this time?"
"Murray, you've been here all of four months and you seem to know EVERYTHING."
"Hey, I'm not the one standing by the side of the road in the rain."
He opens the car door and an odd but familiar smell hits my nose. I can't quite place it but I know it.
"Just drop me off at the diner and you can be free of me."
"hmm...the diner. Now we're talking."
"Sorry, I was just pondering my dinner options and you gave me the answer."
We drive on silently for a bit. John Denver quietly singing in the silence between us. I have never known Jasper to be so quiet, he must be plotting something.
"Jasper, tell me about the black bear you saw last week."
He shifts uncomfortably in his seat and stares out the dark window. We're almost to the diner.
"It shouldn't be bothering us anymore."
"Why do you say that?"
Jasper is really fidgeting now. Why is he so worried? Is because I am a Park Ranger and it isn't bear hunting season? I am parking in front of the diner and before I have even put the car into park Jasper has his door open.
"Thanks" he calls over his shoulder and slams the car door shut. Jasper doesn't head into the diner but makes a beeline in the opposite direction. Looks like he's heading to Marty's place.
I walk into the diner and Emily is standing there by the door.
"What's up with Jasper?"
"Not sure. I picked him up out on the road and asked him about that black bear he saw. He got all fidgety on me and nervous."
"That spells trouble in my book. Are you staying for dinner?"
"Yes and yes."
Emily smiles and grabs a menu for me. I don't think I need a menu anymore but I am sure it's just habit for her. She seats me at the counter next to Jack and then heads to the kitchen for some water. Jack nods at me. Emily is already back with the water and shaking her head.
"We don't need any more trouble from Marty and Jasper. There has to be a good story brewing between those two."
"They do always seems to get their stories straight before spreading them around town. Don't they?" says Jack as he sips his coffee.
"Oh, yes. I can't tell you how many times we've had to bail them out of jail or clean up one of their brilliant ideas. Never a dull moment with them two around."
Emily's peering out the window into the vast darkness that has been descending upon the town. Of course you can't officially call it a town because the State doesn't recognize it as one. We all live in a place that according to the state officials is in between any true town borders.
"What will be having tonight Murray?"
"Burger and salad please Emily. Will you tell me about the bear you saw?"
"Never actually saw it. I just assumed by the mess it kept making with my trash it had to be one. It didn't seem like a mess made by a raccoon. If you know what I mean."
I'm sure Jack has heard all of this before but he's leaning in as if it was the best tale he's heard in a while. Emily is looking back out toward where Jasper went.
"Marty and Jasper are the only ones that have seen it, which after tonight makes me wonder. I hope they aren't getting back into building again. That was a giant fiasco the last time around. I think they were blaming raccoons that time."
"Wait a moment, Marty and Jasper have a habit of blaming animals?"
Jack pipes up at this point; "Oh, do they ever. Whenever they get to building something and stealing materials out of people's trash they start tell tall tales about some animal they saw."
Emily and Jack both start laughing at some common unsaid memory.
"We have heard about birds, opossums, bears, raccoons and I think once we even had a crazed rabbit!' Jack says winking at Emily. She grabs my dinner and sets it in front of me.
"You didn't realize when you signed on at the park what kind of crazy locals you would be encountering did you?" she says winking at me. And with that Jack pays his bill and heads towards the door.
"Well, I'll see ya both tomorrow on my rounds. Have a good night."
I nod with my mouth full and Emily waves on her way to the cash register. She's right about the crazed locals. I keep catching glimpse of them but have yet to experience anything yet and it would seem I'm about to get my first taste with this so called "bear".