Sunday, December 16, 2007

Death of the King

The king's body lies about thirty feet to the north of the trail, his stomach torn open and his head missing. The perfume of his decomposition is overpowering, a jab to the nose with a hard follow up to the gut. Two days earlier he had risen from the trail not fifty feet in front of me, sending me scurrying behind a tree for cover and giving Heidi cause for a very rare bark. He took one languid swipe at her with his antlers and she retreated to my side to see what might happen next.
I wonder why he does not run, as he has twice before when I've trespassed and the next few seconds are full of conflict, fear and awe giving way to horror and pity, as the realization sinks in that he is gravely injured and cannot survive long, dried blood and a mass of flies cover his abdomen, his head hangs low, swinging slowly side to side. The placement of the wound indicates that he impaled himself attempting to leap over something, a fence post or the broken stump of a dead tree, trying to escape a hunter, or perhaps someone who meant him no harm at all. Me?
Days later the trail where he stood bleeding will be covered with maggots, growing fat in the blood-rich soil. Others will also find his body and take nourishment from it, and some unknown trophy hunter, with no claim to it, will take his magnificent head. What lies will he tell of how he came by it?
Within a week I see the new king. Though crowned in a rush, it appears that he is up to the task as he bounds through the woods away from me, pushing his harem ahead of him.
"Be careful," I mutter as he vanishes into the trees.

1 comment:

eleKtrofly said...

this is intense.

i have some of your pizza l;eftover in a box in the kitchen... i'm going to eat it now.