Skip The Porridge

“What a perfect pair they were” Simone said, pointing to the bookcase that held photos and various jars of my years of collecting the remnants of nature.
“Funny you should say that, that was exactly as everyone who worked with them had described them, at least before, and up to that day.” I replied as I removed a photo that sat next to the jar on the top shelf.
I handed Simone the photo of the couple, proof that indeed they were both blonde and had the most vibrant blue eyes, a handsome couple by any definition. They stood out in the glossy eight by ten framed photo.
It had been taken at the office Christmas party, only ten months before their tragic demise. I look at the picture sometimes and feel guilt for my part in the way things turned out.

It was September when I offered the young couple the use of the cabin I had kept in the Ozarks. It was nothing fancy mind you, but a nice get away from the daily rigors of the city, and a great spot for a young couple in love.
It sat on twenty acres and backed up to the Ozark National Forest. Private and secluded enough to offer one complete privacy. They accepted with joy and great appreciation. It seems both left troubled marriages only months prior, they loved the idea of a break from the stresses that go along with it. I felt somewhat bad for them as their office romance had recently become public, and was the talk of the water cooler.
I mean, I am a romantic and felt great empathy for the passion they showed. And I believe in love, no matter where one may find it. So I offered the use of my cabin without hesitation.

It was a sparking September day, crisp, sunny and had a Friday feeling to it as they left the office that Thursday for a long weekend. We all wished them well, and several coworkers sent prepared food along so they wouldn’t be bothered with cooking.
They embarked on the ride with smiles and all the foolish expectations one makes when involved in a new romance.
Tom found the cabin with ease using the directions I had provided him. And I’m certain he found it as advertised. Not opulent by any means, but comfortable. The cedar siding had been redone in June, and the interior was manly, but not over the top according to the e-mail Cindy had sent upon arrival. She teased me about the Bear head mounted over the fireplace, and the Bear skin rug.
The Cabin sat on a ridge surrounded by large deciduous trees and a few scrub pines. Blackberry bushes and native Redbud and Dogwood‘s added to the landscape in season.

Tom went about the business of carrying in firewood as Cindy began cooking their much anticipated romantic dinner. The aroma drifted as she warmed the Spaghetti one of their co-workers had prepared for them. He left the cabin door ajar to haul the wood inside.
The woodpile was thirty feet or so from the cabin. The wood pile positioned to avoid termite problems from becoming an issue for the cabin.
Tom saw the blackberry bush shake as he carried the last armful of wood to the cabin. It startled him, until he saw the Squirrel scamper off to a nearby dogwood and scamper up it, likely storing food for winter he thought to himself. The smell of garlic bread to accompany the spaghetti made its way to his nostrils; the Squirrel was on his own now.

Tom built a fire in the big open hearth fireplace, as Cindy set the table. It looked out over the Ozark mountain range as you sat in front of the big picture window across the back wall of the cabins great room. They allowed the wine to breathe as the both completed their tasks. The late afternoon sunset through the window coupled with the heat from the now raging fire, made for a beautiful and warm atmosphere. They enjoyed their dinner and made small talk. The wine added warmth as well as it slipped easily down their throats.

Once nightfall set in they realized just how desolate the cabin was. The only light visible out the picture window were the reflection of the fire from the fireplace. It was perfect they agreed, as they polished off the wine.
Dishes were left on the table as they began kissing as new lovers do. They stumbled over their still packed overnight bags. They were discarding clothing, not changing to nightwear now. The fire lit the room as he turned off lights. They kissed and undressed one another by its light. They lay on the big Bear skin rug and made love.

Nothing could be sweeter we all speculated, except perhaps the smell of maple flavored bacon. At least that is what the Police report and the report from the Conservation service assumed. We were all left to picture the chaos that occurred.

I assume Tom were the first to smell it, men love maple flavored bacon. According to the coroners report, Cindy was the first to die. Perhaps it was from the very first blow struck by the Black Bear cub. It may have gotten inside when Tom left the door open to load the fire wood?
There was no speculation needed to discover how Momma and Poppa Bear got in to rescue the cub however. The scratches on nearly all exterior walls of the cabin from their sharp and massive paws were visible even now. They had torn the hell out of the cedar siding, the Poppa bear went through the front door, tearing it from its hinges with his brute force.
The Conservation man speculated he must have stood 7 to 8 feet tall when standing upright. His claws three times the size of a human hand, the nails sharpened from a life of living in the rocky mountainous terrain of the Ozarks.
The same type body features Momma Bear must have exhibited when she gave up scratching the siding and burst through the picture window off the back deck.

It was the first death attributed to Bear attack in this county in the last 5 years. The population of Black Bears in this area had exploded in the last decade. According to the conservation department, it had reached a level not seen since the area was settled nearly two hundred years prior. Their efforts had been focused on prevention and education. The cute keep your camp site clean brochures and signs in the state parks.
It would seem Tom and Cindy were now the poster children for a more aggressive approach to population control by the department.

I feel guilt now, not just for the mauling of Tom & Cindy, but knowing what I do about Simone now. A week prior, she and I had discovered the Bears digging in the trash cans. I knew then their den must be nearby. I thought I had covered the grease pit where she emptied the frying pan grease from the bacon that morning. I made a note to only buy microwaveable bacon then. I know she was aware of it too.

Her visit to the office today, well that can just be viewed as me consoling Tom’s widow and giving her the proceeds of the life insurance check. I can end the affair. Actually I did so when I walked her to her car.

I can and will renovate the Cabin once the insurance company pays my claim.

I have no earthly idea how the detail shop will get the smell of maple flavored microwave bacon from her car though.

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~ by onthedarkside on June 19, 2012.

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