Tree hollow

©2022 Michael Raven

A body won’t have noticed the hollow in the tree, had they just walked by, ambling as most folks do through forests, sticking to established forest trails. No. It wasn’t something that would have drawn attention at all, and that suited Stuart just fine. It was his secret hollow, a door to other places and times, something not given to being understood, especially by the old men and women.

If you were out of school, Stuart reckoned, you earned classification as “old man” or “old women”. Most people, he reckoned, and just by observation alone, were old well before that point, someplace and when around the age of thirteen by his estimation, but his judgments and proclamations trended to wide margins of forgiveness.

Stuart was quite content with the arrangement, being just shy of eleven himself and figuring he still had a good thirty years or more before he got old. He’d made a promise to himself, he did.

And so, every afternoon he sat in that hidden tree hollow with Bernard, the small red fox who lived nearby, and Hopping Joe, the crow who seemed to live everyplace and nowhere and they listened to the secret lives of the many people walking by. Bernard and Stuart asked many questions; Hopping Joe, well he seemed to have answers for it all. Meanwhile Lucas “Fuzzy Rat”, the local squirrel would shake his head in the branches overhead and make chirping noises in disgust at Joe’s answers. Stuart thought most of it was cow-pies, but Bernard accepted what Joe said, and that seemed to be enough. Every once in a while, Hopping Joe would tire of Lucas’ chirps and chase him off, but Fuzzy Rat never stayed away too long.

Perhaps he learned something about the world from Joe, in spite of his disagreeable sounds.

Bodies.

©2019-2022 michael raven

“Enough of yer damned pussivantin’ n’ fiddlin’! Get off me property!”

It was clear Old Ed meant business, the way he was waving that shotgun around, but Detective Guile wasn’t about to be scared off by a length of rust-pocked steel.

“Now, see here, Mr. Kyle — we’ve got to make sure that the torso these body parts belong to didn’t happen to come from your side of the wall.”

He was talking about the low stone wall pockmarked with blue flakes of moss and clusters of buffalo grass circling Old Ed’s place, a wall Old Ed had put up when he was still young. He’d built that wall with the rocks that littered the land and Old Ed was known to say with some laughter at the Watering Hole (when he was still prone to being capable of laughter) that rocks were about the only thing his family could honestly be accused of growing on their land. No one doubted it.

“You ain’t gonna touch me land without a writ or a peekaboo hole in your chest. Take your pick,” Old Ed warned.


This piece is was originally posted on a social media site back in 2019 using the OED’s word of the day, pussivanting. Only very light editing has been done for reposting here (title, pub name, paragraph breaks).