I am giving up on the expression “Awesome!” It is used to an embarrassing automatic degree. I would just as soon use a nothing expression such as “The Cat Was Pleased.” In fact, whenever I find something to my delight (the more transitory the better) but can’t be put to the trouble of elaborating (more or less why), count on my contribution: “The Cat Was Pleased.”
Now on with our story.
For a night on the town, complete with dance and light conversation, a Troder holds the least promise of all possible partners. You might call one impossible for anything but realizing new depths in miserable experience. It can’t be helped. Even a rock has more pizazz. Ladies, you’ll want to move along.
Troders are the very definition of gnarly, uncouth and boring, tossed together and served at room temperature upon a bed of nasty sauce. For you connoisseurs of unruly behavior out there if your first response is “the cat was pleased,” be warned; everyone, I mean every-one, tires of a Troder’s act, eventually.
It might interest to note that Troders know nothing of how they come to be. They have no sense of family history. Nor do they care. Each one woke up one day — a Troder.
On the opposite hand, a Woman of the Forest, ever faithful to her sense of what’s what, can always smell when a Troder strays into the neighborhood. And, she is seldom long in finding out his business.
Tom Troder had met no Witches in the new neighborhood — not yet anyway — but he planned to check that off his list as soon. Work’s work.
Tom Troder grunted with no small amount of meh. He often grunted in this way, shuffling about in his ragged slippers. Meh. It was a handy utilitarian expression. He always woke with a disposition by anyone’s standard crabby. True to the moral responsibility that crabby is as crabby does he thought it prime time to attend to his correspondence.
Whenever dealing with his letters, he replied without reading the letter first — much less ever. All Troders spend their lives as perfect authorities on “just being that way.” He sat down at the table, picked up a letter and thoughtfully rubbed the stubble on his chin.
It was from old Stanley Troder, back east. They’d not seen each other for over a hundred years. Tom lay the unopened letter down and chewed thoughtfully on his pencil’s eraser and swallowed. I should note it all Troders spend their lives as exemplary authorities on “just being that way.” So, he scratched out his reply: “Dear, Stanley, drop dead you moron. Yours truly, Tom.”
A Troder’s cave is littered with the remnants of a thousand misdoings done. You can find them tossed into the corners and strewn over the shelves. But let there be no mistake, this is a matter of exacting aesthetics, and like fine art everything piled in the corners and on the shelves was yearly appraised and thoroughly inventoried. They were in fact old gnawed over bones, too full of reminiscence to do away with. This is a literal fact and no mere analogy toward something like a grudge.
A Troder does not hold a grudge, never has. If pressed on the topic, he would deny to your face he’d ever even heard of such a thing.
“I found this unsanitary specimen on the kitchen counter. I believe it is yours.”
It was the Woman of the Forest. She walked into the room as if she owned the place. That was her magic. She held up a bone splinter Tom used for a toothpick. It was as she said, unsanitary. It went with him in his travel kit everywhere. And she seemed to imply it would be the death of him someday. Tom sneered as a matter of due course. The moment the Woman appeared he was immediately reminded of the driving concept behind mortality. And rightly so. It was their business together. He sneered again.
His upper lip got hung up on a snaggle-tooth and there it stayed. “You were not invited,” he said.
Firmly rooted as the tree of life, with just as many birds in her hair, she held the bone splinter up. “This must go.”
Tom could get barking mad on an instant’s no-tice. It was too late. She was already out the door. He followed to prevent any further mis-chief.
Sitting down on a stone bench, she laid the bone toothpick to one side. Tom Troder stood nearby pretending to ignore the whole business. She placed her hand over the offensive article. Tom Troder sternly kept the business in his peripheral vision. The Woman was trouble. They all were, he thought — except Cave-Witches — on second thought, Cave-Witches were too.
She lifted her hand away. What was that? He could not help but turn his head. Instead of his favorite toothpick there now lay a dead bird. He could have sworn it had once been a bone splinter because picking his teeth with a dead bird was a silly idea.
“Meh,” he said. But deep down inside Tom Troder did not like how things were shaping up. You could tell.
Like the wind on the moon she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. The poetic injustice of it all — he knew without a doubt now — his time had come. And betrayed by a toothpick. He stood transfixed and fascinated by the dead bird. Its claws were curled and its yellow beak stood agape. “Hmmm?” he wondered to himself followed by a “Mehh.” I should note this was his best of Mehs, a full one-hundred percent discount of the whole business.
When the Woman of the Forest spoke, she spoke not to one Tom Troder, but to all things, so that the hills fairly rippled. “Feathers — smooth and gray, shall not drop away — while this breast yet holds the blush of morning rise.”
The Troder’s face felt strange.
“Does not every day die only to be reborn? That is the law,” she said.
This was it for him. She had the way of sun-shine warming a cliff face — Plink! A pebble tear slid down his course cheek — which she caught — becoming a glittering diamond in her palm.
She balled up her fist and blew a breath over it. Opening her hand once again, there she held a tiny white larvae. “Ah-ha! I thought you were in there.” She placed the little thing into the open mouth of the bird where it disappeared. “Now where shall we bury this?” She turned to Tom.
The Troder could not say. The light of morning glinted upon his furrowed brow. The mud slogging through his veins had dried up, and he forever had turned to stone.
Upon the stone bench, the robin fluttered awake. It took one look around and darted off, bobbing over the forest floor with each stroke, belonging to the day.