“My officer is there. He’s run them off.”
“Did he see who it was?”
“He’ll tell you himself. Is your mother with you?”
“I’m up in her room like you said.”
“It should be safe to go to the door and let the officer in. He’s walking onto your porch and should ring the bell any second.”
The doorbell chimed. Brian took his staff and ran down the stairs to the door. A uniformed officer stood there, talking into his radio.
“Can you see his badge number?”
“Read it to me.”
Brian read off the number and the man’s name. The dispatcher told him it was safe to open the door and hung up.
“You the kid who called in?” The police officer stood on the front porch. He looked upset and disheveled.
His mother spoke behind him as she came down the stairs. “Did you see who it was, officer?”
“Sure as hell did. Somehow a black bear got in through the outside door. He charged me as I came down the steps.”
“My son said that the inside door from the kitchen was open. We keep that door bolted.”
“I don’t know about that, ma’am. All I saw was five hundred pounds of teeth and fur headed my way.”
“Are you all right?”
“Yes, Mrs. Casey. I’m fine. Shaken up some. If it’s okay, I’ll come in and check the house just to be sure.”
“Certainly. I’ll make some tea. I don’t think I’m going back to sleep anytime soon.”
The officer made a complete search of the house, including the attic, and most especially the basement. Except for a broken door, nothing was damaged. The animal must have wandered in looking for somewhere to sleep. The old stone stairway would be an inviting shelter from the chilly night.
The police officer didn’t stay, but he accepted a Styrofoam travel mug of tea from Brian’s mother. She and Brian sat down at the table after he left.
“That settles it. I’m having a carpenter come in tomorrow and put a cover over that stair. We’ll make sure it’s got a trapdoor for safety, but I won’t have another creature interrupt my night’s sleep!”
“Officer Mercer and I boarded it up, but a cover is a good idea. It looked like that bear had already been there a couple days. We might have had ourselves a winter guest if he hadn’t broken in that back door.”
Mrs. Casey shuddered. “I can’t abide bears. For some folks, it’s snakes….”
Brian chuckled. His mother had voiced that dislike many times. Living on the edge of the woods, the few bears that still lived in the state, all seemed to congregate near them. She’d had to drive them off many times, sometimes with only a broom and a loud voice.
“They’re more scared of you than you are of them, Mom.”
“Maybe, but I don’t weigh upwards of five hundred pounds, do I?”
Brian raised an eyebrow at his slender, almost frail mother. “Is that a trick question?”
“Smarty.” She swatted at him.
Laughing, Brian managed to evade her fluttering hand. When they were done with their tea, he helped her up to bed. He could tell the scare had really taken it out of her. As he shut her door, she spoke to him.
“It’s late, son. If you don’t make it to school in the morning, I’ll understand.”
“Thanks, Mom.” He was glad she’d given him permission. He hadn’t intended to go and leave her alone to cope with the carpenter. “Good night.”
Brian lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. He knew he should sleep, but he couldn’t relax. Every noise made him think again of the figures in the swamp and the bear downstairs. That image made him laugh. He could picture the police officer running away from the huge black bear.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes