Karma Or Justice?

She studied the body. It was face down in the mud, the back of the head soaked with blood, hair matted to the skull and hardened now. The back of the denim shirt displayed hoof-prints of various types and sizes. Each of the shoulders sported a large hoof print bigger than a plate.

“What can you tell me?” She asked of the crime tech who had joined her.

“Looks like my neighbour,” came the reply. 

“About the prints,” the Detective sighed. 

“Those there are sheep-prints,” the tech pointed with a gloved hand. “Those look like cow, some big paw prints there in the middle, and I’d say those on the shoulders are at least the size of a work-horse.”

The Detective straightened and eyed the dog, sheep, cow and a large work-horse a few feet away in a fenced-in pasture. Then she looked back down at the body in the mud. “Are you telling me those animals killed your neighbour?”

The tech straightened too before studying the animals, who gazed back placidly. “Well, I can tell you he’ll never mistreat them again.”

The End

Woods & Wild Animals

I have always been fascinated by how authors tick, even authors of work and genres I might never read, so to find an audio series/podcast that examines the places that inspire and inform authors was a special thrill.  It is a peek inside the mind and words of authors I may or may not have heard or read. But it is both a treasure and an inspiration to me. 

How would I describe the setting for “Body In The Bush”? It is both small town and the woods, the bush, that surrounds me as I write, as I live, as I breathe. It is a very real place to me. 

I am not an outdoors person in the classic sense. I do not kayak, nor ski. I do not run among the trees. But I do hike and, all but this past winter, I did snowshoe. I wander the logging roads and deer trails that slice through the woods, or as we Canadians call it – the bush. Up until a few years ago, I would scramble up small cliff faces that I should have known to stay away from. I used to call it “mountain goating”. Eldest Son and I went for a wander one day, we followed a small creek into the trees just to see where it went. We slipped over rocks, clambered over fallen trees, jumped over muddy slices and found ourselves at the base of a …not quite a cliff, but bigger than a hill. We stood and looked up at it, at the face of it that looked as if a God had reached down and hacked through it with a knife. 

“We can get up there,” Eldest Son said.

And like a twenty-year-old fool, I agreed.

We climbed, slipped, pulled ourselves hand over hand, slipped again, cursed, laughed and wheezed, but we made it. 

What did we gain? Sore muscles, skinned knuckles and memories we still talk about to this day.

There was no spectacular view, we were surrounded by more trees. We were not lost, we knew generally what direction the house lay in, we knew that we could always reverse and go back the way we came. But we didn’t. We were on an adventure. A 19-year-old guy trying to figure out his place in the world and his 45-year-old mother, trying to convince herself she was not going to get old. We spent hours out there, watching where we put our feet just as carefully as we watched for bears. It was the spring, and a dangerous time to cross paths with a sleepy bear. Or a mother with cubs. So when you’re out in the bush, you have to listen for wildlife, you have to recognize when things are too quiet or when something smells off. Could be there’s a dead something not far off, or it could be a bear that has rolled in dead something. Either way, you want to be very aware of your surroundings. ‘Situational awareness’ the military calls it.

Because out in the bush, a situation can go from pleasant to deadly in less time than it took me to type that. You can step around a tree and suddenly find yourself mere feet away from two bear cubs. And not knowing where their mama is can make anyone’s blood run cold. There’s no outrunning a bear, and those who’ve tried are either dead or have scars to talk about.

There are wildcats out here too. Lynx, cougar, and bobcats. And while most of the time we don’t hear about cougars stalking people outside of British Columbia, it does happen. I’ve seen a video of a hiker being followed by a cougar on a well-populated trail in Ontario. The hiker is walking backwards, filming the cat who is following him 15, maybe 20 feet away like he’s just out for a stroll sharing the same strip of dirt. But what was on that cat’s mind was not, “Hey, let’s walk together, ok?” For a wild cat to follow like that, it’s either hungry or diseased. Either way, it’s dangerous. Now, the hiker managed to stop and confront the cat, keeping trees and boulders between them as much as possible. He talked to it rationally, yelled at it, threw sticks and rocks until the cat got the message that its meal would not go down without a fight. Finally, it wandered off, stopped once and looked over its shoulder at the hiker and left for good. On film, you can hear the fear in the guy’s voice, you can see him reach out a hand in front of the camera to show the tremors of terror. But he won the showdown. He learned first hand that you’re never really, truly safe out here in the woods. There are things out here that will kill you, and things that will eat you. That’s the circle of life.

So it made perfect sense to me that this would be the place that would not only shape my Detective, but also provide the scene for a murder, as well as a place where a dead body might never be found. It makes perfect sense to me. Wild animals are not choosey about their food most of the time. If it doesn’t put up a fight, all the better. Wolves, coyotes, martens, bobcats, cougar, bears and dozens of other creatures will all take their share if they can. There are even rabbits that eat carrion, so don’t think Peter Cottontail is all sweetness and innocence! Don’t believe me? Go check YouTube for the rabbit eating a dead partridge. Never mind, here’s the link.

The Body

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She studied the body. It was face down in the mud, the back of the head soaked with blood, hair matted to the skull and hardened now. The back of the denim shirt displayed hoof-prints of various types and sizes. Each of the shoulders sported a large hoof print bigger than a plate.

“What can you tell me?” She asked of the crime tech who had joined her.

“Looks like my neighbour,” came the reply. 

“About the prints,” the Detective sighed.

“Those there are sheep-prints,” the tech pointed with a gloved hand. “Those look like cow, some big paw prints there in the middle, and I’d say those on the shoulders are at least the size of a work-horse.”

The Detective straightened and eyed the dog, sheep, cow and a large work-horse a few feet away in a fenced-in pasture. Then she looked back down at the body in the mud. “Are you telling me those animals killed your neighbour?”

The tech straightened too before studying the animals, who gazed back placidly. “Well, I can tell you he’ll never mistreat them again.”

The End

Murderous Nature

nature animal wilderness head

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The detective who lives in my head (she refuses to believe she’s fictional) often tells her work-partner Lorne that animals can be killers. Real-life animals seem to agree with her.

In 2013, in Belarus, a 60-year-old ex-serviceman died of blood loss after being attacked by a beaver. The man was bitten multiple times by the rodent, which sliced an artery with its sharp teeth. It has been suggested that the man was trying to catch the beaver to have his photo taken with it.

In 2009 Taylor Mitchell, a Canadian folk singer, was attacked and killed by three coyotes, the only recorded adult person to have been killed by this species.

The cougar is a deadly animal, with nearly 40% of all attacks by this big cat occurring in British Columbia. Cougars stalk their prey on huge, silent paws and then attack in a whisper-quiet rush of death. Playing dead only results in — death.

Bears, black, polar and grizzlies, will all attack and maul if they feel threatened, if a mother bear has cubs nearby, or just because they feel like being an ass. Common wisdom says to keep all food out of sniff-range, don’t walk in the woods silently or alone and never, ever underestimate them. They have been known to break into and destroy cars, trucks, even camps.

And as Anais will tell you, hitting a moose or deer is still the number one animal-caused death here in Northern Ontario. They can charge when feeling cornered, or during mating season, or if they’re just generally feeling harassed. In addition to the males having don’t-screw-with-me antlers, the females kick out with either their rear or front legs. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of those hooves!

In short, animals can be assholes and will kill you. So if you go into the woods today, better have life insurance!

So I’ve Been Meaning To Ask…

pile of assorted books o

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Do you read? You do? Excellent! I like hanging out with other readers.

I enjoy reading a few different things, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, some steampunk. I wish I could find more solarpunk and climate fiction. There have been characters I remembered long after the book was closed. Over on Twitter today I asked, “What was the first book that made you cry?”

Of course, that got me thinking about the two books that I remember best for making me cry when I was younger. “Old Yeller” and “The Incredible Journey”. I cared about those animals, man, really cared. I can’t stand hearing or reading about an animal suffering, being neglected or abandoned. (Might be why I have a hard time reading Jack London)

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to ask you, which character stands out as most memorable for you, in all that you’ve read? Let me know in the comments below!

Coyote Blues ~ A Review

I have so much I want to say about this book that I hardly know where to start.
First off, let’s talk about that cover. It’s eye-catching and mysterious – I couldn’t have resisted it if I tried.
Coyote Blues is so much more than just the story of Riley Dawson trying to make her way as a were-coyote. It is the story of family, of trust and faith and second chances. There are layers here that the blurb doesn’t hint at. There are characters I loved, one I hated, characters my heart broke for, some I cheered for and a couple I wanted to high-five. And all of them are completely necessary to the tale. They all feel so real, I want to sit and invite them over for dinner. Well, not Jim.

As with Ms. Williams’s other book, As The Crow Flies, I learned something new with this book, and I love it when fiction can teach me as well as entertain. I found myself noting entire passages in this novel, and then thinking about them when I wasn’t reading. Like the passage on the Karpman Triangle. (And what an eye-opener to see my own family reflected there!)
I still cannot get this book out of my mind, and I think it is a great testament to any author’s work if the reader thinks about a book long after they’ve finished reading it.

My life has been changed because I read this book, and I do not say that lightly or in jest. My life has literally been changed by Coyote Blues.
You have to read this.

Mail Order Bride

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Austin’s killed a man. Escaping his nefarious past and running from those who would force him to live as a woman, Austin dreams of becoming an upstanding man and homesteading alone on the fringes of the wild frontier.
The burgeoning tent township of Molasses Pond is clenched in the bloody fist of the deadliest gunslinger the country has ever known, Lightning Jack McKade. McKade knows who Austin is. In fact, McKade knows more about Austin’s past than Austin does. He had a hand in creating it.
On the last stagecoach until spring, a mail order bride, Sahara Miller, arrives in Molasses Pond. She claims to be Austin’s and has the documentation to prove it. But McKade’s gang will do anything to have her. Now Austin must choose: Strap on his twin six-shooters to protect the bride he never wanted, or turn a blind eye and keep his dream alive.
This is a brilliant book that meets every convention of Western fiction, but then goes far beyond. There are a couple of fascinating sub-plots that really added to my overall enjoyment of the book. The characters are all unique and memorable, and there seem to be more bad guys than good. A couple of them don’t make their allegiances clear right away, and we’re left wondering whose side they’re on. At times, it seemed like the townsfolk hated Austin, and then they didn’t, then did…so we’re left guessing. And there are twists! Twists written so well that they seemed to make perfect sense.
Now, I know a thing or three about the old muzzle-loaders. I know how to load a flintlock, and a percussion-cap, and I know first-hand how heavy Two-Feather’s Hawken is. So I can tell you that the author knows their stuff when they write about the guns in this novel.Yes, there are a couple of places that the book stumbles into a speed-bump, but overall, the pacing is great. This is a debut, and it’s not going to be perfect. it’s hard to write a book, y’all. But ignore those speedbumps and let yourself get sucked into the story.

I loved every moment of this book. It’s going to the top of my read-this-one-over-and-over-again pile.
Thank you to the author for writing the best Western I’ve read in years. Thank you to Bold Strokes for taking a chance on a Western and letting transgender folks see themselves represented. (And the cover artist needs a raise!) Thank you for letting me read such a great book in exchange for me gushing about it.

Did I mention I loved this book?

Murder? Or Karma?

 

red and black horse

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com  

She studied the body. It was face down in the mud, the back of the head soaked with blood, hair matted to the skull and hardened now. The back of the denim shirt displayed hoof-prints of various types and sizes. Each of the shoulders sported a large hoof print bigger than a plate.

“What can you tell me?” She asked of the crime tech who had joined her.

“Looks like my neighbour,” came the reply. 

“About the prints,” the Detective sighed.

“Those there are sheep-prints,” the tech pointed with a gloved hand. “Those look like cow, some big paw prints there in the middle, and I’d say those on the shoulders are at least the size of a work-horse.”

The Detective straightened and eyed the dog, sheep, cow and a large work-horse a few feet away in a fenced-in pasture. Then she looked back down at the body in the mud. “Are you telling me those animals killed your neighbour?”

The tech straightened too before studying the animals, who gazed back placidly. “Well, I can tell you he’ll never mistreat them again.”

The End