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All-American Bear Terrorizes Canada.

In the morning my boss calls me into his trailer and says our bear, Beansie, has gotten loose in Saskatchewan, and I'm the one who's going to have to bring him back. He says I better do it before the Canadian Rednecks kill our circus's biggest attraction, or I'm fired.

Beansie is the third bear to have escaped. The first drowned in a particularly fast current in upper Montana, and the Canadian Rednecks (a group of hunters who promote themselves as Saskatchewanian militia) got the last bear after it tore apart a little girl-all they found were the pigtails.

"Last night Beansie ate some family's terrier," my boss says. "What exactly are you teaching him?" Beansie likes to toss up his food and snatch it from the air in his mouth, a trick the Montanans love.

Our circus, Three Rings of Heaven, caters to a group of grizzly lovers who pay thirty bucks a show to see me and Jimmy and Lulu dressed up as clowns with a costumed bear that's always a threat to maul us. Yesterday Beansie escaped wearing his favorite outfit, a Native American headdress and a red, white, and blue plastic vest. The headline my boss shows me reads: "All-American Bear Terrorizes Canada."

As I try not to cry I consider Beansie's recent behavior. Ever since he arrived a year ago he's held a mystifying crush on Daisy, lumbering around after her and grunting at her heels, and now he's run off into Canada. It must make sense to my boss to send me as the rescuer. He knows Daisy's our best shot at bringing Beansie back, and none of the other circus folk can see or talk to her-she's been my ghost since I was nine.

"I can't do it," I say now, my eyes twitching.

My boss says I better get my shit together.

"You're not listening," I say. "Daisy's gone." Picturing her tan, round face, and forgiving smile, my cheeks become wet with tears.

"Concentrate," my boss says. "We have a bear on the lam, mauling innocent Canucks." He pushes a brown paper bag across the desk. "Your gun and keys to the van."

I reach into the bag and pull out an old revolver.

"It isn't loaded." He pushes his John Lennon glasses up his nose.

When the hammer clicks he looks irritated. I try to explain how I made Daisy disappear, but he stops me with a wave. I can't get out half of what is wrong, how it goes beyond the supernatural Asian girl, eternally twenty-three, and the five-year-old adult grizzly, and my six years at the circus that might suddenly come to an end.

He pushes his John Lennon glasses up his nose and comes around the desk. "I don't want to hear about how fucked-up you are," he says. "Do you want to piss off the only people left who can stand you?"

"She's gone," I say. "Everyone's left me, even Sue Ann."

He nudges me out of the trailer, past the bookshelf of old Beatles records and the cabinet full of grizzly files. "Just use the gun to scare off the Canadian Rednecks if they get in your way. The tranq gun's broken. I can't afford a new bear."

As he closes the door I say, "If I get Beansie back will you start listening? I want to be treated the same as Jimmy and Lulu. I want my job to matter."

"I wish I could," he says. "But I know how crazy you are."

Yesterday, hours before Beansie's escape, I was standing in front of the big top with Sue Ann, the woman I love. She arched her long neck like a swan and said it was over between us. I pried my head under her chin and begged. Around us the circus languored in the same sad state as always: the cannon Big Air Bob used to be fired out of next to the cages that used to hold lions and tigers

next to the silver trailers we'd made our homes and offices once the circus had stopped traveling next to the clown car garage full of old equipment and bear-training tools. An acrobat cartwheeled past the wide red and yellow stripes of the tent, and Sue Ann wrapped her arms around me without letting me kiss her.

"What's wrong?" I asked, though I knew what was bothering her.

She said, "I'm tired of playing second fiddle to a ghost."

The day I met her she'd chewed her brown hair and batted those dark eyes the color of cough syrup as I told her all about my awful past. She seemed then not only sympathetic but turned on. She undid the top two buttons of her waitress uniform and I wondered what she saw in a short Korean clown discussing death and unearthly life. Jimmy and Lulu claimed I was already in love. For weeks I tunneled my way into her core like a grub into an apple. Then one night, after making love, she asked, "Are you keeping your ghost away from me?" I told her Daisy only showed herself to me and animals, but as we got serious sometimes Sue Ann would say I should tell Daisy to leave for good. I would look at my ghost sitting on the bed or brushing her long black hair or playing with Beansie, and not be able to part with her.

Here's how everyone left me yesterday: After nine months of touching a real human body, I refused to let Sue Ann go. She dug her nails into my spine. "So you can keep pretending you're the victim," she said. When she finally drove away I was so mixed up I thought I could get her back if I jettisoned my ghost. Poor Daisy. I insulted her until she couldn't take it anymore, and the tears she cried were the strangest things. They burned up as they fell. Her whole body became one blue flame, and then vanished. Once Beansie saw she was gone he escaped.

I cross the border into Canada and head for Meadowcreek National Park, where Beansie played with his meal yesterday and then probably waited for applause. The park is about a hundred square miles of forest and grassy knoll, trees rising up around a single road. So many trees you can hardly see what's in front of you. It's about the perfect place for hide and seek with a grizzly, and soon I recognize his seekers.

I see them through the entranceway as I drive up to the abandoned ticket booth. About a dozen Canadian Rednecks wield shotguns and wait to hold someone responsible. They wear matching orange vests, with a symbol I can't make out, and cock their guns. I can't help flinching with self-pity. All of these people hate me without even knowing me.

I approach, and they level their shotguns. Hopefully at least until they see the bright ads on the van's side they'll think I'm someone else, a vacationer who hasn't heard the news, a normal guy who doesn't see ghosts or rescue bears. I would stop and let them go on guessing, but I've lost command of my motor functions. I'm so upset I accidentally hit the gas pedal.

The van speeds up through the gate, and one of the Rednecks takes aim. I fumble for the paper bag. I figure Daisy and Sue Ann are gone and I'm going to die in Canada. I wave the empty revolver out the window, trying to look threatening. A gunshot goes off, and then another and another, and I use my remaining concentration to keep my foot on the gas. I push sixty, seventy-they seem like they're right beside me-the shots slam into the back of the van and I feel like they're hitting me in the chest. I expect the van to flip. I expect the gas tank to explode. I keep accelerating until I'm a couple of miles in.

I try to breathe normally, my chest heaving. When I can I ease my foot off the gas. I pull over to take a look. About forty or so little holes pepper the back of the van where the shotgun pellets spread. Luckily they didn't hit the tires. The damage isn't as bad as I'd thought, but it's enough for Beansie to get his claws into and rip the door off. Not that it even matters without Daisy. She's the one he wants (he only ever rolled over for her). He would always calm down with her around, but that meant I had to be around, too. The problem was my boss made me cut short my time with Sue Ann to stay with Beansie, and the more I was with the bear the less I liked him. Daisy only listened to him anymore, and he only cared about her, brushing me aside with one big paw.

More shots ring out in the distance now, and part of me wonders if they've shot him. The remaining part of me wonders if they've shot me. I think about turning back. But instead I get in the van and drive away as fast as I drove in, my eyes in the rearview mirror. I'm pretty much fucked already when I feel the inevitable bump.

For a second, as a body becomes visible behind me, I think, Don't stop. If only I were someone else. Then I put the van in reverse. When I get out to check on the guy it's amazing how little blood there is, though he's clearly unconscious, if not dead; maybe he's bleeding internally. I wish I could ignore his orange vest with the tiny burning American flag. Of course he's a Canadian Redneck.

I know if his compatriots find my tire tracks leading to and away from his body they might forget the grizzly and come after me. So I haul him up, still clutching his shotgun, into the back of the van. He's heavier than he looks. I think about trading for my bear, but I'd be shot before I could speak. The only solution is to somehow get Daisy back, use Beansie's love of her to capture him, and then let him clean up this guy until nothing is left. I hop into the driver's seat thankful for the solid divider closing off where the bear would be, behind me.

While we're driving, though I know he isn't listening, I feel the urge to tell the Redneck about my past. I can hear his unconscious wheezing. I've told everyone I've ever met how my mom killed my youngest sister when she was four (I hate deception) and I can't help it even when the person I'm telling I just ran over in a circus van.

I give the Redneck a name, Logan, and I tell Logan how my mom held a pillow over my younger sister's face. How, during the trial, it all came out. Mom said Dad had left her and her kids were all crazy, plucking her eyelashes as she confessed her drug habit and her family's mental deficiencies, and Sis and I learned the truth about ourselves and her and the pills we took each morning for the first time. It was that very same week that a young woman appeared out of nowhere and said her name was Daisy, a woman who seemed familiar and yet unfamiliar, whose body was insubstantial, and also that I developed this fear of withholding. I've been blurting out my problems ever since.

I tell Logan we found Three Rings of Heaven six years ago, Daisy and me, after Sis kicked us out of her and her boyfriend's house in New Mexico. I would do anything not to have to move again. But if I can't get Beansie back I'll lose everyone. I'll be kicked out before I can change Sue Ann's mind, or even eat dinner with Jimmy and Lulu again. As I drive through to the next picnic area I'm beginning to lose hope both of finding Beansie and of escaping alive; Logan is only more reason for the Rednecks to shoot me. I stop the van and look for something to disguise my whole operation: a few old firepits, sand, trash.

I pick up two big lumps of coal that turn my hands black. Then I rub them over the picture of Jimmy and Lulu and Beansie on the side of the van. I remember taking that photograph, because my boss didn't want me in it. I remember how, when I first told Jimmy and Lulu about my mom, they acted as if I might fall apart. But then they saw me with the animals, and accepted me. "Anyone a bear likes," Jimmy said, "is someone I like." And Lulu said, "It means they taste delicious." We started having dinner in their trailer once a week; Daisy called them the cream of the clowns. I would relay to them what she said and they would actually respond. Maybe they thought it was one long gag. They were into gags. After a while they got me into all of their clowning, even the big feet and frills and makeup. I can see why Beansie always wants to be in costume-you feel like part of a team.

It isn't until I look up that I realize I've made my friends racially offensive. The bear seems a little more a black bear now than a grizzly, but still won't fool anyone. All I've done is destroyed a piece of nostalgia. I wipe my hands on the grass as a park ranger comes out of nowhere.

I hear him first, like an impersonation of a Molson commercial. "What are you doing here?" he asks. "Don't you know there's a killer American bear oot?"

"My mom suffocated my younger sister with a pillow when I was nine," I say.

"What?" the ranger asks. "Is that some sort of joke?"

"No," I say, "it's true. I'm here to take the bear back to America, but my girlfriend left me and I made my ghost leave, too, so now I don't know how to find him." I'm in tears again. I stand up from the grass and the ranger sees my palms.

"Are you on the drugs?" he asks.

"I stopped taking them after my mom killed my sister."

He asks for my identification and only then do I remember the Redneck. I pull something out of my wallet. My clown picture.

The ranger says he's going to look in the van for drugs.

I flip through my wallet for the medical card that says something technical about my problems, and almost throw it at him as he opens the passenger door. "Believe me," I say. "It was in the news, at least in America." Something tugs in my chest not to tell him about the Redneck, but I have the sense to break my rule this once. I couldn't help it about my mom.

Finally the ranger takes a look. He stands there for what seems forever. Then he says, "And you're not taking any drugs?"

"Not even LSD." At last I see a pitying smile.

He looks at the bear on the side of the van and says, "So, you're from the States."

"That's right, sir," I say. "Only country crazy enough to have me."

This time he actually laughs. His floppy hair blows around under his cap, and he claps his hands. "Okay," he says. "I'll help you oot."

These Canadians--you never know what to expect. I wonder how to explain that I need to get close to Beansie in order to get

Daisy to reappear and coax the bear into returning. How to tell him this when, if we find Beansie and my ghost doesn't come back, we're surely dead. But then I remember Logan, and I know that what I need to do is get this friendly Canuck away. I start to hyperventilate.

"I can handle Beansie," I manage to say in gulps. "That's the bear's name. I wouldn't get close to him if I were you. He hates Canadians."

The ranger pushes his hat down on his head-it's at least a size too small. "I think I know where your bear might be," he says. "I'll take you there." He climbs up into the passenger seat.

I follow the ranger's directions, thinking about my worst moments yesterday. As I tried to make Daisy leave I became a version of myself I'll always live in fear of becoming again. I brought up anything about her that had ever bothered me, like her fondness for Beansie. I told her she was a liar for not telling me who she was before she came to me, that she should never have made us leave Sis's house, that no matter what she was not a part of my family, we couldn't even hug. After she burned up I drove to Sue Ann's restaurant in a daze of self-loathing, wishing, like after the trial, for someone to take the place of all the people who were gone. But when I got there the cook said Sue Ann had quit and opened a nail shop. I pushed over a table and poured soda all over the floor and curled up in that stickiness until they threw me out.

The ranger and I steer closer to the edge of the parkthankfully not toward the group of Rednecks but at a right angle to them--and I hear Logan bouncing around behind us. I slow to fifteen miles per hour, which the ranger says is probably a good idea, especially once we hit the dirt paths. I remember when Daisy first appeared--Sis and I thought she was our younger sister all grown up; Sis said we didn't need our murderous mom anymore. I bite my lip to keep from speaking now, and taste blood. At one point I swear I hear the ranger ask if I've got some sort of engine trouble, but I ignore him. Maybe he chalks this up to bad ears, or maybe he thinks it is the engine but since it's not his van he doesn't care. The good news is, when we see a couple of other stray Rednecks they don't shoot, not with an officer of the park there.

"You got a name?" the ranger asks after a bit.

I'm starting to like him: putting up with my past, offering to help, oblivious to the body we're hauling around. He's about the perfect person to be friends with me. "Sam," I say. "Sam Eun Kim." He doesn't even ask, "Is that Chinese?"

"I have a little bit of experience myself with bears," he says. "My grandfather lost a hand to one when I was seventeen. And I saved a few picnickers from bears before. You just put your arms up over your head so it's like you're taller than them. Then they sort of respect you, you know?"

I wonder if doing this would have kept Beansie from brushing me aside to get to Daisy. Though I must have done the same to Sue Ann.

"The sun is setting," the ranger says as I steer the van into the parking lot. "Those Rednecks might go home now."

"I think I hit something before," I say; I can't help it.

"An opossum maybe, maybe a rock." The ranger points into the trees. "A camper left his food tied up in a maple. It's the sort of thing bears like to try to get at."

I don't tell him the only thing Beansie is trying to get at is Daisy--maybe I'm getting used to this deception racket. Then I shudder to think this is something my mom passed down. She told us our sister died in her sleep. "I ran over one of those Canadian Rednecks," I say.

"No," he says. "It would have been a bigger bump."

The ranger leads me through the woods to the tree where the picnickers abandoned their food once they heard a costumed bear was prowling the park eating people. The forest is hazy and is blinking on and off with sound and I feel like I'm in an eerie movie-version of my life. "It smells like old bacon," I say as the ranger grabs my arm.

He half-laughs, half-chokes, the way hyenas do on National Geographic when they get hurt and start eating themselves. In front of us is Beansie in all his glory.

I see the vest first, the white stripes and the metallic red and blue--he looks like the Elvis of bears--and then I see how enormous he is, as if for the first time. In the wild he seems much larger than he ever did play-wrestling with me and Jimmy and Lulu. He's eight feet tall on his hind feet, and wide as a truck, and instead of looking like Elvis now he looks like certain death.

Without Daisy there he isn't calm at all. He seems angry to see me alone. It seriously looks like he's frowning. The ranger cowers, not very ranger-like.

"You led us right to him," I say, and he starts to cry.

"Do something," he shouts. "You said you could handle him."

"Put your arms up," I say. "You said you could handle him."

The ranger gives me the kind of look I always imagined my sister giving before she died, though I know she never got the chance.

"Beansie," I say, "it's me. It's Sam. I'm here to rescue you from Canada." But he looks angrier than ever, the feathers waving on his headdress as if we're cavalry forcing him off his land.

Finally the ranger puts up his arms, and Beansie stands and roars and charges us, not respecting our pretended height. Of course, I think, the ranger lied. He wanted me to like him and now we're going to die.

But I know, I just know-it's like a switch turns on inside me--that Daisy will come out if I'm really in danger. So as the ranger flees I put myself in Beansie's path and look him in the eyes, and then I feel her beside me, and there she is.

"Oh Beansie," she says, "you're just adorable when you're mad." He lowers onto all fours and nuzzles through her glimmering non-presence, knocking me over as always, and it's as if we're in front of the usual crowd, my face painted white so no one knows me but the bear and two old clowns and my ghost.

Once I get Beansie and Daisy back I try to make a plan. The ranger probably thinks I've taken my place in the food chain, so I figure if we leave quick it will look like I'm dead and the Rednecks got the van. Daisy circles Beansie as if checking that he's all still there. I want to tell her everything that's happened, but we don't have time. "Daisy," I say, summing things up, "I'm sorry I took you for granted. All these years you've made me feel safe. You're my only family." She meets my eyes before she goes back to Beansie. My only chance to get Sue Ann back now is to pretend my ghost isn't there. I hope, since I could lie to a park ranger, that with a little preparation I can lie to Sue Ann.

I imagine how it will go. I'll drive to her nail shop with my chewed-up nails and ask her to make me look like I live a normal life. She'll give me that pout where half her face seems paralyzed. I'll have to wait. But eventually she'll sit and start filing. I'll tell her I rescued Beansie even without Daisy. I'll tell her I don't need Daisy anymore, because I have enough, just with her.

When she's finished, she'll trim my cuticles, still not looking at me; I'll have to win her back. I'll tell her how when the cops came, I knew what my mom had done before I ever saw it in the papers. I must have heard and done nothing to stop it. I'll tell her Daisy's nothing to be jealous about. I'll describe my younger sister, the long black hair, the crooked nose as if born broken, the small forehead with her eyes too close to the top of her head, and say Daisy looks nothing like that-though the truth is I could see how my sister could have grown beautiful and become someone like my ghost.

At the van Beansie bellows happily, I guess to go home to where his costumes and tricks are appreciated, and I open up the back. "When we return," I start, wanting to tell Daisy I'll have to lie about her. But I never finish my sentence. Inside is the Canadian Redneck, sitting up with his shotgun. I was stupid enough to leave it with him.

"Don't hate me, Logan," I say. "My mom killed my younger sister and these are my only friends."

He fires, and a burning scent rises from the van, and pain flares up in my shoulder as a few pellets clip my arm. I thank God he's dying and his aim is off enough that he's mostly missed me--for a split-second I feel blessed to be alive.

Then, from behind me, I hear a moan, and I realize the Redneck might not have missed. As I turn Beansie's entire body spasms in fear and anger. He rakes his claws at the van, at me, at the air. He scratches through my jeans in four long gashes. I feel blood, but I can't let the Redneck get off another shot, so I hop into the van. I kick the gun away, then kick his chest until he spits red. Only then do I turn back to Beansie.

Daisy coos through her tears and, though it isn't possible for them to touch, she seems to stroke his fur. She tells him to get into the van, and I say, "Come on, Beansie, come on, boy," almost crying myself. He flops half of his body inside, and I jump to the ground and push as hard as I can, and somehow-maybe with Daisy's supernatural help-I get his hind half in as well. Daisy is sobbing. I turn to comfort her, wanting to make up for my lacks. Her tears turn into flames. "No," I say. I remember what happened last time. "Don't go." But soon she's a bonfire of sadness, and then that switch turns off inside me and something tells me she's never coming back. That this time she's all burned up.

As if a last troubling gift from her I see myself back in our final foster home before Sis decided we should run away. We're pretending, Sis and me, to be our mom and our younger sister. I'm holding my breath beneath a pillow. Daisy says not to, but we want so badly to see what it was like. Sis pushes the pillow down on my face and I hold my breath for twenty seconds or so, then stick up my hand, and she lets off. Then we switch places and she lies flat and I take the pillow. She holds her breath longer than I did, and when she raises her hand, suddenly I want to give her the real experience. I want one of us to know. I crush the pillow down as she squirms. Daisy shouts. Five seconds go by. Ten. I feel both very strong and too weak to pull away. Then at twenty seconds an invisible hand seems to push me--though Daisy is behind me and Sis can't reach--and I fall over. I can't tell if this is Daisy's powers or some latent part of myself.

Now I grab the shotgun out of the van and close the door and walk up to the driver's seat, still in a fog of memories. I steer us out of the forest. I try to think only of saving the life of the bear my Daisy loved.

As I avoid the places they'd likely be, I still half-expect to see the Canadian Rednecks, but I don't. I cry and get on the highway. When America is in view once more everything hits me. I have a half-dead bear, a three-quarters dead Redneck, and the aura of a dead ghost in the back of my van, the side of which is covered with soot and the back of which is shot with holes, and my shoulder and leg are bleeding, and with my luck border control is sure to conduct a search.

Yet what choice do I have? I drive straight for the gate, where a Canadian guard asks aboot my trip.

"I'm hurt," I say. Then as I think about managing pain I get an idea. I show him my leg, careful to keep my shoulder away from his flashlight beam--it's dark enough that he can only see what's ahead of him. "I drove up here to catch the All-American Bear. Me and my co-worker, Logan. He's in the back with the bear. It attacked us. I've got to drive everyone back right away."

The Canadian looks alarmed. I pound on the partition behind me, and luckily Beansie gives a great ursine moan, though this means he's in worse shape than I thought. After a second, the Canadian waves me on, and I step on the gas to show I'm not lying about the urgency. As I drive into Montana I realize I didn't tell him about my mom.

Farther across the border I pull over and open up the back. Beansie looks half-dead and the Redneck worse. I jump in and slip his arm over my neck and drag him out past Beansie, who doesn't even move. I pull him as far as I can into the woods, and when I try his pulse it's as I figured from how stiff he is: Logan is dead. I have no time to bury him, but I can't bring him along. I don't know what would happen if my boss sees him-he might even call the cops. If Jimmy and Lulu see him, they might compare me to my mom. I note the spot and return to the van.

Everyone meets me outside the big top, as I've been honking for the last tenth of a mile. My boss and Jimmy and Lulu help me pull Beansie from the van. I try not to grimace as the pain sears my shoulder. An acrobat with a cell phone gets a vet on her way. "Daisy's never coming back," I say. My boss hangs a jacket over my shoulders so nobody sees the shotgun wound, then takes the paper bag with the revolver. Maybe this is tenderness, or maybe self-preservation--I want to find out, but I have to go back and bury Logan before anyone can find him. Except, for some reason, listening to Beansie moan and thinking of Daisy's burning tears, I want to see Sue Ann first.

I leave the van and get into the car me and Daisy drove up from New Mexico, and not telling anyone where I'm going I head to Sue Ann's restaurant. When I arrive the owner shakes his head and the cook rushes me with a butcher knife.

"Stop," I plead, clutching my wounds. "I won't ruin anything else, I promise. Just tell me where her nail shop is."

They stare at me--the bloody leg, the red seeping through my boss's jacket, my coal-blackened hands--and I guess, in the end, take pity.

With their directions I find my way to the shop, and Sue Ann is there, dedicated to this new beginning. I limp through her open door, with its open sign. She doesn't have any customers. I sit across from her and hold out my bitten fingernails.

"What the fuck happened to you?" she says. "Sam, you're bleeding all over the place." She runs for whatever she has handy. She pours nail-polish remover over my cuts and it stings so much

I can't hold back whatever has been breaking inside of me. Tears burn hot on my cheeks. "It looks like a shotgun did this."

I'm ready to say I shot myself by accident, or maybe a sudden bird attack, but what I want now more than anything is one person to tell the truth to and gain acceptance from. I look into her syrup-brown eyes and tell her about Daisy catching fire. I tell her about Beansie getting shot. I tell her about Logan. I tell her everything started with the Canadian Rednecks, or maybe when I told Daisy to go away, or maybe when she, Sue Ann, dumped me. I tell her everything started when my mom killed my sister. I don't know exactly when. "I have to go back and bury the guy," I say at last. "I've killed a man, Sue. I'm a murderer." I let this final truth slip out.

"I'm going with you," she says.

We get into my beat-up Malibu and drive back to the Redneck. In the trees the darkness closes us off from the road. A coyote howls somewhere. Night seems to have filled the woods completely. We can hardly see. It's a miracle we find the body. I scratch the dirt to remember the direction back before I realize I don't have a shovel.

Sue Ann seems to realize this at the same time. She gets down on her knees. "We better hurry," she says. "Come on."

She scoops away dirt with both hands, and I do the same, thinking again how amazing she is. I keep expecting to hear a siren or to see someone's lights or to be hit by lightning, but nothing happens. When we have a hole deep enough she crawls over and gets ready to roll Logan in.

And then, just before she touches him, something happens. Something drains out of her. It's like a plug has been pulled--all expression leaves her face--and I realize she can't share this. If she does she'll be with me, on the other side of some invisible line. Finally I understand Sis, how terrified she was of our immutable past. I, Sam Eun Kim, was now our family's second murderer. I had to take this upon myself.

Sue Ann turns to me, and when our eyes meet she says, "We can still be friends."

I rise and come around beside her, and kick Logan's body into the hole.

Over the next few months I stayed beside Daisy's bear all day and night. That's how I thought of him for a while, as Daisy's. Jimmy and Lulu helped during the daytime. Beansie started taking tentative steps and we went on walks through the circus grounds. Soon he could make it to the clown car garage and my distant trailer. When he rested Jimmy and Lulu would bring fish and he would snatch them from the air. I tried to show him I was sorry, and as he began to heal he seemed less and less angry to see me without Daisy. The wound on my leg left me with a limp and he matched my slow pace, even after the vet said he was fine. Sue Ann and I really did become friends. She visited daily, and I showed her how gently Beansie could toss a beach ball back and forth without popping it in his claws, or roll a hula hoop along a painted line, tricks I'd taught him while we recuperated. For a while I fed him with a giant baby bottle I'd ordered from some place in New York. Everyone chipped in, but it was my job. Beansie's wounds from that trip would always seem mine. I'd caused them, in a way. I'd also helped to heal them. We had hurt and forgiven each other enough that we'd become family. We were brothers, Beansie the All-American Bear and I.
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Author:Salesses, Matthew
Publication:West Branch
Article Type:Short story
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2012
Words:6886
Previous Article:The Flowering Bough.
Next Article:Only Blue Body.
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