The Beaver’s moved into the old house at the end of the long dirt road as if overnight. The next day there were two more children in the neighborhood to play with.
Bridget and Brett Beaver were both blonde and slight in build. Bridget was the younger of the two and had difficulty breathing at times.She had her own personal tent to sleep in when her breath became noisy and quick.
For this reason Adam and I weren’t allowed to go inside the Beaver’s home. This seemed strange to us.
“We used to play in it all the time,” Adam said. “And that’s before anyone lived there.”
It was true. All of the kid’s that lived along the road that was Sander’s Court had played in the abandoned house. It was a castle one day and then a fort the next during a game of combat.
It had even been rumored to be haunted, but that was never proven.
Brett was always off in the woods with us boys, but Bridget usually stayed home so she could be near her breathing tent. Someday’s, she wouldn’t even leave the house to play at all.
About two-weeks after moving in, I decided to go around to the back of the house and visit with Bridget. I had convinced myself that she had to be pretty lonely with no one to talk to or play with all day.
Brett’s and Bridget’s room was in the lower southeast corner of the house. I quietly walked up to the window and peeked in.
I could see Bridget, with her head and chest inside the clear plastic tent, was asleep so I decided it was best not to disturb her.
Slowly, I backed away from the window — but that’s when I heard a small noise behind me. I spun around expecting John Paul Arnold or Chucky Yates to be there, ready to jump on top of me or something.
Instead, I found myself standing face to face with a black bear less than ten-feet away. I froze in my footsteps and sucking in my breath as I tried to think what to do next.
My mind reeled at what to do. My instinct said to run away as fast as I could.
Yet, I recalled what Dad had said to do if I ever ran into a bear, “The best thing to do is play dead.”
“Maw,” cried the bear as it pushed itself from standing on all fours to standing upright.
The blood drain from my face as I pitched myself face down into the dirt and leaves. I laid stone still and feared to even allow a breath to escape my lips, fearful the animal would realize I wasn’t really dead.
I could feel its cold, wet nose press against my clammy skin and the warm, misty breathes as the bear snuffed and smelled me.
Then it stepped over me. I tensed, fearing the worst, however instead of being bitten, the beast dropped his weight down on me.
It rolled over and over on me, yet I did not dare move. Instead I pressed my face into the earth to stifle the grunts I let out as the bear forced his heft against my smaller body.
“Maw!” came the bear again and again as he continued to roll over me. Then the animal grew still.
The bear had laid his entire body completely atop me and breathed deeply as if resting. I still refused to move.
I knew I dared not even twitch a muscle, for the bear couldn’t be allowed to know I was alive.
“Someone will come along and find me,” I remember thinking — or perhaps it was a prayer.
Then I felt a sense of panic wash over me as I heard voices coming nearer. They were coming from up above me, along the Old Ranger Road, which was jus’ a few feet away from where I lay under the now slumbering bear.
Yet I couldn’t shout or even whisper for help, afraid I wake the beast. And the result could end in something worse than being a rug for bear.
The underbrush moved. It was all that I could see, with my face pushed into the dirt. Then I saw a pair of black and white high-top sneakers appear from the bushes.
It was Brett. Once he saw what was happening, he yelled, “Yogi!”
With that the bear jerked with a start and rolled from me. I jumped to my feet and then fell down, then got back up, as my legs had grown numb after laying still for so long.
“Run,” I screamed at Brett as I raced around the corner of the house.
But Brett didn’t follow. Instead I discovered the boy hugging and scratching the bear neck and shoulders.
It was at that moment, I realized the bear was a pet. I sheepishly approached and asked Brett if I could also scratch the black bear who had made me into a human rug for a day.