Sunday, September 6, 2015

the mysterious bones


Just one thing.



The Mysterious Bones
A Joe Beans Mystery

By Elliott Crackersby

Part One
A sultry late summer morning with a cool fog rising in the fields, hanging in the air like a wet blanket, the sun a dull blot of orange seeping and spreading like blood through the thin fabric, the fabric that in a few hours will be more like Army-issue woolen underwear, suffocating, scratchy; too late in the year for this, I think. But never mind, on the day's agenda is a morning nap followed by an afternoon along the river to continue the Wolf investigation. If only I could get Rita Pie, my investigative assistant, to see the need to explore the opposite bank. She can be, at times, so very slow. Sweet, but slow. And she goes off on tangents. From the river, she has collected a number of rocks, stones, and pebbles. (Note: Must investigate difference between rocks, stones, and pebbles.) Patiently I await the clarity that will tell me the importance of these rocks, stones, and pebbles to our investigation, and meanwhile, there are paw prints, quite large, on a sand bar near the island. (Note: Must remind her to bring along the print-o-meter today.)

"I'm thinking about them bones," Rita Pie says.

I roll my eyes. Thump my tail. She thinks this is cute, but, unfortunately, she is not diverted.

"First, there was that big bone, right in the middle of the trail, and then a couple of days later it was gone, replaced by this smaller bone. No other bones anywhere. At least, not nearby, where we looked."

Where she had looked, I think but don't say. This bone does not interest me. Not a bit. It's an old bone, dry and picked clean. But she seems to have a great interest in this bone, and she brought it -- the so-called second bone, which I knew to be the only bone, a deer femur, to be exact, approximately two years old, lightly gnawed by mice and vole -- back to the office, where she washed off some loose dirt, put it in the sun to dry. Now she's like a dog with a bone. Will not let it go.

"Well, as I said, I believe the bones to be one and the same bone," I tell her. "No mystery there. Just one old bone. One. Old. Bone."

"But the first bone was so much bigger ... "

"Well, you know how that goes. Memory plays up some things, plays down others. You remember that bone, the first bone, as bigger than it was because it surprised you, sparked your imagination. Happens all the time. Look at the photo of it again, then go look at the bone you dragged home. You'll see. One and the same." This might keep her busy for a bit, so I yawn, thump my tail, settle down for that nap.

Part Two
Chief Investigator Joe Beans is right, of course. There is only one bone, I know that, one bone that looked big at first sight, puny a few days later. And I was so sure there were two bones of such different size! I even went searching about for the first bone. It seemed so odd, the bones similar, yet so different. One day, a big bone. Another day, a small bone. Joe Beans ignored me, went off snuffling nearby, something for the Wolf investigation, I suppose, and I know he wants to get across the river, explore leads on the other side, but it's dangerous over there, and I won't go.

Curious now, I measure the bone, which is a femur from a deer, probably, lightly gnawed by mice and vole, mottled with dirt, very dry, some hairline cracks along its length. If you had asked me a few days ago how big that bone was that I saw in the woods, I would have said two, maybe three feet long. But it is one foot long. I am somewhat deflated.

Part Three
There's something odd about those two. And why anyone would drag home an old bone without a scrap of meat on it ... There's the mystery. The other morning I left a nice little blood-red liver on the mat. Know what happened? Beans skipped around it and Pie made a noise that sounded like "erp." Then she bagged the liver and tossed it. All this fuss about bones. And Beans with the wolves. I've seen wolves. Big hairy dogs. They howl, I hide, end of story.

Big bone.

Little bone.

All the same bone.

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