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|Ember Eyes (standard:drama, 1682 words)|
|Author: Walt||Added: Apr 17 2013||Views/Reads: 1855/934||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A cat's tale Even jungle cats are curious . . .|
Ember Eyes They established their base camp near the river where I catch my fish when I feel like a change in diet. I heard their trucks rumbling along the trail across the wetlands and up the steep grades through the forest all that afternoon. They might have made better progress on foot but they needed their supplies. Tents, clattering cooking equipment, tables and chairs, suitcases of clothing, bug spray and snake bite medicine. Beer, wine and whiskey for courage. I recognized the two tanned guides for they had hunted me before. The white ones, gringos the guides called them when they thought they were by themselves, were two older males and a young female. I watched as they wielded machetes, clearing a space for their camp. The fat one kept mentioning snakes, poking the undergrowth with a stick, but any small snakes had long fled the area, the noise of their camp-making enough to warn every bird, animal, lizard and snake away from the knoll. On the other hand, the noise of the encampment attracted the flying bugs and biting ants. I watched, wondering what these people wanted. Were they taking pictures or firing guns? Why did they have that metal cage on one of the trucks? “Pedro, have you seen any signs of old Ember Eyes?” the woman asked one of the guides. “Si, señorita Doctor. There is sign of a freshly killed wild pig just one hundred metres to the south. The Gato Negro is near. We will find him.” If I had known they were coming I would have hidden the rest of my dinner. Gato Negro. That is what the Spanish-speaking people call me. Over the years, I have picked up their lingo well enough to know to make myself scarce when they are hunting. The English speakers were becoming more numerous, mostly following guides and taking pictures of the birds, butterflies and flowers which flourished in this hot humid country. Up here on the hills where it was cooler, they tried to find us, but we cats are not at the top of the food chain because we are careless. Once in a while they catch one of us – the ocelots and smaller cats in particular. Sometimes an older panther will go down to the villages to eat the fat lazy cows or blatting goats and then the people come with guns. The smell of the death of a great cat is something that stays with me. I am careful, watching the people at night when they cannot see my blackness. It took me a while to realize that they had begun calling me ‘Ember Eyes'. Sometimes I get too close to their campfires and my eyes reflect the flickering light of the campfire. Once they fired a gun at me but mostly they just yell and scream at me to frighten me away. I do not fear them. One on one, they have no chance. They are too slow and too weak. Even with their knives, machetes, and pistols and excited with drink, they know to stay near their campfire at night. In the daytime I can hear them, smell them and see them before they see me. I know about their booming guns – that is how they killed my mate, Silva. I remember the smell of the man who fired his gun that day. It is the older man now in the camp. Darkness comes quickly in the forest and I crept closer to watch and listen. We cats do not moralize like the people. Nor do we rationalize. It was simply a fact that I was going to have my revenge. As a kit, I had played with mice and squirrels, toying with them before killing and eating them. I had no taste for human flesh but I did like to play a little with my prey, practising with my quick claws. Unless my prey was one of the larger snakes like the pythons and constrictors: those I crushed immediately. I do not like the smell of their fires. The acrid smoke burns my eyes and assaults my nose, yet it is also a marker that I can follow to find them. Those who light their smoke sticks as they walk along are easy to sniff out for the smell lingers on their hide. The smell of the repellents they wear also floats among the trees all around them, but what is most offensive is when they burn and char the meat of animals before they eat it. They despoil the juices and taste, covering it with their own bottled juices. This is what they now did as I watched from the cover of brush, trying not to twitch my tail in disgust. Click here to read the rest of this story (98 more lines)
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