Friday, October 16, 2015

THE GHOST OF THE JUDGE MORRIS ESTATE'S BERRY PATCH



With the night of flying witches colliding with biting bats upon us, we though we'd share a silly little tale that will make you giggle more that yelp...then again, one never knows once the witching hour begins!

There is an old German proverb, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

     Dartin and Margenta were brother and sister, down-to-the-fur-and-marrow siblings.  Not the I-like-you-you-like-me-life-is-as-happy-as-can-be siblings, no, more I-tease-you-you-tease-me-stop-it-or-I’ll-tell style.  

     Dartin prided himself as the older, although it was only by twenty seconds.  Mind you and Dartin would tell you, older was older.  Being a brother and older was very important.
Both had the most marvelous pair of ears that bent in the middle and hung down like the reeds surrounding the cattails that you'd see in the Reedy Point marsh.  Dartin’s ears were a buttercup’s length longer, another thing of pride, but Margenta found pride in a different attribute.  The white of her tail was stunning, graced with sun-brightened fur that puffed as if coaxed by the breath of fairies.   Dartin's was equally stunning but more gray, a rich gray like the color of clouds dispersing after a storm.  

     The two were close, as close as siblings could hope especially considering their family consisted of many stretched across the woodlands and continually growing.  Bunnies of such a knit and ilk spent much time together, whereas, fun was important to the two of them and they oft dashed about a field playing catch the tail or bounce high.  They seemed to take turns winning, not by intent but by happenstance.  Their competitive spirit was never hurtful, never mean-spirited prankster focused, but still a challenge to each. 
They always foraged for food together and always had full tummies, for the forest and fields had abundant feed.  However, one thing stood in the way of their rapport.  It was an innocuous thing, nothing that should cause alarm, or incite strife.  If anything, it was a wonderful treat, a delight, quite possibly the most palatable bliss they have ever experienced.  It was also a sore source of contention that was as rooted as their pelage, and their fur was held tight to their skin.  What was this hostile thing that threatened bunny paradise?  It was their love for strawberries and that love would one day be their possible downfall.

Bunnies love berries.  Alright, everyone knows this is not a revolutionarily new concept but these two loved them, yes, Dartin and Margenta seemed to love berries more than most.  At the first budding, the two lingered near the wild patch, waiting, breathing the aroma until the inevitable moment arrived, the day of ripening.  The scent was the equivalent of a dinner bell, promising a feast.  This very berry year, this ripening season was at paw, and that anticipated day, after weeks of waiting, finally arrived.  Glee beset every waking minute for the two as they gorged daily to such excess that the fur surrounding their lips had a pink stain.  Today was like most every other day of the season; their first concern was to fill up on lush berries.  As if asked, why, they’d re-ask, “Wouldn’t you?” 

Envisioning apt pleasure, Dartin jumped over Margenta, determined to reach the berry patch first, a greedy action that if Dartin considered might have avoided.  The desired patch existed at the end of the old Judge Morris’s Estate.  It was an uncultivated patch now but it was once tended well.  Skilled hands used to weed the current tangled growth and hand water each plant.  There was a time every row had perfect length and fertilizer had been applied with care, ensuring that each flowering berry would grow large and sweet.  Neither, Dartin or Margenta remembered when that was and they didn't really care, for the attention given in the past still allowed the patch to grow with enthusiasm.  Nothing was as tidy, but everything still lured the bunnies, for all they cared about was all those lovely strawberries.  Their Grandmama, though, had warned them to stay away from the patch.  She told them bad things happened out at the Judge Morris Estate.  But a little bit of rumor wasn't going to keep either the brother or sister from such a wonderful treat, bunnies needed to eat, those berries were sweet, and stories of dread could never cause retreat.

Berries thought healthy by Grandmama, Popa and critters of all kin and kind still knew if eaten in large enough quantities can turn even the most slim and svelte bunny into one that might be called rotund.  These two were rotund, chubby-cheeked, bouncy-bellied, although, Margenta proudly insisted she was zaftig and perfectly fine with being so.  Her brother maintained he was pleasantly portly.  Still, everyone else considered them rotund, and in the world of critters, rotund can be thought unfashionable.  

Many understood, most by experience, that the want of berry could be a dangerous pull.  Its crave could turn the most friendly and kindest bunny into a bunny beast.  A dark place in the corners of bunny minds can hide such a beastie.  Dartin and Margenta believed such a thing impossible when it came to devoted siblings.  However, the second Tuesday of next week, the beast in Margenta was seen and surprisingly without shame. 

The berries in the special patch had begun to dwindle, yet with persistence the bloated duo managed to spy-out little nearly overripe berries still hidden under leaves.  After consuming one of the smallest of the day, Margenta spotted the biggest, ripest berry that she had seen since the season began.  A yes, inched to her lips but was stifled not to draw attention, an act wasted, since at the same time, her older brother of twenty seconds, was already headed in that direction.  Something claimed Margenta's sense of propriety and rationale. Her focus was singular and determination rushed through her as swiftly and deliberately as she raced, although the speed of a zaftig bunny could be just a bit slower than that of a caterpillar, which was about the same speed as Dartin.

The two wobbled and flopped, rolled and wiggled as quickly as their tubby little bellies let them toward that most desired berry.  Bumping each other in a let-me-go-first way.  The older brother threw a wild hip bump into his sister thinking he could displace her forward momentum, he was wrong.  The effort did not change her direction.  Bulk had its advantages.  It had to do with a mass in motion tends to remain in motion unless affected by another force; apparently her mass was unaffected.

They just about reached the berry bush, nose to nose, fat belly to fat belly, front paw to front paw but before they could lunge it was snatched away by something unseen.  Margenta trying to stop her forward motion discovered that her face entered the bush followed by her brother's, the bush stopping both.  They rolly-pollied back onto their back legs removing their faces and looked first at the bush then at each other.

“Did you see?” 

“Saw.”

“Not pleased.”

“Not at all.”

Easygoing rage, meek but pointed beset Margenta as she bunny-growled and re-entered the bush to find her berry and relieve it from whoever stole it from her.  She knew without a token of doubt that the berry was intended for her, only her.  No sharing required.  

As she entered the foliage, face buried in the thick of it, her brother shouted, "Ghost!"

That word, ghost, held apt concern in the bunny world and was feared as might a famished fox be feared.

The threat of an entity, supernatural, unnatural, real or false did not stop this dogged without-a-bark bunny.  After all, a ghost could not eat, what use would it have for such a fleshy morsel, this being a reasonable conclusion.  She ravaged the bush, knocking berry after berry from the stems, not even considering that all together these small bites would add up to more munching than the chubby berry alone. 

Her brother, though, quick to recognize a berryfall, these bits and bites quickly found residence in the belly of Dartin.   He yelled between each bite, "Get 'em sis, get 'em, you're doing good."  His encouragement was followed by her further persistence, something of which he felt proud gratitude, a concept most might consider anomalous but he was manipulating his sibling into filling his belly.  Proud.  Gratitude.  Apt.  

She, at his encouragement, ripped harder and harder into the thicket, producing more and more treats.  His voice became muffled by the amount of berries he stuffed into his mouth.  His cheeks puffed out like Clarence’s would, a chipmunk, storing nuts and his nose and chin became red with sticky juices as the berries were forced into the now expanding jowls.  His stomach muttered protests of strange and assorted noises, sounds that usually embarrassed most.  Dartin didn’t notice nor did he slow his proceedings.

It was at that moment one of the back feet of Margenta broke free from the ground and struck her brother bunny as he leaned forward to pick up another berry. He spontaneously responded, “Oooof!”  The point of impact was his belly, causing a reflex that accompanied his sound and resulted in the propelling of many pieces of partly gnawed fruit to litter upon his sister.  Many could find such a shower repulsive, though, her focus on the ghostly big-berry-thief was not immediately stopped, but when ooze driveled more obviously she realized she was so spewed upon.  She chose retreat only to come bunny nose to bunny nose with her brother, he drool-faced.  Revelation smacked as she now understood what he was doing.  Her sibling rabbit rage rose red to levels undefined in the rage of any rabbit, perhaps of any kindred species to bunny as well.  If Dartin had a friend close they would have most certainly yelled, “Run for your life!”  But alas, no friend was present. 

Frozen in her glare, Dartin noticed something in her eyes that was unquestionably both scary and spooky, his nose still so close to Margenta’s nose, which twitched. 
Startled into jiggle-belly, he gasped.

His tail first twitched.  

The twitch of his ears, followed.

And then, with just cause and concern, ran.

Very slow, more a waddle than gallop, for weigh can cause that, but under the circumstances, he ran.

His speed was believed, only by him, as semi-supersonic, that of the swiftest gazelle, not that he knew any gazelle personally, but he heard of such.  With such tenacious velocity came the simple principle of physics, his momentum was equally rapid and given that stopping would be Herculean, and was far from that. 

Margenta did not follow.  Did not chase.  She sat, and sadly many might reflect, she ate the berry spew.  Surprisingly, she found great enjoyment knowing she was reaping of her deberryating of the bush, and gave very little consideration to its masticated state.  A smile inched up beneath her whiskers, one broken off during her bush rampage, causing her nose to bounce a darling twitchy bounce.  

At that moment the thief, the big-berry-thief sat itself down beside her and began to munch upon the aforementioned big berry.  "Who was that?"  The question was in a commonplace tone.

"Oh, that was my brother."  She lapped at one of her partly pink paws.

"He runs pretty slow."

"Don’t he?!”

“When will he stop?”

“Can he stop?”  She giggled.  “His belly is his deterrent. He won't be coming back."

"Why?" asked the hazy-edged figure.

"He believes in ghosts."

"Ghosts!"  A startled appearance followed.  “Where?”

“Here!” 

At that, the thief dropped the big berry and ran.

Margenta leaned over and ate the remainder of the big berry, rose, smiling.  "I love ghosts.  Even if… they are unaware they are.”

Minutes later she hopped in the direction her brother fled, “Better find him before it gets dark". She might want the sweetest berry but her brother was still her brother and to make up for her greed, she gathered up three smaller berries and saved them just for him.  Well, ummm make that two... or was it just one? 


 ***

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Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
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