Secrets of the Grassy Knoll
SYNOPSIS: Told from the point of view of a fox, this piece tells the story of a friendship between a fox and a young boy.
I met Malcolm in the long grasses outside of his home in the hot, dry country of the Australian outback. He had worn a blue and red striped cardigan with baggy blue jeans and great black boots which went up to his knees. His eyes were an incredible blue, his hair a pitch black in colour, whilst his cheeks constantly maintained a rosy glow.
He had been playing in the paddocks whilst his father stayed inside with Phillip, the man who helped him with every chore.
Malcolm had continued to wander further and further out into the dense grass before he found me deep within the shrubbery.
I whimpered in the grasses from fear of what he might do to me. I was so young and naïve at the time. His kind had taken away everything from me. Both my mother and father had being killed by hunters; the litter of siblings I was once a part of had being completely destroyed.
But instead, he changed my perception on humanity entirely. Sensing I was hurt, he gingerly picked me up in his little hands and took me into his care. From this point on he would help me, clean me and feed me and we would never be apart. And so was the story of the fox and his Malcolm.
Every night from then on Malcolm would make his way into the tangled brushes and blades of grass and bring me out a small slab of meat and a bowl of milk. He laughed playfully as I lapped up the milk with my dainty pink tongue and whilst doing so he would stroke my orange coat. Every so often he would arrive with a brush as well and stroke down my fur until it was beautifully straight once more after a day in the tangled grasses.
During the nights that became both cold and wet he would shelter me from the storm. Taking me up in his arms, Malcolm would escort me into the house, ensuring his father had no knowledge of what was occurring right under his nose. Placing me inside the confines of his warm duvet cover, I snuggled up beside him and heard the gentle rhythm of his heart beating in time to mine. I would hear the frightening sounds of thunder crashing across the sky and I would witness the lightning scorch the clouds above. Malcolm would grab a hold of me and whisper that everything would be okay and I would yelp playfully beside him and nibble at his ear to signify that I too would protect him like he had protected me.
However, during the days that Malcolm did not spend with me, he spent with his father. I never did hear what they said, but I knew right from the moment I saw him that his father did not respond well to my kind. I often saw him watching the both of us out in the grass whilst he stayed indoors working with Philip.
Whenever Malcolm came into the grass after speaking with his father he never did seem himself at first and when a tear ran down his cheek I gently brushed my body up against his to reassure him that I was here and never would I be gone. Once again Malcolm would be happy and once more we would frolic in the underbrush.
But when hunting season began to draw closer, Malcolm began to become frightened with every moment he spent with me, almost as though he felt that each time there was the chance that we would never see each other again. I would yelp and cry in representation of such ideology being absolutely ridiculous, but even I had sensed a change on the wind.
The father had taken out his rifle, cleaned and oiled the particular weapon of choice and admired it in the kitchen window whilst looking at me as though I did not belong. Philip too had acquired a rifle of his own and had gone through the exact same strategy.
I noticed the undergrowth around me begin to grow more silent, a deathly quiet coming over the land as though all other forms of life had begun to leave in trepidation of what was to come. Malcolm had explained to me that it was all some sort of game, yet I found that a little hard to believe, for I did not wish to play.
But on the fateful morning that hunting season finally came into full swing it appeared that I inevitably had no choice. Malcolm and I were once again in the grasses dancing together as one when both Philip and his father began to make their way into the undergrowth.
Noticing a duck that had not yet fled the premises, Philip took his shot, the bullet just missing the animal as it took flight in the nick of time. I heard him curse impatiently under his breath as Malcolm and I attempted to hide in the grasses. They had waited an entire year to kill again and they were eager to accomplish such a task.
It was then that the father saw me. It was not difficult, there was no concealing my body in the brush as Malcolm began to look incredibly frightened.
I looked up into his adorable little face as he cried ‘run foxy, run!’
I thought of staying, but I noticed the look in his eye and the terror on his face and with that I took his advice. I heard the sound of a rifle being reloaded as I leapt through the undergrowth, Malcolm continuing to cry at the top of his lungs for me to run as far away as I possibly could. Just at that moment a terrific cracking sound rattled through the bush, sending chills of terror throughout the landscape. Birds flew out from the trees and little beetles scurried into the safety of the ground below. Never in all my life had I heard such silence. I whimpered, seating myself down in the brush whilst I surveyed the landscape before quickly hurrying back in the direction of my all time dearest friend.
Drawing nearer, I heard the father cry ‘I think I shot something’, his voice high pitched and happy. I took a few extra steps forward, my feet beginning to wander through a wet substance in the grass as I looked down at the ground beneath me. And there on the ground, lay my Malcolm. Friend of animals great and small; the best friend a fox could ever have.
Posted on February 22, 2012, in Short Story and tagged adulthood, animals, childhood, childhood friendship, drama, farm, farmyard, fox, friendship, hunting, hunting season, life, loss, pain, prose, sacrifice, shelter, single father. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.