Woody quietly snuck into the home and went straight to his room. Mom was making supper in the kitchen and dad was down in the den.
He found himself staring at the ripples of the pond through his bay window, soaking in the comforting aromas of his mother’s supper.
A scream and a howl screeched out in the distance. Woody looked to see what was happening. Glowing sets of eyes began popping up in the forest woods, like stars in the night sky.
Shortly after, there was a pounding on the door. It was Sheriff Badger and his Coon Squad.
“I need you to step outside,” the sheriff asserted.
Bill was resistant, “I know my rights! I’m not leaving this dam home!”
“Let’s just go see what this is all about,” Mom whispered, calmly convincing Bill to step outside.
The whole forest was gathering around the borders of the pond; even lining the dam walls all the way to the other side of the pond. Goldfish began bugging their eyes out of the water, while some ants marched over to join the group. The meeting was slow to start, since the Sheriff insisted they wait for a family of turtles to come over.
Woody walked over and stood by Otto and Fin on the far side of the pond, while his parents stood in the innermost ring underneath some lightening bugs.
Sheriff Badger laid down the law right from the get go. “I will have order this evening. I don’t need you folks getting all squirly and causing a stampede like last time,” he said looking over at a group of chipmunks. They started to puff up a bit, getting a little red in the face; perhaps upset the badger would compare them to the nuts responsible for last Friday’s fiasco.
“I was doing my nightly patrol, when I came across a horrendous smell. When I went to investigate, I found Shirley the Skunk had been smashed by some fallen tree branches.”
The crowd gasped at the Sheriff’s story.
“Upon closer look, I noticed that the branches were green and seemed very healthy. I began to smell foul play.”
The crowd doubled in size and was growing larger by the minute. Some flies buzzed in and out, but were too concerned with their own stuff to stick around long. Judging by the fresh holes in the ground, some animals grew suspicious that a mole might even be amongst them.
“TOMMY! Spit it out!” yelled the Sheriff, noticing a tail wiggling from the bobcat’s mouth. “I will not have any more murder in these here woods tonight!”
The animals gasped in shock at Sheriff Badger’s remarks. “MURDER?!” they spoke aloud to each other.
Tom reluctantly spit out the little mouse and it scurried over to its burrow.
“I asked myself that age old question; if a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it?” The hoard was silent, waiting in anticipation for the Sheriff’s findings. “Turns out, the answer is YES!” Gasps of shock and awe befell the group.
Barry chuckled, “I knew it, I knew it; does a bear ….”
“This is no time for jokes Mr. Black!” The Sheriff interrupted. “I followed a group of birds, who tweeted that they saw the whole thing. They were cut short on syllables, but luckily one of them had the good sense to instantly save a gram of their lunch. Underneath their seat, you can clearly see Mr. Beaver chopping down the cherry tree.”
Bill scoffed. “I ain’t gonna lie. Ya, I cut the tree down. I needed to fix the infrastructure on the dam. I cut down some trees for their sap and others to use as support beams. I also grabbed a cottonwood because my pillows were getting all lumpy. But you want to fault a guy for cutting down a cherry tree to have a snack?”
A small mink crept up close to Bill and began to hiss.
“Calm down Peta, I left the fir trees alone.” Bill shook his head. “And I didn’t go near that stinky old skunk either! You can smell her from a mile away. I’ve had enough of that woman for one life time!”
“She didn’t stink; she was as sweet as the Cherry Tree you dropped on her head,” a voice from the crowd cried out.
The rest of the animals began taking turns, blurting things out.
“Did you get the proper permit?” the hedgehog questioned; naturally concerned with the collection of taxes.
“I think the Tax man has lined his fir with enough of our wooden nickels, don’t you? Besides,” Bill continued, “you never know when his cousin the taxidermist is going to be there. He skins animals and then saves their bodies as trophies on his wall. He’s a psychopath!”
Some elk nodded their racks in approval.
“Everyone knows the beavers are bigots,” a goose squawked. “This very day, his son made a derogatory comment about our kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a hate crime; appears to me that Shirley’s death is black and white.”
Barry chimed in on Bill’s behalf. “Really? After he cleared the pond to give you a landing strip; this is how you treat him? Bill has worked hard for this ecosystem. I was near starving before he cleared a log jam to give me access to the pond.”
Some other carnivores roared out in the beaver’s defense.
“Oh ya, real helpful,” some salmon said sarcastically. “His dam blocked our access to the spawning grounds. Not only is he leading carnivores to our deaths, he is preventing our children from having a future.”
Barry looked over at the salmon longingly. He had only recently been tagged and released here. He had no idea that salmon even came this far up. “I guess I never thought about his home blocking you from getting to me, I mean preventing you from swimming further upstream.”
“Just like he never thought about taking our homes away from us,” Robin raved.
“Your home!” Bill yelled indignantly. “If you are all entitled to the trees of your choosing, why can’t I have my cut? None of you do anything for the preservation of this land, yet you call me out for doing the same thing you do? You call yourselves forest animals? More like Hippos in crates, off to the zoo with the lot of you!”
The crowd grew furious at Bill’s last remarks. Some of them even began throwing stones.
Sheriff Badger had his Coons put their safety masks on and form a barricade as a precautionary measure. “Quiet everybody! GET BACK!” They knew better than to step on the badger’s turf and quickly subsided. “I’m glad there aren’t any monkeys in the crowd,” he said, trying to break the tension.
“It’s obvious that we have some serious questions that need to be answered. I think it’s time we call in an expert witness.”href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/roots/”>*******************
Stay tuned this week for the rest of the story.
Reflections in the Pond is a satirical, forest fable; where the only lessons you take from the story are the ones you are ready to learn.
(Your comments are greatly appreciated, as I haven’t written a story since grade school.)
Written for my niece: May you see something different every time you read it.
Pictures by Elaine Kelly, author of Free The Truth