Almost every day, I take a walk with Tom Foolery and Shenanigans, my purebred American Mutt Dogs. (Their father was a blue heeler, their mother a Roughcoated Collie x Great Pyrenees cross [And they even have the extra toes to prove it. {In case you didn’t know, Great Pyrenees have extra toes.}])

Anyway, the point is, I go on a nature walk just about every day with them. Last week, I finally met the man who maintains the trail. His name is Norman, he is retired, and he does it for fun. He liked Tom and Nanigans, and told me about a new trail he’d made. I followed his directions and soon found myself walking along a river. It had flooded into two large pools, thanks to two beaver dams.

On the way home, I was struck by the trail’s aspect. It is sort of the Platonic ideal of a trail–flat, broad, leaf littered, bordered by deciduous forest, now leafless, thanks to winter. It gently arched away from me, disappearing into the forest, hiding whatever lay in wait around the corner.

This image of a trail was innately familiar, and strangely unnerving. Something deep within me raised a warning flag. This beautiful little place held secret dangers. I looked at my dogs. They were fine, and if there’d been anything to be worried about, they would’ve let me know.

And then it came to me, where I’d seen this trail before, and why it made me uneasy.

It looked just like the trail from my imagination, a trail created by one of my father’s favorite bedtime stories. My dad is a world class storyteller. I’ve had people tell me I’m a good storyteller a couple of times, and I always say, “You should see my dad.” I can bring someone into a story if they’re willing to come. With my dad, it’s different. He talks and people listen, no matter who they are. If they’re alpha, ADD, a non-stop talker, impatient, holier-than-thou, it doesn’t matter. They stop what they’re doing and they listen, because that is the special magic my dad has.

A little girl's best friend.

And so, once I realized why that trail looked so familiar, I thought, I should really put my dad’s bedtime stories up on the blog. They’re good stories. Also, disturbingly violent. Which really explains a lot, if you think about it. Without further ado, I present, “The Teddy Bear.”

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved her teddy bear with all her heart. She loved her bear so much, she brought him with her wherever she went. She even took him to school.

Her walk to the bus stop was a long one, and she’d found a short cut through the woods. When the little girl told her mother about the short cut, her mother told her not to take it. She needed to take the road all the way to the bus stop.

The little girl and her teddy bear had a rough day at school. The other kids always teased her about her bear, and this day was worse than any before. The little girl had told her classmates that her bear was actually alive. He could see and hear and think and breathe. They mocked the little girl ruthlessly.

When she got off the bus, an idea came to her. She didn’t want to walk the long way home with her tormentors. She decided to take the short cut through the woods. It was winter, and already getting dark. She knew her mother didn’t want her to go this way, but if she hurried, she could get ahead of the other children, and her mother would never be the wiser.

She trotted off into the forest, hustling as fast as she could go. Halfway home, she saw a figure in the deep shadows. A man stepped out into the path. Fear stabbed the little girl right in her heart. “Where’re you going?” he asked. “I’m going home,” said the little girl. The man fell in step beside her. She shifted her teddy bear to her outside arm. She didn’t want him taking her bear. He smelled badly. She knew he was mean, he was a mean man.

The little girl bolted for home. But in three steps, the man caught her. He grabbed her by the ponytail. Her bear flew from her arms, landing in a mud puddle. She spun around and kicked and punched and bit. She did everything she could to fight the man off. She felt his hands close around her throat. He was choking her. As she lost consciousness, she saw a giant shadow loom overhead, she heard a thunderous growl, but it all seemed so far away. She fell to the ground, and knew no more.

The little girl woke up hours later. Her parents were there, and so were policemen. She still lay in the mud. Paradmedics with a stretcher were on their way. She looked up. The dancing beam of a policeman’s flashlight slipped over the body of a man; the little girl’s attacker. He was dead, covered in blood.

“Where’s my Teddy?” the little girl cried. Her stuffed animal was handed to her as she was strapped into the stretcher. He was cold and wet from his time in the mud puddle, but stranger still, all the fur had been ripped from his paws, revealing the white stuffing inside.

As they loaded the girl into the ambulance, she heard a policeman tell her parents,”What are the odds… this man, mauled to death by a bear just before he could do this poor child any serious harm.”

7 thoughts on “Origins

  1. Carolyn says:

    @Aileen – my mother-in-law asked if it was a tactic to keep me out of the woods behind our house. And the answer is no, I don’t think any of it was tactic inspired. I actually listened really well as a kid, and was allowed to wander the woods. I just think it’s the way my dad’s imagination works. Lotsa archetypes up in there.

  2. kate says:

    You’ve always been good at scaring the crap out of me, Carrie! Trips to a graveyard, driving through Enumclaw at night w/ no headlights, Ouji board, and of course your stories- they were the best. I loved every minute of it!

  3. Carolyn says:

    @Kat – stayed tuned. The next story will be dedicated to you!
    @Becky – that’s hilarious/awesome! I like the decapitation theme you have going on there. 😀

  4. Becky says:

    Love it! Oh I so loved dad’s stories. Before you were born, Cindy and I would get in bed with dad early on Sat. and Sun. mornings to listen to dad tell stories. They were soooo good! I have carried on the tradition with my kids, and tell Jake two stories every night. Since he’s had the flu I’ll tell him one or two in the morning. This morning the story was Jake and his best friend, Connor, went exploring in the woods. There, deep in the woods was a huge hole. Connor told Jake they should jump in it, Jake warned Connor against it, but Connor jumped in. He fell so far down that by the time he landed, you could barely hear him call Jake for help. Luckily Jake had on his helmet, and always carried his sword and shield – he had no choice but to jump in. His trusty German Shepherd, Koda, whined at the top of the hole. When Jake landed there in front of him were two huge ants that were the size of the boys – their pinchers ready to bite Connor’s head off. Jake quickly slashed their heads off and yelled to Koda to get help. Koda ran to the house and barked and scratched at the door to alert Jake’s mom. When Jake’s mom opened the door Koda ran to the garage and put his nose on a very long rope, Jake’s mom grabbed the rope and Koda was off with her running after him. When she saw the hole, she could hear the boys calling for help deep down – she threw down the rope and together Koda and Jake’s mom pulled the boys to safety and filled the hole with logs, rocks, and dirt.

    I have many more, sometimes I scare Jake a little too much, but he always wants more!

Leave a Reply