Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Today’s Word: Nonplus

"Vagabonds like us used to ride freight trains through the south and across the west," said Harry. "They didn't have to foot it like we do now."

"I bet that was the best," said Ben, as he finished turning up the sleeves on his plaid shirt. The Oklahoma sun was hot today.

The two men continued along the dirt single track they'd been following since dawn. Down the next hill it curved and crossed a small brook. Someone had been nice enough to place several stepping stones in the water.

When they reached the edge, Harry stopped Ben with a hand and said, "Look at there."

Ben followed his partner's gaze to a large black bear sitting on its ample rear end against a tall pine. The bear was asleep, and snoring loudly.

"Watch this," said Ben, and before the older man could stop him, he scooped up a rock from the bank and threw it at the bear. His aim was true.

The rock hit the bear on the tip of the nose. It uttered a loud grunt, and shook its furry head, then dropped to all fours. Its eyes fell on Harry and Ben.

"Don't move," whispered Harry.

The bear stared at them for a moment, nonplussed, it would seem, then reared up on its hind legs and said, "What the hell did you do that for?"

In unison, both men turned and bolted back the way they'd come.

The black bear chuckled softly as it turned toward its home at the Reynolds's Genetic Engineering facility.

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