Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Killer Instinct

Until now it has only been a fleeting shadow living in the edge of the lights cast by the Love Boat. (A term we have given our back porch, since it is lit up like the deck of a cruise ship.) We’d seen it occasionally darting in and out of the chicken shack, sneaking food and water before returning to its home, which was a burrowed out hole leading under the concrete step off the back of the garage. I’d held to the belief that it was a rabbit, and we were providing safe haven for a growing family of cute little bunnies.

The hole grew bigger, yet we were not blessed with the joy of baby bunnies running around the backyard. But we saw the shadow more often under the safe cover of darkness at night. It grew bolder and came closer to the Love Boat when we were relaxing. Then our tomatoes began to disappear, and I found half-eaten tomato carcasses at the mouth of the hole. This unwanted guest began to dominate our discussions, and unable to sustain the burden of curiosity any more, we decided on a plan of action. We would flood the hole and see what came out.

It was a rat. A very big, very wet, rat. Robert saw it in it’s entirety, I rushed to the window just in time to see it’s skinny little tail as it ran back into its flooded home. All I could think about was the cartoon version of rats—any rats. Glowing red eyes, long sharp fangs, hissing and generally looking for trouble. The rat clearly had to go. We could not cohabitate. We hatched a plan to pour a bag of concrete down into the wet hole and seal its destiny forever.

We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to do that immediately, I don’t know why. I have no problem catching mice in traps, but suddenly the thought of taking a life wasn’t so easy. We debated a new plan of action, which included setting a live trap to see if we could get it to give up peacefully. We loaded it with cheese and pepperoni, and hoped it would do the right thing.

The trap was empty the next morning as I headed out for Longmont, via public transit. I had mixed emotions about the rat as I sat waiting for my bus in Union Station. I was relieved to not have seen the rat, as the thought of it just creeps me out. But I was also disappointed, as I knew the absence of the rat’s voluntary surrender, forced the showdown closer to a deadly conclusion. I don’t know why I was suddenly worried about killing a rat. I was raised in the country and death of rodents and animals were not uncommon events, and I certainly didn’t have any feelings of affection for the rat.

Conflicted, I sat in the station and watched the people go by. I distracted myself by focusing on the sounds of the station, specifically those of footsteps. I tried to guess who was passing from behind before I saw them, based on their footfalls. There was the click click of high heels, the clomp clomp of work boots, and the occasional squeaky loafer.

I heard small footsteps approaching from behind, and guessed it must be a child, which is always a pleasure in the station because of their joy and wonder of trains and buses. I waited for the child to come into sight, and when it walked past me so I could see it, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I honestly thought for a moment I had experienced a psychotic break, or a stroke, or just lost my mind.

The owner of the small steps was a woman, about five feet tall. She wore  hard-soled boots and was taking tiny steps, almost like a shuffle. She clutched a yellow stuffed bird to her chest, and she was wearing a full, furry, one-pieced rat outfit. Yup. A rat outfit. The legs of her onesie were tucked into her boots, and there was a tail dangling from her bottom. The gray fur covered her chest and ended with a hood, topped with ears. She quickly shuffled, or scurried, across the terminal and stopped to look at a schedule. A moment later she scurried back across the terminal and checked out another schedule. She scurried her way down the terminal as I stared in disbelief.

I wanted to shake my head to get the picture out of my mind, but was afraid if I’d had a stroke shaking might make the damage worse. I just watched her. What was the universe telling me? Was this really happening? What the hell?

I guess I’ve seen stranger things in downtown Denver, but really? A rat?

I decided then and there that our rat could stay for a few more days. We would bait the trap with tastier treats, and I vowed to find a way to get it to leave peacefully. Clearly my killer instincts were not strong, and I wasn’t prepared to take a chance on doing something I would regret. So, as of this writing, the rat lives.

P.S. Turns out there is a sexual fetish genre called “Furries,” where people dress in full animal costumes for physical gratification.Hmmm…

 

September 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bus Family

One of the great benefits of riding the bus is the chance to read a book, daydream, listen to music or just generally get inside your head. The regional buses are pretty good for napping as well, which I usually do as I listen to music on the way to Longmont every Monday to see Jessica and Petra. The humming of the tires and the swaying of the bus can have a hypnotic effect, and it’s not uncommon to be so engrossed in relaxing that you miss your stop. It’s not a matter of if this will happen, but a matter of when.

There’s a physical reaction that occurs when a stop is missed, and it’s pretty easy to spot the symptoms before the rider actually speaks out, which they always do, usually in the form of some kind of curse words. It must be some kind of muscle memory, because our bodies sense that we have traveled too far, and sends a message to our brain. The first sign a rider has missed their stop is the look of confusion as they lift their head from their book or take their earphones out. They look around the bus, then they lean over to look through the windows at the surroundings passing by. They they look to the front of the bus at the bus number and the next stop that is displayed on a lighted screen. It ultimately ends with a desperate look to fellow passengers, and the question of “where are we?”

At that point, the bus comes alive with suggestions of back-up plans. Which bus to take at the next stop, whether to ride on and wait for a turnaround, or sometimes the bus driver just stops at an unauthorized spot to let the traveler off. I once had a driver on the 27 bus who knew we would be going through a detour, but none of us did. When she left the station and turned the wrong direction, all of us reacted the same way, and as she looked in her mirror at her bus full of panicked faces, she laughed and laughed.

Last week as we were nearing my stop on the L bus in Longmont, I noticed the driver was not in the left-hand turning lane, which took us the two blocks over to my stop. I figured he was taking a detour, as he had done earlier to get us through some construction. As we traveled through the light, all the passengers looked up and took notice. We looked at each other questioningly as the driver drove farther from our stop.  “Aren’t we supposed to turn here?” One asked. “I thought so, maybe we’re on a detour.” Offered another. We went another several blocks before the lady in front of me finally spoke out.

“Driver, weren’t we supposed to turn there?” Halfway through her sentence the driver let fly a cuss word. The look on his face was the same, well known look of passengers who had gotten so absorbed in their thoughts they forgot to get off the bus. He quickly pulled into the left turn lane and headed back toward our stop, apologizing all the way.

“On Hell. I’m so sorry. I totally spaced that turn.”

“No worries.” We told him. “It happens all the time. Thinking about something good?”

“Music.” He named a specific song that I was not familiar with. “I played it for my teenager the other night and he wasn’t impressed. I was trying to figure out if I played it wrong, or if I could do it better.” He apologized again as we neared our stop.

We all reassured the driver as we exited the bus that it was no big deal, it had happened to all of us, and jokingly told the remaining passengers to keep an eye on him to keep him on the right track.

Bus family, they always have your back.

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Year Older…

Another Year Older…

               Yesterday signaled the end of one year. 365 days. But as I reflect on the past year, it feels to me like it is the end of a lifetime, and the beginning of a new one.

               2013 brought me the news that Jess was going to have a baby, and a short nine months later, Petra was here. Jess and Za moved to Colorado and settled into a nice home in Longmont, and I moved into a nice home with Robert, where both of our families merged nicely for the holidays. I spend a good portion of my time tending house, which I actually enjoy. Hosting parties, cooking dinners and enjoying meals and leisure time in front of the fire turns out to be things I enjoy very much, although they are a lifetime away from my tiny apartment downtown, where the morning cup of coffee was the only thing I ever really cooked and enjoyed there.

               For more than 20 years I mostly lived the life of a single woman, not worrying about a mate or what they would or would not want. I lived a life of survival while Jess was at home, then one of indulgence and often gluttony as I bounced from place to place, telling myself it was only until Jess settled down and gave me grandchildren, then I would consider settling myself.

And here it is.

Already.

 Time for me to think about my future. And maybe apply myself just a little bit.

               My immediate future holds for me, for the first time in more than a decade, the challenge of losing weight. I’ve gotten soft and fat (or at least 12 pounds bigger) since I quit smoking, fell in love and moved to the suburbs. Like most of my life, I haven’t had to put a lot of thought into my weight, and could enjoy McDonald’s for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch and mac and cheese for dinner without gaining weight. I like to pretend it’s the not smoking that has led to my weight gain, but the stubborn roll that has settled around my belly is screaming “pre-menopause.”

               My easy choices are endless. The internet is ripe with quick-fixes. Garcinia, Green Coffee Bean Extract, body cleanses and dozens of other products that claim to melt the fat away without my having to actually do anything. Unfortunately, I know better, so while it’s tempting to try them, I think I will shy away from the easy route and try the old-fashioned cure; smaller portions, more exercise, less alcohol.

Maybe an old-fashioned corset will be the answer.

              

                

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A MAN AND HIS BIRD

A MAN AND HIS BIRD…

               I watched the man as I waited patiently for the L bus to bring me home from an overnight visit with Jessica in Longmont. Being a conscientious commuter, I sat on the bench in front of the designated loading spot for the bus. The man was large, looked to be about 30 or so, and paced back and forth behind the bus stop shelter. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, waiting for him to swoop in when the bus pulled up and butt in line. I really am a stickler for bus protocol, and it really angers me when people just strut all around the bus stop, then jump in front of those who patiently waited in line.

               The man eventually tired of pacing and came to sit on the bench across from me. He was holding something very carefully in his hands. I looked closer and saw that he was cradling a small sculpture. About six inches around, it was a piece of driftwood with a tiny yellow and green ceramic bird perched on it, and was decorated with flowers and greenery. He held it as if it were made of gold, and I felt compelled to compliment him on his trinket.

               “That’s pretty,” I said. He smiled really big and stammered a bit when he responded.

               “Thank you. It was an expensive bird,” he said, stroking the fake bird from head to tail. “It cost me fifteen dollars.”

               “Well, it makes me happy to look at so I guess it was worth it.” He smiled again and I realized he was perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed. His clothes were clean, and he chose his words carefully, and I couldn’t help by smile myself as he told me the story of his bird.

               “I liked this bird because he sings.” He pushed a button and the bird’s beak began moving and his tail flitting about as a chirping sound came from the trinket. “And look, he comes off the log, so if I don’t want to take him out with this, I can just take him off and put him in my pocket.” He plucked the tiny bird off the perch to demonstrate how easily he could remove it. He stroked it lovingly before putting it back on the perch.

               “Well that’s definitely work it then,” I said.

               “Yeah, there used to be a bigger bird on this stick, but I don’t like him as much so I leave him at home usually.” I raved about his bird and how pretty the set up was, and he was obviously proud of his plastic pet. After a few minutes his voice got serious.

               “I worry about this little bird though.”

               “Oh, how so?” I asked.

               “I worry that he’ll get picked on. I’m worried he’ll get bullied by people.” His concern showed in his eyes.

               “Why would anybody pick on him?” I asked.

               “Because he’s MY friend. Sometimes people are not nice to me, and I worry they will be mean to him too.”

               Luckily the short bus showed up and the big man jumped up with his bird to catch his ride. I sat at the bus stop, crying behind my sunglasses, and hoping that nobody would be mean to the little bird today…

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment