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He poked his head out of the small hole. He looked quickly to the north and then just as quickly to the south. Everything still. He lifted his nose and sniffed three times, old scents, nothing new, and nothing recent. He ran down the hillside, keeping low, close to the ground, hidden by the dry grass and tumbleweeds. He stopped. He stood as tall as he could and sniffed the air three times. Nothing to fear, but there was something, a scent he remembered from days gone by. He ran north, toward the remembered scent. Fifty feet, low to the ground, following paths made by himself or others like him and then he stopped again. He stood tall and sniffed three times. The remembered scent is stronger. Saliva comes to his mouth and wets the corners of his lips. He runs another fifty feet until he can smell the food even as he runs. The dry grass he has been using for cover comes to an abrupt halt. He stops before leaving its cover. A paved road, fifteen feet wide, nowhere to hide, he would be exposed, he debates the danger. Tin cans with lids stand across the road next to a rough sawn board fence. The scent does not come from the tin cans. A small cardboard bucket, white with red strips, the face of an old man printed on its side, the scent is there, inside the bucket. He remembers. He remembers chewing meat and gristle off of bird bones, fat juicy skin. His mouth drips in anticipation. He stands tall and looks over the top of the dry grass and looks toward the west and quickly toward the east and twists to get a view of the south, nothing moves, all he smells is the scent from the cardboard bucket. He runs across the pavement, feeling the danger of exposure. As his head enters the bucket the bucket falls on its side and chicken bones scatter. He eats the flesh first; fast bites, swallowing with a minimum of chewing. He turns to the fat, greasy skin, gulping it down as his stomach starts to fill and then he starts the slow work of scraping the gristle from the ends of the bones. The gristle takes time and effort but it’s the best part of the meal, bone after bone is placed on the “finished pile” and he starts to relax, feeling full. Fox! He sees the red face and pointed nose in his head before he acknowledges the scent. There is no pause, no thought, no contemplation, his feet are running, there is no concern for the last of the chicken bones, every bit of mind and body runs toward his small hole. The fox is slow at first, torn between two scents. The fox makes his decision and pursues the living meal leaving the dead bird for another time. The fox’s chosen meal flies through the dry grass, fifty feet more to his hole but he can hear the fox behind him now and the fox is a much faster runner. There is no reason to look behind him; all the urgency needed comes to him through his ears as the grass behind him is parted by the fox’s pointed nose. The fox is close, too close, he should have smelled the fox sooner, the chicken bones were a distraction. His hole comes into view, four feet, three feet. He feels the teeth of the fox cut into the tip of his fur-covered tail as he reaches his hole. He pulls free, leaving a bit of tail in the fox’s mouth but he’s safe as the fox’s big head jams at the mouth of his hole. The fox digs at the edges of the tunnel for a minute until he gives up the hunt. The hunted curls into a soft ball in a cavern deep under the ground. His tail smarts a bit but his stomach is full, not his best morning, but not his worst.


Author: assumptionisfaith

david blankenship is the author of three books "Randolph W. Owens, missing on Bright Island" (a science fiction novel), "Herb" (a children's book), "Jack's second Life" (contemporary fiction) and several short stories. The books are for sale on Amazon's Kindle and published in paperback by Create Space.

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