Din and the Wash Bear
Mitchell Toews

They call me Din. Don’t know exactly how I got the handle, but it’s who I am. Yeah, sure, I’m old for my kind, tail feathers falling out, my voice ain’t so strong. I don’t care, on windy days I can keep up with any of ‘em, experience being worth a few ounces of muscle. I’ll take smarts over guts any day, but I still got both.

Wash Bear. No, he sure as hell cannot fly. You’re very observant for a dame. By the way, I charge per question. You gonna run a tab? Nah, you don’t have to go nowhere, stick around. I don’t mind some new company. Wash Bear keeps me busy and we make a pretty good team, but—you know—a raven likes a raven to talk to every once in a while. Especially with one built like you, by which I mean you ain’t half bad.

Him? He’s not too bright, no. Not for a raccoon, that’s for damn sure. A bit touched is all. Hell yeah, he’s tough. Don’t back him in a corner, you’d be surprised. There’s claws on them little hands. A fist full of stilettos, honey, so don’t land too close.

What trap? There’s one down by the fish cleaning shack? No, I wasn’t aware. So what? What’s it to me? Oh, now you’re gonna charge per question. Har-de-har, sweetheart.
# # #
So, okay. There’s this trap. And she spends half the morning telling me how a raccoon or a skunk goes in but they don’t come out. She tells how the truck comes, once a day, guy gets out, Pop! Twenty-two in the skull and no more Wash Bear. That’s what she says, “No more Wash Bear.”

Jesus Christ.

“What’s in it for me, sister?” I says, just to hear it. Just to hear her say it.

“Maybe I gotta nest. Maybe that nest is half-empty. Maybe I like a bird still got some Moxy but ain’t afraid to go out on a limb, see?” she says, hopping a few feet closer on those beautiful gams of hers.

Then up comes Wash Bear. He’s limping because he didn’t have the sense to stay clear of the blackberry bush. “Hey, Din! Can ya pick out these thorns? I got stuck,” he says, grinning at me with those little pin-prick teeth, each one white as fish bones licked clean.

“Sorry, Miss,” I say to her. “But I gotta look after my young friend here. Maybe you and me, we’re gonna continue this conversation. I don’t know, for sure, see, but maybe you’re gonna show me this nest of yours and we can talk some more.”

First published: August 2019
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