Archive for October, 2013

The Horse and the Bear, by Dawn Utech

Deep in the night, the full moon laid a blanket of silver light over the vast and rugged Shield’s River Ranch. Per usual, the river trout nestled in the rocks for a good night’s sleep, and fluffed up ruby and brown feathered pheasants hid in the bush to protect their young from nocturnal bandits. But for the low eerie calls of the elusive grey wolf, the August night was still and all was peaceful in Big Sky country. It was always at this time that the lone grizzly bear conducted his nightly security check around the border of the ranch. All the residents of the land knew that Mr. Bear would protect them while they slept. With his massive head and powerful dark brown body weighing in at 800lbs he was an imposing figure. No one would dare try to loot in his domain.

Just as Mr. Bear came to a rest during his nighttime routine he heard the heavy clomping of hooves and scattering of stones on the worn gravel road that lead to the sturdy metal gate of Shield’s River Ranch. His round ears perked up and he bolted like the wind to see who ventured to come upon his province in the middle of the night. There before him appeared a blue roan mare. He thought she was magnificent at 18 hands and so dark she was almost invisible but for the white underbelly the moon reflected upon. She came to a screeching halt. And, in due time, she held her head majestically high and allowed her black mane to cover her like a royal blanket. But, all the while she shivered deep in her bones with fear; wondering if she shall ever see the light of day again. With all the courage she could muster, she lied, “Good evening, sir. Dare I say what a lovely night it is for a run? I couldn’t help but take to the night and enjoy the warm summer air.” Worried with fear, Miss Blue was really out looking for her lost colt. Now she was hopeful Mr. Brown hadn’t eaten him and wouldn’t eat her, too.

“Good evening,” replied Mr. Brown. “This is my land and I wish you to turn around and go back to where you came!” he said, as he bared his long sharp teeth and raised his gnarly clawed paw to hold her off.

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Miss Blue. “Please, please do not attack! I am looking for my innocent young boy. He wandered off after dinner and I have been looking for him since. I fear he might have come upon some trouble. I meant no harm, Mr. Brown! Please allow me to continue. I promise I won’t disturb you or your land!”

But before Mr. Brown could reply, a loud crashing sound came from the top of the knoll that they had been standing near. The crushing of tree limbs and birds screeching as they fluttered to safety broke the calm of the night. It seemed only an instant before a huge jagged boulder made its way right for them. Miss Blue froze in her spot on the road, but Mr. Bear rose on his hind legs, and, with all his might and gentle soul, pushed Miss Blue out of the way of the inevitable collision of stone and bone.

“Miss Blue, are you alright? I hope I didn’t hurt you! My goodness, that happened so fast!” Mr. Brown shook his head. “That boulder is sure to be a problem for Mr. Shields when he leaves for town in the morning.”

Amazed, Miss Blue stares at Mr. Brown for an instant. Her mind racing as to the bravery and concern her new ally had just displayed. At first she could only stutter a “thank you,” but, she quickly recovered and in her steady voice she whinnied with gratitude, “Oh, Mr. Brown, you are my hero! I shall be forever in your debt! Thank you for saving my life!”  – Just then, her naughty little boy rustled through the trees. Unharmed, but baffled and his jet black eyes as big as saucers, he gawked in awe as he witnessed this most unlikely friendship develop before him.


“The moral of this fable is to never judge a book by its cover.”

Three supporting morals:

  1. You will find good in people when you give them a chance without prejudice.
  2. Friendship is more of how you treat someone versus how similar you are.
  3. He who shows care for others before his own is a selfless act – a virtue.

Friend or Foe, by Dawn Utech

Her sun-kissed golden looks were deceptive. With her East Coast, à la Kennedy[1] aura she cast a spell upon everyone with whom she met and chose to spin her magical charismatic web upon. Unfortunately, you learned too late that she was the master director of all whom she knew. As if, with cement blocked feet, you were firmly planted on her chess board. Yet, because she said, “Hello, Gorgeous!” every time you met or sincerely pledged her devotion to you because “You are the best!” you didn’t know you were just a pawn in her grand design. You felt wanted, included, important. To be her friend was like a golden ticket. But, instead of winning the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory[2], you won a place in the inner circle of one of the most popular of cliques.

It all started on a perfect, blue sky day. Instead of relishing poolside in the warmth of the sun, I chose to get chores done; which included laundry. The laundry room was located on the lower third level of the three-family home right next to the in ground pool. You took the outside, twisty turning steps down to the small, musty room that held the washer and dryer along with castoffs from former tenants; old suitcases stained by mildew, a king top spring mattress and rusty, once bright beach chairs stood forlorn and threadbare. This is where I saw her for the first time. On the hottest of summer days she floated in the pool; glistening and suntanned on a pretty green blow-up raft. Nearby a glass with tiny water droplets gently sliding to the bottom of the glass stained the patio wet.  This glass lay just out of her reach as she floated on the inviting water, her hand lazily playing in its coolness. The ice cubes rustled in the superb Chardonnay as they melted while crying for shade to protect them from demise. A glass of Chardonnay was like an accessory to J.C.; comparable to a necklace worn by CoCo Chanel[3]. Never be without.

I knew her Roommate, Peter, (my neighbor) and he always asked how she and I have never met. Different schedules, I presumed. I discovered less than a year later, from another J.C. victim that J.C. had been deliberate in us not meeting; the first of her competitiveness attributes to be verified by someone other than my own suspicions. But, here and now, standing poolside, I was being invited to join the queen (in her own mind) and become instantly the closest of friends. “Put on your swimsuit and get your butt in this pool! I am so glad we finally get to meet! – I won’t take, No, for an answer!” –Like everyone, I felt compelled to join her. I was equally intrigued to find out who was this infamous J.C. as I was desperate to cool off in the sparkling pool.

From the safety of our dark lens sunglasses, as women often do, we eyed each other up and gathered our first impressions. Her hair beginning to dry from the sun and wind took on a brassy, store box color blonde. She was above average in height with a slender build. You could see that she had once been athletic, but her definition was lost due to the habit of daily golden wine. J.C.’s upper front teeth were slightly crooked and when she let out her big laugh you could see she was missing a second bicuspid. I couldn’t help think to myself, “This? This is the woman I have heard so much about? The woman who has men falling at her feet… Paralleled to Helen of Troy[4]? – She looks pretty average to me!” – Aha! That was part of her lure to the web she wove. Being attractive, yet average gave her leverage by not being too threatening as far as looks were concerned. She could easily be your gal pal while she secretly plots to steal your pride, kindness, reputation and your boyfriend.

As you get older, and meet new and different people, you start to learn to discern who is and who isn’t going to be a good friend. I should have known that this new friend was more likely to become the frenemy of a lifetime. J.C. was always super enthusiastic about an idea or plan, but usually was a no show when the time came and she was needed. She seemed genuinely supportive in arranging a blind date for you with the greatest guy she just met – where, in truth, it was only to get him off her back now that she was done with him. Of course, you would feel a fool once the truth is known, but she would lure you back in and you would tell yourself that you will be wise and never be duped again. But, alas, only to run afoul in a new plot that includes your presence and particular naïveté. You couldn’t find comfort as you saw other friends lie in her path of destruction. Nor pity, because you knew that all concerned were smarter than the game being played, yet played it anyway.

It took a family health emergency to remove J.C. from the inner circle. It wouldn’t have mattered. By this time she had run out of excuses, money, and people to deceive. The departure came before a complete and total uprising took place that was destined to start. I wonder to this day, if she really had to return to her family’s home town, or, had she realized that she had played her last game. Her web had been blown apart by the strong forces of the wind of truth. We had finally learned, as young adults, that people will show you who they are…believe them the first time[5].

[1] 1960’s President family; Kennedy era

[2] Dahl; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 1964

[3] CoCo Chanel -French Fashion Designer 1910-1971

[4] Helen of Troy – Greek Mythology; most beautiful woman in the world

[5] “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

― Maya Angelou

A Dashing Traveler, by Dawn Utech

The usually quiet train station platform is overrun with students going to the city. Being a holiday weekend people my age are out on a splendid mission to make the most of the extra free time. The sun has finally re-emerged after a false start to fall. I hear my fellow traveler’s shouting to each other “See you there!” and “Wow! This is going to be so much fun! Can’t wait to get there.” The air is full of melody with the sounds of suitcases rolling on the cold cement flooring paired with voices rising in their final goodbyes.  Thoughts of meeting up with old and new friends, sitting under an umbrella, sipping steamy Cups of Jo with a cute waiter or waitress meeting your every need at a sidewalk café, and simply relishing the freedom this weekend has kindly bestowed upon us; that is what my fellow citizens are listing at top of the list as to how to spend this perfect autumn day. But not me; I have a grim mission to complete.

The night before I faced the biggest challenge I have encountered thus far in my life experience. Although, I have made confident choices on my own, this time I was at a loss as to what would be the proper thing to do. “I can’t do this!” I thought to myself. With helpful guidance just a phone call away I sought the help of my dear auntie. Her soft, kind voice offers me the support and direction I desperately need.

So, here today, I board the train with my well-worn black suitcase. Heavy with precious cargo it wobbles on the stair leading to the inside of the train. A thought pops into my head as to what a scene I would create, if, the suitcase fell open amidst all the hustle and bustle of happy travelers. I would be called out – my secret safely held within the tattered black canvas would be exposed. I would be shamed and ridiculed. Maybe even thought to be a deviant. My emotions running high I quickly attempt to find an empty row of seats. I find one close to an exit and I nestle in near the window. The suitcase is safely in place between my shiny brown Ralph Lauren boots; my knees quivering from effort. But my shoulders ease and at last I am closer to completing my daunting task.

Before I realize someone is standing near, I hear a strong, masculine voice. So lost in thought, I am actually stunned by his sudden presence. “May I sit here?” His electric blue eyes fringed with jet black lashes, so long they must tickle his cheek when he closes them to sleep, look at me earnestly. I can’t force myself to say no.

Like an Adonis before me; solid shoulders, slim physique, a star football player, perhaps. Impeccably dressed in pressed dark denim and a red cable knit sweater, he sits with ease in the seat next to me. I am instantly drawn in as his musky Drakkar Noir envelopes the air around me.

He asks, “Such a beautiful day to go into the city. Are you meeting friends?”

“No. I am going to see my family.”

“Oh, is that why you have the suitcase? Are you staying for a few days?”

Fear runs through my veins. No one must know what my travel entails. I am too vulnerable to be exposed. “Ah, well, not really. You see, my grandma passed away recently and this suitcase has a few of her things in it. I’m taking it to my aunt’s house in Brooklyn.”

It must be his easy smile, the way his sandy-blonde hair effortlessly frames his perfectly tanned face. He knocks me off balance and I lose my capability of remaining silent. Why else am I telling a complete stranger my plans? Even though I am not really telling the truth, why are words being spoken about my suitcase at all? – Those eyes! I am flustered and not thinking straight. This handsome traveler is seducing me; distracting me from the importance of my delicate task at hand.

“I am getting off in Brooklyn, too. Maybe we can walk together once we reach our stop? I’d like to get to know you better. Is that okay?” My mind tricks me, and I say, “Sure.”

The train rolls along from stop to stop. The landscape changes from tall oaks just turning color to steel and concrete. Conversation with my handsome seat companion rises and falls with comfortable simplicity. Before I am aware that time has passed effortlessly, we reach our stop. It is time to de-board.

I feel mixed emotions and my mind is racing. I feel sad that my time with the attractive stranger is quickly approaching its end, as I am never the girl who gets the guy. Is this my only chance of being singled out and find true romance? – Oh, how can the timing be so wrong! I can’t be thinking of true love, I have to remain focused on my delicate mission. Soon the precious cargo will reach its final destination while no one is the wiser.

I put my reality in check and rise from my seat and head toward the exit; my suitcase in tow. Lead by determination I plod along with the rest of the crowd. Just as I am nearing the welcoming exit the sunlight suddenly blinds me as it bounces off the cold, grey steel of the train I had grown accustomed to. In the moment I try to regain my clarity the man with the electric blue eyes, sandy-blonde hair and red cable knit sweater is at my side offering to help me with my suitcase. I almost shout “No!” but I remain calm and instead I kindly decline his offer. To my astonishment his hand envelopes mine anyway. We are now both holding the handle of my suitcase. The power of his touch repossesses my attention. I am lost in thought as to how this unpalatable journey has turned into a joy of meeting a possible suitor. But before I can start planning our first date I am quickly snapped back to the present. An instant later I am hit with an overwhelming feeling of panic as my suitcase leaves my protective hand. There is no time to recover as I watch helplessly, as if in a fog, his effortless attempt to relieve me of my belongings. Confident and assured in is choreography through the crowd he holds my suitcase in his arms and pushes his way out of the cold steel to the awaiting platform. Now free, he runs like the football star he truly must be.  He is gone from sight protected by the happy hustle and bustle of the crowd found at the other end of ones journey.

I stand frozen. My boots failing to move me forward, I just stand there while carefree people brush past me. Numb to the human contact I am overcome by loss. My throat tightens as I try to hold back the tears. Gone, my suitcase is gone! My precious cargo is gone! The hole in the backyard of my aunt’s house, neatly dug with care, shall forever remain empty. This is a sad turn of events, indeed. I try to come up with a rational explanation to tell my aunt. I know she won’t believe me.

But, just as easily as the tears formed in my eyes and before I can stop myself, a laugh escapes my lips. “Ha!” I say aloud. I wonder what Mr. Blue Eyes will think as he opens the suitcase? I transition from sorrow to being beyond thrilled that his anticipation of finding valuable treasure will soon be ruined! The joke is on him. There is no treasure for him to find. Well, at least not a treasure he seeks. It is only a treasure to me. My precious cargo is lost to this dashing traveling thief.

Held within the confines of the tattered black suitcase, she is lovingly wrapped and secured in pink tissue paper and a plastic zip-loc bag for her burial, never to be seen again. I pay respect to my beloved toy poodle. With a sad smile I say aloud to no one, “Bon voyage, Coco. Bon voyage.”