I was in the kitchen when I heard the roar of propellers. So loud, they must be right overhead. In my gut I knew it had to be them. I went outside and looked for the searchlights that would be tracking Buffalo and Bear Cub. I’d told them it was dangerous to go. Or maybe I just thought it but never said anything.
High in the sky, an outhouse, a blacksmith’s anvil and a Christmas tree, their propellers making waves in the air above them, were north of where I stood, probably just about at the 10 Freeway. No circling. No searchlights. They just hovered. Back inside I turned on the TV to see if I could find a news report and there it was. Breaking news.
The news camera caught the tears that fell upward where they met the flames falling from the car as it careened off Buffalo and hit the trailer of the semi as it barreled east on the 10 Freeway. Before the spinning and clanging were finished five more cars were tangled in the tears and flames. No one said whether or not there was anything left of Buffalo. They wouldn’t give names, until the immediate families were notified.
Was Bear Cub gone as well or had she left Buffalo’s side when she saw the car’s bumper about to reach her nose?
I stood rooted to the spot as the reporter droned on. I’d wanted Buffalo out of my life. I’d dreamed up ways to end our relationship. I’d thought about how to leave without alerting the world outside our four walls what our life really was. Oh, she cleaned up well and put on a good show, but that wasn’t the real Buffalo. The party had been over for a long time and I had come to the point where I no longer wanted to dance.
When she brought Bear Cub into the house, I’d stepped aside with a mix of relief and dread. It was bizarre watching my dance partner cook with someone else, all the while telling me her driving days were over, that she was just being kind to Bear Cub. Did that innocent know what was ahead? Was Bear Cub even innocent?
The news report was replaced by the blare of a commercial and I was jolted into action. At the hall closet I pulled out the golf bag, went into the bedroom and stuffed in all the wallpaper that would fit. If I hurried, I could be gone before anyone realized that I had been here when Buffalo and Bear left. I could deny all knowledge of the real Buffalo and Bear Cub.
Years went by when that house and Buffalo were a blurred memory, the details of that time watery and undefined. Was it even Bear Cub or was it Lamb that was there at the end? I couldn’t remember. I was too wrapped up in my new life with its Saran Wrap and I was grateful I’d escaped unscathed by those days.
One day not too long ago I found a picture of Buffalo that had been taken in the old family home one time when I’d taken her with me for a family get together. That must be why the memories had begun to come back. I looked on facebook and twitter and LinkedIn every now and then to see how Buffalo was doing these days but I couldn’t find her anywhere.
I don’t even remember the last names of Lamb or Bear Cub and anyway, they’d probably be married by now and have new names, because after all, who would want to stay with Buffalo over a lifetime? It has never even occurred to me that Buffalo’s name might have been changed as well.
Last night I woke with my heart pounding; the wax paper covers binding one sweaty arm, one leg cold and shivering. It may be nearly forty years but I feel her hot breath, her sticky paws. They said she died in that late night crash, but I know she’s out there somewhere. I know she knows my real name.