Bullwinkle – Second Encounter.

For the first article in this series, go to: Bullwinkle – First encounter.

 “So tell me how you came to be Bullwinkle.”

“My father was a colonel in the Air Force,” he began.  “He flew cargo planes in and out of Alaska.  Although I was only seven years old, sometimes he took me with him.”

“Your father took a seven-year-old up in an Air Force cargo plane?”

“He out-ranked everyone on that base.  No one cared about giving him any guff.  One day we were coming into the landing strip and a moose was crossing the field.” 

“ ‘There’s Bullwinkle,’ ” I shouted.  “It was too late to go around.  Dad could do nothing but touch down and hope.  We plowed into the animal and killed it, wrecking the landing gear.”

“ ‘You killed Bullwinkle,’ ” I said as I my eyes filled with tears.

“We got out of the plane walked over to look at the twisted landing gear.  Then he looked at the carcass and said, “ ‘Lucky, that’s not Bullwinkle. That’s his lazy cousin, Louie the Loafer.’

“I told the story of how I thought we’d killed Bullwinkle to everyone on the base and pretty soon the name stuck to me.  And I’ve been Bullwinkle ever since.”

“So what is your name?”

“I go by Bullwinkle.”

“Uh huh,” I said to let him know I got it.

“How long have you been in the forest?”

 “Four years.”

“Four years, all year round?”

“Sometimes I leave for a few months,” he said.  “I go up to the craft fairs in Missouri.  I sell some carvings.” 

“You make a living from that?”

“No, it’s pocket change.”

“How do you get by?”

“I had a little money when I quit working,” he said. “and a little pension from when I was a POW, and my Social Security kicked in this year.  It doesn’t cost anything to live in the forest if you don’t drive much.”

“And you’ve been at this life for four years?

“No, no, fifteen years ago I had a heart attack.  I weighed 350 pounds, drank a lot, and ate business lunches.  I was committing suicide a day at a time until the heart attack. 

“I was in the hospital for three weeks and had a lot of time to think about things.  I never went back to my office.  I had a piece of land near Tucson I deeded to my kids.  I got what little money I had together and bought a 25-year-old motorhome and been on the road ever since.”

“What do your kids think about your life?”  I asked.  “Are you in touch with them?”

“I have a daughter I talk to once in a while.  The rest of them don’t want much to do with me.”

“Why is that?

“It’s kind of personal.”  He grew quiet and looked off into the distance.

When I run into someone’s boundaries, I treat it like a fence.  Some fences are serious, business-like structures, tall stockades with barbed wire, watchtowers, and armed guards.  I sensed this one was not well maintained.  A boundary consisting of a few rotting boards tacked to weathered posts, each leaning in different directions, the No Trespassing signs fading into illegibility, and the gate hanging by one rusty hinge.  I thought I might return another time.

As the earth rotated away from the sun, its rays wove their way between the pines with ever more difficulty.  The light waned at the forest floor, and the colors began to run together.

I left Bullwinkle to the faraway place he’d gone.

To be concluded.

11 Responses to Bullwinkle – Second Encounter.

  1. Colleen Rae says:

    Al, this was an excellent vignette. Wonderful use of words that painted pictures for us. The way you allowed the reader to discover more and more about Bullwinkle – very skilled writing.

  2. Histscape says:

    I am glad I took the time to read this and got away from my own demanding words to read yours. When we do what we love, mine writing song lyrics and music, the time flys. I got away briefly from my pen and paper and read yours and now I want to thank you for that.

  3. MaryAnne says:

    Hi Al,
    Absolutely loved the boundaries response and descriptions. It takes an integrous person to recognize and then respect one’s boundaries……thank you for sharing this gent’s world with us and giving us a peek into the varieties of lives and circumstances here on terra firma. As a vet and former POW this man deserves the peace and privacy he requires to make his amends and pursue his destiny. I’m beginning to believe your “journey” is ordained by more then curiosity or whimsy. Keep on following your own personal GPS…..we readers are the blessed ones.

  4. Bill & Rebecca says:

    Loved it Al! The picture “first” made it work wonderfully! I was hooked.

    I agree with all of MaryAnne’s comments but especially about your personal GPS.

  5. David L says:

    Agree hearily with it all – late to the party and not much milk left in the hind teat. You’re doing well, I trust, and that’s a good thing – comes across in your writing. And now it’s time for a drink.

  6. Pat Bean says:

    Eagerly awaiting “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say.

  7. Dave Bauer says:

    I very much enjoyed your prose, Al. Your portrait of Bullwinkle is beautifully written.

    Based on that depiction of your encounter with him, I would say that, just as we all do, Bullwinkle has a elements in his private world that he shares with no one. I look forward to your report of your next meeting with him.

  8. Bob Morgan says:

    Beautifully done. The one thing that really affected me, however, was that it caused me to reflect on my own retired life, time to write music and poetry, and long rid of the ‘big city’ life, while living with my life’s partner in a small Arizona town. I always read your writings to her, and though she’s quite ill, is still a highlight for both of us. Thanks Al.

  9. April Edsberg says:

    You made me laugh out loud. Beautifully written.
    April

  10. Barbara says:

    I’m eagerly awaiting your 3rd encounter!

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