Ray left the campfire behind and reentered the forest. He heard familiar voices and followed them to see Trivia and Audubon walking hand in hand. Their clothes were torn and their hair unruly.
Trivia yawned. "I needed that. I felt so tense!"
Audubon bumped Trivia with her shoulder. "Anytime you like."
Ray's eyes widened. He thought, did they? No, they couldn't have. Could they?
"You couldn't keep up with anytime I like," Trivia said.
"You play rough," Audubon admitted.
I should go, Ray thought. I should really, really go. He crouched behind a tree trunk instead, stewing in his own jealousy.
"Have I told you that you taste delicious?" Audubon licked between her index and middle fingers. The gesture was unmistakably erotic, but unsettling, like a scavenger probing for the last piece of carrion.
"Don't be crude!" Trivia said, laughing.
Holy shit, Ray thought. Now he knew why Audubon had asked, "Why did you bring a man here?" She was a militant lesbian! Gold star, for sure. No wonder she hated him!
Audubon's gaze pierced the darkness, Ray's eyeballs, and the back of his skull. She'd seen him, he had no doubt. He stumbled backwards and thumped his head against a tree branch. I am venison, Ray thought. Pemmican?
"Did you hear that?" Trivia said.
Audubon crooked her finger, and the shadows around Ray grew darker. "It's nothing."
Grateful, Ray sank into the concealing glamour. He frowned. Did she just call him 'nothing?'
Trivia looked at Ray's hiding place. "I thought there was something in the trees."
He fought the urge to cry out.
"Trivia, I can see-" Audubon said.
"Across oceans, I know," Trivia said. "I'm just worried."
"Don't be," Audubon said. "Wilson is looking after your deer; there's no one here but Roosevelt."
Trivia waved at Ray.
Oh no, he thought. He waved back timidly, but she did not seem to notice.
"Hi, Roosevelt!" Trivia said.
Huh? Ray thought. He looked behind him.
Roosevelt stood there, silent as an oak, waving back to Trivia.
"What are you doing?" Ray whispered.
"Watch," Roosevelt said. "Protect."
"Me too." Ray pointed two fingers at his eyes, then at Trivia.
Roosevelt seemed content with Ray's explanation.
"So, are Trivia and Audubon intimate? You know what I mean, right?" Ray interlocked his fingers like two pairs of shears.
Roosevelt gave him a blank stare.
Audubon hopped onto a low branch, then to another. Her high heels seemed impractical to Ray, but she flitted weightlessly from perch to perch. He began to wonder whether the shoes were even touching the tree.
The wind picked up, and Audubon leaned into it, spreading her arms. "I took a plane, you know. I was in such a state-I couldn't have come on my own. You sit in a metal coffin and squeeze your knees together, but beverage carts strike you nonetheless. Your neighbors snore, the engines clatter, and a cacophony of insipid voices drowns your thoughts. You are trapped like stale air in an ugly box thing built by ugly box people."
YOU ARE READING
King of the Woods, or Trivial PursuitFantasy
Florida Forest Service duty officer Ray Lumley is in love with a white fringetree. Not an I-read-Walden-in-high-school love; a sweaty, sappy, I-want-to-rub-against-you-'til-I-get-splinters love. It's awkward. So, he's relieved to learn that he's rea...