‘The Bear’ by Brooksie C. Fontaine

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I woke up to find a bear in my bedroom.

It took me a second to realize what I was looking at.  The thing was an undulating mountain of coffee-colored fur, producing loud, eerily human snuffling sounds.  In my lingering, post-sleep stupor, my first thought was that a gaggle of misguided hippies were having an orgy underneath an IKEA throw rug.

Sunlight seeped into my room like agave nectar, and my sinuses throbbed in protest.  I scooted back onto my elbows, with the hazy intent to tell these sex-crazed trespassers to take their business elsewhere.

That’s when I noticed the clear protrusion of shoulder blades, the blustering shudder of the creature’s flanks, the twin mounds of its hind legs.  When it sat back on its haunches, its neck and head rose like a short, fat ionic column, rounded ears protruding like volutes.

As if becoming aware of my presence, the bear’s head pivoted in my direction with the lethargy of animatronic machine, showing the oddly elegant, canine slope of his muzzle, tapering to a wet a nose the color of a black olive.  His lips were smacking, marshmallow white frosting clinging to the short, dark fur.

I realized, with moderate resentment, that he must have found the stash of Hostess snacks I kept hidden in my sock drawer, survivors of my fiance’s ruthless, extended junkfood purge.

The bear regarded me like an aging drag queen, with a kind of drowsy-eyed, curious disinterest.  If anything, he appeared to think that I was the anomaly in this situation, a vaguely bemusing distraction that he didn’t quite have the time or energy to deal with.

After a moment, he seemed to decide I wasn’t worthy of his attention, and went back to feasting on my beloved twinky hoard.

It occurred to me that it would probably be a good idea to leave the bedroom.  The unexpected presence of an apex predator notwithstanding, I was meeting my fiance, Guinevere, for breakfast.  And I needed to pee.

I rolled gingerly out of bed, creeping on the balls of my feet to the closet.  I winced at the audible turn of the doorknob, but fortunately, the bear seemed to find my sock drawer to be much more interesting than I was.

I selected a button-down shirt and slacks, stooping to collect my shoes, before making my hasty exit.

I wasn’t sure how the bear had gotten into my bedroom, but for the time being, I decided the wisest course of action would be to make sure it couldn’t get out again.  I closed the door behind me, and, after a few moments of feeling around in the nearby chest of drawers, found the key with which to lock it.  I had never been so grateful to live in an old house.

It occurred to me that the odds of the animal knowing how to operate a doorknob were negligible, but the thing had gotten into my house somehow.  He had to have been smarter than your average bear.

It also occurred to me that I had forgotten to collect a fresh set of socks.  After some deliberation, I decided the ones I’d slept in would be just fine.

# # #

The mystery of how the bear got into my house was solved fairly quickly.  Some idiot (me) had left the sliding glass door to my living room wide open.

In my own defence, I lived in an almost tediously safe neighborhood, and I had never seen a bear in this part of Maine before.  Still, my yard receded into a rural patch of woodland, so I should have accounted for the possibility of wild animals or escaped convicts.

I paced like a housecat around my living room, toothbrush buzzing against my molars, as I contemplated what to do.

My first priority, arguably, should have been to get the bear out of my bedroom.  But what would that entail?  Would any self-respecting 911 operator legitimately believe that there was a fully-grown bear eating twinkies out of my sock drawer?

Perhaps animal control would be more understanding.  To be safe, I could say that there was an animal in my bedroom that I thought might be a bear.  That way, I would sound like an incompetent buffoon instead of a lunatic.

But in my experience with authority figures, that would lead to a waiting time of at least an hour or more.  I couldn’t wait here for an hour or more.  I needed to meet Guinevere for breakfast.

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