Joe Avery Meets Mother Nature by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Meets Mother Nature
Charles C Cole

You can take the detective out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the detective. I was at a gas station some two hours from home. No traffic lights in sight. No bus stops. No steel-and-concrete edifices swaying in the afternoon breeze. Nothing to remind me of life as I knew it. And yet, I found myself worrying about clients unseen, sitting in the waiting room, clients who weren’t being helped because I was away. The weight on my shoulders made me drowsy. I didn’t “transition” to sleep as much as take the plunge.

Next I knew, I was hanging out in a fanciful version of the arboretum surrounded by hundreds of acres of beautiful rosebushes of every shape and color. Calendula, the prettiest rosebush of all, took the lead, tugging me along. I knew it wasn’t real – no ambient traffic sounds, no skyscrapers in the background – but it felt more real than any dream.

There was a big fluffy white cloud just beyond and above us, over a clearing. I could hear rolling thunder roiling from within. Calendula broke away to run and greet it.

Be careful!” I called.

It’s not what you think,” she responded, with a big just-you-wait smile.

The cloud lowered to maybe forty feet and darkened on the leading edge as a massive heard of elk pushed through its boundaries and galloped gracefully through the air down to the ground around us. Calendula, with a delightful giggle, ran over to pet the nearest ones while they took to browsing grass.

In the lead, Mother Nature personified was riding the largest elk I’d ever seen. She was impressive, at least as tall as elf royalty, wearing a Romanesque war bonnet of woven vines with white and red berries.

Bucephalus! Company, ho!” Mother Nature commanded. Her transportation, with a team of honor guards, slowed in a circle around us, then the biggest one kneeled so the boss-lady could slide off. As intimidating as her stature, she had an aura that made one fall instantly at ease. She didn’t extend a hand. Neither did I.

I bowed self-consciously, but sincerely. “Ma’am.”

Detective Joe Avery, the human among us! Or are you, perhaps, more exotic than you think?” She walked completely around me, checking me out like a darkhorse contender at a dog show.

Just a human. My whole life. It’s the only world I knew, until recently.”

After all of the stories, I was half-expecting a mighty warrior,” she teased.

Just a man, ma’am.”

Even more fitting perhaps,” she professed. “And it means we don’t have to dual for supremacy, which is a plus.”

I flinched. She noticed.

I’m joking, but I often have to convince my human counterparts to take me seriously by flexing a little muscle. You won’t read about it in your history books, which are commonly written by men about men.”

Since I, too, was a man, I blurted: “Am I being reprimanded?”

The time has come,” she said.

Respectfully, I dropped to my knees, to take my due.

On your feet. Stand tall, Joe. I’m kidding. I just wanted to thank you in person. And there’s no way I was waiting in that long line with the rest of your clients, not that you consistently follow traditional line etiquette. Watch out: you’re going to need a bigger office before you know it. Or maybe you’ll open some franchises.”

Is that it?” I asked, a little disappointed. “Just a meet-n-greet?”

Frankly, between you and me, I seriously considered awarding you a medal or proclaiming this Joe Avery Day, but the other humans won’t notice or care. How about I deputize you as an honorary exotic? I can do that. How’s that sound? Then it won’t seem so odd that you’ve dedicated the second half of your life to helping non-human exotics.”

I’d like that,” I said, pleasantly surprised.

Mother Nature stepped over to Bucephalus who, as if he knew her intent, met her halfway. She removed a 5-foot glistening sword from her saddle. I could only imagine its colorful history.

I dropped once more to my knees as these words were intoned above me.

To Joe Avery, the first super-human I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. May your loyalty and commitment to our combined families be a sign of a truly amazing world to come. Some are born human. Some are born (your term) exotic. But rare is the individual who can walk easily in both worlds. I christen you: Joe Avery, Protector of the Needy, First Knight of All Living Things, Honorary Exotic and Mother Nature’s Favorite Step-Child. Rise and be recognized.”

I did as commanded, expecting little to change, and was shocked to see the entire herd kneeling in recognition of the otherwise intimate event.

Any questions before I leave you?” asked Mother Nature.

Will others know of what happened here today?”

Of course, word will get out; Elk are terrible at keeping secrets! Good news has a way of making itself known, as it should in this case. It’s exciting to have something to celebrate for once. (Unlike climate change and deforestation and pollution.) You may stand.”

I feel different,” I admitted.

Great: You are different. Also, don’t worry, elf royalty will no longer bother you, at least to their previous extent. Despite certain delusions of grandeur, the Elf King is not the king of all faery-folk.”

I bit: “Who is, if I may ask?”

You’re looking at her. And, believe me, nobody else has ever wanted the responsibilities. You may wake.”

I awoke, as if at Mother Nature’s command, returned to the cramped front seat of my car. Someone was knocking on the half-open window: an elf in dark fedora, sunglasses and a black trench coat.

You need more sleep, Joe Avery,” he said.

I agree,” I agreed.

Maybe soon,” said the elf. “We’ve been recalled. No more shadowing. Good luck with your business. No hard feelings, First Knight.” He nodded approval and walked away.

Joe Avery Meets Mother Nature by Charles C Cole 1

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