028. The Moose. Dave Henson

On a day hot as asphalt, screeching tires and blaring horns grab my attention as I’m rinsing the suds off my car. A bull moose is walking slowly across the highway. I breathe a sigh of relief when it gets safely to the shoulder then realize it’s heading my way.

I see the huge undulate is in trouble. Heat radiating from its bulk quivers the air. It moves stiffly, and the hair ridging its hump glistens. Its antlers are nearly transparent. I’ve heard stories about such transformations, but didn’t believe them. The beast bellows in distress. Easy, big fella, I say, sloshing water toward the moose. This’ll make you feel better. The animal paws the ground and snorts, sparkling dust streaming from its nostrils.

When I turn the hose on the moose, steam hisses from his hot, hardening hide. 

I set up a sprinkler when my arm grows weary. The animal turns so the water splats it from tail to snout.

I leave the sprinkler on all night, hoping to irrigate the moose back to healthy sinew, horn and hair. But by dawn, he’s gleaming in the bright sun. I turn off the water, fearing it might fracture the beast, then break off branches from a tree and push them toward his gaping mouth. The moose lolls out its tongue, which locks in place and prisms a rainbow at my feet. 

I can practically hear the animal’s heavyweight heart punching as he fights the metamorphosis, but it’s hopeless. By afternoon he’s solid glass, his heart like an air bubble in his massive chest. 

As the sun stalks the sky, the sparkling moose begins flashing blinding daggers toward the road. A car skids into the ditch. I go to see if anyone’s hurt and dive out of the way as a second car crashes into the first. No one seems badly hurt. I call for emergency services, but before they arrive, I notice smoke coming from my house. Sunlight through the moose is burning a hole in the siding. I hurry back to the hose, turn the sprinkler on the house to put out the fire and cover the moose with blankets. 

Police and paramedics arrive at the scene of the accident. After a few minutes, two officers approach me. They tell me to get rid of that menace and wait watching as I sledgehammer the moose.  After they’ve left, I slice my hands retrieving the heart, still intact amidst the shards I’ve put in the trash. I place the organ, smeared with my blood, in a closet. Some nights, when 18-wheelers barrel past and shake the house, the vibrating heart of the moose rings like fine crystal.

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