North By East part 1

Angel In The Trees (In Search Of Gretel)

In collaboration with Los Angeles based playwright Dan O'Brien. All text © Dan O'Brien 2017 all images and soundtrack © Bill Jackson 2017

Angel In The Trees

(from In Search Of Gretel)

An extract from Angel In The Trees

written by Dan O'Brien

I walked everywhere. I had to, had no car. I never did, never trusted them. Never felt the need to, you know, drive, being a lifelong New Yorker, or thereabouts. And even here, down South, as they say, I worked not far from home through a walk in the woods to a liberal arts college where I wrote mostly fluff pieces really for the college alumni publication. They called it a magazine. I was thirty-nine.

 

I was new to this town, if you called it a town, a postage-stamp-sized campus stuck with a cluster of houses, and then the more far flung homes, where I lived, in the woods, alone. I liked it this way. Even these walks alone at night that could sometimes get quite lonesome. I was often set upon by dogs, though strangely they’d never bite but bark vociferously as if I were the one frightening them. A grey fox might slip like tissue across the road through the beam of my flashlight. The deer would wait perfectly still in the dark till you stepped blindly beside them, then snort with such an attitude, trundling off into deeper woods. It was wonderful.

 

Sometimes, from afar, across the occasional field, the retreating deer with their white tails bobbing looked more like ghost-riders approaching beneath moonlight. It certainly could get strange. As it did that night, about nine-thirty, I believe, my usual time to walk home (I preferred to work late mornings into evening), the oval disk of my flashlight skimming across the surface of the dirt road, when suddenly I heard the sound of something falling, a crackling through branches and then a thud like I thought a body might make, hitting the ground. Though I’ve never heard such a thing. Have you?

 

I threw my beam to where the sound came from: nothing there but trees. The branches grew loud as if tossing with wind, swelling to a roar, though I couldn’t feel a thing on my face or neck or hands, and the night in front of my face grew black. My flashlight made no dint. Then everything fell quiet again. My footsteps made no sound. I turned round a bend in the road, climbing uphill, my flashlight swerved in the dark and lit upon, standing in the trees with his eyes upon me: an angel.

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