"A Walk In The Woods"
On a warm, sunny July morning a gentle breeze blew through the
grove of hedge and locus trees as the old man sat on a tree stump
on the edge of the winding river. Matt Hunnington was nearly
exhausted by the cancer that consumed his body. He glanced in
the direction of the grassy meadow across the river to see two
diminutive creatures with wings and clad in what appeared to be
blue leotards drifting slowly over the tall grass. He took his
glasses off and rubbed his eyes. Putting his glasses back on,
he gazed back across the river, but saw nothing.
"Damn cancer is making me see things that aren't there,"
He was a man in his mid-seventies with close cropped grey
hair and beard. He was tall, emciated and hallow eyes. On that
particular morning, he had decided to walk down to the wooded
river that snaked across his property. He hadn't been there for
some time, but thought he felt good enogh to walk the half mile.
He had left a note letting his neighbor and his daughter know
where he was in the event he was unable to make it back to
Five years earlier, during a routine pjyical examination, the
doctor informed him that he had cancer. He underwent a series
of radiation treatments and was cnacer free. A year later, the
cancer returned and he underwent chemotherapy treatments.
Following the treatments he was informed he was cancer
free, then eight months ago the cancer returned. He decided
he wouldn't undergo treatment again, although his daughter
and son pleaded with his to reconsider. The casncer was bad
enough, but the radiation and other tratments left him
exhausted and nausaious. He odered a grave stone and a
casket and put his affairs in order.
As he sat there, he saw a little man with a grey beard walking
along the rive bank toward him. The diminitive man was clad
in a grey shirt and trousers with a floppy lime green hat on
his head. The man didn't seem to see him as his gaze was
on the edge of the river.
"Who are you and what are you doing out here?" Matt asked.
The little man's mouth dropped open as he stopped dead in his
tracks and stared at Matt. "You can see me?" he said in a
"Of course I can see you. What are you doing on my land?"
The little man tugged at his beard as he glanced up and down
the river. Finally he walked over to where Matt sat on the
"I am a Gnome," he said. "I dwell in the Earth, but today my
comrades are taking care of my duties, so I thought I would do
a little exploring." He squinted his large hazel eyes as he
studied Matt intently. "How is it that you can see me?"
Matt licked his lips and shifted his weight uncomfortably on
the tree stump. "Am I not supposed to see you?"
"Ordinarly we are invisable to humans," the Gnome replied
in his squeaky voice. "Or at least, I thought we were."
Matt glanced across the river. "Thought I saw two blue flying
creatures earlier, but convinced myself that it was just my
imagination. What the hell is going on?"
The Gnome shrugged his shoulders and smacked his lips.
"I have to be going," he smiled and extended a gnarled three
fingered hand. "The name is Rumite." Matt hesitated for a
moment before shaking it.
"Name is Matt Hunnington."
"Pleased to make your acquintance," He turned and continued
his way along the river. "Still don't how you were able to see
me," he said, glancing over his shoulder.
Matt frowned as he watched the little man disappeared into
the dense tree growth. He then turned his attention to the
native grass across the river. He owned four quarter of land,
and he had taken over the farm when he was released from
the army where he served in Korea. His parents had retired
moved to town. He married his high school sweetheart and
they had two children. After fifteen years of marriage, he
had come in unexpectedly from the field to discover his wife
in bed with her best friend. Up until that moment he hadn't a
clue that she was a Lesbian. It was soon after that when
they divorced. He hadn't see her since, but his daughter
told him they were still together.
Thinking of his daughter, he stood up as pain knifed up his
legs in into his stomach. He leaned against his cane as the
pain slowly subsided. He glanced into the river as a large
carp swan lazily upstream. When he died, the land would
be divided between his two children. He turned, and was
startled to see a tall, muscular man with a heavy black beard
standing a few feet from him. The man wore a long sleeved
blue shirt, with black trousers and knee high boots.
"Who are you, and what are you doing on my land?"
"My name is Golan. I am a Wizard." The man replied in a
voice that sounded like wheels grinding in gravel. "Remite,
told me that you were able to to see us. I had to check on
it for myself."
Matt's brow furrowed. "And why is it so strange that I can see
"Usually mortals are unable to see us." Golan paused to study
him. "Now I understand what you do."
"And why is that?"
"Because you are dying," the Wizard replied.
A lump formed in Matt's throat. "I know I'm dying, but I still have
three of four months."
"Mr. Hunnington," the Wizard said," if you return with me to
Bargman, we will find a cure for your disease."
Matt stared at the Wizard for a moment then chuckled. "You
may have some kind of miracle cure, but the cancer will
return as it did in the past. I've heard too many falso promises
from the doctor's, so I have no desire to try any more cures."
The Wizard sttod with his hands clasped behind his back
as if he wanted to say something more. "Alright," he finally said,
unclasping his hands. "I'll be on my way. Have a good day."
"Same to you, and thanks for your offer."
When the Wizard disappeared into the trees, Matt made his way
slowly through the trees and out into the edge of an alfalfa
field. After walking a quarter of a mile the pain in his body became
so intense that he needed to stop and rest. He lowered his
frame into the green, sweet smelling alfalfa and laid down. He
thought about the Gnome and Wizard, and wondered if he had
been too hasty in rejecting the man's offer of a cure.
He glanced at his wrist, then remembered he no longer wore
his watch since time wasn't that important to him anymore. The
sun was still high in the sky, so he thought it must be around
one in the afternoon. He decided he's better get back to the
house in case someone was looking for him.
Using his cane, he pulled himself to his feet. He stood there
for a time breathing heavily. The pain in his legs was tolerable
as he made his way across the alfalfa fiield. To his right was a
plowed wheat field, and ahead of him was the cottonwood
grove and beyond that he could see the two story white frame
house, the red barn, the tin machine shed and the hay shed.
As he entered the cottonwood grove, he stumbled over a tree
stump that was hidden in grass and fell face down on the
ground. He groped for his cane, and finding it, he attempted
to pull himself back to his feet, but he realized he had
seriously injured himself as a numbness crept slowly up his
body. He looked to see how far he was from the house, but
an angel blocked his view. There was a shimmering white
light behind her as she beckoned to him.