The Hunter

Just before Valentine’s Day, I started feeling a bit lonely for company out by Fish Bay. My sons had come and gone with their friends and holiday merry-making and my husband and I were back working quietly at our separate desks. I needed something to distract me from the beginnings of a dark turn of mind. And then the universe obligingly provided me with a new interest to dispel my wistful thoughts about city life.

There he was, tall and handsome, standing by the side of the dirt road near my house, next to the wetlands conservation area. He was staring intently at something hidden in the bushes and barely glanced at me as I drove up. Looking for something? In my usual proprietary way, I stopped and asked what he was doing there, but he was already moving into the underbrush and didn’t hear, or didn’t bother to respond. I was used to that.

Still, I let myself think about him all the way into town. He had looked so elegant, maybe he was only here for a short time, happy to escape the northern winter. Like the weekly renters next door. We call them ‘whoopers’ because of their noisy excitement when they step out onto the deck into the sudden warmth and sunshine. He had been quiet, though, definitely not a whooper. Very serious.

Maybe he had been around for years and I just never met him. After all, I am often away, and don’t get out very much even when I am on-island.

Later in the week I caught a glimpse of long legs moving quickly out of sight along the Fish Bay road. Was it him? I found reasons to drive to town, and fantasized about meeting up with him, hoping for a life-altering chance encounter. I imagined him turning to me with the look of intense concentration that had attracted me, his eyes filled with knowledge of faraway lands and exotic adventures.   

Then one afternoon I saw him again, walking very near my house. Had he come looking for me? I slowed down and cautiously watched him. Once again, he had an air of busy importance and seemed to ignore me, though I noticed a quick slide of his eye in my direction to acknowledge my presence. He was probably didn’t want to admit that he was interested in me, too.  

I didn’t want to intrude on whatever his important work was, but as I passed by I couldn’t help whispering very quietly “I love you. I love you so much. Seeing you makes me so happy.”

The next time I saw him my husband was in the car with me. I tried to contain my excitement and nonchalantly said “I’ve been seeing that guy around along the road. Do you know him?” My husband replied: “I don’t know. There are a lot of guys like that around here. Probably hunting for bugs or land crabs or something on the conservation land. Why?” “Oh nothing” I muttered. “Just wondering what he’s doing out this way.”

A few days later my husband came upstairs after a snack break and said “You know that guy you were asking about the other day? He’s out across the road, by our driveway, doing something. Maybe you want to check him out.” Did I ever! My husband had a conference call or something, and anyway he leaves most of the nosy neighbor stuff to me.

I put on my shades and a clean shirt and moseyed out along the walkway. When I saw him, he was near the wall, right there next to my new jeep! Finally a vehicle with a hard top, windows that close to keep out the cats and the rain, doors that lock - what a gift. I had just washed it to get off the mud from the constant puddles in the dirt road. But he wasn’t admiring my ride.

He was doing that thing again where he looked intently into the bushes. What could be so interesting in there?  I watched him quietly from behind the coconut tree. He stood very still at first, then started moving his head back and forth slowly, like a hypnotist. After a minute he began moving his neck and shoulders as well, a strange erotic dance. There was something so wild and untamed about him, I was entranced. But obviously he was not doing this for my benefit. He didn’t even know I was there, or did he? Maybe he had recognized from that first glance that I was a soul mate. Maybe he had found out where I lived....

When the phone rang I was startled out of my reverie. He didn’t seem to pay any attention, but my husband called out “That’s your phone” and I crept quietly back to the house hoping this strange guy didn’t notice I had been spying on him. Back to business. When I was finished, he was gone. That night I dreamed about flying away with him, slow dancing with him on some other distant shore.

The next day he was back, right in our yard, closely examining our flowers and fruit trees. I was afraid to make any noise and reluctant to call my husband, who might scare him off. What could he mean by coming around like this, not saying anything, lurking in the bushes near our isolated house. But it was broad daylight, and he was alone and didn’t look very dangerous. I was drawn to him. I wanted to get to know him, to understand his solitary roamings, his mission, his secret passions.  

As I eased down the outside staircase he turned and gave me a commanding look. I froze. What did he want? It was my yard after all, and he was an intruder. I felt the need to confront him, but something held me back. I didn’t want to ruin everything before we even got to know each other.

He turned back towards the trees and began his dance again, not looking at me, caught up in his own mysterious rhythm. Moving his neck the way a cobra swaying to the piper’s tune rises up out of the basket. Now bringing one foot slowly up to knee level, posing, then creeping forward, all the time waving from side to side. Suddenly he darted his head forward, quick as a snake, then raised his face to the sky, opened his mouth wide, and gulped.    

 Oh lordy, what a fool I was! It wasn’t a dance of romance. My husband had been right, he was just a hunter after all. He wasn’t looking for love in the afternoon. He was there to catch lizards in my garden! 

I still see him around sometimes. He wasn’t just a passing visitor. I have let go of my silly fantasies, and yet - I am not ashamed to say that I still love him.

One night when I found myself awake at 3am feeling anxious and agitated, I picked up a meditation CD I got from one of the visiting Unitarian speakers. It was about angels. Not usually my thing, but I decided to give it a try. As the soothing voice lulled me with detailed images of beautiful seraphim eager to greet me with healing light and celestial love, I found my mind lingering on the descriptions of their gleaming white wings. I imagined the joy of being enveloped in strong muscles covered by soft feathers, being sheltered, validated, at home. I drifted off hugging my down pillow with unusual intensity.