I had to ask the dying tree to speak up because I couldn’t hear its whisper.
That was a poor choice.
The tree was dying from a seeping wound, but sap runs slowly. He was quick to mention that he still had months, if not years, ahead of him. In that amount of time, he might even heal altogether.
The tree was a bit obnoxious, but he was my first and only lead in the search for the missing treetop. So, I recounted the first part of my journey, and the dying tree offered to help.
To start, he told me that I was a great big dolt. Apparently, there’s no such thing as a morning or mid-afternoon dove. It’s a mourning dove. It was at that moment I realized I had made a real ass of myself at a number of funerals.
While the tree laughed about my funeral follies, my tummy rumbled with its continued ice cream craving. Eventually the tree stopped, and I finally found out how it ended up in such a wounded condition.
A serial tree mangler was on the loose and escalating. A year ago, the Arbor Day Assassin had tried to gut and steal the entire dying tree. However, this tree had a few tricks up its trunk, and some crazy unhinged squirrels for backup. Thanks to his friends, the tree still stood before me.
He told me to find the tiny orange forest and follow the electric path. At the path’s end the Arbor Day Assassin could be found, and potentially the missing treetop. The tree suggested I try heading east as that was the direction his attacker had run.
As I set off, the dying tree called out one final warning, “Beware the pack of wild dogs.” I really should listen to such cautions.
However, the idea of wild dogs in a highly populated area of Los Angeles just seemed preposterous.
As if in response to my thought, a stray appeared in the street before me. It’s too bad the craving in my tummy couldn’t cause the ice cream truck to appear in such a way.
Yes, it was a Chihuahua. While domesticated ones can be cute, the strays aren’t so lovable. This one tiny, little stray kept its distance out in front of me. I continued on my search, and the dog seemed to be going the same direction.
The dying tree’s warning tugged at my brain a bit. But, since the dog was ahead of me, I assumed the feeling of being followed was merely common paranoia.
At the next intersection, it turned out I had assumed wrong.
I stood frozen in front of a pack of wild Chihuahuas. Thirty pairs of beady little eyes stared at me. And, one by one, thirty sets of tiny teeth pointed in my direction.
My attempt to be an Arbor Day Avenger was becoming a bit ridiculous, and my stomach still grumbled for ice cream.
To be continued…