Here We Go Loopy Loo
A spring afternoon, and the kids were appreciating the weather and the joy of being young. As Grandma Neecy came out on the porch and took up her usual place in the rocker, the children were singing:
Here we go loopy loo
Here we go loopy lie
Here we go loopy loo
All on a Saturday night.
Neecy smiled to herself and her mind wandered back to the time of her own childhood and the wonderful games she and her friends took delight in playing. The sun was warm on her face against the cool spring air and Neecy sat dozing and dreaming. A fly buzzed around her head and she absently brushed it away. It was not bothersome but merely a sign that spring had arrived and summer could not be far off. Summer was the only season that her limbs were free from the aches of so many years on the planet.
Times were surely different when Neecy was a girl. Not so many people on the Earth and the woods and forests were vast and pristine. She and her friends could explore the forest unhindered and unafraid. Simpler times and better, she thought.
A tug on her skirt brought an end to her reverie. "Tell us the story, Grandma," begged little Laurel. She was the most outgoing of the children and always the most demanding of attention. Neecy despaired of dozing and daydreaming now that she was in Laurel's sights. Well, she didn't mind.
The Story referred to the tale Neecy always told. How her own grandfather and his family had found this place in the mountains, far from any other human folk, and had cleared a space from the woods using the cut trees for the cabin he built with his own hands. The cabin that became the core of the dwelling house the family now occupied. Of course that story would not have kept the interest of the children had it not been spiced with accounts of adventures hunting deer, encounters with bears, deep winter snow and storms that brought floods. And the most frightening of all, the lightning that fired the woods and how the family had almost lost its home and even their lives.
Neecy was glad, even proud, to extol the virtues and skill of her clever forebears. "When Grandpa Wulfric happened upon this forest, he was looking for a place to peacefully settle his family. He wanted a home far away from other people who have not always been kind to our clan."
"Why, Grandma Neecy...?" Why was Laurel's favorite word.
"It seems an evil we must live with, that people will be unkind to others, especially those that are different," Neecy replied.
"Are we different?" asked Lauren, Laurels twin. Lauren was less voluble and more contemplative than his sister. He reminded Neecy of her father whose wisdom was known throughout the clan. She tried hard not to play favorites but Lauren was special.
"Everyone is different, Lauren. They just show it in many and various ways," Neecy replied. Lauren would learn soon enough just how ‘different' he was and how others would react to this difference. Now, she thought, it is only right that the children enjoy these carefree years. "Did I tell you the story of how Grandpa Wulfric defied the lightning and kept the forest safe from fire?" Of course she had but that never dampened the enthusiasm of the children who were avid to hear it once again.
So Grandma Neecy proceeded to relate the story of the lightning that struck the huge gnarly oak that so regally stood at the entrance to the forest. Grandpa Wulfric had cleared the area where their cabin was built but, out of respect for this king of trees, had not touched the great oak with his axe. When Wulfric saw that the tree was aflame from the lightning strike, he scrambled up the tree and smothered the fire with his wet coat. With lightning flashing all around him, he beat at the fire in the high limbs of the oak until every last ember was extinguished. Wulfric and the oak bore scars from their burns for the rest of their lives, but neither were in any way incapacitated. Both drew strength from the Earth.
The children sat quiet and attentive, wondering at Grandpa Wulfric's courage and resourcefulness. Everyone knew he had saved the forest from the ravages of fire. And possibly his family from a terrible fate. And if trees could talk, surely the oak would have thanked Wulfric for his quick thinking.
Laurel begged, "Grandma Neecy, tell us the story of Grandpa and the bear. Please, Grandma." It was their favorite story. The bear was actually Joseph Baer who had been their neighbor from down in the glen. Over a period of a few years, the Baers had become their bitter enemies. It was a sad story and difficult to tell without Neecy tearing up. But it was part of their legacy and, she felt, needed to be told.
"The Bear came up the mountain," she started as she always did, "A growlin' and madder than a whole nest a' hornets." Neecy was not even born when Joseph Baer and her grandfather had their altercation but Grandma Katherine, the most truthful person Neecy had ever known, had told the story many times. Never did the details change, even with the many retellings and the passing years. So Neecy knew the story was fact.
"And the Bear said to Grandpa Wulfric, ‘You and your brood have been killing my sheep!'"
"'That's not true, Bear,' answered Grandpa, ‘We would never touch your animals. We hunt for our meat in the wild and have for many centuries.'"
"But, why would Bear say this when it wasn't true?" Lauren asked. "I don't even like mutton."
"Bear was one of those people that are scared of us. We are not like most people, and our strangeness does cause some to be afraid." She continued the story. "Bear said, ‘I know it was you and your clan, Wulfric. You are beasts.' And he said ‘beasts' as if it were something shameful and even wicked."
"How strange that our neighbor would think this," mused Lauren. "Living so close, one would think we would be friends."
"Bear was of the folk we call benighted. There still are many of them even today. Bear was huge," Neecy continued, "And very strong. Grandpa Wulfric was not eager to get into a fight with him. He knew that Bear could probably crush him with one squeeze." The children were very quiet. All were seeing Bear in their mind's eye, a tremendous creature with arms like tree limbs and immense, powerful hands.
"Well, little ones, the Bear fumed and fussed and worked himself up until he finally took a swipe at Grandpa. Huge and strong as the Bear was, he was not the most nimble of adversaries. Grandpa easily avoided the attack and backed away, trying his best to calm the Bear down.
"This infuriated the Bear. Made him even angrier and more intent on doing Grandpa in. He charged and swung his great paws again and again. Grandpa danced right and then left, avoiding the Bears attack with his quick movements. But as the fight went on, Grandpa was getting tired and the Bear was relentless."
The children were silent, hanging on every word. Neecy paused her story to take a sip of her medicinal brandy. She smiled and stroked Lauren's long hair. "And then what happened?" Lauren said almost in a whisper. The other children echoed his query.
"Well," Neecy resumed, "Bear struck out at Grandpa Wulfric and Grandpa, exhausted as he was, could not avoid the blow. Poor Grandpa reeled and fell under that horrific wallop. He was able to rise and face Bear but he was teetering and his vision was blurred. Bear roared his victory and drew his arm back to deliver the final blow that would finish Grandpa off... maybe forever."
The children gasped, as they always did at this point in the story. There were tears in Laurel's eyes. She was the most emotional of the youngsters and even the thought of Grandpa Wulfric's demise at the hand of Mr. Baer caused her grief.
"Then Grandpa, never one to run from a fight but always smart enough to use any advantage, backed away from The Bear and stepped into the clearing in front of their house. As he did so, the full moon was rising just above the trees of the forest and casting its pale light over the lawn and hedge. And on Grandpa.
"And we know what happened then, don't we?" Neecy asked.
"The change!" Lauren cried. "The change. And The Bear wasn't like Grandpa so he did not change."
"Exactly," Neecy said. "When Grandpa Wulfric changed, his muscles and tendons were like steel, his bones like granite. His senses keenly acute and his mind sharp as a razor." Neecy adjusted her skirt and looked to the sky, pausing her narrative to add a bit more drama. It was the time of day she loved so much. The sun hovering over the western horizon, the breeze calmed and the rustle of the leaves now still.
"Of course, The Bear knew about The Change, but he had never seen it happen before. He was mightily affected, don't you know! And you could see the fear in the eyes of Mr. Baer. It was his turn to back away. Then in one mighty leap, Grandpa Wulfric took The Bear down. Standing on The Bear's huge chest, Grandpa murmured, ‘I could tear your throat out before you could make the slightest move to get away.' The Bear lay still, not moving a muscle. ‘Now go back to your home, Mr. Baer, and let us live peacefully in our forest. We have no interest in your livestock and pose no danger to your family. Are we agreed?' The Bear nodded carefully. Grandpa Wulfric, jumped to the ground and watched as The Bear walked swiftly down the mountain, not looking back.
"And Grandpa Wulfric lived to be quite old but never again was there a problem with The Bear or his family. Now, children, go back to your games and let Grandma Neecy rest." And Neecy resumed rocking as the little ones dispersed and again took up their play.
"Here we go loopy-loo." The melodious chant rang through the clearing. Neecy closed her eyes and recalled how the words had been different when she was young. From the forests of France they had come to the New World to live their lives away from the prejudice that had made them miserable and even hunted. She recalled the words she and her siblings and friends had sung... "Here we go, loup garou..."
The moon was visible just above the eastern horizon and one by one, the young ones changed and ran off to play in the forest. Laurel was one of the last ones to change; she turned and waved to Grandma Neecy before loping off into the woods.
"Time for dinner," Neecy murmured to herself. She slid off the rocker and onto all fours. Jumping off the porch, she stretched her limbs and howled at the pale orb that was the full moon. Yes, it was time for dinner. Following the children into the forest, Neecy hoped to find a fine hare. Ah... she felt so good and ... so alive...after the change. Yes, a large hare would fill the bill famously.
Richard Brookes is a retired insurance executive who lives in Sonoma County, California. In 1986, the writing bug infected him and he began to write short stories for his own amusement. He shared them with a few friends, who were enthusiastic, and their interest spurred him on. Far from prolific, he wrote a few stories and an article (for an electronics magazine) in the ensuing years but never pursued attempting to publish them. They were filed away and all but forgotten. After retiring from an insurance claims job that had monopolized his time for over 40 years, he began to write in earnest.
Now, he is old as dirt and has produced a host of short stories, two novels with a wonderful Czech co-author, and five screenplays. One screenplay, Blizzard, is published on Amazon Studio looking for a producer to pick it up. If you would like to read more of Richard's work, the novels Seven Dreams of Inanna and Zodiac Kids are available from amazon.com.
Check his web site.
Published by permission of the author.