It didn’t usually take this much effort just to visit a friend, so Rufus was mildly annoyed as he scaled the giant loblolly pine. ‘After all of this work, he’d better be here,’ the bobcat thought as he clawed on the ornate red door near the top of the tree.
Rufus was in luck. Twinkle Loblolly was at home and the elf opened his door right away.
“You don’t make it easy for your friends to come to see you,” Rufus growled before the door was fully open. “Why do you have to live so high up and in such a tall tree?”
“Hi Rufus, it’s great to see you too,” the elf exclaimed enthusiastically. “Take a look around, my old friend,” Twinkle said as he made a sweeping motion with his right arm at the expansive panorama of the camp and surroundings below. “This is why I live here. The view is spectacular. On a clear day like today, you can see all 300 acres of Camp Fletcher from my house. This is wood elf paradise. Where else would I want to live?”
“I suppose,” the bobcat allowed. “It still seems like a lot of work just to look down at some campers and a bunch of trees.”
“Speaking of work, Rufus, you don’t need to scratch up my door every time you come to see me,” Twinkle admonished gently. “Every time you leave, I have to repaint my front door to cover up your claw marks.”
“I’m sorry, Twinkle, but I’m a bobcat,” Rufus said, pointing out the obvious. “I have paws and claws, not hands like you, so I can’t help it if my knocking leaves marks.”
“That’s exactly why I’ve installed this new thing I’ve invented. I think it’s my best invention ever, and I can’t believe no one has ever thought of it before. It lets me know when visitors have come without them having to damage my door.
“I’m thinking of calling it ‘the guest announcer.’ Or maybe I’ll call my new invention ‘the doorbell’ since my invention involves a bell to be rung by friends who come to my door. I haven’t decided yet.” Twinkle pointed proudly to a thin rope next to his door. The rope emerged from a hole above the door frame and wound around a small pulley attached to the tree trunk. The dangling end had a small rubber ball attached to it at approximately bobcat eye level.
“Didn’t you see my sign?” Twinkle said, pointing to a small sign tacked to the tree beside his door as the rope swayed gently in the breeze.
“I’m a bobcat,” Rufus growled. “Bobcats can’t read.”
“Sorry, Rufus, I forgot. The sign says ‘ring bell for admittance.’ Now you know for next time,” Twinkle said cheerfully. “Go ahead, give it a try.”
Rufus didn’t think that a ball dangling from a rope looked very much like a bell or announcer of any kind, but to humor Twinkle he took a desultory swat at the ball. Immediately a sweet tinkling noise came from inside the tree. Even he
had to admit that Twinkle’s invention was pretty clever. Then, hypnotized by the motion of the dangling ball, Rufus’ predatory cat instincts locked in and he began swatting at the ball—hard and lightning fast. The tinkling noise inside the tree grew louder and more insistent each time the bobcat swiped the ball.
“Snap out of it, Rufus. I’m right here. You can stop attacking my guest announcer now,” Twinkle insisted. “Why don’t you come inside?”
Rufus stretched languidly and then licked a front paw as the predator who was always inside him receded into the background for the moment.
“Yes, that would be nice,” Rufus said as he sidled past Twinkle to enter the elf’s home.
To be continued.
Camp Fletcher’s very own elf would love to hear from you. You can e-mail Twinkle at firstname.lastname@example.org.