For more on that which lead to this, see Lester McClain and the Bear I, II, & III.
On Saturday, October 5th Lester awoke to the golden shimmer of autumn sunlight sparkling on the turning Aspen leaves. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he focused on a scene that secured in his still foggy mind the notion that he was indeed still asleep. Dillon, the barkeep, stood just outside the picture window smoking a morning cigarette. Shash stood towering over the kitchen counter pouring himself a cup of steaming hot coffee, and the enormous Grizzly bear sat in the corner of the kitchen. The bear appeared to be deep in thought.
“Coffee bear?” Shash asked, lifting his cup to pantomime the offer. The bear blinked then nodded his head to the affirmative. Lester watched still uncertain of the whole situation as Shash carefully held out the cup. The sweet scent of Dillon’s cigarette made it’s way through the slightly open kitchen door, sharpening Lester’s foggy morning senses. The bear, not having opposable thumbs reached for the steaming cup with both paws. As the mug hit his pads, he growled disapprovingly. Shash held up a finger, “try this,” he pulled a short stool close and set the mug on it. “Give it a minute to cool down; it’s hot!” The bear leaned in and assessed the steam rising from the mug. Shash raised his hand, “hold on.” He crossed the kitchen, floorboard creaking desperately under his weight. He opened the ancient Frigidaire and removed two glistening ice cubes. He returned to bear who sat transfixed, mesmerized by the swirling mist emanating from the coffee. “Let this sit for a second,” he said gently releasing the cubes into the cup. The bear watched as the cubes slowly disintegrated in the black liquid. Once Shash gave him the nod he lapped at the coffee. Lester was sure that he saw the bear’s eyes widen followed by what appeared to be a rarely seen Ursa grin.
Dillon entered from the deck in a hallow of smoke just in time to hear Lester’s first words of the day which were, “What the fuck is going on? How’d you get in here?” And finally with to tone of near hysterical exasperation, “Is that a real bear?”
“Hey Les,” said Dillon, “top o’ the morning!”
“Yes,” said Shash, apparently taking the questions in reverse order. “He is a real bear. As to how we got in, I used the key you keep under the fake rock by the garage. As to what’s going on…let’s say that we are friends here to lend a hand.”
“Is there any more coffee?” Dillon asked.
“Plenty,” Shash offered. “Grab a mug.”
As Dillon made his way across the worn pine board floor to the cupboard, Lester sat upright on his couch-bed-thing and once again rubbed his eyes to ensure that they were not playing tricks on him.
“Lend a hand?” Lester grunted, his tone both indignant and curious.
The bear eyed him for a moment the lapped at his coffee.
“Yes Lester, we are here to lend a hand. Coffee?” Shash motioned to the pot.
“Please,” said Les slowly swinging his legs to the floor and making to stand. The bear watched him closely and again appeared to be smiling, which was an odd, almost disconcerting look for a bear.
“We’ve been paying attention to your situation,” said Shash. “Dillon brought you up to me back in the Spring after seeing you at the bar every night. He mentioned that…”
“Dillon seemed terrified of you that night!” Lester interrupted. “Now you’re in cahoots?”
Shash and the bear growled in unison. “Dillon seamed ‘terrified’ because he had taken something of mine without asking and was concerned that I would grape-squash his head over it. Needless to say, we settled that matter with his melon intact. He is my nephew after all, and blood is thicker than…stuff.”
“Oh,” Les wrapped his index and middle finger around the handle of a chipped white porcelain mug in the cupboard and turned to the coffee pot. “And the bear? Is he your kin too?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes,” Shash said raising his cup and taking a long pull. He looked over at the bear who was wrestling his mug with both paws licking the last drops of coffee with his long bear tongue.
“And what manner of speaking would that be?” Lester barked.
“He’s my brother.” Shash offered matter of factly.
“From another mother?” Les chuckled, clearly proud of himself for knowing something the kids might-maybe say when presented with a similar situation.
“Same mother,” Dillon offered, “Do you have any breakfast food? Bread, eggs, bacon perhaps?
Les was not feeling okay about this situation. Unlike in the movies where weird shit happens, and the protagonist somehow assimilates it and takes it in stride, he was clear on the fact that this, the bear, in particular, was not normal.
“Ah, yes.” He groaned. Rubbed his throbbing forehead, he stammered, “Bread is in the cupboard to the right of the sink. Bacon and eggs in the left bottom drawer in the Fridge.”
“Lester,” Shash began, “It’s time we had a chat.”
The bear looked up from his coffee, locked eyes with Les and nodded in agreement.
To be continued