This is an excerpt from Kathy’s novel Jack Crow Knows: A Relatable Tale (The Jack Crow Trilogy). Copyright is held by the author.
HUMAN TRAINING has been in place since the first human interacted with a wild being. The humans tell stories of wolves learning how to be more human (as if that were necessary.) While the wild things tell the story of Dave and his human. Dave was not a wolf. Wolves found humans inappropriate on every level.
Dave was a weasel. He met his human in his weasel cave having witnessed the male variant stumbling inside carrying a dead thing. It is said that Dave witnessed his human eat the thing, wipe his face on a rock, smell himself, and fall asleep next to the carcass. To any other wild thing this would set off a chain reaction of relocating out of the cave. To Dave’s way of thinking this was his cave and this human snoring in his doorway offered an opportunity. If he harnessed its power, focused it on tasks Dave needed doing while trading these outcomes for behaviors that were tolerable, well that would be quite the lifestyle upgrade. Dave waited for the human to wake up.
The sounds coming out of the human’s slack mouth gave Dave pause as to the viability of his idea. Would it sound like this when up and about, harnessed? That could be a problem. Dave was intolerant of unnecessary noise. Dave was also uncomfortable with drool.
The story told down the ages of wild things says Dave built a mound of sticks and wood and dried grass. He created this close to the snoring human. He then went down to the rolling creek just a quarter mile south and found two flint rocks. He laid them in the sun to dry and ate an egg lunch from a hidden nest at the water’s edge. Once the flint rocks were dry, Dave went back to his cave with the dried flint rocks, pulled up a flat stone and sat on it. He watched his sleeping human, and waited. This particular human didn’t seem motivated to survive.
Not long before sunset the human roused. It sat up and looked out the cave. Dave barked. (This is probably where the humans got the idea that a wolf was involved. Weasels bark, humans refuse to accept this fact.) The human looked down at the wild thing looking up. Dave threw the flint rocks at his pile of sticks, woods, and grass with great weasel force. They knocked hard against each other throwing sparks, which caught the grass, which caught the sticks, which caught the wood. Dave crossed his arms and nodded toward the fire erupting flames of orange and red. The human stared at Dave, then the fire. Dave nodded at the human and made a thumbing gesture to the fire. The human looked at Dave, then the fire. Then farted. The small
fire took hold for a second blazing blue. Dave momentarily toyed with the idea of adding a human propellant to flint rocks. Then rejected the idea. Flint rocks were smaller. And smarter.
Dave spent the better part of two seasons getting his human in shape, so the history goes. Over time, Dave the Weasel’s story set the benchmark for human training. Two seasons investment was fair. If the human couldn’t catch onto things, best to move on. No need spinning one’s wheels, as they say. (They being a dung beetle named, Boris. Who really invented the wheel.)
Dave spent one full season training the human he named “Seriously” to build fires. Throwing the flint rocks at the same time proved to be the most challenging. Once Seriously threw one rock into the forest before throwing the second at the mound of grass. Dave threw up his paws looking into the tall grass at the edge of the forest hoping to see some hint of where the flint had landed. “Seriously? This is your idea of throwing two rocks into the pile of sticks?” By the end of summer, Seriously had created a furry pouch out of a rabbit he’d cooked for Dave on a Tuesday. He used it to carry his flint rocks wherever Dave and he wandered. Dave would find a stump or smooth rock to rest, letting Seriously know it was time to make a fire.
Dave spent all of the fall weather training Seriously to hunt multiple wild things to eat. Weasels like having extra meal preparations at the ready. Additionally, having a human also meant the wild things were bigger. He wasn’t stuck eating a rat anymore. He could eat the good stuff, like deer — fresh deer. Not leftover deer from a mountain lion that couldn’t eat another mouthful. By end of Fall, Seriously grew into a proper hunter-gatherer. This again, was told by humans as some sort of domesticated wolf hunting with a human who trained it. But anything who is a wild thing knows it was Dave.
At the start of winter Dave and Seriously found themselves in a pickle. (Later that pickle would be referred to as the Ice Age.) Wild things were few and far between. The cave that Dave and Seriously inhabited offered protection from the ice aging and growing around them, but it did not provide the wild things to eat. Two carnivores, one trained, one smarter, nibbled on smaller and smaller wild things. The fires Seriously started became smaller as well. No use in building a deer-sized fire for a lizard-sized, undersized meal. One blustery winter afternoon a new human showed up at the cave — much like the day Seriously appeared. This human was different and Dave could tell Seriously was excited. Dave let Seriously keep it. To his way of thinking what’s one more human? Seriously could show this new human all the trainings he himself had had to show Seriously. Seriously could cut training time in half. Dave named this new human, “What”. What quickly revealed a secret, she was a she; What’s the worst that could happen?
The last chapter in the Book of Wild Things states only a few facts. No one was there to witness the end of Dave, Seriously or What. Some say Dave died a peaceful death. Others postulate that once things got desperate, What decided a wandering weasel wasn’t worth having under foot. And she took offense to a furry little creature giving her orders. What took Seriously aside and made it clear it was the weasel, or her.
Artifacts dug up later in Northern Canada near Yellowknife, at Fred Henne Territorial Park, show a dinner was eaten at some point. Bones lay alongside a fire pit. The remains of two cave humans were also laid to rest not far off and out of a cave. A female human was found face down in what was once a river bed — a possible drowning. The male remains were found in such a way as to suggest he was stabbed with a burning stick, through the heart multiple times. Maybe one more time after those.
The story tells of a fight to the death. Dave dispatched What and Seriously, but not without injury. He dragged his spent and injured body back to a cave and sat on a flat stone next to a fire. There he ate left-over lizard.
The wild things suggest that What was making dinner when she nodded to Seriously indicating the choice he had no choice to make. Their fight to the death began there. Next to a fire Seriously made for What Dave didn’t know. Having returned to the cave after his decided victory Dave had no intention of wasting a perfectly good left-over lizard dinner. Archeologists noted a grin, preserved by the ice, on the face of the weasel, Dave.