2008 09 Jul

Chapter Two – The Hidden Hospital

Author: Shawn Categories: Violet's Vengence

The crisp morning air smacked Violet’s cheeks and nose with frosty lips. Creeping out of the house, she picked up the bucket of leftovers she left on hidden underneath the porch. Indigo spirals splashed across the sky as the moon faded to give the sun its share of the day dotting the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains.

Humming softly, Violet carried her muscled five-foot-four self through the yard and up the hill toward the towering spindly pines on the rise of the mountain.

Reaching the makeshift pantry she built out of scrap wood at the edge of the trees, she gathered some scavenged roughage into a second bucket she kept underneath two shelves inside the pantry next to an old backpack. The lower shelf held fresh raw vegetables, greens, nuts, and bread.

The top shelf was filled with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Bag Balm, different sizes of gauze, medical tape, towels, rags, and jars, scissors, tweezers, eye droppers, flea powder, Popsicle sticks, and a jar of pure aloe.

She built a hospital of wire and wood complete with straw beds and cardboard boxes under the grove of trees. It covered a space of about thirty feet with a few trees inside. A small creek trickled over worn mossy stones at the far end of the pen. Thick brush and rhododendrons weaved around and through the towering trees shielding it from the outside. A ring of triple layered barbed wire circled the outer edges of the area.

It was a perfect little hospital. One that Violet was proud of. It had taken her about three months to gather the supplies, research mending procedures and build. The hardest part had been figuring out how to arrange cohabitation for normally wild and free animals and keep them safe from the coyotes and mountain lions that roamed the hills.

There had been some fights along the way, but each incident helped Violet improve the area. Violet’s square jaw softened into a grin when she opened the crooked wooden gate.

“Good mornin, my fuzzy friends. Did y’all have a good sleep?”

Two troughs, low to the ground, sat on either side of the gate. Setting the bucket of vegetables to her right, Violet carefully stepped through the mass of small bodies and poured the leftovers into the large left trough. She was always amazed at how well they tolerated each other during feedings.

Dumping the greens onto the ground for girl and boy rabbit, she looked each of them over. It was hard for her to believe that until two years ago, she ate their cousins. She was fourteen when she had saved her first rabbit.

That’s when everything had changed. That’s when she started taking weekly walks looking for hurt animals. That’s when she was compelled to live a different kind of life. A life that didn’t feed on pain and death.

She smiled at her special friends. Almost all of them were healed now. She had freed baby pig from a small wooden box. He was put there by a distant neighbor who said the box would make its meat tender. Violet thought the man should be put in a box.

Pig had beaten the sides of the walls until his little hooves were splintered and bleeding, his snout and ears ripped and gooey. Violet had listened to him squeal and cry for weeks before she had crept in on a moonless night and rescued him. She made it look as if pig had busted the box by himself so the owner would think he just ran away.

Skunk, boy and girl rabbit were hit by cars. Usually, the animals died of shock before they died of injury. If an animal looked like it could be still living, Violet would check. If she found a pulse, she would carefully wrap them in a big towel that she carried in her old backpack.

Skunk had been awake, but clearly delirious. His tail was severed and was now a stump of what it used to be. Girl rabbit had a limp from her twisted back leg, but she had healed quickly. Boy rabbit’s ear would forever be mangled. His face would be scarred as well, but he was lucky to have a face at all.

Raccoon was nearly dead when Violet found her. Coon had been shot and probably fell from a tree because both her front legs had been fractured. It had been pure luck that Violet spotted Coon in some thick bushes. She had removed the buckshot from Coon’s back leg, stitched the hole, and set her front legs with sticks and cloth.

For five nights, Violet had crept out of the house and slept all night with her. She had fed nearly comatose Coon with countless cups of lightly sugared water with a baby dropper until Coon began to respond., Then, Violet hand fed her until her legs and hands healed enough to use again. Of all the animals she had nursed over the last two years, Coon had been her biggest challenge.

Violet watched them nibble and slurp. They would all be ready to release in the next couple of days. Coon’s freedom was iffy. Not only had Violet allowed herself to get attached, she wasn’t sure if coon had the speed or agility to survive on her own anymore.

Plus, Coon had taken to being held and kissed. Her soft little black fingers would rub Violet’s face when she was held. The first time Coon did that, Violet cried and Coon licked Violet’s tears. Yes, Coon was a dilemma.

Pig would be a problem, too. He wouldn’t survive on his own because he didn’t know how and she couldn’t keep him or her Pa would surely have him on the dinner table. For that matter, Pa would eat every creature here.

Sighing, she picked up her buckets and stepped through the gate, leaving it slightly ajar so those that were ready could leave.

“OK, if any of you’s feel like leavin, you can. You ain’t prisoners. But, if you need a couple more days to feel brave, you’re welcome to stay. Everyone have a good, good day. Be back tonight.”

With buckets in hand, she skipped back to the pantry and put them under the shelf. A musky spring wind played with her sandy-blond ponytail as the sun touched the top of the mountains making the sky bleed with oranges, pinks, and blues.

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