A "Winds of Change" Story
By Brian Eirik Coe
My mind was racing as Jon reached for the doorknob. What the heck am I supposed to do? I was a little doubtful about his assurances that he could keep himself totally under control. After all, I'd just had a birds eye view of him going head to head a few minutes ago with another deer.
And I didn't have antlers to stop him if he lost it.
I leaned against a wall, my arms folded and watched as the door opened. There was a breeze blowing in through the complex and I felt it as the door opened.
And I smelled it too. At first, I couldn't place the smell. It wasn't real strong, but it wasn't real good either. Then I saw Jon's eyes bug out a little as the door opened and saw him shake his head a bit. His ears were suddenly going nuts. Then it hit me, How much of that stuff is she wearing? My sense of smell wasn't any better than it had been before the Change. If I could smell this stuff...
She walked into the foyer and gave Jon a hug, "Hi!"
Jon stepped back a little, "Uh, hi, uh, Grace. How are you doing?"
"Oh, good! I've got the whole weekend off from the store. It's such a drag working..." Her voice trailed off as she saw me for the first time.
Jon turned and for a moment seemed to see me for the first time himself. "Oh, this is Brian. He just flew down from...from..."
"San Luis. How are you doing?", I asked as I extended a talon.
She seemed hesitant, but shook my hand. "You flew all the way from Saint Louis?"
I looked at her for a moment, All those ears and nothing between them. "Uh, yea. I just flew 2000 miles, and I'm famished." I topped it off with a smile.
She backed up a bit.
I looked at Jon to see his reaction, and it was a study in contrasts. His face was a little more expressive than mine, but his ears were bouncing all over the place. Despite what he said before he opened the door, and whether he was consciously aware of it or not, I was suddenly aware that he wasn't totally thrilled with my presence.
He led her into the greenhouse. "Here, Grace, have a seat. I've been so busy that I didn't have time to get dinner together. You don't mind, do you?"
She took a seat and smiled at him broadly, "Oh, not at all. I've got all sorts of time."
As Jon passed me, he grabbed my arm and pulled me down the hall to his bedroom. "My head is swimming. She's got that perfume on.", he said quietly.
I nodded, "I know. I can smell it, too."
A couple looks passed over his face, and his ears alternated between straight up and flat back. "You can? I thought that you said you couldn't smell any better than Before."
He banged his head into the wall once, leaving half a dozen small divots in the plaster. "I'm not sure I can handle this right now. I only just got this part of me under control. I feel like I'm slipping."
Great, I though, If he slips, then I'm going to be between a buck in a rut and a doe, and my health insurance isn't paid up. "Look, Jon, you said you had some sprays to counteract this stuff?"
"Some things to help mask smells, yea."
"Well, put some in your nose. I'll see what I can do about getting her out of here."
"But all I can smell is her perfume. I'm not sure I can get that smell out of my nose."
I sighed. Then I yanked a loose brown feather from my neck and rubbed it under his nose. He sneezed. "Better?"
He nodded a little absently, but took the feather. "Yea, a little."
'"Well, go to it."
Jon nodded and hurried into the bathroom. I sighed and walked down the hall. Grace was still sitting in the greenhouse, seemingly oblivious to anything else in the world. She looked at me and smiled nervously. "Where's Jon?"
I took in a deep breath to sigh. That was a mistake. Whatever it was about this stuff that was making Jon go nuts was making me want to retch. I ruffled my feathers a bit. "Oh, well, he's just getting cleaned up. He got held up waiting for me at the airport."
She seemed shocked, and her ears perked up, "Oh no! Is he all right?"
"Yea, why wouldn't he be?"
"You just said he'd been held up."
I stared at her a moment. Really nothing between those ears. I spied the duckweed tank and saw the steelhead swimming slowly around it. Even if I'd just eaten...
"Excuse me, it's been a long flight. Hope you don't mind." I plunged a hand into the tank and came up with a squirming fish. I squeezed it a little and it stopped moving and just quivered slightly. Grace swallowed her cud and looked at me in horror. Unfortunately, though, she didn't get up and leave.
Jon came into the room at that moment. He seemed a little more in control of himself, but his ears were still moving a lot more than they had at the café. "Uh, Grace, I...I..." He reflexively sniffed the air a little more.
Com'on, Jon, end it right here You can do it..
"So, Grace, what would you like for dinner? I've got a pretty wide selection around here."
She looked around the room a bit and smiled, "Oh, it all looks good. Anything that you want to make."
Jon walked into the kitchen and I followed, still holding the freshly killed fish. I briefly considered hitting him in the head with it, but refrained. "Jon, how's that nasal condition?" I asked quietly.
He opened a cabinet and looked at me, "Oh, just fine."
I focused in on his face for a moment. Somehow, I doubted that he had used the sprays he was talking about. His nose didn't look any different than before, and the edges of his nostrils were pulsing back and forth slightly.
I looked at Grace, who was busily examining the surviving steelhead in the tank. I hoped she couldn't hear us. "What happened to getting rid of her?" I hissed quietly.
He seemed a little bewildered, "What? Why? I invited her here for dinner. I don't want to be rude."
He started opening some cabinets and pulling out some large bowls and ingredients. I guess he wasn't kidding. I though, He really is having a hard time with this.
I though for a moment. It wasn't likely to be useful to confront Jon right now, not for the least reason that there wasn't any room for me to run, and the ceiling to low to fly, if he got possessive on me. For the same reason, I doubted that simply throwing Grace out the door was advisable. I'd just have to try and think of something as the night went on. Or find out if he had a baseball bat around here somewhere.
I sighed and looked at the dead fish. No point in wasting this, "Okay. You don't mind if I prepare this trout, do you?"
He shook his head. Then I saw his tongue move to the tip of his nose as he turned back to the counter. Wasn't that something that made the sense of smell more sensitive in deer?
Grace walked in and leaned heavily against Jon, "Mind if I use the little doe's room?"
I could see he was fighting something in his head, and his defenses were rapidly failing. "No, no. Just down the hall.", he said a little rapidly.
She looked in my direction in time to see me slit open the trout with a single talon. I smiled as much as I could at her. She took another step back and hurried down the hall. As the bathroom door closed behind her, I turned to Jon. "Are you okay? I can't get a handle on what you want to do."
He gripped the counter, "Neither can I." He sniffed the air a bit and sagged, "I think that she's putting more of that stuff on." I could see the throbbing of the artery in his neck start to speed up.
I looked down to the fillet of trout on the cutting board and suddenly got an idea. It had worked when I used to work at that cafeteria... "Jon, what kind of spices do you have around here?"
His head came up suddenly, "Huh?"
"Spices. Do you have something like curry or dill or pepper or basil or something?"
He shrugged, "I'm not sure, I don't use them much anymore. Let me see." He opened a high cabinet and peered in. "I've got some cinnamon, some cloves, some vanilla, a salt and pepper shaker..."
"Hand me the salt and pepper, would you?"
He took the shaker off the shelf and handed it to me. I sprinkled a little of both on the fish as he turned back to his mixed salad. "Jon?"
"I've got an idea."
His head turned again, just in time to catch a snout-full of the black pepper I'd thrown his way.
I had to admit that it wasn't one of my better ideas. He started sneezing and gasping almost instantly, and you do not want to be in close quarters with a sneezing eight point buck. He sneezed over the sink for a minute, his eyes watering like crazy. "Why'd you do that?", he almost shouted.
I took a couple steps back. I wasn't an expert, but with his ears back and tail straight up, his body language seemed to indicate I was in a dangerous zone. "It was that or a Louisville Slugger between the eyes. What do you smell, now?"
"Pepper, what else?!"
"That was going to be my next question."
He stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, his ears still flat against his head. For a moment, I thought that he was getting ready to charge me. Then, his ears started to rise slightly. He smiled a little, then sneezed again, "Well, nothing else."
"Can you get Grace out of your head? Or more importantly, out of your nose?"
He rubbed his forehead, "I think so. I've got a huge headache now, though, and my nose feels like it's on fire."
"Good. I don't want to have to hit you over the head, and I don't particularly want to get into a fist fight with you since I already think you'd win. Now let's get rid of her before that pepper wears off."
I heard the ventilation fan in the bathroom cut off and the door opened...
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