Rooting for Pepito

It’s difficult to go more than a few days here on Fork Mountain without a reminder of its wildness. This morning I stepped out the back door to feed Pepito, the ferel cat that I speak to solely in French. I found him hiding in his usual spot beneath the porch and his look can only be described as nonchalant. For him, I am just one food source among many he can choose from in these wilds (the difference being that hand-served cat food comes easiest).
When Pepito turned his head to watch me pour food into the dish, I noticed a gash on the side of his neck. Pink flesh and a light trickle of blood were visible and the wound looked several inches long. As always, he waited until I ascended the stairs and was safely behind the door before he ventured to the food dish for breakfast. He’s been living on Fork Mountain for more than 16 months, gotten within two inches of my fingertips on only one occasion, and been taking food from a dish for just four short months.
I peered through the glass door and noticed a small, dark pile of scat a few feet away beneath the bird feeder. It was the right color and texture to belong to a black bear, but not quite the right size and shape. Still, a likely location for any bear, especially after the winter weather we had this weekend.
“Pepito,” I called through the door, struggling for translation. “Comment ca va? Vous est d’accord?”
A jawful of silence.
“Un baissier noir?” I asked. “A black bear?”
Hearing my voice again, he scurried around the house, too timid to finish eating en public.
Whether Pepito will greet me for breakfast tomorrow morning is debatable, as he may be digging a slow grave. Whether he would want veterinary attention is an undeniable negative, not to mention the fact that is he unattainable. Pepito, le Roi du Forchette Montagne, the King of Fork Mountain. Negotiator between the wild and domesticated spaces. Bon chance, as they say. Would that he could tell me the truer stories of these mountains…

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