Ben trudged through the woods, listening only to the sound of his own breathing, which was becoming more rapid by the minute. Dusk was falling and he was getting a little concerned. Little Mama (that's what he called her since they became first-time parents, four years ago) might say he was scared. But, as he'd told her many times before, "scared" wasn't part of his vocabulary. He felt confident that God would protect him from harm, as He'd done many times in the past. But he couldn't deny that "concerned" feeling.
He'd been out in the woods for a long time. If he'd had a watch on, it would probably indicate several hours, at least. He started having second thoughts. After all, he'd never done this before. He was used to the city, with lots of noise, and lots of people. When Little Mama expressed a desire to leave the city with their son, Ben couldn't help but agree. Especially when she'd batted those big, brown eyes and flashed him an irresistible smile. So they escaped the big city and here they were.
Ben stopped to rest for a moment. A couple of rabbits and several squirrels scampered for cover at the sight of him. He briefly wondered why God had made him such a scary, formidable presence to these small creatures. He wasn't going to hurt them, after all. But he supposed they didn't know that. He didn't see many rabbits and squirrels in the city. It was nice to experience this part of God's creation.
Darkness was quickly closing in and he gathered his resolve and trudged on. He thought of Benny's face, full of youthful anticipation of roasted marshmallows, crispy graham crackers and melted chocolate. He was so excited to try his first s'mores. And Ben was determined to make that happen.
He felt a strong urge to prove himself. To prove to Little Mama and Benny that he could provide for them. He'd heard what people said about him, that he was a big show-off. Maybe that was what he was trying to do: show off for his woman and his son. He knew they were waiting expectantly, fully confident in his abilities to find the perfect campsite. Visions of s'mores were probably dancing in his son's head. Ben wanted more than anything to turn that vision into reality.
A light glowed up ahead and Ben hurried toward it as the blanket of night fell over him. He paused for a moment, behind a tree, and observed the scene before him.
Two adults and three children sat talking and laughing around a blazing fire. A tent was set up several yards away and coolers and duffel bags were scattered about. But what Ben's eyes rested on was the open package of graham crackers and the marshmallows attached to long sticks that the kids were holding over the fire.
Ahhh. The perfect campsite.
Ben stepped around the tree and approached the family, and was prepared to greet them. But he wasn't quite prepared for the reaction he received.
"HENRY, HELP! CALL THE RANGER! CALL 9-1-1! WHERE'S YOUR CELL PHONE!?"
"RUN, KIDS, RUN! INTO THE VAN!"
Ben stood, stunned, as the people fled to their vehicle. Just one more thing he would never understand: humans. They definitely were a strange species. God must have had a purpose for them but wasn't exactly sure what it was.
Wait a minute. Maybe he did understand their purpose. Lifting his head to the stars, he growled, "Thank you, God."
Ben ambled over to the fire and snatched the chocolate, the crackers, and the bag of marshmallows with his claws. He glanced toward the van and saw the three kids and the woman gawking, open-mouthed, through the window. The man was talking into something shiny, waving his arms around like a mad man. Yep, an odd bunch, indeed.
Ben made his way back into the woods to find his way back to his own family. He couldn't wait to see the expression on Benny's face.
*Ben, Little Mama and Benny were all captured and brought back to the Cleveland Zoo, from where they had escaped the week before. The zoo keeper now keeps a large supply of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows on hand to reward the bears for good behavior. Benny has never been happier.
*The Williams family was commended for making the call that resulted in the bears capture. They now opt for five star hotels.
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