husky back to the truck. Then he considers what it will look like when
the sow shows up, unable to do a thing except beckon for her trapped
Parrish catches Sadie up by the collar and pulls her sharp face up to
look at him. “Down, stay!” Chastened, she drapes herself over the broad
dome of rock, head centered between her paws, watching the again silent
cub watch her with wild, liquid eyes. It’s all talked out, but that won’t
last. He regards their surroundings, the snapped branches around them
like scattered toothpicks. Taking one up, he feels the weight. For now, it’s
still, quiet. This has to be quick.
With the flashlight he probes the space under the pinioned animal
where its legs piston, unable to grasp the rock. He hopes to find some
feature—a bulge, or contact point between boulders—to act as fulcrum.
The surfaces, though rough, do not project enough to help. Where the
light grows faint, on the far side of the cub, there is a gouge in the rock
face that might cup the end of the branch, not as high up as he’d like,
but it’s the only place. Much of the bark has sloughed off, but the silvered
branch is stout, not too heavy, about four feet long. He feeds it down into
the space until the butt end settles into the chipped bowl in the rock. He
doesn’t like the angle, but it’s the best he can do. “The hard way, then,”
Parrish says to himself. The cub’s eyes snap to him. “It’s okay, buddy.
Shhh, shhh, shhh.” He slips on his gloves.
Bracing himself, one foot on each boulder pinching the cub, he squats
slowly and takes up the free end of the branch and lifts with his legs. The
cub’s eyes saucer when the branch makes contact. A tentative moan cuts
loose as he pushes up and the branch rises at an angle under the bear
cub. The moan becomes a squall and then an airhorn. The cub wobbles
on the branch, but now he fears hoisting the branch higher may injure
the cub’s hind legs. In the commotion, Sadie pokes her head in. “No,
Parrish takes a hand off the branch and snatches the loose fur behind
the cub’s head and pulls. The cub shrieks and scratches at his arm. Its
small muzzle scissors and clacks, but the angle is wrong to bite him. He
drops the branch and gets both hands on the cub and yanks. The bear
pops up free, and the jerk throws him off balance. He struggles to keep
the lanky animal, all screams and windmilling legs, at arm’s length, but
forty pounds of terrified fur and muscle present a startling challenge.
Sadie rears up, panting, sniffing, and Parrish puts his hip into her. He