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“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
by John Philpot Curran

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Black Beast

square823I stopped in the middle of the road to shake my pack off my back and look in it for the red self-charging flashlight so I’d have the torch in hand should night fall before I was off the hill and out of the canyon forest.  As I re-shouldered my bag, I looked down the dirt fire road.  A small black creature which seemed in my hasty glance to be a dwarfish black bear cub scurried to the right ahead of me and climbed the steep road cut.  What was it?  I considered many possibilities including a bear cub, a badger, and a tail-less skunk.  Then — could it have been a bobcat?  I did not know if jet bobcats existed:  the size was right if the shape was ambiguous.  I cursed my distraction — I had had a camera.  The mess that entangled me prevented swift action.  The animal had got away and with it the hope of a picture.  Several hours later, I checked the facts:  black wildcat was a real probability.  A photo could have proved the rare sighting and given me a gloat.