A vicious fox.



Future biographers attempting to chronicle my life according to animal kingdom criteria will most likely divide it into two testimonial periods labeled the Pre-Fox Observation Period and the Post-Fox Observation Period. In an effort to help them along I will now supply the details.

Part One (Pre-Fox Observation Period)

Having spent one or two of my formative years in the rustic rural setting of an Oklahoma ranch, I am accustomed to various types of wild animals, including deer, armadillos, skunks, garter snakes, cows, and even wily coyotes. But no foxes. There were no foxes in those days; in fact, they were extinct. There were thousands of horny-toads per square mile, which, sadly is not the case today. There were catfish and water moccasins and hawks. There were, of course, opossums (pronounced "possums" here) and robins and sparrows and martins and crows and scissortail-flycatchers and crawdads. But there were no foxes.

Foxes were terrible creatures that stood on their hind legs, about eight feet tall, and ate people out of trees. I had a book when I was just a lad that explained all this with graphic pictures. I was scared of foxes and very thankful that there weren't any left.

But I was wrong. Somewhere in the deep, dark, wicked Black Forest of Germany where Hansel and Gretel had such a trying time, secretly lived a remnant of surviving foxes which would soon infiltrate the whole world.

Part Two (Post-Fox Observation Period)

I don't know and history books suspiciously omit the exact date that foxes repopulated the earth, but my first encounter was October 2, 1998. It was during the Tulsa State Fair (why it's called that I don't know, because Tulsa is a city, not a state, and the official state fair of Oklahoma is in Oklahoma City). I had been somehow conned into setting up and running a sound system for the bluegrass stage on this particular day, and it was nigh on midnight when I finally packed away all the gear and got inside my car and drove off in search of dinner. Whataburger can always be counted on in a pinch when you find yourself driving around in the middle of the night, and since that establishment's lighting and color scheme is quite offensive to someone who has just passed off an entire day and half of an entire night struggling with a bluegrass sound system experience and all that goes along with it, I picked up my order to go and headed over to the nearest place where a car can be parked in the middle of the night, which was Woodward Park.

I parallel parked along the street that cuts through the middle of Woodward Park and began consuming my hamburger. I noticed about fifty yards ahead, in the spot where there is an actual parking lot, a couple of Tulsa Police cruisers with their flashy lights on. I don't know if they were making a drug bust or eating donuts or what, but they didn't seem to mind me, and so I didn't mind them and continued my dinner.

It was while I was contemplating the scene which lay before me, seated in my car and eating my hamburger, that I noticed some kind of small animal mosey across the parking lot between the police cars and myself. I guess it really didn't mosey per se, but it wasn't really in a hurry and it didn't seem in the least perturbed by the proximity of the law. It wasn't exactly small either - not like a raccoon for instance - but it wasn't as big as a coyote or any other of the man-eating species. At first I thought it was a small dog, perhaps like a Sheltie, but then I had never seen a dog before with a tail three quarters the size of its body.

As I sat meditating on this specter, unable to dismiss the ridiculous notion that this critter, which was now gone from sight, had very distinctively resembled what the proper authorities claimed was a fox. "It couldn't be," I said to myself. "There are no foxes anymore. They went out with dragons. Besides, it was way too small and it walked on all four legs." Before long I concluded that it had been a hallucination, brought on by a grueling day of bluegrass, finished my Whataburger, drove home, and fell in bed.

The next day I decided to look into the matter, having been haunted by it in my dreams. So I visited the local book store, found a book on wild animals of the world with an emphasis on The Black Forest, and proceeded to search out information of the extinct fox. What I found unsettled me.

I had been living amongst murderers and drug dealers and politicians in the urban jungle of Tulsa for ten years and yet without any real fears. And now I learn that there are foxes living in every conceivable continent, country, state, providence, county, city, town, and hamlet in the world, including Antarctica and Earlsboro? How was a man to leave his house of a morning and go to work under such circumstances? It put an abrupt end to my bluegrass sound engineering career right then and there.

I consoled myself over the subsequent days and months that perhaps that fox had been a freak of nature and that the books were all wrong. But in time I would be shaken back to reality. I won't go into detail, but in the coming years I would spot several foxes in downtown Tecumseh, a town so utterly defenseless that all I could do was watch in horror as the beast walked across the street - this in broad daylight and on two occasions. One day two tiny baby foxes were spotted in a creek running through town (the creek was running - not the foxes - they were just sitting there looking vicious). Of course all of the foxes I have seen were babies, judging by the size and the fact that they still crawled on all fours.

I suppose, perhaps blindly, that the really big adult foxes stay in the forest, having only spotted little ones in the city. I can only hope that is the case. As for me, I plan to stay away from heavily wooded areas, lock my doors at night, and of course, avoid bluegrass at all costs.

© 2015 Dane Tate