While making up my mind what to write at the end of Elbert, now at 92,000 words, I've returned to the first chapters, intent on bringing the inciting event closer to the front. This is my first pass; a serving suggestion, if you will. Do you understand the setting? Let me know in the comments. The feature image is a first draft cover treatment. Francine, at the left, is overdue for a visit at the beauty parlor. Watch for a change in that spot.
One morning, in the wee hours before sunrise, Doctor Elbert Holland Harrison dreamed he met a lady Sasquatch — neither abominable, nor a fugitive from snowy climes, foxlike in appearance, having lovely hips and a full bosom.
He woke with her name on his lips, although he couldn’t quite speak it — the strangeness of it troubling him all day.
August, 1928 — The Lazy L Ranch, South Dakota
Francine was tired, her feet hurt, the past week of pregnancy hadn’t been agreeing with her, and it was the fourth time since breakfast that a guest asked what the ‘L’ stood for. “Lemur, as in The Lazy Lemur Ranch.”
The customer was a human from Jivada — Loka AjJivadi — probably descended from South Asians admitted into the Anye interstellar community 12,000 years in the past, thereby rescued from an existential threat she’d soon hear about if not careful. “We tell the locals it means lumberjack.”
“Someone does, but not you.” He laughed. “I can see it now; ‘Sasquatch sighted in South Dakota’.”
The man couldn’t have known about a furry little girl riding through Black Rock late at night, peeking out of a horse carriage, wishing she didn’t have to hide her face on the very planet where she was born — Anye Iravat, a citizen of Jivada, not Earth, descended from lemurs, foxlike in appearance with big eyes and perky ears. The Vadin clan spends centuries building a tourism empire on Earth, and this is where I end up. She displayed fangs. “You’re right; I don’t tell the natives anything.”
Feeling more sociable by midmorning, she mingled with a boisterous group assembled for an escorted trip into town, the men briefly chanting ‘Homo Sapiens from Outer Space’. Coaching them for the outing was the most fun she’d had in days. “I know everyone speaks English, but your accent might invite inquiries. If your skin is brown, tell them you’re from India. Persons of European extraction, you’re from Lithuania.”
A woman put up her hand. “I was going to say Polynesia.”
“Do you speak French?”
“Stick with India.”
She dallied in the gift shop, idly tracing axe marks on a peg-and-mortice column, senses bathing in the aroma of lodgepole pine, a lit kerosene lamp, a basket of potpourri — centering the chakras until an Anye Mahat Limar gentleman buttonholed her with a complaint.
Heavyset, coarse of fur, blunt of muzzle, stubby-eared, he wanted to know why he couldn’t go horseback riding at what was supposed to be a dude ranch. Francine almost couldn’t believe it. “Sir; horses and bears are mortal enemies.”
He persisted. “What does that have to do with me?”
After she showed him a picture of a bear, all he said was, “Oh; okay. Thanks.”
The resort’s itinerant arts and crafts teacher, a fiftyish Nordic lady named Betty Bjornson, caught up with her in the back row of a yoga class at the Roundup Auditorium, where she stood shoulder-to, grousing. “Your parents should have stayed to help you.”
“They open the lodge in spring, close it in winter; I work the season.” Francine tried to touch her toes without tipping over; it was impossible. “That’s been our deal since I was eighteen.”
Betty noticed the yoga instructor giving them the eyeball. “What did you want to talk about?”
Francine started into a lunge. “My people have been making ourselves invisible here for 25,000 years; the Revelation has to be around the corner.”
“What if it is?”
“My son should be born an American citizen.” Francine cradled her belly. “He’d be the only furry who could say that.”
Betty covered her smile with a hand. “Good luck getting a birth certificate.”
Francine raised eyebrows at her. “Aren’t you friends with a doctor in town?”
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