[Rated PG; By: AndrBernar]
Summary:Cabin Fever (Rated PG). Gene Hackman as Sam Colton. Sam and Linda spend an unbearable weekend at the Blakes' cabin in upstate New York.
The sun shined bright in the sky as Sam and Linda drove into the parking lot of their apartment building. A young boy and his little sister were throwing a baseball back and forth on the lawn adjacent to the parking lot. As Sam and Linda got out of the car, the little boy yelled, "Hey, Sam the Man." Sam waved as he shut the car door.
"Hi, Tommy. How's the arm?" asked Sam. Tommy loved baseball, and Sam had helped Tommy practice his batting swing.
"Great, thanks," said Tommy, "Hi, Mrs. C."
Linda waved, and Tommy's younger sister, Tabatha, also waved to Sam and Linda then threw the ball to Tommy. The ball went about 20 feet to Tommy's right. Good naturedly, Tommy ran after the ball then threw it back to his sister.
Sam's cell phone rang, and he reached in his pocket just as he and Linda stepped onto the pavement under the overhang by the entrance. Sam held the door open for Linda and answered the phone as they stepped into the lobby.
"Hello," said Sam. He listened for a second and turned to Linda. "Hold on a second, Jim, she's right here. Linda, Jim wants to know if you want to go up to his cabin this weekend," said Sam. Jim Blake was Sam's boss and the Director of the CIA. Jim and his wife Claire had a cabin in upstate New York, and they tried to go there every weekend, but their son was flying in from Chicago on Friday for a three-day visit, so they offered the cabin to Sam and Linda.
"Tell him, thanks, but I've decided to stick things out here with you," said Linda, smiling.
"She'd love to, Jim. Sure. Okay. Thanks. Give our love to Claire," said Sam.
They reached the elevator just as the doors opened, and Mrs. Garrity from the second floor came out. Mrs. Garrity, a widow, knew almost all of the residents of the apartment building by name, and she often sat in the lobby to watch the comings and goings of the people who lived there. She wore her thin, snowy-white hair pulled back in a bun at the base of her neck and was frequently seen, wearing a bulky maroon sweater.
"Hello there," said Mrs. Garrity.
"Hi, Mrs. Garrity. You headed out for a walk?" asked Sam.
"Oh, me oh my, no," said Mrs. Garrity, "Just thought I'd sit in the lobby and look out at the world for a while. You kids behaving yourselves?"
"Well, I am," said Sam, "But Linda's been nothing but trouble."
"Hi, Mrs. Garrity," said Linda, smiling, "And don't you believe him. Sam's the one who's trouble."
"Well, if you ever think you can't handle him anymore, Dear, I'll be happy to take him off your hands," laughed Mrs. Garrity. She walked toward one of the lobby chairs, still laughing at her own joke.
"Take care," said Sam.
"Bye, Mrs. Garrity," said Linda.
"Sam, she's crazy about you," whispered Linda.
"You better watch your step," said Sam, as he pushed the button for the fifth floor, "She makes the best chicken and dumplings I ever ate."
* * *
On a clear Friday night in May, Sam and Linda sat in front of the unlit fireplace in the Blakes' cabin. A brown leather sofa sat facing the fireplace, and Sam and Linda sat on the floor, leaning against the sofa, their legs stretched out before them.
"Sam, I've always wanted to sleep outside in a tent. Could we do that tomorrow night?" asked Linda.
"Sure, Jim has camping gear out in the storage shed, but it might rain tomorrow night. Do you want to do it tonight?" asked Sam.
"You don't mind?" asked Linda.
"No, I'd like that myself," said Sam.
* * *
Linda came out the back cabin door with two mugs of hot chocolate. Sam was in the tent, and she could hear him moving about. The left front of the tent tightened, and she heard Sam say, "There!" All of a sudden, the tent collapsed. Linda laughed as the tent moved about as though it had a life of its own. She then saw Sam's head coming out from the bottom of the toppled tent. Sam looked up and saw Linda.
"Something's wrong with the tent," said Sam, very aggravated.
"I see," said Linda, stifling her laughter when she saw how annoyed Sam was. "Well, come and have your hot chocolate first."
Linda sat on the edge of wooden deck, resting her feet on the bottom step of the two steps that led to the deck. Sam got up and walked over and sat beside her. Linda handed him a mug of hot chocolate.
"Thanks," said Sam.
"So, what's wrong with the tent?" asked Linda, trying not to laugh.
"I think there's a piece missing," said Sam.
Linda couldn't hold back any longer and she busted out laughing. "Oh, I'm sorry, Sam, really I am, but if you could have seen yourself," said Linda, still laughing.
"Oh, so you think it's funny," said Sam, starting to smile now himself as he looked at the collapsed tent.
"When your aggravated little face came out from under the tent," laughed Linda, "Oh, Sam, you look very attractive wearing canvas," and Linda laughed again and placed her mug on the deck behind Sam and hugged him.
* * *
Finally, the tent was up. Sam and Linda, inside the tent, had just unrolled their sleeping bags and were about to get into them when they heard a noise out by the back of the cabin.
Linda looked up at Sam. "What was that?"
"I'll check it out. I'm sure it's nothing," said Sam. He picked up the flashlight by his sleeping bag and went out through the tent opening. He turned on the flashlight just in time to see a raccoon running toward the woods. The raccoon had been into the trashcan that was against the wall by the side of the deck. Sam walked over, picked up the lid and replaced it on the can, pushing it down tight. As soon as Sam was back in the tent, the brave little raccoon came out of the woods and ran over to the tent and listened to the humans.
"I thought you were a bear," said the female.
"Gimme a break," said the male.
"Goodnight, Sam," said the female.
"Wait, I'm not done being a bear," said the male.
"Not now, Sam, I have a headache," laughed the female.
"Well, you're about to have a bear of a headache," said the male.
"Oh, Sam!" said the female.
"GrrrRR," said the male.
The raccoon quickly scurried back into the woods.
* * *
The next morning, Linda woke to the smell of fried bacon and coffee. She heard movement outside the tent.
"Good morning, Sam," she called.
Sam didn't answer, so she crawled to the tent opening and looked out. The back door to the cabin was open, and she could hear faint sounds coming from the cabin's kitchen.
Back inside the tent, she rolled up their sleeping bags and headed out of the tent with a sleeping bag held under each arm. She heard a growling sound to the right of the tent and started to turn toward the sound, smiling, expecting to see Sam. She then heard Sam's voice coming from the cabin.
"Don't move, Linda," said Sam.
Confused, Linda turned toward Sam's voice, and seeing the look on Sam's face, she froze. She turned her head slowly to where Sam was looking and saw a big, black bear, standing on its hind legs, about twenty feet off to the right of the tent. The sleeping bags Linda held dropped to the ground. The bear came down on his front paws and lumbered toward her, its thick black fur shining in undulating patterns with its every movement.
"Linda, don't move," warned Sam, quietly. The bear stopped and looked at Sam.
"No!" yelled Linda. The bear now turned toward Linda.
"Linda, if you never listen to me again in your life, listen now," said Sam softly.
"No, Sam! Don't try to attract him to you. Please, I couldn't take it!" begged Linda. The bear reared up on its back paws then came down with a heavy plop. "Look, we're confusing him," said Linda in a quavering voice. The bear now facing her again, Linda's bravery quickly vanished, and she felt her knees weaken.
"Linda, shut up," said Sam calmly as he slowly waved his arms.
"Shut up!?" said Linda, incredulous, angry now at Sam.
Sam couldn't help but smile and continued in a calm voice, "When a bear comes upon you and is not surprised, he will not attack unless threatened. You need to identify yourself as a human by talking low and letting him pick up your scent. Just back up slowly, and do not run and do not make any sudden movements," said Sam.
Linda slowly backed up.
"But, Sam," said Linda, her voice lower now, "If you believe that, why do you keep trying to distract him from me?"
"Grizzelda!" called someone from the woods.
The bear stood on its back paws and growled. A man wearing a red and black plaid jacket and red hunter's cap came out into the clearing.
"Grizzelda, there you are," said the man, "Are you bothering these folks?"
The bear ambled over to the man, and the man patted the bear on the head.
"Howdy," said the man, tipping his hat as he looked first to Linda then to Sam. "I'm Luke Hewitt. This here's Grizzelda."
Linda wanted to walk over to Sam, but her legs were still too weak. Sam walked over to Linda and placed his arm about her.
"Hi. Sam Colton, and this is my wife, Linda," said Sam. Mr. Hewitt walked over to Sam, and they shook hands.
"I hope Grizzelda didn't frighten you," said Mr. Hewitt.
"Well, I was surprised to see a grizzly in this area," said Sam, "But we weren't frightened, were we, Linda?"
"No, not at all. Grizzelda is . . . very lovely," said Linda.
"She used to be a circus bear. I've had her now 15 years. Most folks in this area know Grizzelda pretty well. I'm surprised Jim didn't mention her to you," said Mr. Hewitt.
Grizzelda walked heavily over toward them, and Sam bravely patted the bear's head.
"She likes you," said Mr. Hewitt.
"Sam has a way with women," said Linda, "How does Grizzelda feel about females?"
"Give it a try," suggested Mr. Hewitt.
Linda stepped closer to the bear and put her hand out slowly and scratched the bear behind its ear.
"She's so soft," said Linda, "Oh, she is lovely. You're a pretty bear, aren't you?"
"And you'll never find a sweeter creature," said Mr. Hewitt proudly. "Well, come on Grizzelda. We're keeping these folks from their breakfast."
"Would you care to join us?" asked Linda.
"No, we had our breakfast, but thanks. It was nice meeting you, Sam, Linda," said Mr. Hewitt.
"Same here, Mr. Hewitt," said Linda.
"Bye, Mr. Hewitt. Bye, Grizzelda," said Sam.
And Mr. Hewitt and Grizzelda walked back into the woods. When they were out of earshot, Linda turned to Sam.
"So, how do you know so much about bears?" asked Linda.
"Well, I read about it. Grizzelda doesn't count since she's tame. But if a bear had been surprised by us, it would have been totally different. Attacks are rare, but they do happen. You're not supposed to run unless you're sure of reaching safety. Otherwise, you stand your ground but try to appear non-threatening. If the bear approaches you, you back up slowly and increase your distance. If the bear attacks, you're supposed to fall to the ground and play dead and hope the bear leaves. If he starts eating you, then you try to appear non-appetizing," teased Sam. "But if a bear follows you when you back up, you're supposed to stand your ground and act aggressively, letting him know you will fight if attacked. But either way, the bear will probably get the better of you."
"So, when you were trying to distract the bear, what was I supposed to do, let the bear attack you?" asked Linda.
"And what was I supposed to do, let the bear attack you?" asked Sam.
"And what's with this, 'shut up'?" asked Linda.
"Oh, I knew you weren't going to let that slide," said Sam, "I should have let Grizzelda kill me there and then. I would have died a quicker death."
"Oh, I'll be quick, Sam," said Linda, kindly.
They bantered back and forth as they headed into the cabin to have their breakfast.
* * *
Sam and Linda had a hard time finding a bearskin rug that looked like Grizzelda, but they finally found one and giggled on their way back to the cabin, happy with their purchase.
When Jim and Claire came to the cabin the next weekend, they were surprised to see a bearskin rug lying in front of the fireplace. On it was a note:
Thanks for letting us use the cabin. We hope you enjoy the rug. Mr. Hewitt was pretty upset, but we're sure he won't continue his lawsuit against you once his anger dies down. Thanks again. Love, Sam and Linda.
* * *
The following Monday morning, Sam went into his office and found a red hunter's cap on his desk. Under it was a note:
Couldn't talk Mr. Hewitt out of the lawsuit. Hope you enjoy his cap. Love, Jim and Claire.
Last Updated: 14 April 2003.
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