Shishir (Winter) 2020 Stories - Niles Reddick


Leave it to a Beaver

By Niles Reddick


The two former scouts paddled in unison across Lake Cass in the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota, Eric in front with his paddle pushing down left through the fog and into the stillness of the dark water and Sam in back pushing down right. They’d brought some beer in the cooler along with food to cook over the fire they’d build on the Shore of Cedar Island where they’d gone for years.


The crisp fall morning offered the song of loons that were a stark contrast to Van Halen’s guitar on the ride to the boat ramp. They had hoped for a clear night to watch the blue and green Northern lights dance and reflect off the water. Sam was the first who noted the beaver dam near the edge of a creek that flowed in Lake Cass. They heard a splash, the beaver diving in and smacking its tail on the surface.


He told Eric, “Let’s inspect it up close, see if we can get a good pic.”


In unison, they turned the canoe and glided through the clearing fog as the sunlight played peek-a-boo on the horizon. Eric said, “Oh my God. Is that a foot and leg?”




“See that part poking out of the beaver dam amongst the sticks and limbs of varying shapes and sizes? It looks like someone’s foot and leg.”


“You’re right. Should I call 9-1-1?”


“Wait,” Eric said. The canoe slid closer toward the dam, Sam’s paddle laid gently inside the canoe while Eric used his to bump the dam to avoid a head-on collision and then pull

the boat closer. “It’s not a real foot and leg,” he said.


“What is it?”


“Take a pic, Sam.” Sam snapped several pics with his phone, and Eric pulled and twisted the foot and leg from the tightly formed dam and pulled it free. “It’s a prosthetic foot and leg.”


Sam laughed and added, “How in the hell did a beaver find that?”


“Who knows? The more people build out here around the park, the more they encroach on what has been these animal’s territory for who knows how long. Just like bears getting into garbage cans.”


“We should see if anyone is missing it.”


“I’m not sure how we would know that.”




“You’re joking.”


“No, I’ll check it later if I can get a signal.”


The foot and leg rested strangely in the middle on the empty bench seat, and Sam mused it would make for a great Halloween prank, but soon the two ran aground on Cedar Island, unloaded gear, found branches left behind by the beaver for a fire, and pitched their tents. They fished, explored the island, and picked up more firewood for later. When Sam got a signal, he pulled up Craig list, he searched miscellaneous items near Bemidji, and within a few scrolls, noted an ad for a missing prosthesis with a fifty-dollar reward.


“Amazing,” Sam said.


“I don’t believe it,” Eric replied.


“That’ll reimburse us for the food and supplies.”


On Sunday afternoon, they called the fellow, returned the prosthesis, and collected their reward. They learned that a beaver had been taking fallen limbs in the neighbourhood, and the fellow had cleaned the foot and leg with alcohol COVID and left it outside to dry on a bench. He was glad he had a spare, but the spare didn’t fit as well as the missing one.

The man figured kids had taken it as a Halloween prank and never would have guessed it was stuck in a beaver dam and couldn’t believe the pic Sam showed him on his phone.

Niles Reddick is author of the novel Drifting too far from the Shore, two collections Reading the Coffee Grounds and Road Kill Art and Other Oddities, and a novella Lead Me Home. His work has been featured in thirteen anthologies, twenty-one countries, and in over three hundred publications including The Saturday Evening Post, PIF, New Reader Magazine, Forth Magazine, The Boston Literary Magazine, Cheap Pop, Flash Fiction Magazine, With Painted Words, among many others.


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