“The Odessa Odyssey” is a much longer story than the others in “The Odessa Chronicles”, and below is Part 1: The Problem with Odessa.
For readers who not familiar with the characters in The Odessa Chronicles, Odessa (a Barn Owl), Jaxon (a Jackalope) and Dewey (a cat) all live together on a small farm owned by Joshua (human), also known as the man-servant. In this particular story, there is a Florence (human) who is staying with them as a friend of Joshua.
The sun had set on Moonbeam Farm, and the man-servant was finishing up some final cleaning before settling down for the evening. Dewey had finished his after-dinner nap, and was once more awake and curious to see everything that was going on, which was typically nothing at this time of day. Dewey was very happy to be involved in nothing.
The man-servant suddenly turned to him. “Dewey,” he said, “we’ve had no adventures for a few days. Why don’t you go over to the barn and invite Jaxon and Odessa over for the evening? Perhaps we can plan something?”
Dewey looked up at him. “You have no idea what’s going on here, have you?”
“What do you mean?” asked the man-servant.
Before Dewey could reply, the man-servant’s Florence came into the farmhouse. She looked at the man-servant, and then at Dewey, and then back to the man-servant. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Did I interrupt something?”
The man-servant told her what Dewey had said. Florence again looked at both of them. “Do you mean about Odessa?” she asked.
“What’s wrong with Odessa?” asked the man-servant.
Dewey and Florence looked at each other, and then Florence said, “We cannot tell you. Odessa told us in confidence.”
The man-servant walked around the kitchen table, in deep thought, when suddenly he stopped. “If Odessa is having some kind of trouble, then she must understand that we are all prepared to help her resolve whatever it is. Dewey, please go over to the barn and ask Jaxon and Odessa to come over here.”
Dewey walked out the farmhouse door, across the yard, and into the barn. A few moments later, he came out of the barn, across the yard, and back into the farmhouse. “Where’s Odessa?” asked the man-servant.
Dewey looked up at him. “She’s not coming over. I told you that things are different around here at the moment.”
“Well,” said the man-servant, “go back and ask Jaxon to come over.”
“It won’t do any good.” said Dewey. “He knows about Odessa as well.”
The man-servant looked very puzzled. “Well … do any of you know why I am the only one here who does not know what is going on?”
Florence stepped forward. “I think Odessa told the others, because they would probably understand, given that creatures in general lead rather uncomplicated lives. She told me, because she knew that I would be able to see things from a female’s perspective. I did suggest that she tell you, but she said that you are already confused enough and felt bad about making you even more so.”
“What could she be struggling with?” asked the man-servant.
Florence shrugged sadly. “I know what her problem is, but I have no idea how we can help her.”
“Okay,” said the man-servant, “I’ll take a walk over to the barn and see if she will talk to me.”
The man-servant went over to the barn and, as he entered, he saw Jaxon a few steps in front of him. “Hey, Jaxon!” he said. “Would you mind going over to the farmhouse? I would like to have a very private chat with Odessa.”
Jaxon did not say anything, but turned and headed out and across the yard to the farmhouse. As the man-servant walked down towards Odessa’s roof beam, he noticed how eerily quiet it was in there. When he was standing beneath the beam, he happened to look down and noticed that there were no small bones on the floor. Now he was starting to get concerned, because Odessa always dropped her bones on the floor while eating various meals up on her beam.
He looked up, and saw Odessa staring at him. “Hi, Odessa!” he said. “I thought that perhaps you and I could have a talk.” Odessa continued to stare at him, so the man-servant continued. “There are no bones down here on the floor. Is everything okay?” There was no response. “Odessa, I know that something is going on in that little bird-brain of yours, so how about we talk about it?” Again, there was no response. “Odessa … perhaps I can help you. Perhaps we can all contribute to helping you.”
The man-servant realized that he was making no progress whatsoever, and decided to go back to the farmhouse and see if anybody could come up with a plan that would encourage Odessa to open up about whatever was bothering her. Once back in the farmhouse, he explained everything that had happened, and it was Florence who came up with the best idea.
“It would seem to me, Joshua,” she started, “that if Odessa will not come down and talk to you, then perhaps you could go up to her. Perhaps if you were on her beam with her, she would feel more inclined to talk?”
The man-servant looked at her in total disbelief. “How on earth do you expect me to get up to that roof beam?” he asked.
Florence looked at him and slowly shook her head. “I don’t believe that you asked that question.” she said. “How about using a ladder?”
The man-servant suddenly realized that he had rather overlooked the obvious, and went back across the yard and into the barn. He got the ladder from the corner (close to where the tractor was parked); took it over to near Odessa’s roof beam; hauled up the extension, so that it was long enough to reach; leaned it against Odessa’s roof beam, and started climbing up. “Odessa! I am coming up!”
Odessa looked down at him, as he slowly climbed the ladder. She watched as he carefully stepped off it and sat straddling her beam. Now they were facing each other. “Well?” said the man-servant.
Odessa looked at him. “Well what?” she asked.
“Well,” repeated the man-servant, “what’s going on in that bird brain of yours?”
“Nothing important at the moment.” said Odessa. “I am rather puzzled as to why you would go to all that trouble, just so that you could sit next to me on a roof beam. It must be some human rationale that we higher species would not understand.”
“Higher species?” exclaimed the man-servant a little exasperated. “How on earth do you see a Barn Owl as a higher species?”
Odessa blinked her large eyes. “You were the one who decided to climb up here to see me. Figure it out for yourself!”
The man-servant was smiling. “I really have missed your visits to the farmhouse, Odessa. It is so strange to be able to say something, and not be reprimanded for some aspect of my use of English. Why don’t you come back to the farmhouse with me?”
Odessa looked down at the beam. “Sorry, Man-Servant, but I really do have a lot on my mind at the moment, and I need some alone time to try to figure things out and decide what I should do.”
“I can understand and respect that,” said the man-servant, “but perhaps sharing your thoughts with me might help. Perhaps I can help you in ways that you had not considered.”
Odessa once again stared at him. “You are a male … a very confused male, and you have probably not experienced what I have experienced.”
“Well, how do you know that?” asked the man-servant. “Tell me what you are having trouble with, and I’ll tell you whether I have experienced it.”
“My wings are shrinking.” said Odessa.
The man-servant looked at her. “Really?” he asked. “Your wings are shrinking? You are right, I cannot possibly relate to that.”
Odessa gave a half-smile. “They’re not really. I wanted to have a laugh at your expense. I’ve missed you too.”
The man-servant smiled again. “Look, Odessa. All you guys are very important to me, and if I can help any one of you with some personal issues, then I most certainly will do my very best. You are a very special Barn Owl, Odessa, and I love you dearly. What’s wrong?”
“Your English is really bad.” said Odessa smiling. “Anyway, why don’t you climb back down that ladder and sit in Jaxon’s straw. It has to be more comfortable for you than straddling my beam. I’ll be down in a minute.”
The man-servant climbed back down the ladder and sat down in Jaxon’s straw pile and waited. It was not long before Odessa landed next to him. “I really don’t know how to explain this,” she said, “but there is a big part of me that I know nothing about.”
The man-servant was very puzzled. “I don’t understand,” he said. “What part of you are you talking about?”
Odessa looked directly at him. “My dad.” she said. “I know nothing about my dad.”
The man-servant was deep in thought, and then said, “Odessa, I did not really know my dad either. He was killed in military service when I was very young.”
Odessa was disturbed by what she had just heard. “I am very sorry, Man-Servant. How did you eventually put it behind you and move forward?”
“Well,” said the man-servant, “I did have an advantage over you. My mom would tell me stories about him, and I saw pictures of him.”
Odessa was very quiet. The man-servant watched her for a few moments, and then said, “C’mon. Let’s go over to the farmhouse and talk with the others. There must be something we can do to help you with this.”
“I know what I would like to do,” said Odessa, and then continued. “I would like to go back over the Big Water to the cliff where my home was, and see if my dad is still alive around there, although he would be really old now. I couldn’t do that flight again, though, as the Big Water is far too big.”
When they got back to the farmhouse, the man-servant told everybody that he now knew what Odessa’s problem was, and that he had a plan that might help. Odessa looked up at him. “What is your plan?”
The man-servant looked at Odessa, then at Jaxon, then at Dewey, and finally at Florence. “I think we should leave Moonbeam Farm for a while and all go on an adventure.”
Florence looked at him in disbelief. “Joshua!” she said. “Do you really think that the distractions of an adventure will help Odessa?”
“No, of course not,” said the man-servant, “but an adventure over the Big Water, to where she was born, very well might.”
Odessa turned to him. “Are you serious? How are we all going to get across the Big Water and come back?”
The man-servant smiled. “You leave those details to me. Now let me see … today is Thursday, so is everybody game to start this new adventure on Saturday morning?”
He saw smiles appearing around him, and even Odessa had summoned up a smile. “Thank you, everybody,” she said. “This is so important to me, but I could not do it on my own.”
Florence touched the man-servant’s arm. “Can we go and have a chat in the kitchen?”
“Of course, we can,” said the man-servant, and they both went into the kitchen.
“Joshua,” she said, “this is likely to last beyond the weekend, isn’t it?”
The man-servant nodded. “Yes, Florence, it will certainly last beyond the weekend. It could take all next week. We simply cannot know. You are wondering about your job, right?”
“Yes,” said Florence. “I cannot leave them for that long without any warning. I would do anything to be with you all on this adventure, but it would not be fair to the company I work for. I have an idea though. You guys take off on Saturday as planned, but leave me some instructions regarding how to meet you over there. I’ll talk to the people at work, and tell them that I need to take a week or two off. As soon as I have all my work projects up to date and organized, I shall somehow find you all.”
The man-servant grinned. “I think that is a wonderful idea, Florence. I’ll sketch up a map showing our anticipated direction, and note whatever Odessa can tell me about the other side of the Big Water, so you will have some idea where we should be. It will be so nice for all of us to be together on at least part of this rather special adventure.”
They both walked back into the living room and explained the situation to Odessa, Jaxon, and Dewey. After the expected initial disappointment, they were happy that Florence would eventually be joining them.
“Well,” said the man-servant, “I have a busy day coming tomorrow, as I have to find a boat for us all, so I am going to bed now so … goodnight, everybody.”
The question of course is “So what happens next?” If you have a tendency to gamble, then you can wait and see if I Post other parts of this story.
If you really want to know how it develops and finishes, then the book is available from all the usual on-line book retailers, and is currently being sold at a reduced price if ordered directly from Friesen Press Bookstore. Click the book cover over in right side column (may have to scroll) for more information.