Week 15

Finally, the one-eyed creature spoke again. “I am the King of Bears now, Putin. I am … Orso.”

As he pronounced his name, the bear puffed out his chest and lifted his chin. Clearly, in his mind a fanfare accompanied this revelation.

Putin gazed back blankly. The bear’s sense of drama confused him. “All right … uh, Ordo, nice seeing you again.”

“Ha! Well played, Putin, you old snake. We both know you’re not glad to see m– Wait. Did you just call me Ordo?”

“I’m sorry, isn’t that your name? Perhaps I misheard. The hilarious idea of shearing a pig popped into my head while you were speaking.”

A snarl curled the bear’s lip: His old foe was mocking him. “Or-so. I am Orso, King of Bears.” He rose up on his haunches, roaring, “ORSO!”

Putin remained unimpressed by this bluster. “All right, big fellow, no need to shout, I have it now: You’re Orso. A fine name.”

At this, the bear relaxed a bit. “But I still have no memory of our history,” Putin said. “Did I help you out of a jam, perhaps?”

The bear’s unpatched eye grew wide with disbelief. “Help me? Help me?! You are my sworn enemy! We are bound by bitter rivalry!”

A wry smile crept across Putin’s face. “Oh, come now. Surely you exaggerate. My memory is not so deficient that I’d forget a sworn enemy.”

“We probably just had a misunderstanding, a brief quarrel. All’s forgiven, though, Otto. I wish you no ill will. Give me your paw, comrade.”

“How dare you, Putin?!” the bear bellowed. “It was no misunderstanding! We are enemies now and for-… Wait. Did you just call me Otto?”

Putin felt his patience waning; this mosquito was quite persistent. “All right, if we are enemies, perhaps you could remind me why.”

The bear’s eye narrowed as he peered at Putin. Was this trickery, or did he truly not remember? “You’ve forgotten King Medved? His Clan?”

“Well, of course I remember all that,” Putin laughed. “Did you know the Bear Clan? Did you live in a neighboring cave?”

“Old fool! Do you really not remember?” roared Orso. “I was Medved’s heir! You and I fought once and … uh … I bested you, actually.”

Putin cocked an eyebrow quizzically. “Unlikely. But to answer your question, no. I remember the Bear Clan quite well, but not you.”

“I have waited all these years for revenge, and you will not deny me satisfaction! You WILL remember me, Putin! Years ago you feared me!”

Putin pursed his lips. “Listen, Arseho–” he began. “ORSO!” howled the bear. “Fine, whatever. This bores me, little friend. I’m leaving.”

Orso could not believe it. He had waited years for this confrontation, and it had not gone at all as he’d imagined. Putin MUST remember!

Leaning forward, the grizzled bear said softly, “Ursa. She was mine before you came, and she was mine after you left!”