I've got a lot going on right now with house stuff, an upcoming open house and foot surgery so I might not be sticking to my blogging schedule for the next few months. I'll at least try to update WIP Wednesdays, but Free Fiction Fridays might be not happen every week. If anything, I might just journal my foot saga here. It could be good for a laugh ... Funky Foot Friday? Maybe not.
Copyright 2013 Carey Burns
Dan pressed his back against the tree and watched the buck grazing in the distance. He lined up his sight but it wasn't a good shot, at least not for him, so he waited and willed it to step a little closer. As if on cue, the animal took one step and stood tall then blam--it was down.
He hurried through the forest and gazed down on his kill before settling into his next task: field dressing it. With skillful moves he gutted it and pulled out the still warm entrails, slipping the mess into a bucket then snapping the lid on tight. He abandoned his prize and trekked through the trees to his hidden 4 wheeler. Dan liked hunting alone but he was getting too old to carry his kills back on his own. As he pulled up to the deer and cut the engine he spied another deer hiding behind a tree.
"Sorry about your dad, Bambi." He mumbled, hoisting the animal onto the rack. While he fastened the carcass with the bungee cords he saw the other deer still watching him.
Dan loaded the bucket then mounted the seat and glanced up as the deer stepped out into a clearing. He debated shooting the stupid thing but didn't have enough room.
"It’s your lucky day, Bambi. I've only got room for one. Maybe another day." He started the 4 wheeler and rode off to his truck.
He drove up two wooden boards into the bed of the truck and shut off the engine. Dan hopped off then jumped from the tail gate, whistling as he pushed the boards into the bed and shut the gate. The few miles to his house passed quickly and Dan unloaded the 4 wheeler and set to work processing the meat.
Hours later he washed the blood and fur from his hands and went inside his house. He was cold and tired and needed a shower. As he walked from the hallway through the livingroom he glanced out the big bay window and saw a deer standing in his yard.
"Jeez, too bad I can't take that one out too." He plodded over to the bathroom and stripped down, stepping into the tub as he turned on the water. With a tug of the shower curtain he pulled the faucet lever and stood under the stream of hot water.
He took his time, warming his chilled fingers and toes and washing the metallic scent of blood away. Finished, he toweled off and pulled on his robe. He needed a lazy afternoon in front of the TV.
Dan entered the living room and froze, the deer was staring at him through the bay window. He crept to the door and opened it, startled to see the deer standing in front of him.
The deer stared at him and coughed once. "Hi there. How's it going?"
Dan blinked. "This can't be right..."
"Oh, it’s right." The deer nodded.
"But, you're talking. Deer don't talk." Dan protested, taking a step back.
The deer chuckled and stuck its pink tongue out. "Yeah we do. Usually you folk aren't too interesting so we keep our yaps shut. But not you. I think I like you."
The wind whipped at Dan’s robe and the deer turned his head.
"Hey buddy, you wanna close up shop there? I'm lookin’ right at it..."
Dan's jaw dropped as he tried to figure out what he meant but when he felt a chill down south he understood and pulled his robe closed.
"Much obliged. Now, I have an idea that will prove very rewarding for both of us. Are ya interested?"
"An idea?" Dan could barely process that he was talking to a deer, much less that the deer could have an idea. "What are you talking about?"
The deer wagged his tail. "First things first, I'm Joel, not Bambi. What's your name?"
"Dan." He studied the deer's face. "So you were the deer from earlier." Dan processed this information for a moment. "Why are you called Joel?"
He rolled his big eyes. "My mother is a nut. She loves rock and roll music so she named my twin brother Billy and me Joel. She used to make us sing Uptown Girl."
"Wow. I'm sorry." Dan tried to recall eating any magic mushrooms that day but knew he hadn't.
Joel stared at Dan. "I saw you kill him and I'm glad you did it--he was an asshole. Would you be interested in taking care of a few more for me?"
Dan stared back. "You...you want me to kill your friends?"
"Dan," Joel shook his head, "they are not my friends. They're a bunch of loudmouth assholes that mess with little guys."
"Is this legal?" He half-whispered.
"Legal? I'm a deer, genius. We got no law. And as long as you follow your people laws, we won't have a problem."
Dan's thoughts ran wild in his head. "What's in it for me?"
Joel sighed. "You really are dumb, aren't you? You'll get to take home the deer and do whatever it is you do to them in there." He nodded toward the garage.
That got his attention. "How many we talkin?"
"Six. Six of the meanest sons of bitches you'll ever meet. Each one with a full rack of antlers. You guys are into that, right?"
He grinned. "Yeah. So when do you want me to start?"
Joel smiled a ridiculous smile. "Tomorrow morning. Meet me where you took down Andre and I'll make sure someone comes your way."
"Andre?" Dan chuckled.
"Yeah, his dad watched wrestling." Joel sauntered away from the lawn and disappeared into the trees.
Dan hardly slept, he was so excited, and he loaded his larger ATV onto his pickup and headed out before 4:00am. He arrived and drove the ATV down the planks then checked his equipment. Just before five he heard a cough.
"Hey, Dan" Joel peeked out from behind a tree.
"Yeah?" Dan whispered.
"Go back to where you were yesterday."
"Okay." He waited for Joel to leave then crept to his spot. He smiled, wondering why he felt more of a rush from a guaranteed, set up kill than any other kill before.
The morning sun danced through tree limbs and Dan heard something rustling ahead. He raised his gun with the grace of a camouflage ninja and waited. Soon he spotted two bucks--Joel and another with a massive rack. He swore he heard them squabbling and Joel say the word 'dickhead.' As the buck moved into his sights he took a breath and fired, the shot echoing through the trees.
"Nice shot!" Joel called.
"Thanks." Dan strode through the woods toward his prize and saw Joel kick the carcass in the ribs. "Easy, tiger."
"What? He had that coming and worse. Are you ready for a second?"
Dan gutted the fallen deer and heaped its organs and innards into the bucket. "Yeah. Give me a minute."
"Sure. Head down to the creek. See ya, buddy." Joel bounded off into the trees and Dan set off for his ATV, anxious to get loaded and take out another bad guy.
As he worked he wondered how bad a deer could be. He'd seen bucks go after humans but mostly in mating season. Dan wanted to know more. He finally reached the creek and stood still.
Joel whispered, "Go behind that big tree."
Dan did as instructed and five minutes later Joel reappeared with an angry looking buck with an amazing rack.
"Listen here, you little shit. I've had it with you hanging around. If you don't get out of here right now, I swear I'll..."
"You'll what?" Joel taunted, stepping more into the clearing.
The buck stepped out too giving Dan a clean shot.
"I'll kick your--"
Dan's shot silenced the brute forever and Joel stood over it, his nose to its open eye.
"That's what I thought, bitch!" Joel spat on its face. "You are my boy, Dan!"
Dan grinned as he gutted the animal. "So what were their names, anyways?"
"Why? It don't matter cuz they're dead."
"I don't know. If I keep their heads it would be nice to have a name to go with a face."
Joel snickered. "Good one! The first jackwad is Gerald and this dick...he's Neil. Not sure about Gerald but Neil was named after Neil Diamond. Their parents really sucked at naming their kids, huh?"
"Yeah." Dan stifled a laugh, thinking that Joel wasn't exactly the best name either. "So what did they do to make you have a vendetta against them?" He walked, bucket in hand to the ATV with Joel following behind.
"It isn't just one thing, it's been going on for years. Running us little guys off feeding ground, talking smack about us to the ladies... One time, and this is the worst, Neil did it with my mom. My mom!" Joel's eyes were wild with rage.
"Man, that is cold. That is messed up. You're right, they did have it coming."
They reached the ATV and made plans for the following weekend to take care of the remaining four and parted ways.
That night Dan's poker buddies came by for their weekly game and marveled at his hunting prowess.
"That's some big bucks you got this weekend, Dan." Tommy declared.
"Oh, they aren't so big. I call the bigger one 'Neil.'" He feigned modesty, sipping his beer and scrutinizing his cards.
"Neil? That's a funny name."
"Now Tommy, I can't help that Neil Diamond's 'Cracklin Rose' was in my head when I killed him." He smirked, if they only knew the truth.
Tommy nodded. "You're right. So you takin em to the locker?"
"Yeah, I don't have enough room to process them both." As he won the big pots he totaled up how much the meat locker and the taxidermist would charge for six beautiful bucks and smiled. He could almost smell the deer sausage cooking on his grill.
The following Saturday, Dan loaded up his gear and headed out to meet Joel. He went to the same spot and waited. After a few minutes he grew impatient for his new ally. "Joel!" He whispered.
He listened hard and heard a rustling not far off.
"Hey buddy." Joel burst through the trees and caught his breath. "Marvin is over by the bluff. There's not much cover there so be sneaky, kay?" He took off back through the woods with Dan in pursuit.
He crept through the trees careful not to make a sound. As he neared the edge of the trees he saw Joel with a giant buck unlike any Dan had ever seen.
"Look Joel, there's no way I'm apologizing to you. Now get your scrawny ass outta my sight."
Joel stared into Marvin's eyes. "Well, I tried. Nice knowin ya. Not!"
Dan lined up the shot and took Marvin down with ease.
"Bastard." Joel turned his back to the dead deer and wiggled his tail. "Nice job, Danny. You in the mood for another?"
"Damn skippy!" Dan pulled Marvin's organs out through the slit in his stomach. "Just let me get my rig and load this guy up."
Joel flared his nostrils as he breathed in the smell of death. "We were friends when we were kids--me, Billy, and Marvin. Not anymore though."
"Sorry to hear that. A girl get in the way?" He led the way back to his ATV.
"No. He just met Andre and the guys and decided I wasn't worth his time anymore." He stopped, ears pricked up, listening to something far off. "I'll let you do your thing and come back later for round two."
"Later, Joel." Dan trudged the short distance to the ATV then drove back to the bluff. Marvin was huge and he couldn't wait to see how big the remaining three were. Part of him felt bad for taking them out this way but they were bullies and he hated bullies. Besides, a friend should never bone another friend's mom--no matter how hot she is.
He secured Marvin to the vehicle and drove back to the pre-arranged spot. Within ten minutes he heard Joel return.
"East of here there's a big fallen log. Meet me there."
Dan watched Joel walk away and followed. He brushed against a low bush and spooked a gray squirrel. It darted off into the deep woods and soon Dan was in front of the log. He readied his gun when he heard voices.
The buck standing next to Joel had the biggest rack Dan had ever seen and he guessed it was a scrapper because three points were broken.
The beast snorted. "You're a frickin loser, Joel, just like you always been. Get outta here before somebody sees me talkin to ya." He lowered his head and nibbled on a branch.
"You suck, Ringo. Just like you always have." Joel moved to the side and Dan took the shot, dropping Ringo on the ground, leaves still hanging from his mouth.
"Ringo? As in Ringo Starr?" Dan laughed. "Unbelievable."
Joel chuckled. "Yeah. Guess he was the last Beatle."
Dan made quick work of removing Ringo's innards and lifted the bucket. "So, tomorrow then? Only two more to go."
"Yeah. Two more. See ya in the morning." Joel sauntered away deep into the trees leaving Dan to his work.
A gray squirrel sat on the log and watched the gory scene and Dan wondered if squirrels were smart enough to talk.
"Hey there, Nutsie. What do you say?" He held the bucket and waited.
The squirrel twitched its tail and hunched down, staring at Dan with dead, black eyes.
"Guess your peanut brain ain't made for words. Too bad." He whistled a tune and walked back to the ATV.
"Douchebag." The squirrel muttered.
The next morning Dan loaded up and headed out at sunrise. He walked with a swagger and confidence that no other hunter ever had. With any luck Joel would still help him bag more deer once the last of the bullies was gone.
He walked into the woods, empty bucket in hand and waited for Joel. After ten minutes he heard a soft whisper.
"Go back to the creek."
Dan nodded and walked with stealth toward the kill zone. He recalled the look on Tony's face when he brought in the buck from the previous weekend and smiled.
He ducked behind a tree and waited, staring ahead through the scope, ready to take his shot.
Soon Joel and a huge buck appeared and the buck looked pissed off.
"What do you want, idiot?" He was nearly foaming at the mouth.
Joel stood tall, a little too confident for a fella his size. "I just want an apology." He stepped away so Dan could take his shot but nothing happened.
"Nothing." Joel coughed. "Just waiting on that apology."
The buck laughed. "Nope. See, it’s you that owes me an apology."
Dan lay on the ground, the back of his head throbbing and his thoughts a jumbled mess. "What the--"
The biggest deer Dan had ever seen towered over to him, staring him in the eye. "Don't make me kick you again. Next time, I won't let you live."
"Y-yes sir!" Dan cowered, the scent of musk overwhelming. He turned his head to look at Joel and gasped.
Joel lay on his side, trembling. "Please, don't hurt me. He made me do it!" He pleaded, nodding toward Dan.
"Bullshit. Squeakers saw you with him and he saw him take out Ringo too." He huffed a deep breath. "It’s just like you to have someone else fight your battles."
Joel cried out. "I'm sorry, Billy!"
Billy stared at his brother. "So am I."
A single shot echoed through the trees and Joel's eyes flashed open wide as he felt the bullet pierce his skin.
Dan closed his eyes as Joel convulsed and waited for the buck to kick him in the head again, ending it all.
"He's all yours if you want him." Billy’s hot breath tickled Dan’s cheek.
Dan opened his eyes and shied away from the two deer. "Oh. Okay."
Billy looked back at his dying brother. "I never thought it would come to this but he had it coming. I hope he gives you the shits, you bastard." He nodded at the other buck. “Let’s go, Mork.”
Billy strode away with the other buck and Dan crept over to Joel, careful not to jostle his aching head.
"Dan..." Joel gasped, eyes lolling in his head and foam coating his black lips.
Dan wept. "I'm sorry Joel, they were gonna kill me. I had to do it."
Joel's chest rattled and Dan touched his blood-soaked rib cage.
"You're a good friend, Dan." Joel whispered, his eyes slipping shut until he was completely still.
His shoulders heaved with every sob until he was hoarse and exhausted. With a shaky breath he pulled out his knife and sunk the blade into Joel's belly, trembling at the blast of warm air that rushed from the opening. His tears mixed with the bloody organs as he placed them in his bucket.
He carried Joel the entire distance to the 4 wheeler and secured him, taking care to cover his body with a tarp. He drove away, tears streaming down his face. "I won't eat you, Joel. I swear it. You deserve better than that."
Months passed and Dan sold off his ATV, 4 wheeler, and his guns. He gave away all the meat from the deer and bought himself a fishing rod and fishing license. One night while sorting through his lures he held up a pink spoon lure and laughed. "Look at this one, Joel."
The small, stuffed deer next to Dan’s chair stared ahead with shiny glass eyes and a ridiculous smile on his face.