Archive for November, 2014

The Other National Holiday (Part 5 of 5)

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Carla was in the kitchen finishing the dishes when the phone rang.  It was 9:45. The sun was streaming through the window.  She put down the dish rag and picked up the phone.  “Hello, this is John” said the voice on the other end.  “Is Pat available?”  Carla tried to contain the naked mix of fear, anger and frustration surging up within her.  She knew who this was and what he wanted.  “Why can’t they leave us alone for one week?” she fumed to herself.  “Doesn’t Pat give enough?  Pat is such a hard worker and dedicated trucker he often has left unexpectedly to cover an overbooked load or help relay a load for a driver who had an emergency and needed to get home.”  No, John, he’s out taking his son on his first deer hunt,” she responded, “They are in a tree stand somewhere.”  “Sorry to bother you,” John apologized, “Have a good day and ask Pat to call me when he has a chance. “  Carla hung up the phone and stared out the window.

Oblivious of the hunters in the near tree, the buck took a few quick steps, stopped and lowered its antlers.  It raised its head, slowly ambled behind a tree and stopped.  A ray of sunlight coming through the leaves briefly highlighted the antlers.  This was at least a twelve pointer, maybe fourteen.  It was hard to tell in the brush. The tines were tall and rubbed shiny clean on trees.   While the buck was behind the tree, Luke very slowly rose to the standing position and quietly lifted his rifle.  He had a serious and resolute countenance.  A smile beamed across Pat’s proud papa face.

Pat was startled by the pulsation in his pocket.  Damn!  It was his cell phone.  Fortunately, it was on vibrate.  He didn’t like to take the cell phone on hunts, but it was essential in the event of an accident.  He swiftly and quietly reached in his pocket and hit the ignore button.  The buck, singly absorbed with mating, didn’t notice.

Below and 20 yards away behind an old hickory tree, the buck sported a considerable rack of antlers. Its neck looked like a professional athlete, swollen from the rut.  Luke had never seen horns this full except at the sporting goods store on the wall.  Straining to see through the brush, Luke saw the head and the rear of the beast but the middle where the vital heart shot should be was blocked by the tree.  The buck lingered behind the tree, head down, grazing on acorns.  The squirrels recommenced their raucous games.  The buck raised its head looking back at the commotion but didn’t advance.  The grand animal was behind that hickory tree for a very long time.

The rifle was heavy in Luke’s hands.  Luke’s arms started to ache as the oppressive weight of the gun increased.  Luke held the Marlin as he had been taught, left elbow directly below the stock and right elbow horizontal to ensure a smooth trigger pull. As he lined up the sights and waited for the buck to emerge from behind the tree, time stopped.  It seemed like forever. Luke tried with all his strength to control his heartbeat and breathe slowly, but the interval was exacting.  He looked down the barrel to the sight.  The tip of the gun did lazy eights as the burden increased.  Arms grew weary.  Luke drew on all the willpower left in his young body and steadied his rifle.  He calmed himself by thinking of his much lighter BB gun and his target range out back.

The gun became lighter.  The buck took two steps from behind the tree.  Luke aimed for the heart, held his breathe and slowly squeezed the trigger.  The projectile whizzed towards the target.  Luke was so excited he hardly heard the shot crack and echo throughout the forest.  The buck jumped high in the air, twirled and crashed through the bushes out of sight.  Another loud shot dropped the doe in her tracks.  Luke looked back and saw Dad smiling as he lowered his Weatherby.

Luke wondered if he missed his shot.  “Did I undershoot?  Did I shoot over his back?” Luke speculated, “I hope I didn’t wound him.”   Deep in thought, Luke replayed the shot over and over in his head.  They settled back down on the bench up in the tree.  There was no longer a need to be still.  “Should we go look for him?” Luke asked his father.  “No,” Pat advised.  “If he was gut shot, that would scare him and he would just run into the next county on adrenaline.  Let’s wait about 30 minutes and then we’ll track him.  That will give him a chance to lie down and die.  I’m pretty sure you hit him.”

A few minutes passed.  It was 10:15.  No longer hiding in the shadows, Luke warmed in the morning sun.  Pat reached in his pocket and looked at this cell phone.  It was a call from his dispatcher at the terminal.  There was a voicemail.  Pat listened to his voicemail as they sat up in the tree stand.  “Pat, this is John,” said the message, “We are overbooked this weekend.  I wondered if you could come out of the house and help.  Give me a call when you get a chance.”  Pat grimaced.  Not only had the call almost ruined the hunt, but he had spent the last month, week and three days dreaming of spending a few days with the family.  He had planned this week of family time and gave the terminal plenty of notice.  He intended to leave out next week and work through Christmas.

Often Pat left home early to help out.  The internal debate circled in Pat’s mind. He worried whether refusal would mysteriously cause him to be tendered fewer loads.  At his last company, it was well known amongst drivers that dispatchers would retaliate.  He didn’t know if this one would.  He didn’t want to find out the hard way.  He was anxious about making enough money to provide a good Christmas for the clan.  Pat knew his plans would be dashed if freight slowed unexpectedly before the holidays.  January and February were always slow freight months.  He had to plan for that.  November and the first part of December are normally good, but one can’t count on it.  The economy is uncertain.  Things have been spotty.  He recently spent hours at truck stops listening to the negative talk of other drivers.  Pat removed himself from the scuttlebutt.  It was the only way to maintain a positive attitude.  There is a lot of time to think on the road…sometimes, too much.  One way trucking is a gamble.  The only sure thing is the load being offered now.

“And yet my family is the most important thing in my life.   The job exists for my family, not the other way around,” he concluded.  He looked down at Luke.  This was Luke’s special day…his first hunt and maybe his best.   Time with his family trumps worries about money.  He pushed aside his fears.  Pat would not leave.  He saw the concern in Luke’s eyes.  “Don’t worry, son,” he said, “We’re going to have a great week.  It’s already started out pretty good, don’t you think?”  A big grin broke out on Luke’s face.  Pat returned the call and informed dispatch.

At 10:45, they carefully descended from the tree stand.  The safety harnesses were removed and stowed in the backpacks.  Pat threw the backpacks to the forest floor and coached Luke as he watched him climb down.  The rifles were checked and lowered one at a time on the rope.  When they stood on the forest floor, Luke looked back up at the tree stand and stared in wonderment at how differently things looked from below.  Exposed, birds stopped chirping and the squirrels fled.

The doe didn’t move.  Dad made a perfect shot.  They slung their backpacks, picked up, reloaded their rifles and walked noisily through the leaves to where the buck had been standing.  Luke looked down and saw a speck of blood on a leaf and a patch of fur.  “I hope I didn’t just graze him,” he wished out loud.  He noticed a larger speck on a bush five feet up from the leaf.  They began tracking the deer and followed the clues through the trees and up the hill until they were 200 yards up in the cornfield.  He thought he saw a glint.  Luke looked up 40 yards away and saw a large antler sticking out of the grass.  The long tines protruded to the sky, gleaming in the morning sun.  They approached slowly with their guns loaded.  A wounded animal of this size could be dangerous.  But as they neared, the buck appeared to be dead.  Pat poked it with his rifle just to be sure.  It was.  They unloaded.  “Wow, this is bigger than any buck I’ve shot and I have hunted for years!” Pat announced, “Now, the real work begins!”

The next week, Carla was up late cleaning up from dinner.  They had enjoyed venison stew.   Luke proudly played the provider seated at the head of the table.  As promised, she packed Luke’s school lunch and put some deer jerky and deer sticks, made previously during the week, in the lunch pail.  The other kids in school would be in awe.

In town the taxidermist smiled as he worked on the trophy mount.  His skills were employed in crafting Luke’s Christmas presents, a mount, a tanned hide, and a gun rack made from the deer hooves.  This was the best trophy deer he’d seen this year.

In his room, Luke lay in bed and thought about the week with his Dad.  He would dream about this all night.  Dad made lifetime memories for the boy.

Pat sat late at night in a diner at the truck stop.  He had run hard since leaving home.  He was paid by the mile and the only money last week at home was that going out the door in truck payments.  He had some catching up to do.  The waitress smiled as she looked at the pictures Pat proudly showed on his smart phone…a proud Dad and a happy son posing in front of Luke’s first buck.

And in the gun safe in the basement were two rifles, side by side, carefully cleaned and locked away.

Copyright 2012, Tom Kretsinger, Jr.

 

The Other National Holiday (Part 4 of 5)

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As Luke listened for the sounds of deer in the dark, he was suddenly startled nearly out of his skin by a loud noise and the rush of wind followed by a large crash of leaves on the forest floor below.  Pat, trying to be quiet, couldn’t help but chuckle out loud at the look on Luke’s face as the Tom, now on the forest floor below, started gobbling and strutting.  The turkey, upon hearing his laugh, danced off into the brush.  The sounds the turkey made in the leaves were a stark contrast to the previous quiet of the forest.  Luke laughed too once he realized that the sound and wind was a large gobbler flying down from his roost from the tree right next to him.  “How did I not notice that our tree stand was surrounded by turkeys roosting in the trees?  What an incredible wingspan!  I had no idea how big a 26 pound bird looked up this close,” Luke mused. “I’m going to learn to hunt turkey too so I can bring Mom a bird for Thanksgiving.”

The excitement died down and they settled quietly back into their seats on the tree stand.  Luke had been warm when he climbed into the stand from the walk, but now the breeze picked up a little and he felt cold sinking into his body.  His rear end was also starting to hurt from sitting on the 2 x 10 board.  He heard a tapping and looked over to see a red headed woodpecker bouncing his beak off a tree about 4 trees away.  How persistent the little bird was.  At this pace, it would take the woodpecker all day to drill the desired hole in the tree.

In the distance, cattle from a neighboring farm started bawling.  They were conditioned to being fed at this time each morning.  Apparently the farmer was late with breakfast.  A farm dog started barking to remind the rancher that it was time to get up and put breakfast on the table, or in the troughs, as the case may be.

From far away a loud crack echoed through the woods.  It was followed by 4 more loud cracks.  “They must have missed,” Pat said in a low, quiet voice.  “A good hunter gets his deer on the first shot and aims carefully.  It is a shame to wound an animal.”

The herd, which has since moved from the cornfield to the edge of the woods where it met the field on the other side of the hill, suddenly lifted their heads, ears and white tails erect at the sounds of the distance rifle.  “These are not normal forest sounds,” thought the old doe.  Her white tail signaled the warning, “These are not farmer sounds.  Danger lurks out there.”  The herd then knew it was Opening Day.  They trotted along the edge about 100 yards closer to the stand, then forgot and lowered their head to the frosty clover.  But the old doe’s head rose to check more often.

Pat and Luke continued to scan the woods for any hint of deer.  It was 7:00. The sun had peaked just up on the horizon so that it was half visible.  The moon was fading as the sun rose. The orange, yellow and pink rays gradually worked through the branches, brush and leaves as dawn crept to the stand.  Luke watched the familiar hues of brown, rust, yellow and green as the shadows were pushed down the ravine. How great it is to be outside to watch the woods awaken from their perch high up in the tree!  Luke was anxious for the sunlight to move to their place, hoping that it would warm him up some.  But they were on the dark side of the tree.  As Dad said, they didn’t want the sun to shine on their faces.  If they put their stand on the sunny side, the deer would certainly see them before they could even see the deer. The breeze came from their backs and blew their scents down the hill.  It was a perfect set up if the deer came from behind.

300 yards away over the hill, the old doe, suddenly alert again, jumped and bounded forward about 30 yards.  A buck came slowly out of the woods nose to the ground.  His neck was swollen by the rut.  A few minutes later a very large buck entered the edge, looked at the smaller buck and grunted.  The young buck wisely decided to move on.  Better seek other territory for does than take on this old monster.  Maybe next year, he would assert himself.  But not now.  The old buck was too strong with its large rack of antlers.  The young buck hurried away at a fast clip as the doe trotted another 25 yards along the edge.  The large buck followed slowly with his proud antlers, nose to the ground.

Luke had been afraid that he would be bored sitting in a cold tree stand all day, especially if they didn’t see any deer.  There were no televisions, no cell phones, no computers, no Ipods, just the quiet of the woods.  He now understood what his father had said.  He learned the woods weren’t so quiet.  There were lots of interesting things to see and hear.  He was camouflaged so well, the birds and animals had no idea he was there, as long as he was still.  He stared in fascination as a Nuthatch slowly worked its way up a branch in his tree.

Abruptly, the silence of the woods was broken by the distinct crack of rustling leaves behind him.  The sounds seemed to resonate throughout the valley!  His heart beat faster with excitement.  Was it a deer walking up from behind?  He knew from his Dad’s lessons that the worst thing he could do would be to turn around and look.  That would spook the deer.  Luke listened closely, still as a statue in the stand, and he heard another rustle of leaves;  then a couple seconds of silence, then another rustle.  He was failing to control the beating of his heart.  It seemed so loud that surely it could be heard.  Luke feared missing a shot from shaking.  It seemed like deer were right under the tree behind him.  After the noise increased in succession, he carefully and slowly grabbed his gun, lifted it, and turned around all the while trying to control the adrenaline coursing through his body.  He finger was on the safety.  It quivered a little.  As his head turned enough to see behind him, to his surprise, there were no deer.

“Squirrels!” Dad grunted, “No matter how many times I’ve been hunting, they fool me every time.”  Luke double checked his safety and placed the rifle back in a secure corner of the stand.  He watched as the squirrels chased each other up and down the tree, down and through the leaves, over and under a fallen branch.  It looked like they were having fun.  Finally, one scurried up the tree next to them, while the other grabbed an acorn in his little front paws and banged it repeatedly on a rock.  “Even a blind squirrel sometimes finds the nut. You were shaking,” Dad whispered with a smile, “Are you cold?”  “No, excited,” Luke admitted.  It was 8:30.

They settled back down and after a while things became very still again.  Luke stared at the woods.  Through the trees and brush he could see 50 yards at best.  Every horizontal branch looked like antlers.  Luke squinted his eyes and stared to see if any of the branches moved.  His Dad had good “deer eyes” but Luke was still learning.  When the branch he was staring at didn’t move, he would look at another area.  He thought he saw some white in the distance.  Perhaps it was a whitetail.  He borrowed his Dad’s binoculars and studied it carefully.  White is an unusual color to find in the woods except for Sycamore trees and deer.  He decided it was an old Styrofoam cup someone had left.  He made a mental note to take it to the trash when they were finished.

It was 9:30 when the leaves rustled in the distance behind him again.  “Squirrels, I’ll bet,” he thought to himself.  Then quiet… then the leaf sound again.  Something sounded a little different.  He couldn’t put his finger on it.  He gripped his rifle and raised it up upon the rail surrounding the stand. Again…the rustle of leaves… then quiet.  Maybe a deer was approaching slowly.  The noise started and stopped about each five minutes.  It seemed like he had been hearing these sounds for an hour.  He wasn’t going to turn around and scare it off if it was a deer.  He looked, frozen in place, down the ravine below and listened. He was no longer cold.  Again… the sound of leaves…then stillness.  After a long while, Luke looked down through the corner of his eye to see a doe crossing below their tree.  She was oblivious of the danger posed by the hunters up above.  Dad slowly shook his head.  He didn’t want Luke to shoot yet.  Luke couldn’t understand why.  Here was a deer right under them and Dad didn’t want him to shoot it!  The doe worked its way slowly down the ravine ever closer to the place where the wind was depositing their scents.  She disappeared behind a tree, and after a few minutes appeared again.  She took a couple steps, lowered her head to the acorns below, and then raised her head, freezing in place.  She repeated the procedure over and over. Each time her tail rose to the halfway point and her ears searched for danger.  Luke’s heart was beating fast and his hands were shaking.  He tried to fight it.  He knew he must be calm to shoot straight.  Dad had warned him about buck fever.  He had it bad.

She stomped the ground with her front hooves and then looked behind her.  This was the moment of truth.  It seemed she had caught their scent. She was going to get away.  Then behind them, Luke heard a distinct grunt.  Luke now understood why Dad didn’t want him to shoot.  The big buck was following this doe, nose to the ground.  Luke’s heart was beating faster.  He tried with all his will to control the shaking.

Copyright 2012, Tom Kretsinger, Jr.

The Other National Holiday (Part 3 of 5)

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Luke opened his eyes and looked at the alarm clock.  It was 3:45 am.  Luke was 10 years, one month, one week and 3 days of age.  He rolled over worrying and wondering if his Dad made it home last night.  But then he smiled as he smelled breakfast cooking.  The door opened and the hallway light beamed into the bedroom.  Through the crack Luke saw his Dad’s smiling face.  “Rise and Shine, Hunters!” Pat proclaimed.  “There’s a big buck somewhere out in those woods!”

Luke scrambled out of bed, went to the bathroom and then into the kitchen where a steaming plate of pigs in a blanket and a glass of orange juice welcomed him.  He was excited to go, but Dad said they had plenty of time to eat breakfast and get out to the stand before sunrise.  As Luke put maple syrup on this pancakes and sausages, his rising excitement drove the remnants of sleep from his head.  “Do you think we’ll get the big one today, Dad?” he asked earnestly as if in prayer.  “One thing you will learn about hunting, Luke,” replied Pat, “is that those who bag the big buck usually have spent many cold days and hours in the tree stand without even seeing a deer.  It’s fun to get the big trophy deer, but the best part of hunting is being a part of the woods.  We’ll have a great experience, even if we never see a deer.  You’ll see.”

After breakfast, they geared up and Luke carefully handled his rifle for the first time in one month, one week and three days.  As he was taught, he picked it up making sure the barrel was pointed in a safe direction and checked the safety three times even though it was not loaded.  They stepped out into a crispy, frosty night.  The full moon had a halo around it and the night was full of more stars than Luke had ever seen.  He couldn’t remember ever being up this early in the morning.  He decided right then, that in the future he would get up early for school so he could feel the cool embrace of nighttime under the stars again.   Even though the rifle and his backpack were heavy, he was ready for the three mile walk to the stand.  “Did you check the safety?” Dad asked.  “I checked and double checked,” replied Luke.  “That’s my boy,” said Pat, “Hunting is no fun unless we are completely safe every minute.  Remember, you can be sorry, but you can never put the bullet back in the gun back once it has been fired.”

They headed down the trail as quiet as Indians under the full moon.  The shadows from the trees looked quite different at night.  Varying hues of gray, blue and purple lined the path.  The woods were perfectly quiet.  There were no birds chirping.  There was no wind.  The insects had died off by this time of year.  The only sounds were the sounds of their footsteps.  Luke tried to walk quietly but as they the trail led into the forest,  the sound of their feet on the frosty dry leaves on the ground sounded like a marching band in the still woods.  As they walked Luke thought about all the animals in the woods.  “Why was there no sound?” Luke thought, “Where are they hiding?”  They must be sleeping he decided.

Dad was a tall man with a long stride.  Luke had to take about two steps for every one Dad took.  He did it as quietly as he could.  After about two miles, up and down the hills in the woods, Luke was getting tired.  But no force on earth could make him complain.  The excitement pushed him forward.  On the other side of the wooded hill, unbeknownst to Luke, a herd of deer were eating in a cornfield in the moonlight.  As they walked through the forest, one of the older does quickly raised her head.  Her white tail rose halfway in an alert message to the rest of the herd, and her long ears swiveled back and forth zeroing in on the strange sounds in the woods.  Her tail was signaling, “I heard something strange in the woods.  You all eat, while I keep watch.  If I suddenly raise my tail up so you can see all the white, we’ll bolt!”  Pat wasn’t worried about the sounds they made on their progress.  Deer were sensitive to any strange sounds or scents, but they have real short memories.  They would eat and pause and eat again until Pat and Luke settled in the stand.  They would then forget whatever put them on alert.  When the sun rose, they would sneak back into the woods for acorns and cover.

Pat held the flashlight, while Luke carefully climbed the ladder into the tree.  As instructed, once he was seated in the stand he fastened his safety harness around the tree and then around his waist. He sat up in the tree on the cold frosty bench and looked down at his Dad.  He found the rope and lowered it to the ground.  Pat attached the rifle to the end of the rope after double checking to see that it was unloaded and the safety was on.  Upon a pull on the rope, Luke carefully lifted it up, untied the rifle and put it in a secure place in the stand.  This procedure was repeated for the backpacks and finally Pat’s Weatherby.  Lastly, Pat climbed up to the stand, sat and secured his safety harness.   He handed Luke three rounds of ammunition.  Luke cocked the rifle and carefully loaded the rounds.  How smoothly it clicked as he cocked the gun and cycled the round into the chamber.  He double checked the safety again.  When this was completed under Dad’s close supervision, Pat loaded his rifle and switch off the flashlight.  It was dark as their eyes readjusted.

Then all was still and perfectly quiet.  It was 5:30 am.  “Keep still and I’ll tap your shoulder when it is legal shooting time.” Pat whispered.  They sat up in the tree on that still moonlit morning.  The forest sure looks different from up here Luke mused to himself.  This must be what it feels like to be a turkey on the roost at night.  The old driver and the young boy learning to be a man, sat quietly up in the tree, staring into and scanning the forest.

After about a half hour, the night sky began to gray on the eastern horizon.  The stars began to slowly fade.  The moon remained bright.  The stand faced west, so that the sun wouldn’t light up their faces in the dawn.  Somewhere out in the dark part of the forest, a hoot owl started hooting.  The noisy raptor was soon joined by intermittent hoots all around them, as the owls signaled beginning of the new day.  They were followed by the clucks and gobbles of turkeys.  Birds started chirping away.  The cacophony emerged from the previously still woods which sounded as if a conductor had signaled an orchestra to warm up.  Their safety vests and caps were slowing changing from gray to orange.

As the night grew lighter, Pat looked at his watch.  It was 6:30.  He tapped Luke on the shoulder and smiled, the moonlight accentuating the crowfeet around his eyes and the wrinkles on his face.  “Son,” he whispered quietly with a big smile, “It’s now Opening Day!”

Copyright 2012, Tom Kretsinger, Jr.

The Other National Holiday (part 2)

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Pat was deep in thought as he drove his eighteen wheeler down the interstate.  How could they take six hours to unload my trailer?  The load was all palletized.  All it took was 30 minutes once they started.  But they had him wait in the dock for 5½ hours before they started.  Pat normally would’ve taken it all in stride…after all, this is trucking right?  …and trucking is never perfect!  But this time was different.  Pat had a ten year old boy, excuse me, ten years, one month, one week and two (now three) days old boy who would be at home lying in bed worrying if Dad would be home in time for his first deer hunt on opening day.

As his lights peered down the interstate in the dark, they caught the tail lights of a car on the side of the road up head.  Pat geared down and pulled in behind the car on the shoulder.  He put his hazard lights on and climbed down from the tractor.  As he walked up to the car, he heard children crying in the back of the car.  He noticed the back tire on the car was flat and shredded.  Inside was a lady with two children buckled in their car seats in back.  They looked to be about 5 and 7 and were making all the fuss.  It was 10 o’clock at night.

He walked up to the driver’s side door of the car as the window rolled down.  The children were suddenly quiet.  “Thank you so much for stopping!” the lady exclaimed.  “No problem, ma’am,” Pat said, “looks like you’re having some tire problems.”  “Yes,” she replied, “I’ve been here for two hours and my cell phone is dead.  I can’t tell you how many cars have just driven by while we’ve been stuck out here on the highway.”  “Well, let me put my triangles out, then we’ll get you fixed and on your way. Have you had anything to eat?” Pat asked.  “No,” she said, “the children are hungry and have been quite a handful.”  Pat put out his triangles and came back with a couple ham sandwiches from his refrigerator.  She opened the trunk.  Pat pulled out the jack and tire tool and went to work.

It took about an hour.  The lady was very thankful and offered to pay Pat several times.  “No, said Pat, “Just do a good turn for someone else next time you get a chance.”  No one except the lady, her children and Pat would ever know of his kind deed.  After the lady pulled out, Pat gathered his triangles, secured them in the truck, climbed in and started again down the highway.  It was 11 at night.

At 1 o’clock in the morning, Pat turned his rig into the gravel drive leading up to the house.  He turned his headlights off so he wouldn’t wake anyone and navigated under the light of the full moon.  He backed the trailer up against the barn about 100 yards from the house, shut it down, grabbed his bag and walked to the house.

One light was on.  Carla sat up on the couch.  “Oh dear,” she said.  “I’m sorry it took you so long to get home.  You’ll be so tired tomorrow.”  “I wouldn’t miss this for love nor money,” Pat replied.  “I’ll get my gear ready, and catch a couple hours sleep before Luke’s big day.  He pulled the Rubbermaid tub with his hunting clothes out of the basement.  He went to the gun locker and took out the Marlin 30-30 and his Weatherby 30-06 and laid them on the dinner table.  He put his hunting boots by the tub and then settled down to have a grilled cheese sandwich which Carla made.  After he took a shower, he laid down.  He had two hours to sleep.  He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!

Copyright 2012, Tom Kretsinger, Jr.