Chapter 1 – How it Started

If I’d known that a simple turkey hunt would have caused me this much trouble, I would have stayed home. I’d been at my desk at the time, one late Friday afternoon, banging out an email to a customer, when my phone rang. I stifled a moan; it was almost time to go home, and now I was going to be stuck with another customer. Damnitall. I tried to sound halfway cheerful as I picked up the phone:

“Lifeway Insurance, this is Todd, how may I help you?”

“Hey, bro, it’s Tony. What’s up?” I grinned and leaned back in my chair. It wasn’t a customer; it was Tony Urso, a second generation Italian, fellow insurance salesman, and longtime friend of mine.

“Not much, man. You?”

“Same. Hey, me and a few guys are going turkey hunting this Saturday; we wanted to know if you wanted to tag along.”

“Sounds great, who’s coming?”

“Uh, me, you, Ryan, Phil, and I think Josh too.”

I grinned again. Great group of guys. Ryan Jackson was a college friend of mine, former sheriff’s deputy, and now worked at a pawn shop. Phil Carroll was his cousin, and owned the pawnshop where Ryan worked. Josh Mason was a fireman for the county, and Tony’s college roommate. We would get together often to hang out, or hunt, or whatever.

“Josh is coming?”

“Think so. He says he might have to work, but that depends on if some other guy at the station gets over a cold.”

“Hm. Okay. What time?”

“We’ll leave at about . . . oh, say three Saturday morning?”

“Hell!” 

“It’s a two-hour drive up there, and we’ll want to get there early.”

 “Yeah, yeah . . . okay, who’s driving?”

 “Phil. He’s got his new truck that can take all of us, and we can put the guns in the bed if it’s not raining.”

 “Works for me, man.”

 “Good. See you then.”

“Take care, Tony.” I hung up the phone and cleaned up my office, already in a cheerful mood. A turkey hunt would be pretty good; I hadn’t been in a few months.

I headed out of the building, my work day done. As I walked to the car, I tried to decide whether or not I should call Jean again. Jean was my current girlfriend, but we’d been having some rocky spots. I guess you could call it rocky, we hadn’t spoken in weeks, and I had a strong feeling she was seeing another guy. This bugged me more than a bit; it wasn’t like I was unattractive or particularly boorish. I was a 24 year old guy with a steady job, no beer gut, and a nice apartment. What was missing? I had actually posed this question to her once, and she had looked at me pityingly and said, “A heart!”

I’d thought that pretty stupid and told her so. That was actually the beginning of our non-talking period. I’d debated calling her and apologizing, but decided I’d wait for her to call me first.

I ruminated over all this as I got into my car, a Honda Civic. I sat down and started up with a slight yelp. I’d sat on my carry piece. I cursed silently and check to make sure no one had seen as I shifted my Springfield XD out of my rump area and closed the door.

 When I got home, I ordered a pizza and set to work readying my gear for the next day. I was planning to take my CZ Ringneck 201A and a few dozen rounds of #6 shot . . . that would work for the turkeys. I was such a crummy shot that I probably wouldn’t hit them anyway. After I ate, I watched a movie until I fell asleep on the couch, barely remembering to set my alarm.

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