I staggered out to Phil’s waiting truck the next morning, feeling like death and wondering why I’d agreed to this. Ryan had coffee and some donuts waiting in the car. Stereotypes exist for a reason, but they helped me wake up.
“Dude, you look like crap,” Tony said as he scooted over to make room for me. Phil’s truck was a Ford F250, but five guys were about all it could take.
I grunted in agreement.
“What time you stay up to?”
“I don’t know? How ‘bout you?”
“I stayed up ‘til about midnight . . . you remember Shelly, that girl I told you about? Well, we went to Sullivan’s last night-”
Phil cut us off. “Hey, guys, listen to this!” He turned up the radio.
“-old that officials are planning to hire hunters to dispose of the animal. The bear in question is believed to be responsible for the deaths of three hikers in the area and a good deal of property damage. Walter County officials have responded to the complaints and have classified the creature as a nuisance. We can expect official word on this within the next several days. In other news, the Dow closed-”
Phil turned the radio off and turned to Josh. “Isn’t your cabin in Walter County?”
“Uh-huh. That’s where we’re hunting. Scared?”
“Heck, no, man. I’m just wondering if that thing’s been in your cabin. You did put some venison in there a few weeks ago when we went up.”
“Darn. You’re probably right. We’ll find out, I guess.”
We all continued to shoot the breeze all the way to Walter, talking about guns, girls, the bear, and who got the last filled donut.
Around five, we pulled into the dirt driveway of Josh’s isolated cabin. “Look’s fine,” Josh said hopefully, “Maybe he didn’t find it.”
He unlocked the front door and we all trooped in after him, shotguns over our shoulders. Josh cursed when he saw the shredded back door. “He’s been in here all right. Dang it.”
Tony collapsed onto the couch and pulled his Mossberg 500 out of its case. “No biggie, man. Just get a new door.”
“And a new freaking freezer,” Josh replied sourly, pointing at the destroyed remains of his icebox. “A whole deer I had in there . . .”
“How new was it?” Ryan asked, squatting down by the chewed-looking plastic.
“Fresh. As in, still oozing blood fresh.”
“Must have been hungry.”
“Yeah. Oh, well. Heck with it. Who wants to go hunting?”
We all made noises of assent and finished chugging our coffee.