They sat around the campfire till moonlight. Tents were placed down the hill upon dried out pine needles and dirt. Greenery of summer had gone. Now it was browning leaves that crackled when stepped on.
A weekend away from wives, children, responsibilities. Just beer and deer. The men came to hunt. To go after the elusive buck. They’d take a doe if they had to.
Men wearing camouflage and bright orange hats. Half grown beards chisled on their faces . Smelling of burnt wood, alcohol, and weed.
John had brought a dime bag with him for the trip. The others did not mind. It’d been years since they’d gotten high. Two of them, Nick and Gary fell asleep with smiles on their faces while John and Tom stayed up all night philosophizing about politics, women, the war in Iraq, pulling out of Afghanistan, and the best way to strip clean a buck. These talks usually ended with both saying, Yeah man. And, I love you man. A real sense of brotherhood.
As the sun came up Nick and Gary loaded their guns. Checked little things like a full flask, cigarettes, a knife, and a flashlight. They also made sure their cellphones were fully charged. In case of emergency.
The two looked over at John and Tom and decided to wake them up by pissing as close to their heads as possible. A yellow stream ran down the hill and past the two on the ground. The two hunters decided to let them sleep, figuring that sooner or later the bright light in the sky would wake them.
John took off to the north while Tom stayed south. They used binoculars to survey the land. No deer. They walked further. This time east and west. Still, nothing. Then they heard a gun go off. A shot from a distance. Sounded like it came from behind. There was a quiet. Just silence. They did not move. They knew a deer must be close. The two began retracing their steps. And, more shots were heard. The hunters picked up their pace.
They then stumbled across a body laying in the weeds. He was bleeding; incoherent. Looked like the bullet hit him square in the back. He could not move. Blood began to pour from his mouth. His eyes wide open.
Tom called 911. It took awhile, but, paramedics showed up on the scene to call it. A life over. Dead. You know this is private property don’t ya? the medic asked. They nodded their heads. The police will want to ask questions, he told them. Yes, they responded.
It was reported as an accident. And no one ever fessed to it. A week later the four meet at a bar for drinks and Ohio State football. John and Tom stayed quiet for the most part. While Nick and Gary would celebrate touchdowns by saying, I love you man.