Mature story. A hunting trip tale of a trophy far greater than antlers.
|“Welcome to the Walnut Bottom Dry Life meeting of A.A. I’m Zelda your chair for this evening,” the middle-aged woman announced with a cheesy smile. She stood behind the lectern and scanned over the gathering of fifty or so people, while standing on an aluminum folding mini-ladder. The introduction reading passed by with most attendees boorishly staring off into space. Only the newcomers paid attention. “Now for our lead speaker…I don’t know much about him but he’s been around Walnut Bottom for a few…He lives out past Beaver Run Creek and I’m was lucky to find as my week went to tatters and I saw him at the gas station so I pulled in and asked a favor…So I give you Josey…” she smiled as her lead got up from the corner with a cup of coffee in his hand. They exchanged pleasantries as he took his position.
Zelda didn’t move the ladder out of the way so Josey did.
He took a sip of coffee from behind the lecturn and looked over the crowd. He was a larger than average man, however, he had a face you could forget easily or mistake for someone else. He took a deep breath and began;
“My name is Josey and I’m a lush,” he flatly without humor stated. “This will probably be the shortest lead in the history of A.A. I don’t hunt…Nothing wrong with it. I know a bunch of you hunt…Even the girls…A fine sport. But I don’t. I use too, years ago. Here’s why I stopped. See years ago, up north where I’m from I took my oldest son hunting it was about 2006 maybe ’07…And the weather was wet, cold and rainy. So, after a few hours my boy…Oh he was about fifteen decided to quit. Me? I’m looking for that big trophy. I found it. I was walking down this tram trail and out of the brush explodes this doe running cover for this monster buck. Big son of a witch, cripes, get your face in the paper for that…Boone & Crockett trophy special. Easy shot, running, I used to shoot well, anybody with enough practice can make a running head shot…” he shrugged it off casually, sipped his coffee and went on.
“Snapped in, cross-hairs on that bad boy’s nose or so and guess what? Time stopped…Then it gets weird. It ain’t 2006 it’s now 21 May 1988 and I ain’t 38, 39 years old at the time…Now I’m 21. I’m not a hunter but a soldier in somebody else’s country. I’m looking down the scope of a rifle and I don’t see a deer…I see another soldier. And at 8:56 I make a decision and …”
Josey stuttered and faded off. Took another sip of coffee and regained his senses.
“…And at 8:56 in the morning I killed that young boy deader than a door nail…Some stuff you can’t forget…That was the best part of that day…Then the deer came back but time was still stopped. I had this epiphany. That the course of my life up until this point consisted of a thoughtful reaction to circumstances. Now I had this idea that I should decide on my own, for me not as a thoughtful reaction to circumstances. I thought about that…and I realized my next decision would set the tone for the rest of my life. When time began moving…. I didn’t shoot. I went back to camp, cleaned that rifle and haven’t picked it up in…. Oh…Eleven years or so. I got my issues but now fear doesn't make the wolf seem bigger...I’m Josey, I’m a drunken bum…I’m going outside and have a cigarette…”
As he left the lectern, shuffling along along the basement wall of the church toward the back doors, the loudest sound was that of silence. As he fumbled for his cigarettes, he simply said to no one, “Those who don’t learn…Experience…”