Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hogs in the Bush


Lamar was cleaning his gun, the kitchen table spread with oily rags, a can of Gun Scrubber, another of rust protector, dirty cleaning patches and a cleaning rod. The rifle was bought cheap at the flea market on Dixie Highway, a thirty caliber Savage Hog Hunter painted camouflage green and fitted with a Leupold Hog scope. So far, his only experience with the rifle was cleaning it and drawing a bead on targets out back, dry firing and mouthing a soft “pow.” Over the past five days a hundred mockingbirds, armadillos and a tree full of squirrels had blown up with nothing more than trigger clicks and whispered ‘pows.’

“Lamar, take that damn gun out my face and go outside if you gon’ play Rambo. And get all that stuff off the table so I can make my potato salad,” Edna stood at the sink looking into the barrel of the rifle Lamar had aimed out the window directly behind her.
“It ain’t loaded.”
“I know it ain’t loaded, but that don’t mean I like it pointed up my nose.” She turned back to the stove poking at the eggs boiling for the potato salad.
“I’m gonna pick all this up and go call that hunting camp out on Hoops Road off of 305. If they're open on Saturday you’re going with me, huh?” Lamar put the rags and cans in a battered cardboard box and took it out to a locker on the back porch. He sat down on the steps, took out his cell and punched in a number written on the back of his hand, hollering back to Edna, “You going with me?” 
“Yeah, I’m going, you damn fool. If I didn’t you might kill somebody out there,” she muttered, scraping mustard and chopped pickles into a bowl of boiled potatoes.

Lamar talked to the man at the camp and found out that Saturday was a good day, the hunting open from daylight to full dark, $45 per person with an extra fee tacked onto to any killed game. Later that night they decided to drive out early on Saturday and see about hunting some wild hogs. Edna didn’t hunt, didn’t like to even hold a rifle, but enjoyed getting out in the country with Lamar. He had special hunting clothes all colored up like the woods for both of them and she said she would make some ham sandwiches to take along with the potato salad. Edna normally worked on Saturdays, but called a friend who agreed to cover for her. She'd been a beautician at House of Beauty in Codys Corner for fourteen years, where the owner didn’t much care if a couple of the girls switched days now and then. As for going along with Lamar out in the woods to hunt, the only thing she worried about was stepping on a snake, but Lamar said they didn’t have snakes at Buster’s Hog Camp.

He had to work late at the meat packing plant on Friday and by the time Lamar got home Edna had everything ready to go except his rifle and ammo, which she wouldn’t touch. She had the two camouflage outfits out of the closet and was wearing hers while she packed the food and cold drinks in the cooler. She said to Lamar when he looked at her funny, “I wanted to try it out and see if it’s gonna be comfortable.”
“What are you wearing underneath?”
“Nothing.”
“You ain’t supposed to be naked under there, Edna.”
She flapped a wrist at him and started fixing her hair, like the mossy polyester required a special hairdo that wouldn’t scare the wild pigs. “Nobody can see through it, you know,” she said, giving the fabric a quick spritz of perfume.
Lamar shook his head, going to the closet to get his new Savage and a box of ammunition.

By eight-thirty on Saturday morning Lamar and Edna were somewhere in the middle of 5,000 acres of woods and palmetto scrub, crashing along unconcerned about the noise they made. Edna plugged in her iPod and lit a cigarette, Lamar walking ahead looking for big game while the back beat of rock and roll leaked from Edna’s earphones. They’d been assigned a blind to use, but had gotten tired of waiting inside hoping a wild hog might wander out of the brush and up to the door. They left the cooler there and ventured out to see what the landscape offered. Lamar got a whiff of Edna’s perfume on the breeze and said to himself, “Perfume over the smell of that L&M cigarette…pigs around here have to be deaf and born without a nose.”

Edna gave a sudden shriek and ran up to grab hold of Lamar. “I knew I’d come up on a snake out here! There’s one under that tree right there.” She held tightly to Lamar’s arm.
“Well, you’re okay. It’s not gonna chase after you.” After a while they found a fallen tree that offered a good place to sit and look out on a creek some distance down a slope of pine trees.
“You getting hungry?”
“No, I’m okay for now. Let me have one of your cigarettes.”
She passed over her pack and for the next hour they sat in the sun-speckled glade enjoying the bird sounds and the burble of water in the creek. Lamar pointed out birds, letting Edna look at them through the scope on his rifle.

There was no sight of wild hogs, no sign that they ever passed by this pretty gap in the trees so they went back to the blind, Lamar watching carefully through the blind’s front slats while Edna played a game on her cell phone, colored light flashing off the screen in the dimness of their cover. Without turning his head Lamar said quietly, “You got that potato salad about perfect this time, Edna. I don’t think my mama could make potato salad that good.”
“Mmm…Hey, Lamar, you wanna fool around?” Edna whispered like there might be someone outside listening through the slats. She laid aside the cell phone and purred, “Light me a cigarette, will you? Do it like they did in that old movie we saw on TCM the other night. Light two at one time and pass one over to me. Lord, that was sexy.”
“In a minute. I gotta take a leak. Hold on and I’ll be back in a minute.” 

Lamar crawled out of the blind taking the rifle with him just in case. He walked a ways over to a tree and unzipped. In mid-stream he heard a rustling in the palmetto behind the blind and suddenly excited, peed on himself hurrying to tuck it in. Snatching up the Savage Hog Hunter he crept back toward the bushes where the noise had come from. There it was again, movement and what sounded like the snuffling of a big pig. Taking slow deep breaths, Lamar sighted the rifle on the place the fans of palmetto were shaking. His thumb slipped the safety off and letting his breath out slowly he squeezed the trigger splitting the silence with the crack of a thirty caliber round exploding from the rifle.

“Edna! Edna come out here. I think I got one! Come on and help me round him up.” Without waiting he ran over and began crashing through the stand of palmetto he had fired into. He stumbled deeper into the swampy green, his ears alert for the dying grunts of a wild hog. 

Then he was through and upon his quarry. But instead of a hog Lamar gaped at the sight of Edna standing by a tree naked, pants around her ankles. Speechless in the first moments, Lamar found his voice, shouting, “Edna! What the hell are you doing here? Why are you standing there with your ass in the wind? I could a killed you!”        
“Well, that’s just what I would expect of you, Lamar. Shoot me dead while I’m taking a pee. Thank the good Lord Jesus you’re a lousy shot. Evidently me and the hogs around here are safe for another day. Now gimme that gun. If we sight a hog I’ll give it to you and make sure I’m standing behind your sorry ass.”

6 comments:

  1. Well done. I was in that there hog blind with Lamar and Edna. As a writer it is always fun to deal with characters so different in nature from the run of the mill ones.

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  2. If you say they're originally from WV, I'm getting out MY hog gun.
    Hey, is that where Spam comes from?

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  3. Loved this especially since I remember the characters. A good description of them.

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  4. Are you paying over $5 / pack of cigs? I buy my cigs from Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 50% on cigarettes.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America