“If some guy is gonna fuck my wife, you had better make sure he’s wearing a condom,” he yelled at her, “…and why did you have to fuck such an asshole?”
“I used something, don’t worry.”
“I used a diaphragm.”
“I don’t care about him getting you pregnant… who knows how many skanks he’s fucked before you?”
“I wouldn’t worry about that.”
Terwilliger stalked away and started to look through his closet for something to wear. Finally, he would be free to bone and pursue the other hot girls that were always flirting with him. He would be free to move his stuff to his own apartment. He’d get his pal Schleppo to help drive his stuff away in boxes. He thought about the hot young brunette who was ready to bone him. He saw a clown’s costume in the closet and wondered where that came from.
The sound of Ryebread, the English Setter, whimpering and drooling finally woke him up.
Terwilliger looked out onto the frost covered field and saw a brown figure.
He reached for his glasses off the bookshelf in the study and saw that in fact it was a white-tailed deer. This is what this weekend would be all about. Stalking innocent prey. Although in this world, nobody’s that innocent, Terwilliger thought to himself as he cleared his throat. The dream was probably the result of a quick visit back to the college after all these years. The campus was right near where they had to drive to pick up the guns. Terwilliger walked on campus and remembered all the different girls he had hooked up with. As he saw attractive young co-eds walking around the student union building, an old, familiar feeling came back to him. He was still a hunter. Even twenty years later. A lion roaming the Savannah. Not the caged animal in a hamster wheel that society said he was. It was in his DNA… and in his dreams apparently. The deer wagged it’s white tail and sprinted off. Ryebread licked Terwilliger’s leg. The other guys were still asleep. The kitchen was littered with beer cans, empty bourbon bottles and a high school yearbook.
“Did you ever fuck Kelsey Beanbottom?”
“No, but I always wanted to.”
“Wow, Emily Cougar was hot back then… she had an all-American look.”
“Paul Gillespie was doing her in college.”
Earlier in the day Moose and Terwilliger were battling it out at Whiffle ball with some of the other early arrivals.
“He tagged you last time… back him off the plate.”
“After this inning let’s pick up the kegs and the weapons.”
It was late fall early winter. No real snow yet. The brown leaves fell effortlessly from the trees like lop-sided spinnakers and pinwheels with no concerns about deadlines or responsibilities. The wind called the shots at this time of year. Terwilliger had called it an early night. He kept to himself pretty much and got his sleep. He remembered that line from an old Spaghetti Western — that if there’s going to be any shooting that a man’s gotta get his rest. After letting the dog out, Terwilliger spotted a roach. He lit it. Took a deep toke and exhaled. The other guys would wake up soon. Moose had ordered the UFC fights on pay-per-view.
Terwilliger’s business meeting in the Mid-West was nearly a total disaster. A missed connecting flight and a wasted afternoon bumming around Chicago, then hanging out in the Admirals Club lounge at the airport listening to the sound of other harried executives working the phone, typing away on their laptops while the news stations discussed the scandal of the day on the large flat screen TV sets. At least The Admirals Club was a much more civilized place to stew than outside amongst the unwashed masses congregated like mindless robots at over-crowded gates. The fix was in and the look of unhappy travelers getting bumped from their overbooked flights could be found all over O’Hare… if you knew where to look. Terwilliger did his standard dog and pony for the execs at the multi-billion dollar factory. It seemed to go well. But one couldn’t predict anything these days except that life would continue to be extremely challenging and that the stakes would continue to go higher and higher. Would dumb luck or desperation move the fates to hand Terwilliger a straight flush or more garbage? There was no way to keep bluffing the inevitable if you decided to go all in. The price was simple. A man’s life. The ante was marriage, fatherhood and business ownership.
The left-over wine tasted alright for 8 am. Cabernet Sauvignon. Terwilliger didn’t know if 2015 was a good year for wine. From a business standpoint his entire year had been one slow downward spiral into the crapper. The latest business pitch was little more than a hail-Mary attempt to save his business from being shuttered. But enough about all that thought Terwilliger. The day would soon begin in earnest.
Joking and coffee and bagels from the corner store and then soon the talk would move toward what a fine day it was for shooting.
Apparently they take their hunting seriously in Wyoming. The Ad executive who had invited Terwilliger to be a part of the recent pitch had shared what he thought was a brilliant ad campaign idea in the prep meetings before the pitch. He had shot a deer and was going to have someone film him ripping its heart out. It would be symbolic of what the competitor’s business strategies were doing to America.
“Maybe it would go viral on YouTube.”
Terwilliger was relieved when the idea was shot down.
“Yeah, it probably wouldn’t play to well in Peoria or Main Street.”
Still, Terwilliger had to admit he was looking forward to having a gun in his hands again. It had been a while. He couldn’t wait to pull the trigger.
“This is our way of telling old age to go fuck itself,” exclaimed the Red Baron as he filled his gun with ammo. All around Terwilliger, the other guys were also starting to suit up and get ready for the hunt. The Red Baron, Moose, the Professor and the Rooster.
Terwilliger’s group would go out first. As they walked gingerly down the steep slope of Moose’s upstate compound, they saw two white-tailed deer jump out of hiding and scamper off with powerful leg kicks. The hunt was officially on as the two groups entered the woods from different directions.
Weather-wise it was a perfect day. Not too cold. Plenty of sun. Of course, they were getting a late start after a late night of carousing and being guys. The short ribs were consumed down to the last bone after being cut into pieces, and marinated. They had all ripped into the stacks of charred juicy flesh and washed it down with Genny cream ale from a keg and shots of bourbon. The meal had satisfied Terwilliger in a way that salads and iced coffee at his office never would.
He was a guy.
He felt at peace now at last… walking through the woods, trying to be quiet while stepping on broken tree limbs. He enjoyed being the hunter even if he knew that he was also the hunted.
Terwilliger stopped and listened. Nothing. He wondered who would get the first kill.
In the corner of his eye he thought he saw something move. It had only been about twenty minutes or so. Terwilliger suddenly felt like he was being watched.
The only thing to do was to turn, pivot and shoot. Terwilliger’s adrenaline had set his heart racing. The first kill was all his.
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop!! The first round of shots hit neighboring trees.
Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop Pop!!… “Owww!!!!”
Terwilliger recognized Moose’s anguished scream… but he kept firing anyway.
“Stop T-bone, Stop! … stop firing!!! Moose is dead! Stop shooting.”
Terwilliger couldn’t stop himself. He couldn’t believe that shooting the gun had felt so good.
Later that night at the poker table no one talked much about the second day of the Turkey Shoot weekend.
Beer, bourbon, pizza and cards were on the menu.
The stars poked out between the trees.
The talk drifted to sports and family, business and the girls from the past who had shared their favors with some of them.
The guys had all known each other for over twenty-five years.
The next morning it would be time to return the empty kegs and guns and stow the unused case of paintballs in Moose’s country home basement until next time.
It would be Sunday and there would be no great rush to file into their family-sized SUV’s to hit the Taconic… and drive back home… faster than any of them could imagine… to their many important things to do… and many important things to be.
Header photograph: FullSizeRender(1) courtesy of Adam Kluger