October 31, 2016
Hunting the Blind
“Natasha, you have to get up,” a voice says from the bedroom door. The footsteps walk away and I hear a door close.
I groan and readjust my body that was reverting back to my fetal position days. With a solid stretch, I rub my eyes and stare at the ceiling. I can hear footsteps crunching in the snow outside my window. I grab my shitty drug dealer phone and look at the screen, it’s dead.
I get up and shuffle to the bathroom with eyes half shut, untying my pajama pants in preparation. As I let the warm stream of pee flow into the toilet, I inspect my ripped bright green pajama pants slumped around my ankles, debating at what point do I have to get new ones before people start assuming I’m unhygienic. Fuck em’, I love these pjs. With that thought, I look up from the floor and stare at the bathtub.
There’s a dead deer laying in the bathtub.
Fur is plastered onto the tile walls with one hoof elegantly draped over the rim of the tub, blood dripping onto the floor. I look around the bathroom for reassurance that this is normal, but I’m alone in silence.
“Uhh,” I say to myself, as I quickly tear off a sheet of toilet paper. I recently became environmentally conscious, however, my reduction in toilet paper sheets makes me uncomfortable in securing the moisture when I wipe.
“Dan!” I call out in a slight panic. No one replies.
I wash my hands quickly, forgetting the soap because I figure that time is limited since there’s a dead deer in the bathtub. I leave the bathroom and quickly walk around the cabin. There’s a kettle of water boiling and a barrel of sauerkraut next to the fridge.
What…why is there… a deer…
“Where is everyone,” as I curiously peek around corners, “….Jim? Dan?” I call out.
I walk to the hallway, slip on a pair of winter boots and the first jacket I see. My feet are swimming in the boots, struggling to lift my feet up, I scrape my heels along the floor to the front door. The arms of my jacket are so long, you can’t see my fingers, so I spend a couple of extra seconds trying to turn the doorknob. I open the door and take a step into the snow with the only sound being heard is my breath.
“Dan! Where ar–”
“Shh,” a voice says.
I look around trying to find the voice.
“You look like you’re swimming in that jacket,” a voice says behind me.
I turn around, surprised, and see Dan who’s looking more tired than usual. His 6’4 frame peers over me as I stare at his beard which isn’t able to grow on his cheeks. He’s carrying a black backpack.
“Where were yo–”
“Talk quieter, you’re so fucking loud,” he says annoyed. “You know you’re voice carries, right?”
I make a disgruntled face and stare at him in silence.
“Better?” I whisper offendedly, I pause for a moment, remembering the deer, “did you know there’s a deer in th—”
“Give Natasha this gun,” a deep voice says behind him.
The man approaches us with a couple of rifles, handing one to Dan, who passes it to me. He has a thick head of peppered hair that matches his long beard. He’s wearing a camouflage jacket and is chewing on a toothpick.
“Can I have one?” Dan asks as he passes me the rifle.
“No, you’re an idiot,” he says with a growly voice, extending his arm that’s holding another rifle. “Here, give this one to Jim.”
Dan takes the rifle and holds it against his torso, making a face that’s similar to when you’re constipated.
My eyes bulge and I take a step closer to Dan, “are you fucking kidding me?” I whisper, “Jim’s fucking blind. What the fuck is he going to do with a rifle.”
Dan shrugs his shoulders, “ I dunno, but Jim gets a rifle and I don’t.”
“I had to help you put on your sweater yesterday because you couldn’t find the hole, so yeah,” I say as I wipe the steaming snot dripping down my nose, “I get why you shouldn’t hold a loaded gun.”
“Dan! Natasha!” the man calls out, “Jim’s waiting over here, let’s get going.” There’s a moment of silence, “oh and Dan, point the gun away from your face.”
Dan and I start walking towards the voice. My feet drag in the snow as I’m staring at Dan limply holding the rifle. I wonder if, at some point during this walk, he’ll shoot himself in the face.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to yell? Also, can someone please tell me why there’s a dead deer in the bathtub?” I ask, walking behind him.
“You’ll see,” he replies, adjusting his backpack.
As I walk behind him, I’m staring at the backpack which looks a little weighed down, “what’s in the backpack?”
Dan shakes his head as he continues walking.
We meet up with the man and Jim, who is holding a loaded rifle. Jim’s wearing Matrix-shaped sunglasses with red lenses and a navy blue toque. He’s getting acquainted with the rifle as he runs his fingers along the barrel then gently circling them over the trigger. I breathe nervously and casually move, using Dan as a body shield as I pretend to admire a tree.
“Natasha, you’re going to walk behind Jim and Dan will walk behind you,” the man says. Great, I have a blind guy leading me and a 6’4 jealous gun enthusiast walking behind me. “Oh,” the man continues, “since you’re the only one out of you three that knows how to use a rifle, you need to be the eyes and ears while I guide us.”
“Okay, but I –”
“What the fuck am I looking out for,” I mumble to myself as I shuffle my feet. “And who gives a blind guy a gun.”
Now piles up inside my boots as we walk up and down slippery slopes, through frozen streams and thick bush. All while the whole time I’m staring at Jim’s gun carelessly dangle off his shoulder in front of me.
The man hand gestures that we stop. We stop. He then gestures that we duck. We duck, falling into the snow and I hold my rifle, aiming it at a tree I found to be suspicious.
I don’t know what it is about this tree, but I genuinely don’t like it.
“14 o’clock,” the man says, staring at me.
“Oh fuck,” I whisper to myself. I keep the rifle in one hand while I try to figure out the time in the other. Okay, so 14 o’clock is 2:00 pm and then if this is the clock so, okay, right, up to the right. I point the gun to a single bush. As I lay in the snow, pointing my gun at the bush, I feel my pajama pants quickly getting wet and my feet starting to freeze. I should have just said I’m having my period.
“Let’s go,” the man growls quietly while waving.
We walk down a hill and come to a clearing with a steady river flowing through it. The only sound to be heard is the water, babbling down the river.
“Okay everyone,” the man lowers his rifle to his side. “Dan, give me your backpack,” he says, pointing to an area in front of the river, “Natasha, Dan, stand there. Jim, here’s the camera.”
I think I may die.
Dan takes off his backpack and hands it to the man. I hesitantly move into position and Dan puts his arm around my shoulders. Jim’s in front of us holding the camera up to his face, ready to capture a memory. I hear the backpack open behind us.
“Why is Jim taking a picture of us,” I whisper to Dan, “if he’s blind?”
“Just smile,” he mumbles back.
As I smile, I hear a large thud and then a splash. I turn my head to the side and see a deer head floating down the river. I quickly turn my head back, facing the camera.
“You carried a deer head in your backpack?” I say, twitching nervously as I smile.
“Apparently, it’s illegal to shoot deer here,” he replies, smiling.
“Right,” I mumble back, “also, why are we even smiling for the photo,” I say, relaxing my cheeks, “Jim’s not even pointing the camera in the right direction.”
“Jim!” Dan yells, “move the camera more to your left.”
Jim repositions the camera while holding it up to his face.
“A little more,” Dan yells and pauses for a moment. “No, no,” he waves his hand, “now a little to the right.”
“Why is the blind guy taking the picture?” I say, wiping my nose in the sleeve of my jacket. “There’s no one else on this mountain, why do we need to pretend to take photos?”
“If someone sees us,” Dan says smiling, “it looks like we’re just out for a family walk.”
“With rifles,” I reply monotonously, “this has to be the stupidest shit you’ve gotten me into. Not only that, I googled this mountain and found out that there’s a rehab facility close by where they literally beat the addicts sober.”
Dan stares at me in silence.
“Don’t deny it.” I say, resting the rifle on my shoulder, “I saw the YouTube video.”
I’m sitting at the dinner table, next to the barrel of sauerkraut. Dan is across from me and Jim is at the head of the table feeling a loaf of bread. A woman with a long black braid and thick long johns puts a giant pot of soup in the middle of the table.
I lean into the pot, smelling it with delight and entitlement, “ooh what kind of soup is this?”
I rip off a piece of warm bread and stuff it into my mouth. “It’s deer soup,” as she ladles it into my bowl.
“The one from the bathtub?” I say with a mouth full.
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