“First thing you do,” Lear said to his buddy who was along for the weekend and the first day of buck hunting season, “is look your quarry right in the eye.” Lear made a great show of demonstrating what he meant by contorting his face, twisting his baseball cap so the brim was backwards and then with his large massive frame, putting his hands to his hips just so, acting as if on a photo shoot for GQ magazine. He waited for the drama to take effect.

     Nyl busted up laughing, bending over with his hands to his knees at the antics of his friend. So this is how it’s gonna be?  And why not have some crazy fun on their getaway. It doesn’t get any better than being out in the great autumn woods of New Hampshire. They were looking forward to a little time for hunting, grilling their fresh kill and gettin’ in a whole lot of time for drinking and forgetting their troubles if only for the moment. They’ll be time enough to get serious later on. Their lives were falling apart back in town with everyone judging them on one thing, one thing that really was not their fault what with the small town minds always sticking their noses in your business. It’s a wonder that they lasted as long as they did. Keeping their mouths shut would have been their best option in hindsight. But to do what’s right by not backing down, to stand up and say it out loud, they knew there could be consequences. And now they are forced to face the town’s firing squad, better known as JD’s crew. In due time it’ll all get real ugly back home but that’ll be for later. Now’s the time for some fun while they can keep their sanity together. Their fate can be put off until the day after tomorrow.

     “Wait! Wait! It gets better!” Lear added to his repertoire by waving his hands and hurried towards the beginning of the trailhead. “The second thing you need to do,” he said with two fingers held in front of his face, “is not back down!” And with bravado he gestured wildly adding a head and chin movement accented with a whole lot of body swagger. Lear worked his audience of one as the theatrics continued. Now he pretended to be a star football tackle posturing in position with arms and legs braced, waiting and daring a confrontation from a brawny creature of the woods. Boldly, he became larger than life, pawing and grunting and becoming like one he was emulating. He convincingly played his role.

     “You’re killing me, man!” Nyl was beside himself in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. “I’m gonna have a heart attack, you idiot! Quit it!” he said trying to be serious. Lear decided he had one more act to perform to really start their weekend off on a high note. Lord knows they needed something positive to take the gloom off their troubles and jobless situation when they returned.

     “Okay,” he began, “for the third and final thing…” Lear made sure his friend was paying attention to his improv performance by waving three fingers in front of him. “So if the first thing doesn’t work,” he stated with one finger waving in Nyl’s face, “and then OMG, the second thing doesn’t work,” he continued now with frenzy in his voice, his breathing heavy and quick and picking up speed. Clouds were now causing a light and dark pattern swirling around them by adding to the mood Lear was setting as if it was all planned.  His two fingers danced in the air while he paced about adding an emotional twist to his antics. “Well, then the only thing left to do is…” Lear paused for the grand finale and the full effect his performance would have on Nyl, now with the added ominous cawing of crows in the distance. Suddenly, he yelled, threw his hands in the air and said “RUN LIKE HELL!” He took off running down the narrow trail, turned a corner and disappeared into the woods leaving his friend to wonder about what just happened.

     It took a minute or two until Nyl finally realized “the game” his friend was playing and began to follow the trail where he had just witnessed his friend bolt down like he was on fire. He proceeded with more stealth in his footsteps than his friend had exhibited in his recent outburst with feet pounding the trodden path. Five, then ten minutes went by and still no sign of Lear. Nyl walked into the woods realizing the further he walked the farther away from their truck they were. Everything for the weekend was in the vehicle that they had left unlocked with the windows wide open and keys on the seat. Nyl couldn’t believe their stupidity. He thought they’d go back in a moment or two, get their gear, guns and ammo and prepare for their outdoors foray into the woods. This was the #1 priority on the agenda. But the sudden whacky show his friend decided to put on was a distraction that put him in the middle of it too, making both of them not think of the consequences. It was certainly not the way to begin their weekend. They would need to get back, pronto, and figure out a plan before it got too late or something happened to the truck and all their stuff.

     Where the heck was Lear? This was getting crazier by the moment. He quickened his pace but suddenly something unforeseen in the pathway caused him to lose his balance and he fell heavily to the ground. Nyl groaned and rolled to his side and suddenly spied Lear rushing towards him. Before he could call out to his friend, Lear lunged toward him and slapped a hand to his face to cover his mouth. The two struggled a moment before Lear, his eyes wide, urgently cautioned him to be quiet motioning with a finger to his lips.

     Voices were heard in the distance and the sound was coming towards where they were on the trail. It was the sound of angry male voices repeating what sounded like someone’s so-called crime in the form of a cadence. Quickly helping his friend up, Lear gestured to a nearby grove of trees. Skipping over rocks and under tree limbs they reached a spot and stayed out of sight blending in as best they could to their surroundings. Breathing with exertion and a little fear they waited for who or what was coming down the trail.

     Silently they stood a distance from the trail yet not all that far away when you’re trying not be noticed. A group of men, six in total, all with beards, pushed and shoved someone trapped in the middle of this posse. His hands appeared to be bound in front of him and a blindfold covered his eyes. These men prodded and belittled their captured prey as he stumbled over the uneven turf. They were heading in the direction of the trail Nyl and Lear had come down and it came out to where their truck was parked. They silently looked at one another, thinking the same thing. What the heck is going on? Without moving a muscle as the caravan of bodies passed ever so closely by and past the place where they stood, Lear closed his eyes, slowly shook his head and whispered to Nyl, “We left our f#n’ badges in the truck.