The hunter vs. the hunted

by Elisse Miller

It was Sunday morning. The Wisconsin air was a warm fleece blanket held up by the stretching fingers of maples and evergreens.  Janie swung on the back porch swing, reading the Bible that Dwayne gave her for their 25th wedding anniversary.  She got up to start cooking blueberry muffins and bacon for Dwayne, as was tradition on Sundays.  As she scampered to the kitchen, her coral skirt danced at the top of her calves.  The creaking sound of the floor and bacon smell woke Dwayne, and he rose from his bed and put on his hunting garb.  Normally, Janie wouldn’t allow him to hunt on the Lord’s Day “Cause it just ain’t right,” but today, Janie found herself too loving toward Dwayne to deny him his favorite activity.

Dwayne and Janie Patterson resided in a log cabin Dwayne had constructed seven years ago.  He was a ruddy and stout man who, surprisingly for his age, had a head full of thick brown hair.  Janie was a doe-eyed blonde with a short torso, but legs that went on for days.  Their fuss-free cottage was composed of pale, yellowish wallpaper and a hard, blue carpet.  They shared a wardrobe of beaten flannel shirts and Wrangler jeans and their activities were few: Janie practiced needlepoint and Dwayne loved hunting. Both of these produced unique household decorations—a boar head watched the couple in the living room and a gazelle supervised their nightly slumber.  The real reason the pair moved to the deep forest, whether Janie knew it or not, was so Dwayne would be able to hunt more frequently, and in his own backyard.  Unlike most sports, Dwayne enjoyed hunting alone.  Sure, sometimes a couple of his friends from high school would drive up with a six pack of Budweiser and their newest guns, but Dwayne was so serious about his art that he preferred the concentration only a stinging silence can provide.

Janie called out to her husband, “I’m going to take a little walk, but when you get back, your breakfast will be ready.”

Dwayne swaggered out the front door and departed into the dense greenery that surrounded their cabin.  He donned a carefully crafted camouflage jacket and thick-soled black boots.  The sky had transformed from night’s black velvet to dawn’s baby blue chiffon.  Dwayne crouched and crawled at the speed of poured molasses on the leaf-littered forest floor.  He listened for the underfoot snap of a twig or the rustle of leaves caused by a hoof’s mistake.  After surveying the area with all five senses, Dwayne spotted one of the more beautiful doe deer he had seen.  The long grass partially disguised its long, branch-like legs.  They were smooth and coffee-colored with a few spots from age. Dwayne noticed something familiar about the animal; its curves were ones he had crossed before.  This intensified his instincts, and his passion for blood began to build.  A sigh left his parted mouth.  He lay prone to the ground, feeling the earth beneath him.  Under the weight of the gun, he slowly lifted his arms.  With the pull of one finger, the doe went down without any fight or struggle.  He darted over to his target.  Pride welled up inside him as he examined the reward of his efforts.  And as his prize carcass lay in a pool of maroon, he started to recognize her features.  Her fawn skin was a smooth tan he had grown to know very well over the past 25 years.  Her eyes transformed from two large tar pits to shallow green puddles that had once met him at an alter.  Blood leaked onto the coral skirt.  With a faint smile, Dwayne heaved his trophy over his shoulder, taking her to meet the others.