Word Count 492
Blood in the Valley
By Nan Ressue
Guns were always a part of our family life from the beginning. Dad loved hunting with his whole heart which originated with many happy days in the woods with the men of the family .Bringing down his first deer as a teenager resulted in shouts of excitement and claps on the back from his father and uncles for the boy who had just joined the manly ranks of the clan.
“Great shot son”, praised his father,
“Look at that rack on that critter. What a trophy!” his favorite uncle chimed in.
As a young man, he went to work in the Remington test lab and got to shoot firearms every day, take them home and try them out until satisfied with their performance. He tried valiantly to instill the thrill of firearms in my brother and I , challenging us in target practice, races to see who could reassemble a hand gun the quickest, and finally, the first tentative hunting trip into the woods .
“Get your sleep tonight boys. We’re off early tomorrow morning”, he reminded us.
“Dad,” my brother Sam said quietly,” I really don’t want to go. It makes me want to vomit.”
Turning to look at him with both disappointment and disgust he said, “What are you? Some kind of sissy? When did you turn into a gutless wonder?” Looking at me to save the day, he continued, “This will be something you’ll be proud of. Anyway, I’ll need you to come along and help me drag it back to the car if we get lucky.”
I decided to pacify my parent and agreed to go along but my brother wouldn’t.
Trying to whip up enthusiasm he said,” Come on Joe. It’s a beautiful day to be in the woods. And you Sam, just stick around so you can help us butcher when we get back.”
It didn’t take Dad very long to get his shot and bring down a big buck not too far from the road. We watched the victim from a short distance away as the animal thrashed its last on the ground, blood spurting from an expert head shot. When the animal was finally still, we tied a rope around his antlers and grunted our way back to the car and heaved it onto the roof, tying the trophy down securely. We drove around the neighborhood a little bit before heading to the garage to string him up and drain the blood from the carcass.
“Wait here a minute Joe. I’ll get the butcher knives out of the shed and we can get started,” he said with anticipation.
He was gone too long.
Finally, I saw my father, ashen faced and his shirt soaked with blood, framed in the doorway, holding his dead child in his arms. In a voice I hardly recognized, he said<”You know something Joe,? I shouldn’t of shamed him when he told me why he didn’t want to go.”