THE MOVEABLE FEAST
could die out here.”
Hollister knew he was in
trouble. He had taken an overgrown path
that had split off from the main path and then had taken an even more overgrown
path from that split.
liked hiking and knew
from experience that the path less travelled sometimes led to rewarding views
and interesting animal life.
he had right now was of
two coyotes eying him warily from about twenty feet away as if deciding whether
to come closer. Overhead, near the top
of a tall pine tree, a hawk had landed and was also taking in the situation.
had not been paying
attention to his footing and had slipped from the path, falling about fifteen
feet down a steep incline. While trying
to slow his descent, he had done something to his ankle. He felt blood in that
hiking boot and had
almost passed out when he tried to move that foot.
just lay on his back
trying to think of a way out of this predicament.
an old cabin well off
the path had been what had distracted him.
He had slowed down and was trying to get a clearer picture of the cabin
when he stumbled off the path.
he now knew he should
have kept moving away from the cabin.
There had been smoke coming from the chimney and it definitely didn’t
smell like wood smoke. There was a
strong chemical stink to it that made Edward think about the stories he’d read
in the news about drug people in isolated areas making meth.
meth,” was the last
thing he had whispered to himself before falling.
that had been twenty
feet away were now only fifteen feet away.
“Shoo! Go on, get outta here!” Edward hissed at
tucked their tales
between their legs and retreated a few steps.
The larger of the two bared its teeth and gave out with a low growl.
was worried about going
into shock and passing out. The thought
of being unconscious with those two coyotes that close caused him to break out
in a cold sweat.
he had to have help
right now even if it was from druggies.
“Help! Help!” he called toward the cabin. “Can
anybody hear me? I need help!”
perked up their ears
and then ran off about thirty yards before turning around and looking back at
direction of the cabin,
a big mixed-breed dog, maybe part yellow lab or golden retriever, had come
barking and snarling at the coyotes. After sniffing at Edward’s broken ankle
for a bit it went back to barking at the coyotes.
was in pretty poor
condition. Edward thought it was either
feral or owned by someone who didn’t much care for it one way or the other.
all the noise, Jessie?”
came a voice from above Edward. “Whatcha
barking at a couple of
coyotes,” said Edward. “I’m Edward
Hollister. I fell and need help. I
think I broke my ankle.”
doin’ out here?” said
the man from up on the path. “Snoopin’,
no; I was hiking,” said
Edward. He tried to turn and look up to
see who he was talking to, but the pain when he moved just a little stopped
him. “Look, I’ve got some money with me
and I can get more if you can get me to a doctor.”
heard someone making
their way down the incline. A skinny,
dirty man who could have been thirty or forty knelt by him. He set a shotgun
on the ground next to him,
making sure it was out of Edward’s reach.
see whatcha got in yer
wallet, there,” he said, roughly moving Edward from his back onto his side.
swirled in Edward’s
vision and he almost passed out. “Go
ahead,” he gasped through clenched teeth.
“Take it; I’ll get more for you when I’m fixed up.”
just take most of it,”
said the man, taking cash from Edward’s wallet.
it all. You can have it all. Just
get me to a doctor.”
ain’t goin’ to no doctor;
you seen too much. If and when somebody
finds ya, it’ll look like ya just fell from the path. Death by misadventure
I think they call it.”
The man put Edward’s wallet back into his
pocket. He then roughly repositioned
Edward so he was lying crosswise on the ground.
hadn’t noticed it before,
but he had landed on a sort of ledge at the bottom of the incline. After that
ledge, there was another thirty-foot
incline, even steeper than the one he had tumbled down.
“Please! If you do this, it’s murder!”
said Edward as he looked down into the drop.
a man a little push
don’t seem like murder to me. Does it to
then put both of his
hands on Edward’s back and shoved him over the ledge. Edward rolled and
bounced and finally landed
in a heap at the bottom of the second incline.
were to use that
path, his body wouldn’t be visible from it.
the dog continued to
bark, the coyotes cautiously started to walk toward Edward. The hawk didn’t
even need to move. When the coyotes were done with their feast,
it would have what they left.
go, Jessie. I got work to do.”
Roy Dorman is
retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and is the
submissions editor of Yahara Prairie Lights. He has had poetry and
flash fiction published in One Sentence Poems, Near to the Knuckle,
Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Theme of Absence, Drunk
Monkeys, The Flash Fiction Press, Black Petals, and a number
of other online magazines.