Thursday, August 4, 2011

Third Person Thursday: Suspect Ted (Part Two)

This is part two of our latest continuing story.  You can read part one here if you haven't already before proceeding.  Enjoy.

“We’re no more’n a hundred yards from his property line,” Elmer said to John and cautiously looked around.  “From the sound of it, this is pretty close to the portion of his land where he’s doin’ his,” Elmer tucked his shotgun under one arms in order to air quote the word, “building,” with two fingers on each hand.

“What if he spots us?”

“Just a couple locals who used to hunt this land all the time ‘fore Paul Jenkins sold it musta wondered farther in than usual is all,” Elmer responded.  “Let’s go.”

John followed Elmer into the tree line.  He could hear the occasional sound of hammering and it seemed to get louder the further into the trees they went.  The two men proceeded quietly for a good ten minutes before Elmer spoke again.

“When we break into the open up ahead there,” he said, pointing a finger to noticeably greater amount of sunlight on the trunks of the pine trees several hundred feet ahead, “we’ll be pretty deep into his property.  So step lightly.”

John’s breathing became shallow and his heart started to race.  If their new neighbor Ted was anywhere near the threat Elmer suggested he might be, he feared what they might discover.  What’s more, John found it difficult to monitor his own footfalls when he was busy scanning the tree branches for surveillance cameras and booby traps.  Thus, Elmer continually turned and glared at him when he stepped on a twig or nearly tripped over an exposed root or rock.

Eventually, Elmer whispered harshly to him, “Just stay put,” and advanced to the edge of the trees alone.  John watched as he crouched suddenly and craned his neck to look over the stump of a felled pine.

John’s mind spun as he wondered what it was Elmer was seeing.  He watched as Elmer fumbled with his belt pouch and tried to remove the binoculars while simultaneously waving his arm in an attempt to signal John to join him behind the stump.

Once he was able to unlock his knees, John lumbered to Elmer’s side.  He fell in a heap next to him with his back against the tree stump, practically hugging his shotgun.  “You see anything?”

“Just down the hill, say sixty yards.  He’s built himself a little…a little,” Elmer hesitated and honestly tried to find a better word to use, but his mind simply would not allow it so he just blurted, “shack.”

John looked at Elmer in disbelief.  “He’s nowhere near the house.  We’re clear on the other side of his property.  What in God’s name would he need a shack out here for?”

“I can sure think of a reason,” Elmer said and lowered the binoculars from his eyes.  He handed them solemnly to John.

John propped his shotgun against the tree stump before accepting Elmer’s gift.  After a deep breath, he rose to his knees and poked his head up.  When he peered through the lenses, he saw a small wooden structure, rough and unpainted.  It had no windows that John could see and a small, tin vent sticking out through the roof.  It wasn’t big enough to store much of anything in.  It didn’t seem to leave even enough space for a man to lie down in.  It looked just big enough for someone to sit down in comfortably, like a small ice fishing lodge.

Just as John began to ponder the purpose of such a structure being placed at the far end of Ted’s property, he spied Ted turning the corner with a wooden crate in his hand.  A quick refocus of the binoculars revealed that the contents of the wooden crate were, as John whispered to Elmer, “Pipe, kerosene, matches, books and spools of…something.”

John handed the binoculars silently back to Elmer as Ted disappeared inside the shack.  By the time Elmer got a look through them, Ted was exiting the shack again empty handed.

Suddenly, John felt a rush of anxiety come over him.  He feared being discovered by their new neighbor now more than ever before.  He scrambled clumsily down to his belly, crawled back up to his hands and knees to retrieve his shotgun then lie back down on his belly again.  All of this created a great deal of shuffling in the underbrush.

“Keep it down,” Elmer warned and turned his attention back down the valley to Ted.  To Elmer’s horror, Ted appeared to be looking in their direction.  He, too, dropped low to the ground, causing more rustling just as John had.  “Quiet, he’s looking up here,” Elmer whispered almost inaudibly.

When Elmer gathered the courage to crawl to the side of the stump and peek around it, he saw Ted emerging form the shack once again.  This time, there was no crate in his hand.  Ted now carried a hunting rifle and turned his gaze up the hillside in the direction of John and himself.

“Aw shit,” Elmer muttered.  “He’s got a gun.  We gotta go now.”

Then he began bear crawling up the hill, back into the trees with John following right behind him.  Once into the tree line, they stood and nearly sprinted through the thick wood until they had cleared into the area they knew to be public land.  There, they hid in a ravine for a few minutes, listening footsteps.

All they heard was Ted’s hammering.  It had resumed.  John and Elmer looked at each other and, without a word, rose to their feet.  They had to tell the others what they had seen.

On the farthest reaches of his new land, Ted continued his work.  He had finished the roof earlier that morning complete with the vent on the top.  Now, there were just some finer touches left to complete on the inside.

He walked back to his Jeep, which he had left on the trail.  It was parked where the trail met its end, right next to the next section of stream that wound its way down from the mountain and majestically bent right across the corner of his property line.  Ted stopped again next to it and marveled at the five hundred feet of rushing, swirling, crystal clear water that he now owned.  The primed spot for fly-fishing was worth more in his mind than the quaint but sturdy four-bedroom house at the front of his land.

From the rear seat, Ted retrieved the crate full of supplies.  Pipe, spools of fishing line, some of his favorite books and kerosene and matches to light the lamp inside his newly contrasted storage-shed-slash-outhouse.

He planned to do a great deal of fly-fishing with the time he was to spend here and this little facility would both reduce the amount of gear he had to carry back and forth and limit the amount of interruptions.  His latest idea to run pipe into the ground to form a makeshift urinal caused Ted to be quite proud of himself.

He walked back to the new wooden shed house and set the crate inside.  But as he turned to walk back to his Jeep and retrieve the shelving, Ted swore he heard something.  He stopped in his tracks for just a moment and listened.  He heard it again.

There was a distinct rustling noise coming from up the hillside.  Whatever was causing it was heavy.  Ted knew it wasn’t just a raccoon or even a deer.  He feared it was a bear that had decided to check out what the new guy was doing.  He turned slowly but as he squinted, he saw nothing.  He did hear it again, however.

Unable to tell whether the suspected creature was advancing or just traveling on its merry way, ted thought it prudent to get the hunting rifle he had placed inside the shed.  Paul Jenkins had warned him that the outer reaches of the land he had sold him were fairly rustic.  He had even shared a story with Ted about fly-fishing on the stream and looking over to see a bear on the opposite bank, attempting to swat trout from the stream at the same time.  Paul had sold him the rifle with the land.

When Ted emerged from the shed, rifle in hand, he heard the rustling again.  This time it was even louder.  However, it also became obvious to ted that whatever it had been was moving away from him.  He sighed in relief and decided that he would have to venture into town soon and perhaps see if any of the local folk had any advice for detecting, or at least avoiding, bears.

As he thought about it, he remembered the diner across from the hardware store.  “Edna’s,” he said aloud to himself.  It looked fairly crowded for a small town restaurant in the middle of the day.  He reasoned that was where he’d be able to meet most of the townsfolk and collect some information.

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