THE HUNTING CLUB membership stood amid the cedar and mesquite trees that defined our lease just outside of Austin. Doc slipped his hands into his pockets and shrugged. “I’m not going to drive my new truck through this.”
Part of a conservancy, the lease was thick with vegetation that defined the beautiful landscape of water and limestone cliffs of the Texas Hill Country.
Delbert P. Axelrod, whose head is as cluttered as the lease, mimicked Doc’s stance and looked pensive. He spoke in a soft, measured voice. “This is not the perfect lease, every lease is different, but we continue our search.”
“What?” Jerry Wayne edged away.
Wrong Willie sighed. “He’s been doing that since he started watching that stupid commercial he found on YouTube when Brad Pitt was talking like he was on downers and making commercials for Chanel Number Five.”
“It’s called Free Association,” I said.
“I think it’s called talking out of your empty head without thinking,” Wrong Willie said.
“Time passes, and we are drawn into the slipstream.”
“Those commercials came on years ago.” Doc shook his head. “Why now?”
“I’ve decided I love YouTube. Besides, Pitt’s cooler than Matthew McConaughy.”
“But Matthew’s from Texas. He has that Texas thing going for him.”
Delbert thought for a moment. “I guess I could start liking his car commercials, instead of thinking about perfume all the time.”
I ignored Delbert’s comment. “Doc, I’m with you. I’m going to park my truck right here in this open space and walk in.” I pointed at my dually. “She’s got big hips that are wayyyy to wide for this track.”
“I’ll bring my four-wheeler,” Doc said.
“I don’t have one,” I told him.
Willie spoke up. “I do.”
“Yep, bought it last week. It needs a little fixing up, but that’ll give us two. Rev, you oughta buy one, too.”
“I ain’t buying a four-wheeler right now. You guys have been after me to buy a motorcycle for the past few years, and you want me to get a boat. I already have a camper. How about I bring the pop-up down here and we can sleep in it?”
“I’m not sleeping anywhere near Jerry Wayne,” Doc said. “He snores louder than a saw mill, and you guys keep putting me in the same room with him. I want a good night’s sleep for once.”
“Hey, I’m standing right here,” Jerry Wayne complained.
Delbert tilted his head back like McConaughey and for a moment I could have sworn that he looked like him. “Plans are discarded. Sleep is elusive.”
“Shut up, Delbert.” I scratched my head. “He’s right about plans, though. I’ll just walk to where I’m going to hunt, and if I knock a deer down, I’ll come find one of y’all and we’ll haul it out.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Because we’ll be hunting,” Willie argued.
“No you won’t. Doc will be asleep, because Jerry Wayne kept him up all night, so the four-wheeler will be right here.”
“Deer appear. They vanish, but we continue the hunt.”
“Shut up, Delbert.”
“You’d like it better if I had hair down to my collar and looked like Brad Pitt.”
Doc frowned. “So you’re planning to keep me awake all night so you can use my gear to pack your deer out of here?”
“It wasn’t a plan, but it might work.”
“Wherever we go, we’re together. Our luck intertwines and our faith is genuine.”
“Shut up, Delbert.” I kicked a rock. “What I’m saying is that none of us wants to scratch up our trucks, and face it Doc, you really like to sit by the fire these days and take it easy. Your idea of a good hunting trip is relaxation. When was the last time you shot a deer?”
Delbert looked pensive. “Together, we are connected by fate and fortune.”
“He has a point,” Wrong Willie said. “As bad as I hate to admit it.”
“Women’s perfume.” Delbert sniffed. “You smell that?”
Delbert shrugged, suddenly back into the real world. “My new covering scent smells like women’s perfume. I’m afraid the deer will know where I am.”
I held out a hand. “Let me smell it.”
He produced a small brown bottle and I unscrewed the cap. “This is perfume.”
“Uh oh,” Delbert said.
“My wife is wearing my covering scent this week. I must have mixed them up when I put them in these new bottles. I was doing my own YouTube commercial the other day and didn’t want anyone to recognize the labels. Do you think anyone will notice?”
“It’s inevitable,” I said, remembering his cover scent was doe urine. “Hey, I sounded just like McConaughey.”
“That’s my gig,” Delbert complained.
“Let’s go shoot a deer!” Wrong Willie pumped his fist.
I looked at my group and consciously stopped my chin from quivering. “Heaven help us.”
Email Reavis Wortham at [email protected]