We’d walked about two miles when Tucker jogged to catch up with us.
“Twenty dollars says I can get back here before you do,” he said, trying to catch his breath.
“That’s fine,” said Danny. “Fish and game will have your info.”
“And that means your old man’s van down by the river as well as your mamma’s single-wide,” said Billy.
I was laughing when I noticed a handful of deer stepping onto the road ahead of us—which were quickly joined by others until they spanned nearly the entire width of the pavement. It’s funny because I don’t remember feeling scared, only curious. It was comical, frankly, like something from a Far Side cartoon.
“If you’re going to shoot an elephant, Mr. Schneider, you better be prepared to finish the job,” I joked, but no one got it, only gazed off down the road at the line of deer.
“Okay, that is damn weird,” said Danny, and seemed to grip his rifle tighter. “Anybody else think that’s weird?”
“That’s definitely weird,” said Billy.
Tucker raised his rifle slowly.
“What are you doing?” snapped Danny.
“Chill out, Pussy Galore,” he said. He squinted through his telescope. “Just doing a little reconnaissance.” He tracked his barrel back and forth slowly. “Yeah … they’ve got the white eyes, just like the others.” He paused and held steady. “And the red markings. I don’t know, looks almost like a—”
There was a crack! as he squeezed his trigger, and I looked up in time to see blood jet from the back of one of the bucks’ heads. Then the life ran from its legs and it collapsed, right there in the middle of the road, as the others scattered and disappeared back into the tree line.
No one said anything for several moments.
“Boo,” said Tucker suddenly, spinning on Danny, and to his smug satisfaction the younger man jumped.
Tucker just laughed and slapped his gun barrel against his palm. “Everyone relax. I’ve cleared the threat—”
“Right now,” hissed Danny, throwing down his gun and darting at him.