I remember how Geezer’s voice sounded that first morning. It was groggy, as he walked passed me in his tan long johns at 4:30 a.m. The words that came out of his mouth had a tired sound, but pierced my ears with his happy undertone; “Make sure you have enough time to eat, get dressed, and be in the truck by 5:20 a.m.” I didn’t see Geezer for a while, I knew he was still awake due to the groaning as he sat down on his rock hard bed and bent over to slide on his socks. I, on the other hand, was dressed, had my my teeth brushed, and was filling the house with the smell of toast and jam. I made Geezer some even though I knew he didn’t eat breakfast on a normal day, but today he would. Today was a new kind of day. There was something different about the way the air felt when I walked outside. Unlike the other days where it felt heavy when I walked into a school, with the weight of tests, homework, and teachers expectations bearing down on me, for the few shorts seconds I walked from the cement garage to the old green rusted truck, the air was crisp and calming.
It took us ten minutes to go from the house to where we would be sitting for the next ten hours in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t been there before. It was a wooded lot that was closed off by a gate with a cold silver lock. My grandpa told me to stay in the truck and drive it in when he opened the gate. He walked over to the edge of the gate and picked up a key. I wasn’t sure where he got the key from, but the key opened that lock which gave me this sense of strength. I drove ever so carefully through the gate, parked the truck, and scooched back into the passenger seat, while I waited for Geezer. He placed the key back into its unknown place, and locked the gate. When he got back into the truck he told me that the property owners had to lock it because they had problems with the guy trespassing who lived across the street. I remember how beautiful it looked back there, all of the golden brown leaves that were on the trees and covering the ground. When the wind would blow the leaves would fall like snow, and swirl on the ground like a beautifully calm tornado. The smell of fresh pine filled the air as pine cones struck the ground. The truck came to a halt and we sat there for a minute. There was a pathway to the left of us and it reminded me of Robert Frost’s Road Not Taken, and that’s the one we were going to take.
We got out of the heat of the warm old truck and put on heavy camo overalls and jackets. As I grabbed Geezers crossbow, I lowered the tailgate of the truck and placed the case on it. I undid the latches of the bow case and got shivers, like the way you’re supposed to feel when you eat a York Peppermint Patty. Geezer came back and grabbed his bow and arrows, as I closed the case and pushed it into the bed. I went back into the truck and grabbed the bag that had our snacks and drinks in it. He gave me a kiss on the cheek, told me to watch my step, and place my foot down lightly. We started down the leaf covered path; it was still dark but we could see. I followed in Geezer’s footsteps that day as we walked to the blind. As we walked down the path he would stop and show me where a buck had rubbed at some point; this was my Grandpa’s way of giving me little bits of wisdom.
We got to the blind. It was small and placed on the side of a hill. There was a slit big enough for a crossbow or shotgun barrel to be shot out of. In the back there was a square cut out so you could climb in. Geezer went in first and I handed him the crossbow. I took a second and looked around to examine my environment before I climbed in. I looked at the back of the blind and noticed it was spray painted red by someone who had broke into the hunting grounds. All it said was “F*** U” on the back, but Geezer didn’t know that because he can’t read. I slowly lowered myself into the blind and sat in an old beaten up red office chair. I’ve never seen my grandpa so alert; he looked like a coyote searching for it’s prey, as he looked around for a deer to put into the crosshairs.
Five hours had gone by and the only thing we saw was squirrels. At that point my stomach had started growling and Geezer was thirsty. I grabbed our camo backpack full of snack and drinks. I took out an unopened, light blue bag of salt and vinegar chips. I grabbed Geezers unopened pepsi and handed it to him. I started to slowly open the bag, but when you’re hunting every noise seems 100 times louder than it is. After starting to open it, Geezer told me to be quiet and giggled as he said it. He then took his Pepsi and it made the hissing noise it always does when you open it, as well as starting to overflow from being shaken. I looked over and placed my finger to my lips as to tell him to be quiet. We both giggled and he leaned over to tell me we aren’t gonna see any deer because I’m too loud. I glare at him as to say “yeah, it’s all my fault.” We sit for a couple minutes, Geezer leans back over and says the key to hunting is to be quiet and to not eat things that could smell up the whole woods, I tried hard not to laugh and told him I’d take his wisdom into consideration. We sat for a while longer in silence, with nothing crossing our path except for all the squirrels.
12:20 p.m. rolled around, the sun was high in the sky, streams of light shown down like spotlights in the woods. A few minutes later Geezer and I heard a rustling that sounded different than what we were listening for. Since 5:30 a.m. when we walked in the blind, Geezer and I had been listening for the loud rustling and crunching of deer hooves across the ground; this rustling wasn’t what we wanted. This sounded like someone dragging something through a pile of leaves. We both took a deep breath and a flock of five turkeys strutted out in front of us. Geezer shoved the bow in my lap and without saying anything I knew he wanted me to take the shot. I was confused, with no prior knowledge of what animal was in season, but I was almost 99% sure it wasn’t turkey. I argued with Geezer at that moment, and he, being his stubborn old self, insisted that it was turkey season. By the time this debacle was settled between us, the turkeys were about five yards out of shooting range. We both leaned back in our chairs, looked at each other, and shook our heads.
The last few hours Geezer dozed in and out, like when he watches the 10 o’clock news. With Geezer being hard of hearing, he thought most squirrels were deer. To mess around for the last couple minutes out there, I tapped Geezer’s shoulder to wake him up. He woke up startled and started to look around, before leaning over real close to me and asked me why I woke him up. To give him a good laugh I said “I think I hear a deer,” when in reality I knew it wasn't a deer. Geezer sat there in his state of determination and as the squirrel peered around the corner and in at us, Geezer gave me a slight slap upside the head and said, “you idiot. That’s a squirrel.”
We grabbed our stuff, crinkling the chip bag to shove it back in the camo backpack, and crinkling the other bags while at it. We slowly walked back up to the old green truck, took off our heavy camo coats, pulled down the tailgate and sat for a minute. Geezer wrapped his tan, wrinkled arm around my shoulders and pulled me close and kissed me on the head. In that moment I appreciated every small detail around me. I leaned my head on his shoulder, smiled, and closed my eyes. The smell of fresh pine filled my nose, with Geezer’s natural scent of grease trying to steal the spotlight every once in awhile. We both got down off the tailgate and I stood on my tip toes to wrap my arms around his neck and gave him a big hug. I said “I love you” in a quiet voice. I know he didn’t hear me, but with how long I hugged him, he knew what I said and said “I love you too princess.” We got into the old green truck and rode home.
The ride home was filled with Geezer telling me my favorite stories of him and my grandma, and the constant comparison of me to my grandmother. He always had a way of telling me that I was just like grandma in so many ways. I always saw how much it hurt Geezer not to have my Grandma anymore, but I knew having me helped a little. I always enjoyed seeing him with the smile that had the wrinkles around the edges, and no teeth to smile with just his pale thin lips.
We arrived back at Geezer’s house, climbed out, grabbed every last piece of equipment, and walked in side by side. I learned to appreciate the small things in life. I learned to listen to every single last word of Geezer’s crinkled wisdom.