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It was mid-summer, 2008. Each day seemed to drone on longer as the days of July were beginning to fade. Another weekend was approaching when one of my closest friends, Brandon, proposed we spend the weekend in Tomahawk with his grandparents. Having nothing better to do, I replied, “Sure, why not?” Clueless to what we’d be up to, I pondered, “Uhhh, what exactly is on the agenda for this weekend?”
Brandon replied, “Ever hunted squirrel?” At that moment, I made nothing of Brandon’s response. Everything I did with Brandon was an adventure itself, so how could this weekend be any different? But boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The voyage up to the greater northern region of Wisconsin was a quick one. I exchanged small talk with Brandon’s grandparents while being sandwiched into a cozy back seat. We pulled up into the driveway and it wasn’t long before Brandon and I found ourselves snug in a couple of sleeping bags. We socialized quietly, careful not to wake Brandon’s grandparents. That’s when Brandon dropped the bomb on me, “Hey, 5 AM alarm for tomorrow. That cool with you?”
Half-asleep I managed to whimper, “Sure…………..”
Beep. Beep. Beep. The summon of the alarm clock hit me harder than a half ton brick. A pleasant slap in the face (courtesy of Brandon) obliterated any second thought about dozing back off. Slowly rising, I make an effort to wipe the boogers out of my eyes. Seeing clearly now, I question, “What’s going on?” Brandon, who was caught up in a frantic frenzy, as usual, didn’t bother to respond. Still, in the midst of my morning confusion, I managed to slap on some clothes. Just when I thought dressing myself was going to be the biggest accomplishment of the hour; Brandon heaved something in my direction. My brain takes a few seconds to process the U.F.O. Then it comes to me, it was a young man’s best friend, a BB gun.
A sly grin came across my face as the gun brushed up against my fingertips. Shivers spiked my spine as the cool, metal barrel met my trembling hands. I treated the gun as a first time father would treat his newborn. I stroked the gun gently as I tried to fight back the tears. A second slap from Brandon ruptured my ongoing trance.
“Snap out of it! You act as if you’ve never seen a gun before.” His retort flabbergasted me. I had never had a first hand experience with any sort of firearm. The grin returned. This could be fun. Brandon’s reaction, once again, interrupted my train of thought.
“I’ll give ya two options. You can either stand there with that dumbfounded look on your face or we can do ourselves some huntin’.” It didn’t take me long to respond, “Let’s hunt.”
Without hesitation, Brandon set out for the porch. “Its real simple,” Brandon explained, “we plant ourselves on this here porch and if you see a squirrel scoot on by, you pull that there trigger.”
I replied with a slight nod of the head. I was being consumed by the surrounding terrain. The sun, slowly peaking its head over the hilltops, each blade of grass dabbed by droplets of morning dew. I was zoned in. And I wasn’t going to bed that night without a bellyful of squirrel stew.
Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes had elapsed and still no sight of a bushy tail. Just when I was about to surrender to my subsisting hunger, I heard a quiet murmur. No mistaking it, the echo was the beckon of a squirrel. My body stiffened as a little, perky squirrel came into view.
“Don’t get your panties up in a bunch, I’m taking the shot,” Brandon whispered. My ambition was doused by Brandon’s cold words. As the squirrel approached the porch, I felt my trigger finger start to stammer. I became over anxious; there was no way I was letting this squirrel get the best of me. I took aim, and yanked the trigger. The BB shot out faster than a runner out of the starting blocks. Piercing the smooth summer breeze the BB whizzed towards the target. Dangit! Wide left! The squirrel’s instincts set in, and the creature strays for safety.
“You trigger happy fool! Look what you’ve done!” Brandon bolted upright and proceeded to chase the squirrel. Dazed, I decided to tail Brandon in his pursuit. The squirrel scurried off to what he thought was a safe haven, an abandoned muffler.
“You cover that end of the muffler. I’ll take care of this one.” Knowing I had to make up for my previous foolishness, I obeyed. The squirrel started to toy with our patience as he nestled himself into the muffler. Fed up with the stupid fuzz ball, Brandon fired a shot of frustration into the muffler. Seconds passed, still, no sign of life in the muffler. Unexpectedly, the squirrel made his move. Frightened by the sudden movement, I nearly jumped out of my shoes as I let out a high- pitched shriek. Brandon reacted to my cry and we both took off after the squirrel as if it had just stolen both our wallets. Brandon and I fired wildly until the stupid rodent was well into the heart of the woods. He had gotten away.
With our heads hung low, we made the shameful saunter back to the house. We groped our way into the kitchen where a lofty plate of waffles oozing with syrup was waiting for us. While silently nibbling around my gaping tower of waffles I came to the realization that Brandon and I were much less opposite in countless ways. Yet, the friendship we shared was unlike any other. We connected in the most bizarre ways, we trusted each other immensely. No matter the circumstances, we always had fun. It became apparent, later that afternoon, that I wasn’t going to go home empty handed after all. Perhaps I would not have the satisfaction of a hearty squirrel stew, but I would always have the satisfaction of the friendship between Brandon and I.
Tired of fiddling with my waffle remnants, I stood and said, “Forget waffles, those squirrels ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Brandon fought a smile as he thrust his gun over his shoulder, “You really expect us to get a kill?”
“Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut.”
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