The first day of deer hunting season in Pennsylvania is almost a state holiday. Most schools in rural areas are closed that first day of the two-week rifle season. That is because most male students, a fair number of female students, and many of the teachers and administrators are going to be in the woods hunting. Over the years, it became more practical to close school the Monday after Thanksgiving, than having school in session with so many students and faculty mysteriously 'ill'.
I was a member of a hunting club that had about 400 acres on which to hunt. We owed our membership to our forefathers who purchased the property and chartered the club in 1952. Four men had joined together to purchase the property. The intent was to own a place where they would always be able to hunt. Now we had 14 members, mostly descendants of the original four. There was a small cabin in the center of the property. We kept it supplied with a lot of beer, chips, and bullshit; a lot of bullshit.
I was in the woods about noon, enjoying the solitude, when I heard the shot. It came from the stand my brother had made for Tom, his 14 year-old son. I made my way over and found him staring at a dead deer. He had made what would have been an excellent shot, had it been a legal deer. The problem was it was anterless, and he only had a permit for antlered deer. I silently cursed my brother for leaving a novice alone in the woods.
"What should I do, Uncle Paul?" asked Tom nervously. "I thought I saw horns on it!"
It was not my job, or place, to decide what punishment the boy should suffer. It was my job as the adult on the scene, to see that the situation caused as little trouble as possible. I bent over and began field dressing the deer. As I worked, I explained a few simple facts.
"This mistake is simply not acceptable, Tom. You must identify your target before you shoot. This is death and it is not to be taken lightly. I think a few of the guys have doe permits. We'll take it back and you'll have see if someone will tag it."
We dragged it back to the cabin and stashed it under an old blown down tree. I should have explained to Tom just why I had concealed the deer. We went inside and found Chuck Tracy having some coffee.
"Chuck, Tom shot a doe he has no tag for," I began. "Would you want to tag it and help the kid out?"
"The little shit should be more careful," laughed Chuck. "I have plenty of time to get a doe and I'll fill my own tag. Where is it?"
Before I could stop Tom, he told Chuck where we had hidden it. That was the kid's second mistake. A couple of the other guys came in. I was about to ask them if they wanted to tag the doe when an ominous knock sounded. I opened the door and saw Sam Watson, the area game warden, standing there.
"Hey, Sam!" I greeted him. "Come in and have some coffee."
I learned about game wardens at my father's knee. He had taught me to be careful around them, but not fearful, and never tell them anything. They would never be able to make any charge stick if they didn't get someone to cave in and talk. I gave Tom a quick look and shook my head.
Sam walked in and looked around. He knew me well enough to know he wouldn't pin any wrong doing on me. He also knew, however, there were several people in the room he could make sweat. Then he saw some blood on my boots.
"I see blood on your boots, Paul. Did you get lucky today?" queried Sam.
My tag was still on my back so the only possible answer was to deny shooting anything.
"I had a little nosebleed earlier," I grinned.
"If we take those boots to a lab and they show deer blood, you'll wish you had come clean," warned Sam as he watched for my reaction.
"Right, Sam!" I laughed. "You have a crime lab in your truck. The FBI comes to you for help. I heard they are going to have a "CSI, Deer Hunting" on TV next year and you'll play the lead. Even if you had a lab, and you don't, and it turned out to be deer blood, and it isn't, you would prove one thing. I had deer blood on my boots. I never read any laws against that, but if you can just tell me the page it's on, I'll read it tonight!"
Sam shook his head and decided against any more comments regarding my bloody boots. We both knew the game commission didn't do ballistic tests, blood tests, or DNA tests.
He began his usual line about the weather and other meaningless banter to relax everyone. Then he attempted to coax information out of us. Soon, he was asking if anyone had shot anything.
"How about you, young fellow?" he asked of Tom. "Get any shots?"
"The kid got nothing but cold," I answered for Tom.
I wanted Tom to see how to respond to questions from a warden. Sam looked at me and nodded. Then he looked at Chuck and smiled.
"Staying out of trouble, Chuck?" he asked. "I sure don't want to have to fine you again. Hope you and your buddies are obeying all the game laws. You know how I have to give everyone a summons if I find anything amiss and no one admits to it," he chuckled. "I know how that last fine stretched your finances. You don't have anything hidden in the wood pile, do you?"
I couldn't believe my eyes as Chuck actually began sweating and his cheek started twitching. I had no doubt where this was going to end up. He had been caught with a loaded weapon in his vehicle a few years back, and it had cost him a couple hundred dollars. Still, I had to try to stop Chuck from rolling over on the kid.
"Not me, Sam," answered Chuck nervously. "If you find anything, it wasn't me!"
Sam had played this game a long time and like a wolf that smelled blood, he realized Chuck was wounded and limping badly.
"I think maybe you did do a little more bending of the state's game laws," stated Sam. "A search of the place may prove it!"
"Go ahead and search, Sam," I interrupted. "I won't even make you get a warrant for it. Go ahead. We have to get out and get that big buck, so make it quick!"
Sam looked at me and again nodded his head. He knew where the weakest link was and he went for the kill.
"Okay, Chuck. I'll look around, but if I find anything, it's your ass I'm going to nail to the goddamn wall. You have proven yourself to a man that breaks the laws of the Commonwealth, and you'll be found guilty so fast your head will spin!"
"It was the kid!" squealed Chuck. "He shot a doe and didn't have a tag. He hid it under that tree behind the cabin!"
"Sonofabitch!" blurted Jack Hook, a member of our club who had no idea there was any deer stashed, but knew a chicken-shit prick when he saw one.
He had been standing quietly waiting for the warden to look around and leave. Chuck's stool pigeon act repulsed Jack. He and I exchanged glances with neither of us bothering to conceal the contempt we felt for Chuck.
Sam seemed surprised and disgusted as well. He was doing his job, but hadn't intended, or wanted, to catch a kid screwing up in his first hunt. He looked around a little sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders.
"Let's go look at that doe. I'll have to see your license, son," Sam stated almost apologetically. "This is going to be an expensive lesson for you."
I stepped in front of my nephew. His father was still in the woods hunting and the job had fallen to me. I wasn't about to shirk what I knew I had to do.
"Sam, I shot that goddamn doe and you'll have to deal with me. That asshole, Chuck, doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about," I avowed.
Sam looked at me for several seconds. It wasn't his first rodeo.
"Okay, Paul, if you want to confess. You know what happens next. I'll write you up and be done with it," he agreed.
He knew I was lying. Everyone in the room knew that Sam wasn't fooled. It was how the game was played. He had an illegal deer and a confession. He had no desire to pin it on Tom, and I silently thanked him for being a stand-up guy. He was doing his job. He had to try to catch hunters bending the laws, but Chuck didn't have to tell him a damn thing.
Sam went down the road with the doe and my check made out to the Game Commission for $220. I was so livid I went back into the woods, without my rifle. I was afraid I would beat the shit out of Chuck if I went back into the cabin. I didn't return to camp until dark. Luckily, I had cooled off by then.
Jack was heating some chili on the stove and the other guys were sitting around having a few beers waiting for dinner. Tom and his dad were not anywhere to be seen. Jack saw the question in my eyes.
"Lou took Tom home so he could go to school tomorrow. Lou was as hot as I've ever seen him when he heard Tom shot a doe, and then how Chuck rolled over on him to the warden," Jack said. "Lou wants a meeting when he gets back. He made it plain that he wants Chuck blackballed from the club. Chuck has been reading the camp's by-laws and minutes for an hour, looking for a loophole, so he can keep his membership."
A short time after dinner was finished and the dishes washed, Lou walked through the door. He immediately announced that, as president, he was calling an emergency meeting. He dispensed with any reports and cut to the chase.
"The single most important rule we have in this club is no member rats on another member, or guest, to a warden. This dickhead did exactly that. I move we toss his ass out!" concluded Lou.
It was seconded immediately and passed unanimously, with Chuck showing the good sense to abstain from voting. Then he dropped his bombshell.
"The by-laws say I have an option, if I want to take it," he announced. "I have decided to invoke that right."
"Jesus, boy!" blurted old Bill Taylor. "That was a joke we made as a rule one night years ago, when we was all drunk!"
The rest of us had no idea what was going on so Bill put his beer down and walked to the center of the room.
"I was a young buck then. Stan Gillow had been bitching for two weeks about his divorce and how much it cost him. You know how we always have a meeting the last night of the season? As a joke, Stan made a motion at the meeting that a man should be able to avoid being blackballed for squealing on a member by offering his wife's services for a year to the offended party. We was all laughing and drinking. Next thing you know, it was seconded and passed," recalled Bill. "This damn little weasel found that stupid-ass rule and wants to use it!"
Everyone was stunned. What sort of man would use his wife to avoid taking his punishment? The contempt in the room was almost tangible. I glanced at Lou and saw his face turning red. I knew that was the warning sign that he was going to explode. I had no use for Chuck, but I didn't want my brother, Lou, spending Christmas in jail.
"Fair enough!" I declared. "It's settled. Since I've been divorced for a few years, I don't have to explain anything to an angry wife. I'll take Chuck's wife for the year."
I turned and faced the miserable prick. He hardly looked ashamed! I was beginning to realize he had some serious mental problems.
"I will only want her a two nights a week. I will let you know ahead of time what nights they will be. She will cooperate completely, or you will be out of the club. It starts the week after deer season ends, and will last till the season starts next year," I insisted. "Do you accept those terms, Chuck?"
"Sounds fair enough," he reasoned. "I get to stay in the club and hunt here with full privileges if I make her hold up her end of the deal, right?"
"Your end of the deal, asshole!" spit Lou. "You are one sick bastard!"
Chuck was nonplused as he opened a beer and took a sip. Lou walked away, shaking his head. This was the stuff of legends in a hunting camp. Chuck had given up his wife for a year so he could remain a member. I was going to get a lot of ass for $220! That was when I realized I had never seen Chuck's wife! I felt a sinking feeling as visions of a 300-pound bearded, foul smelling, ugly bitch danced through my mind.
The next day I asked around in an attempt to find out if anyone knew what Chuck's wife looked like. It was old Bill that filled me in.
"She ain't too bad, really. She's thin and pale, and kind of quiet. Maybe that's why they never had any kids. She might be too skinny or sick, or something. She's younger than Fuck-head by about ten years or so," he grinned. "You should be able to get $220 worth out of her pretty easy."
I dialed Chuck's phone number the first Wednesday after deer season ended, at a time I knew Chuck would be at work. I was determined to carry out the agreement. I had concluded that Chuck must have believed I was too decent a guy to actually go through with such a despicable deal. He expected to get off the hook with no penalty. That was the only reason I could come up with for a man to stoop so low.
"Hello?" answered the feminine voice.
"This is Paul Jensen calling," I informed the voice. "Did Chuck tell you to expect my call?"
"Y... yes, he did," she answered slowly.
"You know why I am calling and what to expect," I persisted. "You are agreeable to paying Chuck's tab?"
"I don't find it agreeable, Mr. Jenson, but I am resigned to it. Is that good enough?" she asked.
"That's fine," I replied. "I'll pick you up at seven. I want you to wear a short skirt and a low cut blouse. I want Chuck to be there when we leave. I'll have you back before it gets too late."
I hung up the phone and wondered. Who was worse, Chuck or me?
We were the same age and had been in the same class in high school, 30 years ago. His wife should be within a few years of forty, if Bill's estimate was anywhere near accurate.
I rang the doorbell at seven sharp. Chuck opened the door. I had no idea what to expect, but I sure didn't plan on Chuck having a big smile as he asked me in. I had hoped, and really wanted, for him to be ashamed, hurt, and angry. Either he was a great actor, or he really was quite happy. It made no sense.
"Millie?" he called. "Your date is here!"
"Would you like a beer while you wait, Paul?" he asked.
I shook my head as I tried to understand what was happening. Why wasn't he ashamed, or pissed? I began to dread meeting his wife. What horrible mistake had I made? How bad would she be?
Then she came into the room. I felt immediately relief when I saw her. She was short, slim, and pale, just as Bill had described. She was also wearing a long dress with a high neck. Her dark hair was pulled back into a bun of some sort. It was impossible to determine anything about her breasts with her loose fitting clothes. She was no Miss America, but at least she wasn't some horrible pig!
"Hello, Mr. Jensen. I am Millie," she introduced herself.
I could see that her eyes were red and that she had been crying. The notion of punishing Chuck turned very sour in my stomach. He didn't seem to know enough to be embarrassed, but his wife did. I was humiliating a woman that had no part in the little drama at the hunting camp. My contempt for Chuck was suddenly surpassed by my own self-contempt.
"You two stay out as late as you like," Chuck grinned. "I'll leave the light on."
Mille cringed at Chuck's cavalier attitude. I was afraid she was going to start crying again. I quickly took her hand and led her to my car. I wanted to get her away from Chuck. He was creeping me out!
Millie gave me an odd look as I held the door open for her. I went around and got behind the wheel. I had originally planned on taking her to my house and fucking her like a slut, just so she would go back and tell Chuck. My thought had been that a normal husband would be very humiliated. The thing was, Chuck didn't seem to be normal, or even close.
Now I had a lady in my car and I had to take her someplace. I drove in complete silence to a nice restaurant. Nether of us knew what to say or how to start. When I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Millie look at me again. I had no idea what she was thinking.
I didn't have a reservation but a few dead presidents slipped into the right hands got us a table quite quickly. I helped Millie to her seat and then sat across from her. We looked at each other and we both knew we had to find something we could discuss.
"I didn't dress the way you told me. I wanted you to realize I may be nothing more than a whore to you, but I will not be ordered around like a dog," she began. "I will keep Chuck's end of the agreement, but don't think I am some kind of slut, although I guess that is exactly what I am!"
I saw a tear start down her cheek and I felt like shit.
"Millie, don't cry! Please!" I pleaded. "I will not degrade or humiliate you, I promise. I can see that you are a lady and will treat you as such. Let's have a nice dinner and I will take you home, okay? "
"I guess you can pretty much have a different woman every night. I must look quite plain to you, Mr. Jensen. I hope you are not overly embarrassed to be seen with me," Millie managed between tears.
"Where the hell did that come from?" I demanded. "If I were ashamed to be seen with you, I wouldn't bring you here, would I? I am just trying to put you at ease. I was not insulting you in any way."
"How am I supposed to feel in this situation, Mr. Jensen?" asked Millie. "If you insist on sex with me, I will be an unfaithful wife, a slut really. If you don't assert your right, I will be an undesirable hag, not good enough for a free fuck!"
I hadn't thought about it that way. She was on the horns of a dilemma. A woman needs to feel that most men would give her a roll in the hay, given the opportunity. It could be hard on her ego if I didn't fuck the living hell out of her! I have always claimed to be a gentleman, which would seem to predicate slipping her the old salami.
On the other hand, I was the one that was the victim. That miserable shit, Chuck, had cost me $220! He had ratted on my nephew, and he had to suffer! My family name demanded it. My mind reeled as I considered the ultimate insult to Chuck. If I didn't fuck his wife, he would be really humiliated! Unless that was his plan in the first place, and then I would be the schmuck.
The waiter came and we ordered our drinks. I came to the conclusion I had a year to determine whether I should fuck Millie or not. There was no need to be rash.
As dinner proceeded, we found several subjects that interested us both and we had a pleasant conversation. Millie began to relax and even smiled a few times.
"This is the first time I have ever had dinner here, Mr. Jensen," she admitted. "Chuck prefers me cooking dinner at home for him. The food is excellent and it's a lovely place."
"Let's get one thing straight, Millie," I responded. "My name is Paul and that is how you should address me. My father was Mr. Jensen. I feel old enough already, without being referred to as Mister."
"Okay, Paul," smiled Millie. "You don't look so old. Chuck said you two went to school together, but you look several years younger than he does. I understand you are divorced, Paul."
"Guilty as charged!" I quipped. "It is unlikely I would be in this arrangement if I were married. Not many wives would go along with it."
I guess that was the wrong thing to say. Millie got all red in the face and looked down at her plate. I mentally cursed Chuck for allowing her to be placed in such an uncomfortable position. Then I considered how no one had held a gun to my head and forced me to take Millie out. I was a willing participant in a tragedy. I tried to think of which of Shakespeare's works would cover my present situation. I had been doing that that since discovering the Bard in high school.
That was when I made up my mind to be the hero of the small epic I call my life and simply take Millie home, and never go back. I had always been able to find single women for companionship and sex. Why would I continue in such a bizarre situation? If old Chuck was half a man, he would be pacing the floor, worried sick over what he had done. He had probably suffered tremendously already.
After I paid the bill, we walked to my car. I opened the door for Millie and then went around and climbed behind the wheel to take her home.
"Paul, I have to compliment you on your manners. You have opened doors and helped me be seated all evening. It appears to be a habit for you, but I am not accustomed to being treated so well," she confided. "Thanks for treating me like a lady."
"Mom made us boys conduct ourselves as gentlemen when we were around ladies and it did become a habit. Just to demonstrate how much influence she had, I am going to take you home and not bother you again. It was a ridiculous thing for Chuck to suggest, and I was no better for agreeing," I admitted. "I just hope Chuck had a couple bad hours tonight, thinking about what we might be doing."
"Paul, you don't have to be so nice to him!" Millie blurted. "I mean that, well, he got himself into this situation. You have every right to insist on the debt being paid."
"Thanks, Millie, but the whole thing is just a little too weird for me to be comfortable. I don't dislike you. In fact, you have been very pleasant company tonight. Revenge is never a very admirable motive, and hurting you to get even with Chuck would be pretty low."