Birds, Beer and Boys
“You got a beer?” Grady asked quizzically as he nibbled a fry.
I nodded, taking a sip of a cold Rainier.
“I didn’t know they had beer here,” he responded, genuinely surprised.
The flicker of a neon Miller Lite sign illuminated our table. Three truckers sat at the bar. One had just picked up a load of calves. They were 48 pounds light but he took them anyway. The bartender wore a hoody with the sleeves pushed up. Tattoos adorned her arms and pink streaks accented her dirty-blonde hair. She called Grady hon and brought him a Shirley Temple in a paper cup.
I gazed at a the antlers on the wall between bites of greasy burger. An old, varnished, heavy-beamed bull, with weak fourths and good fronts, barely fit in the corner. He was competing for space with a slot machine and low ceilings. Cobwebs and orange sequins were draped throughout the joint in preparation for Halloween.
“I wish we’d have shot a bird today.”
“Me too,” I responded.
There was no school. After a day working at home, and shuffling the kids between different sets of parents in an effort to help all of us get some work done, I conceded to going hunting. We loaded the dogs, snacks, and a shotgun.
Despite good habitat, conditions, and the discovery at the sign-in box that we were the first hunters in days, a long walk yielded only one flushed hen. It was nearly perfect for us. Finishing close to dark we stopped at the roadside bar for a quick dinner, before making the hour long drive home. The little man fell asleep in the truck. I slung him over my shoulder, carried him into the house and tucked him in for the night.