A bolt of lightning transformed the bleak landscape into a theatre of light
About two weeks after Worzel returned to his camp I was woken from a siesta by a loud, gruff voice.
I did Worzels hare impression, nearly falling out of bed.
“Yep, give us a tick.”
I’d been bailed up by marijuana growers before, so moved my machete close to the entrance just in case.
I stepped outside to meet the owner of the voice. He was a tank of a man with Mongrel Mob tattooed on his forehead and a bulldog on his cheek. His forearms were the size of hams.
“My names Bryan.” I said, offering to shake hands.”
He paused just long enough to show his contempt before crushing my hand in an unfriendly grip.
He didn’t tell me his name.
“You seen my dog around your camp?”
“What’s it look like?”
“Brindle bitch, she’s got a rip collar on.”
“No, haven’t seen her around my camp.”
“If you do, tie her up at the Te Whaiti Marae.”
Without another word, he left.
That he didn’t like me was obvious, and how he found my camp, I had no idea. I was just thankful he had worded the question the way he did. I was reasonably sure I had seen the dog, but not at my camp. It was time to pay Worzel a visit, but not before moving my tent.
The little camp on the Porcupine River was not a happy place. Mac’s ego had taken a bruising, and the swelling wasn’t going down anytime soon. Ernie had an unhappy client, and that was never good for business and Arty’s desire to throttle Mac yet stay onside with Ernie had him between a rock and a hard place.
Mac wanted to pull the pin and get his money back, but the plane wasn’t due back until the end of the week, and Ernie had managed to convince him to keep hunting, but that was not going well either. Naturally, Arty wasn’t invited, spending his days at camp. By Thursday afternoon he was beside himself with boredom, and license or no license he was going to pay the bear a visit, he just hoped it hadn’t moved to greener pastures.
As soon as Mac and Ernie headed off on Friday morning, Arty grabbed his home made bow and arrows and made his way to the blueberry patch. Arty was very proud of his hunting gear; he’d made several bows in the past, slavishly following Saxton Popes instruction before getting it just right. The bow he held in his hand had claimed the lives of many deer, but a bear was a whole different ball game.
Arty was a ball of excitement, knowing there was a chance that he, not the bear could well be the victim of this hunt. He felt a little disappointed when he got to the old bear prints, he had not been back and may well have moved on. Arty was no greenhorn, however, and stayed completely focused on his mission. By the time he got to the spruce and willows it had started to cloud over, and he could see the occasional flash of lightning on the horizon. This was the Alaska of his imagination, ominous, foreboding; he was loving every minute of it.
He found fresh sign in the cottonwoods, the bear had taken a massive dump, blueberries were obviously full of roughage. He could tell by the prints it was the same bear, and that he had been here recently. Arty could now hear the sound of the storm as huge thunderheads blotted out the morning sun. He knew he should go back, but this was too good to end.
As he peered at the hillock through the cottonwoods, the wind started to buffet the trees, filling the air with the scent of ozone. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, charging his body with the power of the storm.
He broke cover and quickly pepper-potted his way to the hillock, the storm masking the sound of his haste. Taking a deep breath, he peered over the top, hoping beyond hope to see the bear. But the weather seemed against him now, filling the landscape with darkness and movement. He knew when he was beaten. Standing up, he stretched, the excitement draining away, morphing him back into the camp cook.
But storms are impartial. A bolt of lightning transformed the bleak landscape into a theatre of light. The bear was less than 200 yards away, the hunt was on, dinner would just have to wait.
But more on that in the next blog