Mama won’t let me out of the house. At first I thought it was because I broke her peacock lamp and then told a fib about it. But that’s not it at all. She says it’s too dangerous. The Hunt’s about to begin.
The men in the orange suits posted the signs yesterday. The signs are orange, too—like crossing guard vests—with big, block letters. They posted one on the telephone pole outside our house and Mama isn’t happy ‘bout it.
She hates the hunting season. I think it’s because Daddy was killed in one a few of years back. But I don’t remember for sure—all I remember about him was a moustache and cigar smoke.
My brother Geoff, though, he thinks The Hunt’s real exciting, wants to apply for a license so he can join up next fall. ‘Course Mama thinks that’s an awful idea, and she says Daddy would have thought so, too.
But Geoff, he don’t ever listen. Mama knows that. But what she don’t know is that Geoff—and you can’t go telling her, now—has already gone to Mr. Taylor’s to get himself a gun. He’s keeping it under his mattress. I found it last night when I had to sleep in his bed cause there was a leak in the ceiling over mine. I just hope he doesn’t go become one of them Goons, the Hunters who shoot without a license. That’s just cheatin’. ‘Course Mama will be mad either way. She just hates those orange signs.
It’s not like it’s some surprise, the Hunt. We all knew it was comin’. They printed the numbers last month, and besides, the deer have been getting happy again.
The other day, I was watchin’ out the window—the little one in the mudroom with the crack from when Geoff chucked my pet rock at it—and I saw three does grazing on Mama’s tomatoes. I don’t know why they’d want to, ‘cause those tomatoes got more bruises on them than Geoff’s face after a run-in with Clem Beveren. But there they were, just happily eatin’ without a care in the world.
Mama came up behind me and said, “Abelina, what are you standing on my crate of oranges for?”
I said, “I can’t see otherwise. There’s deer out there, Mama.”
“Ain’t that sweet,” she said, not even looking.
“They don’t got nothing to worry about anymore,” I said.
“What have I told you about speaking in proper English? It ain’t ‘they don’t gotnothing.’ It’s ‘they don’t have nothing. Now get doing your chores. Go feed the dogs.”
So I did.
Rufus—he’s a red hound— sure was hungry. Ate up all the chicken gizzards I gave him in a blink. My poor Scout though, she only got the leftovers. So I snuck her a pork rind from Mama’s stash. Then I went back to the window to see the deer.
They were still there. Probably would be for a few hours. Every time The Hunt starts up they are calm enough that you could practically touch ‘em. But I didn’t stay watchin’ long. Didn’t want Mama to get madder than she already was. Between the orange signs and Geoff’s new “I’m-a-bad-ass” attitude, Mama was meaner than a badger with a toothache.
Mr. and Mrs. Beveren next door are none too pleased with the orange signs neither. Mama says it’s cause they’re worried that their hooligans will run out and get shot full of holes when The Hunt begins. Now, I don’t know exactly what a hooligan is, but the Beverens sure got a lot of them. Seems to me, Mrs. Beveren has a new baby on her hip every summer, like a brood mare with a foal. And all the bigger ones—I lose track when I try to count—they just run around the yard and into the street. I suppose Mr. Beveren will have to put up some fencing or somethin’ when The Hunt starts up.
‘Course, even the licensed Hunters can’t just walk into any yard they please. That’s what the signs are for, see, to show them where they’re allowed to shoot. But so far as I can tell, signs don’t mean so much. Or they didn’t to the guy who shot Daddy. So I guess the Beverens got a reason to worry.
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