Crime Fiction By Pamela Ebel
“Jan, where the hell are you? It’s almost sunrise and I need to get to Bayou Pointe by 6:00. I want to see where the boars are bedding down for the day. Where’s my breakfast?’
Her husband Tony’s angry shout reached down the hallway of the small apartment to Jan’s study.
“Your breakfast’s in the oven Tony. I made it when I got up at 3:00. I have the last bar exam in three days.”
“I need some fresh coffee for the thermos. And you know I don’t like warmed up food.”
Jan appeared in the kitchen, gave Tony his plate, and poured fresh coffee into the thermos.
“Hope you aren’t still with that bunch of losers you call a study group. I won’t have a wife that fails the bar exam working for me so, don’t.”
“‘I’m studying alone. Your lunch is in your knapsack. Anything else?”
Tony stood, leaned over, and picked up the shotgun lying on the chair. He moved to her side and rubbed the barrel under her chin.
“Don’t do that Tony. You know it isn’t safe.”
“You know I never shoot anything unless I mean to hit and kill. Only a week left in Feral Swine Season. I’m going to take you with me next Saturday. We’ll do that picnic you’re always harping about.”
“I hate the swamp. It makes me sick. Let’s picnic in the park. The bar exam will be over.”
“We’re meeting the guys for the contest. And make something edible for dinner.”
Jan stood at the window, seeing Tony pack his gear into her new car. Returning to her notes she smelled of sweat and fear.
“I’m home. I got a 300 pound boar. Took him to Jim Bob to be butchered. You can pick up the meat mid-week”
Jan stared in dismay at the white tuck and roll upholstery in her back seat covered in mud and blood.
“Can you go to the car wash and clean it? I can finish studying.”
“Your car, your problem. And where’s my dinner?”
Driving to the car wash Jan knew their relationship started falling apart when she entered law school. He grew angrier with each of her school successes.
“You’d better be top of your class or you won’t work in my firm. Don’t embarrass me.”
She also started having a series of ‘accidents’ when he insisted on her going hunting or fishing with him.
“You’re so smart but you can’t walk without falling down a cliff or slipping into shark infested water.”
Tony’s anger grew and so did Jan’s fear.
The next Saturday she sat in silence as Tony drove her car through the muddy path into the swamp and explained how the hunt would be conducted. She couldn’t understand why he wanted another boar after the fiasco of the dinner the night before.
She turned from the oven “It’s a pork roast.”
“That’s wild boar? Are you trying to kill me? I’m not eating that. It’s probably infested with germs. I only killed it for the contest.”
Tony had thrown the roast in the garbage.
She thought about that dinner as she trudged through the swamp. The heat and humidity sucked the air away and Jan batted at mosquitos the size of black birds. They met up with the other men in the contest who suggested Tony didn’t have a chance to win.
He smirked at them and pushed Jan ahead into the sawgrass. Its’ sharp blades cut through her jeans and blouse.
They came into a clearing in time to see the sawgrass part and a huge boar emerge. Jan could smell its’ breath and watched its’ head lower and the tusks rise as he moved toward her.
She started to turn when a shotgun blast roared over her shoulder. Buckshot and pieces of dirt sprayed her face, arms and legs and deafened her ears. The boar turned and disappeared back into the sawgrass.
“Damn! I would have had him if you hadn’t turned your head. Now I’ll have to drive him back out myself. Here, hold the gun. I can’t run with it and my other gear. Stay right here and keep it handy.”
Jan could barely hear Tony’s orders as she tried to clear her ears. Catching the shotgun he tossed, she saw that blood from the buckshot and the sawgrass had soaked her clothes and flies had joined the mosquitos.
She heard Tony’s shouts and a sloshing sounds grew louder. The boar pushed back out into the clearing breathing heavily. Jan was breathing heavily too, as the pair eyed each other. Suddenly, recognition hit her. They were two hunted animals hoping to survive the horrendous heat of summer and the horrendous pursuit of the hunter.
Tony appeared in the clearing and stopped as the boar turned. Jan still held the shot gun, pointed toward the ground.
“What the hell are you waiting for you stupid bitch. Fire! Shoot the damn gun!”
Taking one more look at the boar Jan turned to her husband.
“Okay, if you insist. Just like you taught me, I never shoot unless I mean to hit and kill.”
A minute later the boar nodded at her, stepped over Tony, and disappeared into the swamp. Jan moved to stand over her husband. Breathing deeply she started yelling for help while creating the legal story of a bereaved widow of a victim of a Feral Swine hunt gone wrong.
Pamela Ebel’s short stories have appeared in YELLOW MAMA EZINE, Shot Gun Honey, The Bould Anthology 2021 & 2022, Tomorrow and Tomorrow 2021 Anthology as well as other publications. Her poetry is published in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California she now resides in the south and concentrates on tales of the human condition, both good and bad. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana with her husband and two cats. She can be found at her website. HERE.
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