Chapters : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | Epilogue
often send me comments about a book I have written. Chief among those comments
are wishes (okay ... complaints) pertaining to how that the ending was rushed, or that I could
have gone much farther with the story, and how people want to know what happened to
this or that character after the book ended. Normally I respond by saying that
I leave that sort of thing up to the imagination of the reader. Each reader
can move the story forward in his or her own way.
But I get a lot of those comments. So, I decided to try writing one that goes much farther
than those I've written in the past. And I did. But I'll be honest. I
thought the last few chapters of this draft manuscript were boring. It was
just fluff that required hours and hours to ensure that all the details were there
and the timeline was correct. It wasn't any fun to write anymore.
So I condensed two chapters into an epilogue. It tells what happened, but without
the hundreds of lines of tedious dialogue and explanation and minutiae.
I tried. I really did. But it just didn't work.
I think it's best if I trust your imagination. I hope you trust it too.
Anybody who's been alive for a
couple dozen years or so has learned that life is variable. It was even
expressed in the title for a movie that became iconic. Sometimes life is good,
and we get to enjoy it. And then there's the bad and the ugly, which we have
Americans don't seem to reflect on
that all that much. Typically, Americans try to ignore the problems in their
lives and just move on. That attitude is expressed in the phrase, "Shit
happens." The Chinese, on the other hand, mold these issues into their
philosophy of how to live life. They don't call it the good, bad, and ugly. It is what they
refer to as the yin and yang of life. It's a pretty big deal in Chinese
culture. We should pay more attention to Chinese culture, by the way, and the
philosophy by which many of those people live. Very soon they could own most
Anyway, this story is about some
people who went on a deer hunt, to put meat in the freezer. But it's also a
story about yin and yang. I promise not to bore you with a lot of philosophy,
but you can't be told the tale without invoking some of the philosophy of yin
and yang, and a dose of the Daoist perspective on life.
Don't go look it up. Wikipedia will
provide what's needed to explain it and then we'll get on with things. In
Daoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other
dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so the duality of yin
and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism, on the other hand, most
notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (2nd century BC), a moral dimension
is attached to the idea of yin and yang.
To oversimplify it, for the Daoist,
good and bad is what you define them to be. For Confucius, good and bad are
defined for you.
We, in America, approach things from
the perspective of Confucius.
You are told all this because this
story is about looking at things from the Daoist way of thinking.
Once upon a time there was a boy
named Robert Jenkins, and a girl named Lucy Abernathy. They were born in
different towns in different states and, at that time, neither had any idea the
other existed. They were just two among hundreds of millions of Americans.
They got served up equal measures of good, bad, and ugly. Their childhood was
normal in the Daoist sense. What that means is that they perceived it
to be normal. There was a lot of good, though like many kids, they didn't know
how good they had it. That mostly good - the yang, if you will - continued as
both went to college, where they met who they perceived to be the loves of
their lives. Both got married to those loves. As it turned out, Lucy married
Bob's brother, Brad, which is how fate brought her into contact with Bob.
Lucy, now also with the last name of Jenkins, had two children, a boy and a
girl. Bob's wife gave him one daughter. It would extend the tale to explain
how they ended up living next door to each other, and that isn't really
important, except that it meant the kids all grew up together, particularly
because their parents shared the responsibility of home schooling them all.
The term "home" was very fluid with this bunch.
Perhaps too fluid, in fact.
That's when the yin slammed down on
them. Or at least most of them. Brad and Valerie, who was Bob's wife, decided
that each of them was the love of their lives, rather than Bob and
Lucy. This was announced by the simple expedient of Brad and Valerie leaving
for a tour of the planet on Brad's yacht.
That's a pretty good example of
"ugly" ... when your brother runs off with your wife. And vice
versa, of course.
The divorces were relatively
equitable. Lucy got everything but the yacht (which was the only thing that
was actually paid off). Valerie didn't want anything, except out of the
marriage so she could "go off and discover who she really was." Well
... she also wanted to give Bob the honor of continued parenthood.
In such breakups, the children are
traditionally viewed as innocent victims. Their reaction can run the gamut of
or ugly. In this case, the
kids banded together and, more or less, adopted aunt and uncle as absent mom
and dad, respectively. It was just natural that Bob and Lucy leaned on each
other too, pretty heavily in the beginning, and less so as the kids got older.
They maintained separate households, but saw each other “all the time”. It was unquestioned they'd see
each other at least twice a week as a "family", because every Friday
night they got together for supper at Bob's house, and every Sunday, they went
out together to eat after church.
The home schooling part of things
was much more difficult with two of the "teachers" now gone, but it
was decided to keep educating the children in that manner. Bob and Lucy shared
that duty, depending on who had the time to do so. That was more often Bob,
who was self-employed, and had more freedom during the day to work with the
kids. Those kids, having some friends who went to public school, had heard
enough stories about that to try very hard not to end up there, so they applied
themselves to their school work. When they were ready for what amounted to the
7th grade, the adults decided to try one of the online schools, and that worked
out well for all of them.
Bob and Lucy carried on bringing
home the bacon and trying to save up for the kids' college funds, which took
the majority of their time. There wasn't much time for recreation, as far as
the adults were concerned.
Which was why the one thing Bob did
every year for fun was very important to him. And that was hunting - and
hopefully bagging - a deer. It was equal measures fun and practicality,
actually. It was enjoyable to be out in nature, where the noise was of a
completely different variety than usual, and practical because it put meat in
Lucy quilted. Again, it was equal
parts fun and practicality.
You need one other bit of
information before the story continues. Bob and Lucy had more than one
discussion with each other about what to do about the kids' sexual education.
The online school didn't have that in the curriculum, but that didn't matter
because both felt like the majority of such education should involve the
parent(s). That said, neither of them felt either qualified or prepared to
"have the talk." that's fairly normal. Most parents don't feel
qualified to talk to their children about the complicated processes involved in
relationships that include a sexual dimension. And that's sad and illogical,
because parents have been through it all, and have experienced the good, bad, and ugly that inevitably
comes into those relationships. But, rather than using that experience to pass
along lessons learned, most parents in Western cultures just handle the
situation by making rules they expect their children to blindly accept.
At least, in the case of Bob and
Lucy, they agreed that, regardless of what they did or taught the kids, they
would all eventually experiment with sex, probably sooner than later. Neither
was happy about that, primarily because both remembered their own first, fumbling
attempts to figure out what sex was all about.
So, basically, they did what most
parents do. While they knew it was coming ... they kept putting off dealing
That, of course, has consequences.
Imagine a speeding car that has no driver. You never know where it will end up,
but you assume it will involve a crash of some kind.
On the particular Friday night where
this story actually begins, it was special, at least in Bob's mind, because
Randy had passed into his seventeenth year of life, and deer season had just
opened for center fire rifle. Having no son of his own, Bob hoped that Randy
would want to do a little male bonding in deer camp, which Bob usually
When he broached the subject at
supper that night, things didn't go quite like he'd envisioned. They were just
chatting as usual, talking about this and that, when he announced his plan.
said Bob, suspending a fork full of green beans between his plate and mouth.
season started yesterday. I'm going hunting next week. How'd you like to go
with me this year? You're the man of your family. You're old enough now to
start bringing home some bacon.”
Bob was looking at Randy, interested
about seeing the boy's reaction, which is why he didn't notice that all three
women had gone still.
“That would be awesome!”
said Randy, excited.
This is when things went off the
rails a bit, at least in terms of Bob's expectations.
“What about me?”
asked Randy's sister, her voice almost a whine. “Why didn't you invite me
too? I want to make some bacon too!”
Roughly three ounces of iced tea
spewed from her mother's mouth and nose, forming a heavy mist that enveloped a
quarter of Lucy's prized antique oak dining table. As she coughed and hacked,
trying to clear her lungs, she looked at her brother-in-law in an irritated
manner. Bob was laughing out loud. Rather than center on the phrase that had
caused her this distress, which she knew Bob would milk for as long as he
could, she decided to let it drop. Her daughter was simply very innocent. She
decided to talk with her later and educate her in terms of what “makin' bacon”
meant. Finally she could speak without coughing, and
she tried to move the conversation forward.
“Your uncle wants to do a
little male bonding with your brother,”
Mallory was obviously irritated.
“So? Does that mean I can't
do some male bonding with Uncle Bob too?”
Lucy put down the tea she'd been
about to sip from again. A deep flush moved visibly from the skin on her upper
chest, exposed by the blouse she was wearing, up onto her cheeks.
Bob laughed even harder, while three
teenagers looked from one adult to the other in confusion.
Bob was able to get in a sentence.
"Honey, you're a female,"
he said, grinning.
"Okay," said his niece.
"Then I'll do some female bonding with you!"
Bob put his head down and his
Randy got it first, as evidenced by
a grin that he tried to hide, and furtive looks between his sister and cousin.
That cousin, Bob's daughter,
Samantha, got it next, but rather than explain it to Mallory, she scolded both
males at the table.
“That's not what she meant, you perverts!”
“Well, it's what she said,” laughed Bob.
“The perverts at the table
thought you meant sexual bonding,”
said Sam, patiently. She
loved her cousin, but Mallory sometimes seemed very dense.
Mallory's eyes went round. A blush
very like that on her mother's cheeks appeared on her face. Her mother, busy
mopping up the tea she'd spewed earlier, missed the decidedly guilty look that
came over her daughter's face.
Bob did not. He stopped laughing as
the completely insane fantasy that his lovely, luscious niece, in the bloom of
becoming a woman, might actually be interested in doing some ... bonding. Actual
bonding! Quite suddenly, he felt a little like a pervert.
“That's not what I thought,”
he said, defensively, trying to stop imagining his niece naked, on her back,
holding out her arms to him. He'd noticed her physical development on a number
of occasions in recent years. She might only be sixteen, but she had an
eighteen or twenty year old body.
“Yes you did,”
muttered Sam. “You're horny all the time. You
might not be if you'd go on dates, like I keep trying to get you to do.”
Complete, stunned silence settled on
the others, as shocked looks were in abundance.
“How did we manage to get on
the subject of Bob's dating life?” asked Lucy, breaking the
“He brought up male bonding?” Sam arched an eyebrow as she looked at her aunt. She briefly contemplated on
the possibility that Mallory's mental density was genetic.
“I'm not into that kind of
said Randy, proving that his genes
also ran true.
“That's not what I meant!” groaned Bob. “I simply invited you to go hunting with me!”
“And you did not invite
me to go,” complained Mallory, who now
remembered why she was so unhappy.
“Or me,” said Sam, adding her own complaint to the issue. “Or Aunt Lucy!”
“Don't drag me into this,” said Lucy, holding out both hands, as if warding away
bad luck. “I want nothing to do with bugs and
having to pee in the woods.”
“There aren't really many
bugs left this time of year,”
said Bob, helpfully.
“And you're going to build me
asked Lucy, sarcasm dripping from
“Don't you have a camper?”
asked Randy. “It has a bathroom in it, right?”
“He never takes the camper
reminds him of Mom.”
said Randy. Then he looked puzzled. “Why?
“Because that's why Mom left
said Sam, somewhat callously.
used to make her go camping with him all the time.”
“I didn't make her,”
said Bob, injured. “I thought she liked it.
“I did,” said Sam, “but Mom? Not so much. She used to
complain about it all the time while you were fishing. All we ever did was
stay in camp.”
“I invited her to go fishing,”
“She hated fishing. Even I
knew that and I was only six.”
Sam rolled her eyes.
think the reason we never go camping any more is because that's the last place
you ever got laid.”
“Samantha Bethany Jenkins!”
barked Lucy. “You will not talk like that in my
house. Certainly not at the supper table! Is that clear?”
The teenager's face clouded up, but
her voice was meek when she bowed her head.
Lucy looked at her own children,
obviously not at all contrite about exerting parental disciplinary force toward
someone who wasn't actually her daughter.
“That kind of comment is not
she said. Apparently she'd seen
that look on Sam's face and was pounding the point home.
that when you're away from home.”
“I said I was sorry,”
“No you did not. You merely
agreed to my terms,”
you're sorry, then you should act like it,”
Sam stood. She looked tense, at
first, but then relaxed. She moved to her father and leaned down to hug him.
“I'm sorry Daddy,”
she said. “That was cruel of me.”
“No it's not,”
“You've made your point,”
said her brother-in-law, looking at her with hard eyes.
actually right. Every time I look at that damn camper I think of the last time
we took it out.”
said Lucy, her voice softening. “How about we talk about
something a little more pleasant?”
“Like all of us going with
said Mallory. “I think it would be fun.
And I really do want to learn how to shoot a rifle.”
“Count me out,”
said Lucy. “I can see the future, and my future,
should I agree to go, would involve cooking and washing pots and pans and
cleaning dead animals. I think I'll stay here and get a couple of projects
finished in my sewing room.”
“So we can go?”
asked Mallory, excitedly. “Me and Sam?”
Bob, looking a bit like a deer in
the headlights himself, made what he thought was a perfectly reasonable
“I didn't think you'd want to
go kill Bambi.”
Mallory, proving she wasn't a little
girl any more, simply smiled.
“Why? I like to eat, too.”
"You can take your lessons with
you," said Lucy. She smiled brightly. "So you don't get
There were three groans, but they
were more theatrical than genuine. By this point in their lives, keeping up
with school work seemed easy, especially since they were all taking the same
lessons and could help each other as often as needed.
And that's how Bob's deer hunt, that
year, got turned into something completely different than a little fraternal
bonding behind a scope and around a campfire.
Had Bob thought about it, Randy's
complete acceptance of the girls inviting themselves might have made him stop
and ponder that. But he didn't. Truth be told, that's probably because he had
his own thoughts about the girls coming along. He was used to seeing his
daughter running around the house in a bra and panties, or maybe a T shirt or
tank top and panties. It wasn't unheard of for her to leave her wet towel in
the bathroom after her shower and go back to her bedroom stark naked.
But a man and his teenage daughter
are often at odds with each other. They even argue sometimes! I know that's
hard for some folks to believe, but the fact is that at this stage of their
lives, Bob and Sam lived more as equals in the house than as father and
daughter. Sam had, of her own volition, slowly taken over the role and duties
traditionally thought of as being those of “the woman of the house.”
That wasn't so much because she wanted to be in that role, but because
she loved her clothes, and her father had no concept of how to do laundry
properly, so she did that herself. It was easier to do it for him too, than
have him muddling around in the utility room. It was much the same in the
kitchen. He could cook certain things well, but if their diet was to be varied
more than the four or five dishes he could produce, then she needed to be the
one doing most of the cooking. And, while Bob wasn't a slob, he never seemed
to remember where the vacuum cleaner was, or how to operate it. In many ways,
she was the one doing the supervising of routine household maintenance.
That said, for the most part, Bob
treated her like a roommate, rather than a supervisor. Most of that was
because she was a good kid. She was smart, and knew the value of a good
education. She also knew money didn't grow on trees. She didn't beg for
luxuries often. She wanted to go to college, and she intended to get
scholarships to help with that. Neither did she flirt with her father like
some girls do, to cajole him into buying her things she knew they couldn't
It should be noted, however, that
Sam didn't need to flirt with her father. That appeared to be Mallory's job,
who flirted with him shamelessly. Even at this stage of her life, when
“childhood” was obviously long past, she sat on his lap, and rained kisses on his cheeks,
and hugged him as if he was a life preserver and she just off a sinking ship.
She even did some of that in front of her mother, who thought it was funny.
Had Lucy given some thought to that,
she might have pondered Mallory's sudden eagerness to learn to shoot a rifle
and go hunting, something she'd never showed a single shred of interest in
But a whole week of peace and quiet,
in a house that normally had two teenagers in it, was too luscious a gift to be
looking in the horse's mouth about.
And neither parent had ever noticed
the occasional interested looks, shared between Samantha and Randy. Remember,
they didn't want to see sexual interest in their children ... so they
didn't look for it.
Another component of this whole
thing was that both Bob and Lucy firmly believed that dating should be rare,
and a privilege, shared with different people, rather than the same one over
They'd been young once. They'd lost
their virginities once. They'd suffered raging hormones as teenagers. And
they'd both fallen madly in love with more than one member of the opposite sex
during high school. They'd had their heartbreaks back then as well. And more
recently, of course.
Both, not surprisingly, were a tad
gun-shy about relationships. And so, they didn't encourage their kids to be
involved in them. There wasn't a lot of dating going on in either household.
And so the day arrived when the
camper, newly cleaned and spruced up by Sam and Mallory, and driven by Bob,
made the completely unnecessary fifty yard trip over to Lucy's driveway to pick
up two excited teens. There were hugs between all the kids and Lucy, and then
Bob and Lucy, who wished them a safe trip and then waved as her babies were
driven away to become adult hunters.
She giggled, as they drove out of
sight, remembering Mallory's comment about wanting to make bacon.
She shouldn't, as it all turned out,
The camper was a motorized vehicle.
Having said that, do not be tempted to think of it as one of those behemoths
you see towing an SUV down the interstate, looking like a tour bus, wherein its
passengers live a life of relaxed luxury quite similar to what they left behind
at home. Rather, this one was a good fifteen years old, of the sixteen foot
variety, on a Ford Econoline chassis. When new it was described as sleeping
six, but those six people would have to be very good friends indeed. In
practice, it had two double beds, one of which was over the cab and the other
was made up by removing the table and pedestal from the floor and rearranging
the cushions of the seats there. A “couch”
that spanned the width of the very back was the other bed, but it was a only a
couple of inches wider than a single bed. A small kitchen, bathroom,
and some storage made up
the rest of the interior. About the only modern amenities were a microwave, a
propane heater, and the air conditioner mounted on the top, which had worked
well the last time the camper had been taken out, but hadn't been tested since
then. Of course at this time of year, the heater was more likely to be needed
than the AC.
On this trip, two of the hunters
would sit in the front bucket seats and the other two would ride in the back.
If someone wanted to nap, that could be done in the bed over the cab, while the
vehicle was moving, or in the rear of the vehicle, on the couch. There were
games and decks of cards in the storage area, but the teens had moved beyond
Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland, and nobody thought to update them before the
trip got started. The cards got some use, and Bob had thought to bring a bag
of used paperback books.
It was anticipated, at least by Bob,
that most of their "free" time would be spent first, preparing to
hunt, and then actually hunting. That included preliminary firearms
instruction for the kids, setting up tree stands, and that sort of thing.
Bob had hunting rights on five
hundred acres of land about two hundred miles from where he lived. It belonged
to a friend of his he'd gone through college with, who was a physician and only
owned the land as an investment, rather than to be lived on. It was all wilderness,
though there were a few logging roads that went through it.
His plan was to teach the kids to
shoot on one side of it, and hunt the other. To that end, their first stop in
terms of “camping” was not far inside the
gates, secured with a padlock that Bob had a key to. His plan was to walk off
fifty or sixty yards on the “road”
as a firing range. He knew that, when it came time to hunt, the actual
distance anyone would need to shoot would be no more than that, because the
density of the forest would prevent anyone from seeing farther than that. And,
he intended to have them hunt from tree stands. If he set them up right, with
any luck, a shot from one, successful or not, might scare a deer into the path
Some of this was discussed with Mallory,
who rode shotgun on the way there.
He usually brought his truck on
these hunts, and camped in a tent, roughing it. The truck also provided a
handy way to get the deer back home. Since they had the camper this time, his
plan (assuming the hunt was a success) was to teach the kids how to butcher the
deer in the field. There was a luggage carrier on the back of the camper, of
the type sometimes used to haul a motorized wheel chair, which he'd always used
to tie down two big coolers to. Those were what he planned on taking the meat
home in. What was currently in them would, in theory, be eaten on the trip.
They spent the afternoon setting up
camp. Randy and Sam went foraging for firewood for a campfire, while Bob paced
off the temporary range and explored further down range, to ensure no
trespassers were there who would be put in danger when the firing started.
Mallory said she'd start getting things ready for supper.
When Bob returned, Randy was just
completing the assembly of a ring of stones, in which to build the fire. Sam
had unhooked the lawn chairs from the rear of the camper, and was inspecting
them critically. They had been left there for years, and the webbing looked
none too sturdy. There were also only two of them.
“We forgot several things,”
“We're out of practice,”
“Only two of us can sit in
these,” she said, pointing toward the
chairs. “And that will probably be us girls.”
“We're all equal on this trip,” said Bob, his voice taking on the tone of lecture.
have fought for equal rights for decades. Now you have to live with the
results of that.”
“I was referring to the fact
that either of you will tear right through them,” said Sam, wryly.
and I may weigh too much too.”
“There was a tree that fell
down over that way,”
might be able to drag it over here and sit on it.”
“I have a pretty big bow saw
in the camper,”
it's too big to just drag over here, we can cut a section with that.”
“This is so cool!”
squealed Mallory. “We're out here in nature, facing
trials and tribulations, and dealing with stuff! I feel like a pioneer woman!”
Bob smiled. He knew they had it
thousands of times better than any pioneers ever had, but he wasn't going to
ruin Mallory's fantasy.
The men went to look at the fallen
tree and, by the time supper was ready, they'd cut a five foot section of it
and created a bench that would seat three, comfortably. The chairs did support
the weight of Sam and Mallory, but neither felt completely secure.
Supper was macaroni and cheese, with
cut up hot dogs in it. Bob had brought a fresh pineapple and showed the kids
how to cut it up. They got their fingers sticky in the process of eating it
and Bob reminded them that water was at a premium, and could not be wasted.
The camper's water tank held twenty gallons, but that would have to last all
four of them an entire week. He didn't tell them about the two cases of
bottled water he'd put in a storage locker. That would be brought out when they
got ready to climb into their tree stands, where they might have to stay,
quietly, for hours.
With that in mind, Bob required that
they use the age old method of “cleaning up,”
by simply licking and sucking their fingers clean. He had not the slightest
concept, when he instituted this policy, that watching Mallory's lips moving
along the length of her fingers would affect him like it did. He sat
dumbstruck as her innocent actions caused blood to rush to his groin, which
resulted in the stiffening of his male member so quickly it was as if magic had
produced his erection. That she wiped those fingers on her shirt, including
where the bulges of her teenage breasts stretched the cloth, only made his
sudden fantasy even stronger. He had to keep looking away, because she kept
looking toward him. It didn't occur to him that those repeated glances his way
might have some significance. He was too busy thinking about how much she'd
“Are you okay, Daddy?”
came the dim voice of his daughter. “You look funny.”
He suddenly came out of the imaginary world in which Mallory was naked and he
was sucking pineapple juice off her breasts and nipples while somehow,
magically, she was able to suck the same sweet juice off his penis at the same
time. His brain didn't even try to imagine how pineapple juice might have
gotten on his cock. The realization of what had just happened made him wince
and the first thing he thought of was that, perhaps, Sam was right and it was
time for him to get out there and find some kind of female companionship. If
he was thinking about ravishing his own niece, he must be pretty hard up.
Sam stood and moved toward him. Now concern was clear in her voice.
he said. “I was just thinking ... having a flashback,
sort of. My mind was somewhere else.”
That sixth sense some women are reputed to have was strong in Sam.
“Something like that,”
said Bob. The last thing he was going to do was admit that there was still a
vivid image in his imagination of sweet little Mallory lying spread-eagle under
him as he demonstrated exactly what “makin' bacon”
was all about.
said his daughter, the worry in her voice changing to loving concern. She
moved to sit beside him on the log and enfolded him in her arms.
was an idiot,” she murmured into his cheek.
With something akin to guilty
astonishment, Bob felt his daughter's soft breast mashed against his shoulder,
and her lips on his cheek as she kissed him there caused a shiver to streak
down his spine. His boner flexed in his pants. When the fuck had she grown
up so much too? The sudden urge to grip his dick and jack off instantly was so
strong that his hand actually moved before he could regain control over it.
he said, patting her on the shoulder and leaning subtly away from her unnerving
presence. “It's okay. Everything happens for a
“I heard something once,”
said Randy, who was sitting on the other side of Bob.
say that woman who run away not worth chasing.”
“I can't believe you said
said Sam, sitting up and unknowingly easing the
pressure in Bob's mind as her breast broke contact with his arm.
my mother you're talking about!”
“Well, she took off, didn't
“Yes ... with your father,
as I recall,”
said Sam, acidly.
yelled Mallory, standing up. “They both left us all. They
didn't love us. I'm glad they're gone!”
“Hey, hey, hey,”
said Bob, all thoughts of sex with either girl gone as quickly as they had
bloomed in his mind. “That's not true, Mallory. Your
father loved you. He still loves you.”
He looked at Sam.
Valerie loves you. What they did had nothing to do with not loving you.
Don't ever think that they don't love you.”
“So why did they leave?”
You never talk about Mom. And Aunt
Lucy never talks about Uncle Brad.”
said Randy, poking a stick into the fire.
Bob and Lucy had discussed what to
say - and not say - to the children. Brad and Valerie had taken off when the
kids were still very young, under eight. They'd been unable to decide at what
age the children would be old enough, and mature enough, to be able to deal
with the answers to what would inevitably be their questions. After a couple
of years the children stopped asking where the respective Mommy and Daddy
were. At first the story was that Brad and Valerie had gone to Africa to help
children who had no parents at all. When birthday cards came from places like
Venice and France and Hong Kong, the true story came out, but only in a very
sanitized version. Over the years, they'd adopted a plan based more on
avoidance than anything else. Quite suddenly, Bob was tired of avoiding the
issue. He shrugged.
“You guys were very young when they left. They just couldn't deal with the rigors of raising children.”
He looked at Sam. “Your mother had dreams, and she
couldn't follow them if she lived a conventional life.”
He looked at Mallory, and put his hand on Randy's knee briefly.
your dad was always incapable of resisting a woman. In college, he must have
had thirty girlfriends.”
He shrugged again.
think they thought life was passing them by and they chased after it.”
“Confucius was right, then,”
said Randy, darkly. “If they ran away from us, they
aren't worth chasing.”
“Don't think of it that way,”
said Bob. “You're young, and you think they
abandoned you. But they didn't. Not really. Not in their hearts. They just
can't be the same kind of parents that other people choose to be. They still
think about you and love you. It wouldn't surprise me if some day they show
back up here and want back into our lives.”
“Why do you think that?”
asked Sam. “The only time Mom ever writes
anymore is on my birthday and at Christmas.”
Bob didn't want to say that, in his
own mind, the reason he thought something like that could happen was because
Brad was probably cheating on Valerie just like he'd cheated on Lucy, and that
sooner or later, Valerie was going to get tired of it. At least that was what
he wanted to believe. In the few, short conversations he'd had with his
ex-wife since the divorce was final, her comments were actually more towards an
apology to him that she hadn't figured out that she and Brad were soul mates
before she married Bob and Brad married Lucy. They'd all known each other in
college, and had hung around together like friends do. Deep inside, he knew she
was never coming back. But he also knew that her interest in how Sam was doing
was still strong. Sam wasn't aware that Valerie emailed him roughly once a
month, updating him on what their travel itinerary was going to be. Her
reasoning for that wasn't to torment him, but to keep him up to date in case
some disaster befell them. She had a significant life insurance policy, and
Sam was the beneficiary.
That's why he replied to her
infrequent missives with relatively detailed accounts of how Sam was doing. He
included information about Mallory and Randy too, for her to share with her ...
soul mate. The pain of rejection was still there, but it had faded over the
years. He looked over at Sam now. She was a young woman. Maybe she was old
“She writes more often than
he said, before he could decide not to.
sends me emails.”
said Sam, slapping his knee.
“She always asks how you're
That was barely true. He knew Val
felt guilty about abandoning her daughter. She never admitted that, or that
her decisions had been a mistake in any way, but her veiled, muted requests for
information about Sam were transparent. She cared. Maybe not enough to resist
following her dreams, instead making the kind of sacrifices good parents have
to make. But she cared. And Bob had convinced himself that she'd have made a
pretty rotten parent anyway.
“And I tell her how you two
guys are coming along too,”
he said, in obvious
reference to Randy and Mallory.
“Does my mother know about
asked Mallory. Her voice was uncharacteristically
“I've never told her,”
“You know she still cries
night, in her bedroom. I can hear her through the wall.”
“That makes me sad,”
said Mallory. “I don't like my father very much.”
“I guess the lesson from all
this is that sometimes life isn't fair, but we have to go on doing the best we
can. And for you two, that includes helping your mom get through things. I
know how hard it is to be a single parent. And Lucy has two uncontrollable,
wild, crazy teenagers to put up with.”
“I think you just said that
raising me has been a pain in the ass,”
said Sam, slapping her
father's knee again.
“Not at all,”
said Bob. “All I'm saying is that there were
challenges that would have been easier to face if there had been two of us.”
What came to Bob was the instant
memory of the time when Sam came to him in hysterical tears, saying she was
bleeding to death when, completely unexpectedly, she had her first period.
She'd only been eleven, and he hadn't expected this to happen for another year
or two. His panicked call to Lucy had brought help, but he was the one who had
to go to the store and procure the necessary supplies and materials, while Lucy
stayed home and had a long talk with Sam.
But, in truth, there had been
two of them ... him and Lucy. And, in truth, had Valerie been there, he would
have simply handed the whole mess off to her. But because Valerie wasn't there,
he'd had to become more intimately involved in all aspects of his
daughter's life. In that sense, he was almost ... lucky ... that his wife had
run off. He didn't think about it in these terms, but his situation conformed
perfectly with the Daoist philosophy of perceiving things as having a good
“Maybe I was wrong,”
he said, putting his arm around her. “I'm not complaining.”
“You'd better not be,”
she said, snuggling up to him.
He found himself thinking of her in
terms other than as his daughter, as again, her breast pushed into his arm and
her warm lips brushed against the stubble on his cheek, again.
That was made worse when Mallory
suddenly appeared in front of him and, before he could do anything about it,
wormed her way onto his lap, straddling him and pushing Sam to one side.
“I need hugs too,”
said Mallory, putting her lips right where Sam's had been.
“You're just a slut,”
Again, there was a moment where, if
Bob had reflected on what was happening, and being said, he might have had
cause to ponder. Such as the fact that Sam so casually branded her cousin as
when Bob had probably only heard her use that word two or three times before
that. And those times the word had been used with reference to some woman or
girl Sam didn't like. And how could Mallory possibly be a slut, since she had
no frequent contact with any boys?
But Bob couldn't ponder anything at
the moment, because two hot breasts were pressed against his chest, and a
jeans-clad pussy had settled to put pressure on his persistent erection. Warm
lips seemed to be almost nibbling at his cheek and, somehow, his hands had
settled on Mallory's firm, round bottom. Those hands were actually pulling her
In situations like this, the next
logical step - when the man and woman are romantically inclined - is to kiss
each other. That leads to other foreplay and Mother Nature is given her due.
But this situation wasn't normal, and there was no kiss. That allowed Bob to
regain some rational thought processes, and he moved his hands, to pat Mallory
on the back, instead of pull her against his raging hard on. He wondered if
she could feel it, and he felt the hot rush of blood into his cheeks as he
“I'd never leave you,”
said Mallory into his cheek.
“Get a room,”
scoffed Sam, who pushed at her cousin.
Mallory stood up and moved back.
For whatever reason, her feet stayed shoulder's width apart and, perhaps since
her loins were at the same height as Bob's head, his eyes centered on the point
where two slim legs met, inside those jeans.
“That would be hard to do in
the middle of the woods,”
said Mallory. She put a
finger to her lips. “I guess we could use the camper.”
It was at that point that Bob's
brain finally alerted him that ... something ... was off. There was entirely
too much casual reference going on to things of a sexual nature. He didn't get
a chance to contemplate that, though, because his thought processes were
interrupted by Randy, who asked a question.
“Speaking of the camper,”
he said, “who's going to sleep where?”
“I don't know,”
said Bob, who realized he hadn't thought of that at all. There were so many
things he hadn't thought of. He was used to doing this alone, and when he did
it alone, everything came without doing much planning or thinking, because he'd
done it so many times.
“There are plenty of beds,”
“Yes, but not much privacy,”
said Bob, his mind heading off in the wrong direction again, as he imagined
watching the girls changing into their PJs. Sam usually slept in just a T
shirt and panties. In the past, that hadn't been a problem. But that was
before he noticed her as a woman, instead of just as his daughter.
“We don't need that much
bathroom has a door.”
“You can't turn around in
there without banging into a wall,”
“Who turns around when they
sit on the pot?”
asked his sister.
“I thought you meant for
“Why would we need to do
that? You've seen me naked plenty of times. I'm guessing Uncle Bob has seen
Sam that way too. So what's the big deal?”
“Uncle Bob hasn't seen you
said Bob, sounding a little dazed,
staring at Mallory.
said the girl, tossing her long, blond hair. “Like I should be afraid of you?”
joked Sam, grinning. “He hasn't gotten laid in years.”
“I thought you weren't
allowed to say things like that,”
pointed out Randy.
“At your house,”
Sam said, taking the legalistic approach. “This is my house.”
“It's totally inappropriate,”
said Bob, trying not to imagine Mallory prancing around naked, in front of her
“It's totally true,”
“Why are we talking about
sex?” groaned Bob. “This is a hunting trip.
There isn't going to be any sex. I shouldn't even have to say there
isn't going to be any sex!”
“Who said there was going to
be sex?” asked Sam, innocently.
I did was point out that you haven't had sex in ages and ages. I admit I was alluding
to the possibility that, should Mallory get naked, you might take an
interest in that fact. But then that would be pretty normal, after all. I mean
Mallory is killer cute.”
“Why are we talking about
sex?” moaned Bob again.
“Because very soon, dear
daddy, we're going to be adults, and then we get to have sex whenever we want
to, as often as we want to.” Sam jutted her chest out.
Whether it was intentional or not was not clear.
gasped Bob, now trying not to imagine some faceless stud mounting his
daughter's somehow willing body.
“Now you've gone and ruined
everything!” yipped Mallory, glaring at Sam.
Bob stared, speechless.
“I didn't ruin anything,”
“Yes you did. Now he's
starting to lay down rules. This trip was supposed to be fun, not the same old
thing we get at home.”
Randy stood up.
“I'm going to sleep on that
couch thing in the back,” he said.
guys can argue all you want. Just do it out here and be quiet when you come
He moved off toward the camper.
Sam leaned against her father.
“You can sleep over the cab,”
she said. “That's the most comfortable one.
Your poor old bones will need that.”
said Bob, trying his best not to think about sex. It wasn't working. At least
if he was in the cab-over bed, it would be dark enough that he could beat off
and nobody would notice.
“What time are we getting up?”
“On hunting trips, I get up
when I wake up,”
“You usually get up at five,”
said Sam. “This is a vacation. You can sleep
in if you want.”
“The deer don't sleep in,”
said Bob. “But I'll let you kids sleep. There
is much to do that does not require you three to be there. I need to scout out
places for the tree stands we're going to build, and that needs to be done
quietly. That's why you're going to learn to shoot on this side of the
property. Hopefully, that will scare all the deer over to the side where we'll
actually do the hunting.”
“So you're going to bed now?”
Sam's voice held a note of something odd. It was like she was almost urging him to go to bed now.
“Might as well,”
he said, deciding not to worry about it. The whole evening had been strange.
When had his daughter grown up to the point that talking about sex seemed
said Sam. She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
be quiet when we come in.”
He got up and went into the camper.
Randy was already crashed on the couch in the back. All he had on were briefs,
but that didn't seem odd, as Bob had turned the propane heater on in
anticipation of a chilly night. Bob skinned out of his clothes, tossing them
into the sleeper over the cab. He planned on wearing the same pants the next
day, with a fresh shirt and socks. He never wore underwear. He thought about
the running shorts he'd brought to sleep in. He usually slept nude. Since he
would get dressed in the sleeper when he woke, he decided it wasn't worth
getting into his back pack for the shorts. Naked, he climbed up into the
Five minutes later he was stroking
his rigid prick. Images of both Sam and Mallory, naked, danced in his mind.
Outside, Sam nudged her cousin and
nodded her head toward the camper, which was shaking almost imperceptibly.
They were too young to have seen the old bumper sticker that said,
this van's a rockin', don't come a knockin',” but they still recognized
the significance of that slight movement.
“See? I told you he'd be
horny,” she whispered.
Both girls grinned at each other.
Their evaluation of the situation was distinctly more Daoist than what
Confucius would have approved of.
Inside the camper, Bob didn't dwell
on it, but his thinking about Sam and Mallory had become more Daoist as well.
His perceptions changed as the conditions around him changed.
Actually, he wasn't thinking about
much at all, except the sweet pain of semen rushing through his penis, jetting
into one of his dirty socks.
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