The Prodigal Son

Jeremy Calhoun was on the cusp of his 11th birthday when his father decided a camping trip was in order. Hunting, fishing and living off the land were hard lessons only learn-able in the wild spaces between civilizations. Cornelius Calhoun liked his meat pure and his data well cooked. He was a Statistician by trade and quite well educated. He had fulfilled a lot of roles in his life, most recently he had humbled a health care labour dispute in his own way. As the labour relations arbitrator he locked out the striking workers until they caved for less money then what they has originally asked for. Jeremy Calhoun thought of his dad as more of a military leader, something like a corporal. He liked the forest’s lush green background and the damp smell of the northern interior of British Columbia was still untamed and wild. Like father, like son so the saying goes.
“Hey Jeremy, come here and help me load up”, barked his father authoritatively.
The USS Enterprise as Jeremy’s dad called it was a shimmering metallic ex military vehicle. Wide tracks ran down the length of both sides which imbued its unstoppable off-road capability. Although it was capable of month long expeditions in the woods, they would only be going for a weekend perhaps to catch some venison to make sausage. Jeremy could taste it now, flavoured with all the spices of an Italian deli sitting on his plate in the morning. It was almost worth seeing the life snuffed out of a helpless buck just for that taste.
“We’re taking the rest of the armaments” Cornelius detailed. Jeremy bundled the rifles and crossbows under one arm, barley able to reach down he grabbed the drab green ammunitions box with the other hand and heaved them into the great machine. With the vehicle fully supplied, Jarhead’s father climbed his large six foot five frame into the captains chair s and fired up the old turbo diesel inline engine. It’s rumbled to life activating a deep urge in Jeremy to be deep in the forest. The cabin had plenty of room, among various dials, pressure and temp gauges there was also a stereo with CD player and room for a small envoy of another six people with supplies. This trip would just be the two of them and a CCR album. “Engage” said Cornelius, his tone not changing. The tracks dug in and they were on their way to certain adventure.

Jeremy or Jar Head as his dad sometimes called him, didn’t talk much but when he did it was one pearl of wisdom after another. Jar head’s young and impressionable mind would fill with memorable quotes and philosophies forever. Cornelius recounted stories of teaching college kids, saying they asked too many damn questions and how he wished he could fail all those cocksuckers for not being able to follow simple instructions.
The path became more ridged, the enterprise steamed forward as they approached camp. The horizon was dimming from its earlier bright hues to a sleepier looking yellow and orange.
Jeremy looked out through the side windows and spotted deer off in the distance.
They found a spot on a ridge not far away from a stony riverbed to park the vehicle and make camp before the lights were turned off on them for the night. Jeremy’s dad got out of the car and sniffed the air like a big grizzly bear “someone’s nearby, scaring away our deer with fire”
Jeremy detected the faintest hint of hickory in the wind, it smelled nice he thought, envisioning smoked meet. They made camp for the night.

When they awoke it had been raining for some time, Jeremy had heard the soft droplets at first become tiny bullets assaulting the sheet metal of the enterprise. It was close to six am now and the enterprise was so well integrated with the landscape it was hard to differentiate it from the rocks and trees. Colonel Corn was perched against a side window portal; he opened it slowly, deliberately. “My Winchester, now please” Jeremy dove into the bundle of guns, cocked, loaded just like his father has trained him to. He handed the rifle to his father who then clicked off the safety and poked the nose of the gun out the window at an approaching large buck, he fired, and six hundred metres away, the shot registered as it hit a deer in the top of the spine.
Jeremy watched as the impact misted, the deer collapsed instantly.
“Hooo Haw, got me one!” said Cornelius.
Jeremy’s job would now be to go retrieve the carcass so it could be skinned and butchered.
He was given a set of ropes and with hooks and a knife in case the animal was still breathing when he got too it. Cornelius readied his butchering equipment, clearly excited at the prospect of bringing this animal back to the household.

The water from the river bed was raised easily by a couple of feet. Jeremy noticed immediately as he jumped down into it to collect their bounty. The rain wasn’t relenting. He would have to drag a sizable deer back to the Enterprise. When he got to it it was still twitching slightly and barely breathing. He took his knife out and slit its throat quickly. Jeremy perceived some kind of force leaving its body that filled him with a wild energy.
“Thank you for giving your life to be a tasty sausage on my plate”, he thought silently.
When he got back to the enterprise his muscles ached, the deer was heavy and soaked.
Jeremy’s feet were wet, he could see his father inside trying to start the vehicle and move it higher up the bank. It was stuck. He climbed into the cab with his father and was instructed to keep the vehicle in gear while Cornelius went out to move some debris around. It was no use the river bank has risen so quickly that it eroded some of the footing of the vehicle away.
They recovered the deer and went inside the cabin to formulate an action plan and take some solace from the rain.

It was then that they heard a rumbling engine sound; a 4×4 from the nearby campsite was heading in the opposite direction down their path.
Cornelius leapt out and started making his way up the bank to wave down the car. The rain kept coming down and they were going to need a tow now or face peril. Three fellows came back to the vehicle, all pretty young looking Jeremy though, but still much older them him.
One wore his hat backwards and had large headphones on the two other looked like his caretakers he decided. Cornelius explained the seriousness of their predicament; they needed to be pulled out quickly. He explained in his matter of fact, all business voice. Jeremy could tell he wasn’t taking no for an answer. The sheepish looking tallest one and the other normal one spoke together briefly while the one wearing headphones drooled on itself. After a quick conference they had decided it was too risky and they would flag someone else in the next town to come out and get them unstuck.

Cornelius did not accept this answer, it was immediate but discreet as he turned to his son and asked quietly for his Colt 357 Python handgun. As the ungainly group of three turned to go back to their 4×4 they heard a click’ sound as Colonel Corn cocked back the hammer of his 357.
“You aren’t going anywhere until I get my tow” he said
The boys looked shocked; Jeremy was quite unshook by all this.
“Boy, hold my gun and keep it pointed at them while I use their winch to get us out of here”
“Yes Pa” said Jeremy as he pointed the gun straight at the disabled looking man in the centre of them. Cornelius demanded compliance at the highest level.
“Keys” he spoke in monotone and stretched out his hand to the smartest looking of the bunch.
Within seconds he was parking their jeep on the banks edge and rigging their winch system onto the enterprise. All the while Jeremy never flinched; he held the gun steady, pointed, trained.
The small 4×4 heaved backwards and lifted the front of the Enterprise high enough to gain traction under its wide treads. Jeremy lowered the gun as his father came back towards him, job complete. The group of three stood there sheepishly, not knowing what to expect next. The one with headphones spoke saying “I like Jazz, jazz keeps me warm, not like that rock music!”
“He hates Coldplay”, said the frumpy one. Jeremy just nodded, missing the humour of the situation. The three young men scurried into their 4×4 and drove off.
The rain eased down now, as the Enterprise pulled itself up the steep ridge, gaining more footing every second; they rejoined the path taken by the 4×4.
Cornelius pressed a button on the console “Have you ever seen the rain by CCR” started blaring, he turned to look at his young spawn, “Happy birthday kid!” he said with an affectionate smile. With the deer strapped to the top of the vehicle, they headed back home. Jeremy was twelve now, and he couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate then eating those deer sausages.

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