“Something died nearby and it’s not fresh,” Kelsey stated. She was right. The ripe scent of over-dead only hit you when you passed that spot. Alex circled around and came back to the spot. He inhaled deeply and pulled over.
“You’re right,” he said to Kelsey. They exited the truck and stomped through the grass. It was in dire need of a mow, though they both knew no one would mow it for at least another month. The city never did, saving their funds until the last minute. They reached the tree line–a physical line of trees whose branches bowed to the ground creating archways. They reminded Kelsey of something from a fantasy novel and she never failed to comment on it.
“I wonder what the fairies left for us today,” she said. A giggle exploded from her throat. Her nostrils widened as she inhaled again. “It’s definitely not a skunk. There’s nothing like the java smell of a very dead skunk. Reminds me of Starbucks.”
Alex laughed. The first time she’d made the reference was the last time he’d ever stopped at a Starbucks. She was right about that, too. Dead skunks did smell like fresh brewed coffee after their stink faded away. “I think it’s something big, probably another deer.”
“The crows favorite feast!” Kelsey shot back. That too was true. Alex had never passed by a dead deer that didn’t have at least three crows feasting on it. He smiled again. “Look! You were right. It is something big, alright! Who the hell hit a bear and didn’t stop to check it out?!”
“You’re kidding! A bear? Fuck.” Alex said. It never failed. Some stupid idiot always fouled up their finds. Bears had to be reported, mostly because they weren’t supposed to be here in the first place. Alex didn’t like reporting. It was bad for business.
“You can say that again!” Kelsey chirped. That was one of her more annoying habits, being cheery when she should be mad. Kelsey wasn’t creeped out by anything. There weren’t many women who would go on road kill hunts with him. He intended to keep this one. What he liked most about her is that she was unafraid of them. The smell didn’t bother her, their stage of rot didn’t bother her, and most of all, the idea that some of the meat may still be salvageable didn’t repulse her. No one else like her existed on earth. “Look,” she said again, using a thick stick to prod the bear. “Rigor is still setting in.”
Alex shuddered slightly over the thudding sound the stick made on the bear’s body. Sometimes Kelsey seemed to enjoy it a little too much.
“Maybe we could just pretend we didn’t see it?” Alex asked. He knew what she would say, but asked anyway.
“You know what? We need some variety. Let’s load him up and take him home.” Kelsey surprised him. She was usually the one who stuck to the rules. She prodded the black fur again. “He’s way out of his territory. I betcha he was brought here illegally like that malamute we found last month.” Alex could tell she was still thinking because her prodding took on an absent nature. When she almost stuck it to the bear’s snout, he became concerned.
“It’s not that big of a deal, Kels,” he said.
She turned on him. She raised the stick and put it over her shoulder like a bat. An angry cherry appeared on each cheek. “It is, Alex. It is a very big deal. How many poachers could there be in this town?” Her fists bunched at her side. “If I ever get my hands on him…”
Alex leaned in and carefully took the stick from her hand. His fingers whisked away a stray lock of golden hair before he stepped back. “Kels, I promise, when we find that poacher, he will die in the same manner as the animals he killed. It will not be a pretty sight.”
Kelsey licked her lips. “You got that right! Now, come on. Let’s get this bear and get moving before we attract any more attention.” She waved towards the black birds watching intently from the branches nearby. They’d feasted minimally on the bear. They wouldn’t be happy to lose their meal. A cloud crossed the sun, momentarily darkening the woods. The birds lifted in flight and landed in branches directly above them.
“Oh hell.” Kelsey said. “No umbrellas…umph…” she pulled the gurney from the back of the truck, “…no sunglasses….oof…” she slid it under the bear, pulled a tie dyed bandana from her pocket, and wiped her forehead, “… hell and hallelujah every day.”
Our last Master Class prompt was presented by Carrie, who chose a line from the Incubus song “If Not Now, When”. The line she chose was “No umbrellas, no sunglasses, hell and hallelujah every day.” The challenge was to use the line at the end of the story.
This story also fits the InMon prompt of “happy hunting.” Check it out for more writing fun!
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