“I should go. It`s my fault, I did it, no one else but me. I really should go, however I don’t want to. It seems like years ago Tom and I sat in the car and in quiet happiness, on our way to the mountains, even though it was just this autumn vacation.”
The smell in the car was familiar, but still there were something different about it. For the first time the smell of hound, weapon-oil, blood and flayed grouses excited me so much. And for the first time I was going to carry a weapon and shoot all by myself. I had of course shot on shooting courts before, so I wasn’t a bad shooter, this was only the first time hunting with a shotgun.
“This year I will have the most birds on my backpack, no matter what the cost”, I told myself encouragingly. After a lifelong friendship I was able to tell that Tom was just as excited as me, yet I would not let him beat me at this. Even if he tried until he was blue in the face, I was going to shoot more birds than him, no matter what the cost.
In spite of my good experience with shooting, I had to shoot at the shooting court before we were allowed to go hunting. Because the others needed the practice, I assume. At the shooting court several other first-time-hunters were already there. The smell of burnt powder reached my nostrils and excited me even more. I couldn’t wait to show everybody my shooting skills. I could hit clay pigeons as easy as pie, I was an excellent shooter. Tom on the other hand, hit only half as many clay pigeons as me. This was perhaps due to his poor sight. I knew that Tom had glasses but was refusing to wear them, and so he couldn’t see what he was shooting at. I did not have glasses, my eyes were great and I could easily see that I was undoubtedly the best and fastest shooter there.
At the shooting court I was close to stunned. I certainly knew that I would be the first to spot a grouse, but I never thought I`d see it here at the shooting court. It was right there, right in front of everybody and I was the only one seeing it.
“Look at that grouse over there; in the pine tree!” I burst out. The crowd responded by turning their heads the way I was pointing. Silence. Then some of the guys started laughing.
“That’s a good one!” one of them said, still laughing.
“Eh… I know”, I said, trying to sound confident. Unfortunately my ears went red, but I covered it by pretending to warm them with my hands. A look from Tom told me that he might know me as good as I knew him.
As the first shot could be heard, loud and clear from the shooting court, a crow got onto its wings and flew off into the distance.
“Hey! Give me a hand, please”, a boy beamed at me, holding his grouse in one hand, the shotgun in the other. I was just about able not to be rude and took his grouse, a little too roughly. The boy didn’t seem to take notice of this and was waiting for me to hang his bird onto his backpack.
“How could it be possible? Only me and Tom left!” I thought attempting to get a rope around the birds’ neck. A shockwave went through me from behind and from the corner of my eye I saw another bird falling to the ground, feathers going everywhere. Tom was running head over heels to collect his bird.
“That should have been my bird”, I said to myself angrily. “If I hadn’t had my hands full with the hanging up the stupid grouse, that would have been my bird.” The next bird was going to be mine, no matter what the cost.
It was only me now. Only me without a grouse, yet I would not give up. To be sure not to lose a shooting chance I pushed the security off. As we walked on I felt my pulse rise and my concentration too. The salty taste of sweat came to my mouth as a few drops of sweat trickled out on my lip. Some sweat also went into my eyes and made my sight blurry. Tom was coming up on the side, but the next bird would be mine, not his. It happened in second. The bird flew out of the grass and my shot went off. The target fell strait to the ground.
“I should go. It`s my fault, I did it, no one else but me. I really should go, however I don’t want to.”
The funeral is on Sunday.