“I saw this in that Mark Wahlberg movie.”
I sigh and roll my eyes.
“Trust me. It’ll be bad ass.” This is John. A buddy from high school with a truck that’s worth twice mine. He’s still waiting on his PAL, but he’s so excited playing with my guns that he went out and paid $1200 for a Sage stock to put on his some-day-norinco.
I don’t hold it against him. He’s just starting. I was too once, and made similar silly purchases. But he gets these ideas and I just can’t talk him out of it.
My gun is a Tikka T3 chambered in .270, all synthetic with a blued barrel. He’s got three cans of brown and green spray paint; says it’s the same all-weather stuff he uses on the truck. The garage floor is covered in cardboard and pine boughs, and the space smells like Christmas.
As far as John’s concerned it is Christmas.
“Just lay em over like this, so you get the silhouette in there.” Talking through a respirator, he sounds like a giddy darth vader. “I’m going to make you into a fricken sniper buddy.”
And he lets loose with the paint bombs, making his own masterpiece of my gun.
Afterward, sipping beer in the backyard, I have to admit it doesn’t look half bad. We talk about how he’s going to do a digital pattern on his future M-14, and whether he will paint the scope.
Fast forward to three weeks later: it’s the start of a hot June and I’m perched on a hillside looking down at a dirt road. The altimeter in the GPS says I’ve come up a fair ways in the past hour, and my quick heartbeat agrees with it. The hill was clear-cut last season, maybe the season before, and dead trees lie every which way. Great clumps of branches and polished bone looking remnants make for a constant hazard while walking. I’m trying to get to the other side of the hill, where my GPS says there should be a nice foot-path and a small lake.
But midway up I see something on the road. It’s not even a “something.” My brain simply registers movement and my body reacts by hunkering down behind one of the many trees. I reach for the binoculars and come up over the tree slowly.
I’ve never liked Coyotes since young high-school me found himself alone in a field at midnight with their little Satan-screams coming from every direction. That was before I owned guns. I still don’t care for them.
There’s too many trees along the road, and with binoculars still half raised I take two steps to the right. Then two more.
There’s definitely something down there. Something small scurrying along in the ditch. But the thick columns of the remaining trees are a constant block, and I end up skittering another twenty feet to the right trying to keep up with the flurry of fur I can barely track.
It is a Coyote. And in moments he sees me standing in the middle of a clear cut like a sore thumb and turns to walk away. I reach for my gun. . .
My gun . . .
My gun that I lay down against the fallen tree when I first took cover. I turn and look at the path from which I came. There are fallen trees for as far as I can see.
I spend twenty minutes making slow steady steps across the hillside. Each step I scan with my head, trying to pull out the shape of my gun from the puzzle pattern of weathered tree branches. Its another ten minutes before I remember my GPS, and its virtual trail of breadcrumbs. Staring down at the tiny screen, I retrace each step, literally down within three feet of where I had been.
Sure enough, there’s the .270 lying innocuously against the tree, twenty five feet from where I glassed the Coyote. Hiding in plain sight doesn’t even begin to describe it.
“Come here!” I say and sling it quickly. The Coyote is long gone, but I'm thankful there was no one other than him to witness my foolish pacing.
The next time I see John, I ask if he has a GPS for himself, and if he can get that truck paint in blaze orange.