Per. 1 Creative Writing Monday, November 06, 2000 Brandon thought that he could take a swig of beer safely.
But when he lifted the bottle of Miller to his still-grinning lips, he caught a glimpse of Chester, whose fat face was also grinning like a kid’s Halloween jack o’ lantern, and that happened just when the swallow of beer was going down Brandon’s throat. The result was a loud choke, gurgle and spray of beer across a table already littered with bottles, caps, cigarette butts, and spoiling pretzels. “Ah, shit!” Chester yelled, jumping quickly out of his chair to avoid the sticky shower. “C’mon, Bran. You gotta wear a god damn bib or something’?” On the other side of the table, Henry laughed uproariously, turning a particularly beetlike shade of red. Brandon wiped beer and spittle from his face and let more laughter flow unabridged.
“The-look-on his face!” His ribs began to ache. That caused Chester to break up again, and Henry to plead soundlessly for air, begging them to stop. “The look,” Brandon said when he could catch a breath, “of the mighty warrior – the mighty gremlin hunter, off to bag his fine catch!” Chester held his stomach as if afraid his intestines would leap away from the hysterical body that contained them. “Poking him full of those stories about these woods. That was the best part.” Henry beamed proudly. It was he who had told them all-including Georgie- about the wooded area called Peach Cove on Lake Fausse Point.
The headless woman, the squirrel that screams like a man, the six-foot hog…all the local nonsense that he had heard when he purchased the camp along that deserted canal deep in the swamps of south Louisiana. The fact that the French, from whom Henry and the rest were descended, had learned about the local area from the Indians from whom Georgie was descended only made things all the funnier. They were all city folks, Georgie included. He had been put up for adoption when he was a child and was raised by non-Native parents. He didn’t even know his tribe. “I shoulda told him the one about the black panther with a baby’s head,” Henry said.
“That woulda got him!” “How long’s he been gone?” Brandon asked. Chester looked at his watch. “Three hours.” “Sun went down an hour ago.” Henry and Chester smiled, nodding. “I hope we don’t have to go find poor Georgie, the great gremlin hunter, and bring him back to camp,” Brandon noted matter-of-factly, and all three burst into laughter once again.
After that storm was over, Chester asked, “So…who gets the honors?” “Honors?” “Of telling Georgie there’s no such thing as gremlin in these woods.” Brandon and Henry shrugged, considering to whom this great honor would fall. But at that moment, the door to the makeshift camp opened, and Georgie barreled in. “What a deal!” he proclaimed, standing there in his olive-drab army green hunting clothes and florescent orange cap, the shotgun slung over one shoulder and his bag over the other. He looked triumphant, like Crazy Horse or somebody, Brandon thought. And Brandon noticed the bag didn’t look empty.
Must have got a rabbit, he thought. “Guys,” Georgie said, “I don’t know why you didn’t let me in on this gremlin hunting business a long time ago. What a deal!” The three men eyed Georgie suspiciously. Was the little restaurant owner, who had never been out into the swamp before, trying to turn the tables on them? Henry tried, “So…how many did you bag, Georgie?” “Just one,” Georgie said, coming forward and opening his bag. “How many did you guys get?” He loosened the cinch of the bag and tumbled its contents onto the table. Dead and bloodied with buckshot, the thing’s glazed red eyes stared up at them blindly.
Its body was hairless, black skinned, and the powerful legs fore and aft were tipped with ivory white claws still tainted red with dry blood from some kill of its own. A tail, ridged, fleshy, and ratlike, lay over its leathery wings. It was the size of a small dog. “So?” Georgie said proudly as the three veteran hunters stood a safe distance from the dead, staring monstrosity.
The fire in his eyes was like the devil. “Am I the only one who got lucky tonight?”