Becomes One Hundred Stories #9: Hunts Elusive Beasts

This is a piece of short fiction in the style and universe of three of my novels: Becomes the Happy Man, Becomes God’s Silent Prophet, and Becomes the Meaning Blossom.

Hunts Elusive Beasts

The boy went hunting.

The boy went hunting for elusive beasts with the law enforcer and the law enforcer’s brother-in-law.

The boy liked doing things with the law enforcer, but he did not like doing things with the law enforcer’s brother-in-law. The brother-in-law was loud and obnoxious. But the boy liked doing things with the law enforcer more than he disliked doing things with the brother-in-law, so the boy went hunting with the two men when the law enforcer asked the boy to join them.

The boy and the two men went deep into the forest to hunt for elusive beasts. They went deep into the forest along the river where the river was so small the boy could almost jump across it. The river was much wider near the town where the boy and the two men lived, but deep in the forest where the boy and two men went hunting for elusive beasts, it was small enough that the boy could almost jump across it.

The boy and two men stopped and set up camp for the first night. The first day the boy and two men walked to the place they would camp, and then they set up camp. They did not hunt for elusive beasts the first day.

The boy had walked well. The boy had walked all the way to the camp with the two men, and the law enforcer kept telling his brother-in-law that he could see for himself that the boy could keep up with them. The brother-in-law had complained about a boy being along. He had complained loudly and obnoxiously. But the law enforcer kept pointing out that the boy was keeping up.

And the boy had kept up. The boy had kept up, but he stayed a short distance behind the two men. He had let the men have their space to talk like men. He did not like how the brother-in-law talked loudly and obnoxiously, so he had stayed far enough behind so the loud and obnoxious talk was not so loud and obnoxious.

The boy built a fire as the two men prepared the sleeping shelter.

The law enforcer’s brother-in-law was surprised the boy could build a fire.

The law enforcer said the boy could do many things the other boys could not do.

The boy liked the warmth of the fire. He sat close to it and took care of the fire as the fire took care of him.

The law enforcer’s brother-in-law told the boy to move. He said the boy was blocking the light and they needed the light to finish preparing the sleeping shelter. The brother-in-law said they would have arrived at camp in time to prepare the sleeping shelter in the light of the day if the boy had not walked so slow.

The boy had not walked slowly. The brother-in-law had been late getting to the meeting point. He had trouble finding enough strong drink to take on the trip. The boy had not walked slowly, but he did not argue with the brother-in-law. He just moved to give light so the men could finish preparing the sleeping shelter.

When the men had finished preparing the sleeping shelter, the boy banked up the fire and the law enforcer and his brother-in-law drank strong drink around the fire. The boy went off toward the sleeping shelter.

The brother-in-law asked the boy where he was going.

The boy said to sleep.

The brother-in-law told the boy to sit and have some strong drink with the men. He said the boy could walk almost like a man and could build a fire almost like a man and he could surely drink strong drink almost like a man.

The boy said he needed to sleep, and he told the law enforcer and his brother-in-law good night, and the boy went to sleep.

The boy woke up before sunrise, and the two men were still not in the sleeping shelter. The boy left the sleeping shelter and found the two men asleep around the cold fire pit. Many containers of strong drink littered the ground. The boy wondered if that was what the law enforcer’s brother-in-law meant by drinking strong drink like a man.

The boy gathered wood for a fire. The sun had not risen, but the light of dawn gave the boy enough light to gather wood. The boy considered whether he should build a fire or look for fish in the small river for a morning meal. He thought the two men would like to wake in the morning to the smell of fish roasting over the fire.

The boy went to the river, and by the time the sun had risen, he had found three fish for the morning meal.

The boy built a fire, and while he waited for the fire to burn hot enough to cook fish well, the boy went back to the river to clean the fish and prepare them for the morning meal.

The boy put the three clean fish on a woven lattice of sticks and put the contraption over the fire. The water from the clean fish hissed over the flames, and the skin dried, and the flesh roasted.

When the fish was ready to eat, the boy woke up the law enforcer and his brother-in-law. The brother-in-law swore at the boy and told him to never wake a sleeping man again.

The boy said they would have to get started soon to hunt for the elusive beasts.

The brother-in-law ignored the boy and his offering of a fish for the morning meal. The law enforcer patted the boy on the head and ate a couple bites of the fish before saying the men would get a little more sleep first. The two men went off to the sleeping place.

The boy ate his fish. The boy ate his fish, and then he wondered what to do with the other two fish. The fish would not taste good cold, and it would certainly be cold by the time the two men were ready to eat it. But the boy could not eat another man’s morning meal, so he covered the uneaten fish with a pile of leaves, and he sat watching the small river flow under the sunrise.

The best time for hunting the elusive beasts was passing, and the boy wondered when the men would wake up. The boy went to the sleeping shelter and saw that the men were sleeping deeply.

So the boy went hunting for the elusive beats by himself. He took a hunting weapon and he took a little food.

The boy walked deeper into the forest along the river that grew even smaller. The boy walked far enough that he could jump across the river if he wanted. Not just almost, but all the way. The boy walked an hour, hunting for elusive beasts.

The boy did not hunt for elusive beasts very hard. He enjoyed being out in the deep forest. He had never been so deep in the forest before. He wondered if the small river would eventually shrink to nothing at its upper end or if a lake or underground spring fed it. The boy thought about searching for the source of the river, but he thought about the two men, and he thought about the law enforcer telling the boy’s mother that he would be responsible for the boy, and the boy decided he would come back to search for the source of the river another day.

The boy sat by the river while he thought about such things, and he ate the food he had brought with him. Then he prepared to return to camp. But an elusive beast approached the river from the trees on the opposite side. The boy had sat still for so long, deep in thought, that the elusive beast had not noticed the boy.

The boy slowly and carefully took up his hunting weapon and he attacked the elusive beast.

The elusive beast died.

The boy took two hours getting the dead elusive beast back to camp. He had jumped across the river, and cleaned the dead elusive beast enough that it would not spoil on the journey back to camp. He had dragged the dead elusive beast across the small river and then tied the dead, elusive beast’s legs together to make a harness with which he could sling the bulk of the beast’s weight over his shoulder.

The boy stopped to rest many times on his way back to camp, but when he arrived, the two men were still asleep. The boy cleaned the dead, elusive beast completely and put some meat over the fire for his noon meal. He found the fish under the leaves where he had left them and disposed them under a distant bush.

The two men finally woke up. The two men woke up, but the law enforcer’s brother-in-law emerged from the sleeping shelter first.

The brother-in-law smelled the cooked meat, and he saw the cleaned, dead, elusive beast, and he swore. He swore loudly and obnoxiously, but full of good humor. He laughed and swore some more.

The law enforcer emerged from the sleeping shelter to see what his brother-in-law was carrying on about. He smiled at the boy.

The brother-in-law ate some of the cooked meat the boy offered him, and he found more strong drink. He laughed and swore some more and asked the law enforcer where he had found the boy. He offered the boy a drink of strong drink again, and the boy declined the offer again. The brother-in-law shrugged and laughed and said the boy really thought they were out there to hunt elusive beasts.

The law enforcer patted the boy on the head and said he had done a good job. The boy knew he had done a good job. He didn’t need anyone to tell him that.

The boy asked when they would go hunting for more elusive beasts.

The law enforcer looked at his brother-in-law and said it looked like they wouldn’t be doing much hunting for elusive beasts after all.

So the boy said goodbye and left the meat and the fire with the two men.

The boy walked all the way home along the river that widened until it was almost wide enough that he could not swim across. But the boy could still swim across. And he did. And he found his home and his bed, and he slept all through the night until just before sunrise the next morning.

The boy never did return to the deep forest to find the source of the river.

To read more stories in the series, see the Becomes One Hundred Stories page.