by Lyndon G. Perry
The Hunt Hunt appeared in issue 288.
“Dad, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, Billy.” Jerry stopped walking, leaned his axe and duffle bag against a tree and looked around. The surrounding woods were eerily quiet on this crisp and clear winter morning. He pulled out a thermos and poured a cup of hot chocolate for both of them to share.
“Are you scared of Zombies?”
Jerry thought for a moment. “Not any more, now that I’m with you.” He winked and ruffled Billy’s hair. “We’re experienced Z hunters, after all. Nothing can frighten the number one team in the county, right, Sport?”
Billy tried to headlock his father and return the gesture of affection. He laughed and said with an easy smile, “Right, Dad!”
* * *
That evening the Farnsworths were grumbling over their current set of bills at the kitchen table again.
“Look, Ang, you and Steph just need to cut back on the shopping a bit, that’s all I’m saying.” Jerry stole a quick look at his wife without meeting her eyes. He tried to chuckle but it ended up a cough.
For Angela’s part, if stares could spark fires, her husband would have turned to ashes. “And I suppose you and Billy can’t do the same for your Zombie hunting hobby?”
“Well, now that’s different. There’s a bounty for the undead, the tagged ones at least. And no axe is worth a damn after a good hacking. So we have to keep stocked up. You know the saying, ‘Gotta spend money to make money.’”
“You haven’t brought in a tagged Zombie since opening day. Jerry, we aren’t making any money!”
Billy walked into the kitchen just as his mom finished her complaint. He could sense the tension, but piped up anyway. “Well, we did down two Z’s this morning, didn’t we, Dad? That puts us at fifty-one for the season and should get us written up in Sport Zombie eNews. We’re leading the county!” Billy high-fived his father who couldn’t help but shout out a hoot.
Stephanie witnessed the celebration on her way to the refrigerator to grab a soda and said, “Ooh, ‘Big Game Hunter Billy Farnsworth Bags Another Z.’ Can I have your autograph?” Her playful tease did nothing to dampen her brother’s triumphant spirit.
“Hey, we’re keeping the world safe for democracy, I’ll have you know. And if we come in first with just two more tags we’ll win the...”
“Uh, son, why don’t you sharpen us a couple more blades for tomorrow. I, ah, want to get an early start before the snow covers the Z-tracks.”
Excited, Billy opened the door to the garage and left, with Stephanie, still begging for an autograph, right behind him. Jerry smile-grimaced at his wife and shrugged his shoulders.
Angela glared back. “I didn’t know you were throwing our hard-earned money away into some betting pool.”
“It’s a pari-mutuel.”
“I don’t care if it’s a pair of socks, I don’t want you teaching Billy how to gamble.”
Mr. and Mrs. Farnsworth stared at each other across the table and allowed a slow wave of silence to swell between them. After a few tense moments, the wave crested and Angela, with pursed lips, said, “How much?”
Jerry grinned. “Fifty thousand if we win.”
Angela immediately dropped her pout. “You need two more tags?”
“And top count overall. Shouldn’t be a problem, though. Rutledge and his boy are second in the pool with only forty Zombie kills and no tags.”
“Stephanie!” Angela called. Sister and brother came back in from the garage. “Get your things ready for tomorrow, we’re going shopping, and I mean shopping!” Jerry’s jaw dropped as their daughter clapped her hands. “You boys better get some sleep, you’ve got a big day in front of you. I’m expecting great things from you both.”
When the ladies left the room, Billy noticed the worried expression on his father’s face. “Dad, I thought you weren’t scared of Zombies anymore.”
“It’s not the Z’s that have me worried, son. I’m scared of the credit card balance we’ll have whether we win this pool or not.”
“I heard that,” Angela yelled from the other room.
Jerry just rolled his eyes while Billy laughed.
Copyright © 2008 by Lyndon G. Perry