At Rainer Hunting Camp

The night before, I’d set out carton after carton of Weight Watchers frozen entrees as bait and in the morning I walked the rim of the hollow with my rifle, ready for anything. Then I heard Martin cry out. He was down below in a clearing, wrestling with an angel and, just like in high school, none of the moves Martin tried seemed to work.

He tried the double-leg takedown. He went for the up-and-under move, the Russian tie, the flying-arm bar, but when your opponent has wings, none of that works. It just makes you look stupid and feel humiliated and small. After five minutes—a lifetime—the angel had him pinned. It was even starting to get that serene smile on its face. That’s when I shot it through the head.   

It dropped like a grouse, and this the fourth one this month. The old woods are infested with angels. The previous Sunday, Martin bagged one that was pressing my face into the pine straw with its perfect foot. Buff, this one, really ripped. It must’ve been two-percent body fat.

The week before, Valerie skewered one through the neck with her compound bow. It had cornered Robin and was muttering something at her in Latin with her little rosebud lips. Robin said she was glad now she failed Latin in college.

But there are two strange things about all this. The first is that dead angels vanish. No matter if they’re buried under the azaleas, hung up in the carport, or locked in the deep freezer in the basement with my bass filets. In the blink of an eye, they’re back in the woods like maverick moons. Feathers are all that remain, which we take for pillows and wonderful comforters.

Strangest of all is that the angels don’t bleed. Their heads are filled with dry honeycomb and though they’re as heavy as minivans when you fight them, their bodies are airy, hollow, like something eaten by termites.  

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