© 2013 Aaron Atkinson

Cigarettes, Bacon and Banana Peels

A quarter of a mile from the truck I glanced up and noticed the dirty old Suburban crawl to a stop next to our Silverado. The camo-coated driver got out and stood next to our truck. In the six degree chill of the calm morning I could see puffs of warm smoke from his cigarette dancing above his head. While we approached, he stood there watching us, smoking.

When I got to within 60 yards I initiated the conversation.

Me: Morning!

Vet: Good morning to you. How are you?

Me: Cold. You?

Vet: Warmer than you, thanks to my fire sticks.

He held up his cigarettes.

Vet: Seen any deer come by here?

We hadn’t. We were hunting birds.

Over the course of the next ten minutes we stood between our vehicles shooting the breeze. We mostly listened as he told us about deer and pheasants, turkeys and the drought, his time in the service and the big breakfast he’d eaten that morning. During that time he smoked two cigarettes down to the filter and was going back for a third when one of our dogs sat attentively at his feet.

Dennis: Gunner, what are you doing?

Vet: Oh, he probably wants some of the bacon I’ve got in my pocket. Can he have a piece?

When Dennis agreed, he produced a tightly wrapped, grease stained napkin from his pocket and he gave Gunner a strip of bacon that he’d smuggled out of the buffet earlier in the morning.

After a few more pleasantries were exchanged we wished each other well and parted ways.

Back in our vehicle we struck up the following conclusion to our encounter…

Dennis: You’ve got to feel like that old-timer is living on borrowed time. With cigarettes in one pocket and a napkin full of bacon in the other, he looks like he’s got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

Me: How old do you think he was, Dennis?

Dennis: I don’t know, 70?

Me: Hmmm, with a lifestyle like that, I was thinking more like 42.



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