thrice great hermes
by stanley lieber
ON THEIR WAY
There’s more to it but Pete doesn’t want to know. Werner keeps at it, explaining and explaining. It’s all going badly when suddenly he wakes up.
He’d fallen asleep again, sitting in the creek. This didn’t usually happen during winter. He counted himself lucky that the sound of gunfire had awakened him before he froze to death.
Hunters. Not particularly close, from what he could tell. But perhaps it was time to move on. When in the past he had encountered others in the woods it was difficult to know what to say. He didn’t smoke and he didn’t drink, so it was unlikely they’d have anything in common. Plus, he’d usually been sitting in the stream, so it usually looked like he’d wet his pants. One more bright line of division between himself and the blue collar drunks who roamed the forest. Unless they had pissed their own pants, which wasn’t unheard of.
The trail was cold, the wind was cold, his face was cold, his legs were cold, his feet were cold, his fingertips were cold, his neck and his ankles were cold, his soaked socks and shoes were cold, instigating a self-renewing cycle of freezing, fucking cold. Werner stomped through the leaves carelessly, his mind occupied by the continuing question of what his mind should be occupied by. Errant spider webs caught in his hair and mouth (he still hadn’t learned to keep his mouth shut, in the woods). He swatted at the cobwebs but the spiders were long gone. No one left to take it out on.
More gunfire. Closer this time.
Time to go.