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Balance of Nature

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Here's an old story I posted on another forum (or it may have been here, my mind isn't what it used to be). I'll post something new soon, I promise. But for now please enjoy this tidbit titled...

Balance of Nature


Life in the hills can be tough sometimes, especially when living alone far away from civilization. And while it's true one could find traces of the latest technology even deep in these secluded forests, there were still those who clung onto the old ways of living; choosing instead to live off the land like their kin from a century back.

My uncle Leo and his best friend Pete where two such individuals. They each lived alone in their own cabins out in the wilderness; hunting game for food and dealing without any electrical conveniences save for their deep freezers. They were tough men, and I admired them for living a life I for one did not have the courage and tenacity to even attempt.

Either of them rarely came into town, and when one of them did, people would quickly scurry out of their way. Both my uncle and his friend were two large, brutish specimens, and the joke was that they were responsible for the Bigfoot sightings around these parts. However, not one single soul in town was brave enough to tell them that to their face.

Sadly, time must always take it's toll, and no matter how strong and resilient a person can be, death is always inevitable. I'd heard of my uncle Leo's passing not by reading of it in the obituary, but by a rumor being whispered in the local bar. From what I gathered, someone had stumbled onto my uncle's cabin and found it abandoned. After learning of this, several of the local teens broke into the place and completely ransacked it. Strangely enough, despite all the partying and vandalism taking place there, no one had come across my uncle's body.

I decided to check for myself, and after a day and a half of searching for the secluded cabin, I discovered that the rumors were indeed true. My heart shattered when I saw what the uncaring town's people had done to my uncle's rustic abode. The once beautiful wood structure was now covered with graffiti. Every single window had been smashed out, and part of the structure appeared to have been set on fire.

Stepping through the broken front door, I nearly puked as the foul, rancid air inside assaulted my nostrils. Garbage was strewn everywhere, and there were pools of vile, unrecognizable substances on the floor. Fighting off the stench as best as I could I made my way to the back room, only to discover that my uncle's freezers had been stolen.

The more I saw, the stronger the rage within me grew. Though I was raised in a city where senseless violent acts against innocent people was often the norm, I still could not fathom what drove those b******* to be so cold and uncaring. While it was true that my Uncle Leo couldn't be referred to as a sociable guy, he nonetheless did have a kind heart and often lent a helping hand when one was needed. He just wanted to be left alone to live his life in peace. Why that life style frightened the town's folk so much I'll never understand.

I spent the better part of the day searching the area around my uncle's cabin, but did not come across his remains. To be honest, I really didn't think I'd find any, because the scavengers in the forest do a quick job of devouring and scattering anything they come across -- human or otherwise. After taking one last look at my uncle's cabin, I climbed in my car and decided to pay his friend Pete a visit. If anything, I was sure he might know what had happened to Leo.

It was near dark when I found Pete's cabin. As I drove up I noticed a plume of smoke rising from behind the building. Fearing that the place might be on fire, I dashed out of my vehicle and hurried around to the back of the weather-worn structure.

There, standing before a huge barbecue pit was old Pete. Apparently, he had not heard me drive up or run around the cabin, and simply stood motionlessly while tending to his meal on the flame.

Keeping my distance I held out my hand and cleared my throat. "I'm sorry to bother you..."

Pete spun around startled, then picked up a double barreled shotgun and aimed it directly at my midsection. "What the hell do you want here?" he growled menacingly.

Slowly, I raised my hands into the air to show that I was no threat to him. "Don't you recognize me? I'm Leo's nephew, Javin...."

Sweat started to run down the side of my face as Pete stepped closer with the shotgun. He squinted his eyes and studied my features carefully for several long moments. Finally, he lowered the rifle and nodded his head. "Well I'll be...," he said with a slight smile. "It is you, Javin."

With a sigh of relief I lowered my arms, then extended my hand once again.

Old Pete simply glanced at it, then turned back to the barbecue. "So," he said with a grunt. "What brings you out this way, city boy?"

"I heard about my uncle's passing," I replied, ignoring his ungracious mannerism. "And since you were his best friend, I thought it'd be only proper to pay my respects."

Pete looked over his shoulder at me, then gestured towards the wooden table next to the cabin. "Have a seat and grab yourself a beer. I'll be there soon's I'm done with this here meat..."

"Thank you," I said, heading towards the cooler. Though I wouldn't admit it to Pete, I was a little embarrassed in assuming that all he had to drink was something he'd brewed in a homemade still. Even to this day there were some stereotypes I had difficulty letting go of. After popping open a bottle and taking a long drink, I sat down on one of the old wooden handmade chairs. The beer was just what I needed after the day I'd had and I couldn't help downing most of it on the second drink.

Pete finished up what he'd been doing at the barbecue, then grabbed himself a beer and joined me at the table. With a loud belch the old man leaned back in his chair. "I'm sorry 'bout your uncle, boy," he said with a snort. "He was a good man and a good friend."

"I hope you don't mind me asking," I began cautiously, "but can you tell me what happened to him...?"

"Now, why do you want to know that for?" he said, taking another drink of beer. "The man's dead and he's been taken care of proper."

Despite his advanced age, Pete was still a large and powerful man who I imagined would have no trouble punching me in the mouth and knocking a few teeth out in the process. And of course, there was that shotgun to be wary of. But there were questions that I needed answered, and old Pete, intimidating though he may be, was the only one who could give me those answers. "I need to know what happened," I said bravely. "He was my Uncle Leo, after all..."

After a moment of silence, Pete raised his brow and nodded. "You're right, Javin. He was your kin. So, what do you want to know?"

I downed the last of my beer before I spoke. "I guess the first thing is, how did he die?"

"I'm not too sure," replied Pete solemnly. "I came across his body one day when I was 'bout a mile from his place. He hadn't been dead too long 'cause the scavengers hadn't gotten hold of him yet. He was just lying there with his rifle by his side."

"Did he look as though he'd been injured in any way?"

"Not that I could tell," he answered blankly. "He just looked like he died right there on the spot. Maybe he had a heart attack, I don't know..."

With a grunt, Pete climbed off the chair and walked back to the barbecue pit. "The meat's just 'bout done. You're welcome to stay and eat if you like."

"I'd appreciate that very much," I said enthusiastically. "I haven't had much to eat in all day and whatever you're cooking smells really good."

I opened another beer and waited patiently until Pete returned with a small mountain of steaks on a platter. The aroma, although unfamiliar to me, was absolutely mouth watering. I waited until Pete served himself before making my selection from the large cuts of meat.

"Dig in, boy," said Pete with a toothy grin. "I'm sure you can't buy steaks like these back in the city."

"You're definitely right about that," I replied, taking another whiff. As the old man began cutting his steak, I took another drink of beer. "So, what did you do after you found my uncle's body? Did you report it to the sheriff?"

Pete suddenly stopped what he was doing and placed his knife and fork down on the table. I shuddered slightly as I realized I'd said something wrong, though I hadn't a clue as to what that might have been.

"I didn't report nothin' to nobody," he said with a snort. "Men like me and your uncle don't need any of that fussin' and autopsies and bull****."

"But you said that he'd been taken care of...?"

"That I did," replied Pete. "And he has been taken care of proper."

I was about to respond when the old man interrupted me. "You see, Javin, we ain't like you city folk. Y'all live your lives following the rules set by your system. But out here, we don't live by those rules. We have our own way of doing things, and our own way of takin' care of our dead. Your uncle and me are the last of a dying breed. And while Leo was a good man when he was alive, I'm sure he's a good man even now."

With a sigh, I leaned my head forward and began rubbing my temples. "I still don't understand, Pete. When you say that he's been taken care of..."

Just then, a horrifying thought entered my head. I stared down at the steak on my plate and felt a powerful wave of nausea. "Oh my God!" I gasped. "You didn't do what I think you...?"

Pete shifted uncomfortably in his chair and glared at me with a confused look on his face. "Just what are you trying to say, boy? Come on, spit it out!"

"M-my uncle's body..." I replied nervously. "When you said you took care of him proper, does that mean that you...?"

"Well, say it!" he growled, making me jump in my seat.

I swallowed the lump of fear in my throat and asked, "What did you do with his body?"

Pete raised his hulking form off the chair, clenched his hands into fists, and leaned on the table before me, looking for all the world like an angry, massive ape ready to pounce. His beady eyes practically disappeared as his face contorted into a frightening scowl. Then, with a deep, raspy growl he said, "Are you sayin' I had sex with your uncle's dead body? 'Cause if you are, I'm gonna..!"

I was so taken aback by his words that I had to replay them in my mind just to make sure I'd understood them correctly. "What?!" I blurted out in disbelief. "Good God, man! No! I'm not talking about anything like that!"

"Then, what are ya talking 'bout?" he grunted.

Despite my growing fear of the man, I stood off my chair and faced him with all the bravado I could muster. "I'm asking you if this meat here on the table is all that's left of my uncle!"

I felt as though I jumped several inches off the ground when Pete startled me with a boisterous laugh.

"You have got to be joking me, boy!" he chortled. "I'd never do a thing like that to a good friend such as your uncle."

"Then, what did you do?" I stammered, feeling only slightly relieved.

"I took the old boy up into the mountains and gave him a proper burial," he replied, trying to contain his laughter. "That was the pact your uncle and I made long ago. Whoever was the first to go, the survivor would make sure he would rest in peace. Trust me, it's what he wanted."

Slowly, my mind began to piece everything together. I sat back down on my chair and chuckled nervously. "I am so sorry, Pete," I said timidly. "Here you go and do something so special for my uncle, then treat me so kindly, and in return I suspect you of... Oh, I can't even say it. I feel like a fool."

"Don't worry 'bout it, boy," he said in a friendly voice. "The town's folk thought all sorts of crazy things 'bout me and your uncle. I'm used to it by now."

"Still, I'm so embarrassed."

"Forget it and dig in, " he said, returning to his seat. "You don't want to let it go to waste."

"That, I will," I replied, picking up my knife and fork. I cut into the perfectly prepared steak and shoved the slice into my mouth. Though I still couldn't identify the meat, the flavor was positively delicious. "This is so good," I said, gulping down a mouthful to make room for another. "I've had venison before, but not like this."

"This ain't venison," said Pete, chewing on a large slice.

"Well, whatever it is, it's delicious."

Pete swallowed his food, then washed it down with a drink of beer. "If you must know," he said, chomping on another slice, "this is one of them damn kids I caught vandalizing your uncle's cabin."

My eyes grew wide as I stopped in mid-chew. Once again, I stared down at the meat on my plate.

"You don't have a problem with that, do ya?" asked Pete.

Slowly, I looked at the old man and smiled. "Not at all, my friend. Now, pass me some of that delicious barbecue sauce..."




Copyright © Victor Ward 2007-2013



Edited by theSOURCE
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:lol: Brilliant! ....I must admit I too thought he was cooking Javin's uncle. Great story Vic...well done :tu:

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Thanks SW. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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Thanks SW. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Thank you for sharing it with us :tu:

I enjoyed it very much. Interesting fact, even though you kept making references to the smell of the meat Pete was cooking, it took me a while for the penny to drop that the meat might not be all that it seemed, and that was with the knowledge that your stories always have a surprise in them. I still wasn't expecting that ending though so once again you caught me out :clap:

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Very well done, I really liked it....:)

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Very well done, I really liked it.... :)

Thank you Cloudshill. :)

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