Catfish Charlie (Chapter 6, page 1 of 25)


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Chapter 6

While they were in high school, he and Charles Ray went deer hunting that fall before he went into the Army. They played their Friday night game before taking off for the hill country up north of Llano.

Pitching a tent and some camping supplies in Jim's old pickup, they hunted until sundown Sunday. He remembered the Texas hills being red and golden with sumac and oak. Down along the creeks, cottonwood turned a dull shade of yellow. Up higher on the hillsides the darker colors blended in with the grays and reds of the cliffs.

It was way after midnight before the two got into a place Charles Ray's daddy leased for the hunting season. After building a bonfire to check for rattlers and copperheads, they pitched tent and bedded down.

It was one of those hunts when most things went wrong. They did not bring any timepieces. Alone, ten miles from any other people, both tried to keep track of the time by letting water drip out of a jug. It did not work.

They sneaked through tall grass to a small oat patch they planned to hunt. It was one of those fall nights when the temperature huddled ten degrees above freezing, but it was still miserable to the boys from a part of Texas where it had not frosted that year.

They went stalking quietly through dry little bluestem and grama grass in a darkness that ate in on the mind like black paint. Jim led the way until he flushed a covey of whirring quail. Charles Ray took the lead afterwards. "After all, Jim, it's my father's lease."

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