Howard could see the car’s dust trail kicking up as it careened down his powder dry ranch road. The vehicle- a foreign job with fancy wheels, stopped at the gate and the driver, a fuzzy mopped kid from the city climbed out and unlatched the gate near a fence that warned NO TRESPASSERS and NO HUNTING. The kid drove through the gate without relatching it and boldly drove up to Howard’s front porch steps. The tinted driver window powered down quietly.
“Do you know how to clean a deer?” the kid asked.
Howard pulled a pipe slowly from his mouth and leaned back in his rocking chair.
“Yes.” Howard answered with a long pause.
He eyed the kid and then looked back at the unfastened gate swinging in the wind. His eyes narrowed as he rose from his chair and knocked the ashes from his now dead pipe into his ash tray. Howard then walked slowly toward the gate and fastened it. The kid watched him nervously and then he opened his car door and walked toward Howard.
“sorry about the gate.” He said.
Howard looked down at the kid. He smiled.
“well, now that you are here. Why do you ask?” Howard said.
“my girlfriend lives next door and her parents are gone and we are staying there and well, she said you might know how.”
“I see. was that the shot I heard this morning around 9?”
“yeah, probably.” The kid said.
Howard looked at his watch.
“It’s almost 3 now.” Howard said. He frowned at the kid.
“I know.” The kid said.
“And it’s about 90 degrees in the shade.” Howard said, still frowning.
“Is that bad?” asked the kid.
“Depends on where the deer is.” Howard said.
“it’s in the trunk.” The kid said, moving with his key to open it up. “wanna see it?”
“no. not particularly.” Said Howard with a sigh.
“should I clean it?” the kid asked.
“that’s up to you.”
“you can’t help me can you?”
“too late to clean that animal son.”
Howard moved toward the gate and opened it again. The kid got back in to his car and drove away. Howard locked the gate and watched the dust cloud from the car whirl away in a dust devil as the afternoon wind from the Centennials began to blow across the Beaverhead Valley. He worried that perhaps that bottom 40 might need to be baled before the thunder clouds above Red Circle peak arrived. He shook his head and laughed to himself as he sat back in his rocker and surveyed the sky, hoping for rain.