Hunting for Giraffes

Hunting for Giraffes

Hunting for Giraffes

Hunting for Giraffes

This story is part of a series:

Hunting for Giraffes

Hunting for Berries

The Actual Nomadic Band, Vegan Cavemen


 

My shift was almost over. Just 5 – no 6, dammit – minutes to go. I was slowly starting to grab my stuff and shut down my register. It’s weird, the slower I move, the faster those last 5… 6 minutes go.

With one minute left I was home free. Of course, the next shift was late, but that wasn’t my problem. I work when I’m scheduled and I don’t hand out favors for fun. I took one more scan of my section – Guns and Ammo at the Southtowne Walmart – I was good to go. I knelt below the counter to zip up my backpack and leave.

“Hello? Anybody there?” a male voice with a real-dumb sounding drawl said from above the counter.

I knew it wasn’t my manager, she was a woman. It wasn’t the next shift, he actually sounded a little dumber than this guy. I slowly got to my feet, it was the slowest I’d ever moved – hopping my manipulation of time would speed things up enough so that the next shift would come waddling through the door behind me and help this guy. No luck there.

“Hi, sir. How can I help you?” I asked.

“Yes, hi there. I’ll take one AR-15 with 3,000 armor-piercing rounds. Uh, 3 rocket launchers with, umm, 10 heat-seeking missiles. Oh, and a one of these cold Coca-Colas,” the man said.

He grabbed a Coke from the fridge and set it on the counter. His camouflaged sweat pants and t-shirt did nothing to disguise his weight. He didn’t need that Coke.

“We’ve got Diet in there too,” I said under my breath as I gathered the guns and ammo he requested.

I hated my job. I wasn’t a hunter. I didn’t like guns. I didn’t like selling guns to dumb people. But, I had to pay the bills.

“Oh, and excuse me,” the man said.

What’s that, a few more heat-seeking missiles for the Russian submarines you’re hunting?

“Yup?” I said.

“Got any deer calls back there?”

Of course this guy was hunting deer. I mean, what else would he do with armor piercing rounds and heat-seeking missiles. I grabbed the last two deer calls and set them on the counter.

“You want the brown one or the camo one?” I asked.

“Oooo, gotta go camo. Always gotta keep that element of surprise,” he said.

I rung him up and he paid and finally the next shift came in. Now I was home free.

“Oh, uh, can one of you help me take all this to my truck?” The round, camouflaged man asked.

My coworker keyed himself into the register and looked at me and shrugged.

“Yeah, I guess I’ll help you. Headed that way anyway,” I said.

“Great!” He said and began to load his guns and ammunition into my arms as if I were a pack-mule. He reeked of sweat, Budweiser, and country music.

We made the trek across the expansive made-in-China jungle that was the Southtowne WalMart and got out into the parking lot. I spotted his truck from across the lot. I almost wanted to tell him he should look into some different camouflage – his clearly wasn’t working. The lifted camo truck took up four parking spaces. I had to stand on a shopping cart to load his stuff into the back.

“Thanks for doing that,” he said as he finished his Coca-Cola and tossed the empty can on the ground. “I can’t wait to put the new gear to use.”

I was off the clock. I really didn’t want to hear about his gear and how it would be used.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be pretty epic,” he continued. “Looking to bag at least 50, no 75, big ol’ motherfuckin’ 4-pointers. I’m doing it for my cousin.”

“You plan on hunting 50 to 75 big, old motherfucking bucks for your cousin, do ya?” I said. I wasn’t getting out of this conversation as quickly as I’d hopped.

“Well yeah. I’ve got to. It’s what he would have wanted,” he said. “Poor bastard loved this shit. It was a tradition of ours. ‘Cept, the other week he got kilt in some prison he was working at.”

“So, you’re avenging your cousin’s death with a shit-load of more death?” I asked. I guess my circumstances had given me a lack of sympathy lately.

“Yeah, well everybody’s got to go sometime someway, ya know. He’s probably gonna be real jealous of this up in heaven, though! Gonna be epic,” he said and slapped me on the back. “Wellp, thanks for the help, little guy. See-ya.”

The camouflaged hillbilly climbed into his truck and turned the key. The exhaust roared to life with a factory-silo-sized plume of black smoke. He took a shortcut over the strip of lawn that separated Walmart from civilization and was off.

I trekked back across the parking lot to unlock my bike from the bike rack in front of the store.

My shift release was leaning against the wall taking his first of many cigarette breaks. “See-ya, Jay. Take it easy.”

I nodded goodbye as I strapped my helmet on and got on my bike.

The 5-mile ride home was pretty standard. I was hit almost 7 times, my chain came off once, and it started raining halfway through. This had become my life and it sucked. I pedaled through the rain wondering why I couldn’t just be a happy idiot who was satisfied hunting deer with heat-seeking missiles. I guess we can’t all be so lucky.

I got home to a normal scene as well. The house was a mess, frozen-pizza was burning in the oven, and my roommate – the owner of the house – was sitting on the couch watching a Die Hard movie.

“Hey Jay, what’s up?” He shouted from across the house when I opened the door.

I’d been living there for about a month now. It wasn’t my first choice, but on my WalMart Guns & Ammo clerk salary, it was the best I could afford. My roommate was a guy I’d gone to high school with. His parents owned a giant safari resort somewhere in Africa and had left him a shit-load of money when they died in a plane crash a few years back.

He did whatever he wanted, which most of the time entailed watching action movies and drinking beer. I couldn’t blame him. I’d probably be doing something similar if I was him. I sat on the couch and joined him.

“Which one is this?” I asked.

“Numba 2! Yippie-kai-yay, motherfucker! What’s up with you?”

“Same old shit, you know. Idiots at work.”

“Oh, yeah. What happened?” He said.

“So it’s the last minute of my shift. I’m just about ready to leave. This guy comes in and asks for 3,000 armor piercing rounds, an AR-15, a box of heat-seeking missiles, and a rocket launcher.”

“Holy shit! Was it John McClane?” My roommate said.

“No, cause the next thing he asks for is a fucking deer call. He said he was going out to kill 50 to 75 bucks because his cousin was killed,” I said.

“Wo, shit. That’s pretty heavy. Bet he’s gonna have a hell of a time though. Sounds like fun.” He said.

“Sounds like fun? Psychotic is what it sounds like.”

“Nah, man. You ever been hunting?”

“No, it’s really not my thing.”

“Well, shit. I’ve got to take you some time! That’s why my pops opened that resort in Africa. He was a big game hunter. Taught me everything I know. Shit, I had my first trophy shot when I was 8-years-old. It was this giant lion. A real majestic fucker. I’ll never forget that one.”

“You shot a lion when you were 8-years-old?” I said. At that very moment, I’d lost all hope that I’d ever escape the idiots in this world.

“Oh yeah. And a rhino when I was 9. Then a big, nasty tiger when I was 11. A whole heap of grizzly bears and shit after that. But, aside from that first lion, my favorite so far was what I got on my 18th birthday.”

My roommate’s voice became background noise as I tried to recall some of the total remaining population numbers for some of the animals he’d ‘got.’ I didn’t know exactly, but some of those numbers couldn’t be more than 4 or 5 digits.

“You wanna hear about it?” He continued.

“No, not really.”

He laughed. “You’re funny, Jay. So, like I said, it was my 18th birthday. We were at the resort. It was a pretty normal day. In the morning we got some monkeys. We got a hippo right before lunchtime. And then, after lunch, my pops told me he had a big surprise for me. We went around back, where he kept the jeeps and ATVs and there was this big, gun case sitting on the workbench. Bastard even put a ribbon on it. It was the prettiest rifle I’d ever seen. It was old, had to be at least 40 years old, but it looked like it had never been touched. He asked if I wanted to test it out. Uh, fuck yeah I did! So we get into one of the jeeps and he starts driving. We were headed pretty far out, down this trail I’d never been on before. Out in the distance, there’s this big line of trees and my pops kills the jeep and hands me the binoculars. Just above the tree line I see this tiny, yellow head and a long pink tongue. The two of us didn’t say a word, just smiles, man. It was beautiful. Anyway, I took out the rifle and took aim. BAM! Right in the head. And the next thing we hear sounded like one of those trees crashing down. It was the proudest moment of my life.”

“The proudest moment of your life was shooting a giraffe with a sniper rifle? Boy, that sounds pretty tough.” I said.

“Oh yeah, you bet! That rifle didn’t even have an auto-scope or anything. And it was a little breezy.”

“So you shot a giant giraffe that didn’t know you were there with a non-auto-scoping sniper rifle. Wow. Must have been really hard to spot it against those trees. And don’t giraffes travel together? Jeeze, how could you ever choose which one to shoot?”

“Oh, it was! And, shit Jay, quit joking. I shot the biggest one of the group. They were all bunched together though, so the hard part was not spooking them all by accidentally hitting a small one.”

He obviously wasn’t catching the sarcasm in my voice.

“So then what, did you have a giraffe feast for your birthday dinner?”

“Jay, that’s fucking gross. You don’t eat giraffe. Come on, I want to show you something.”

He led me out back towards the garage. In the month I’d been living there, I hadn’t really had a reason to go into the garage before. I always locked my bike on the front porch.

When he opened the garage door an automatic light came on. The walls were covered in taxidermy lions, bears, tigers, fucking monkeys, a gorilla, a flamingo. About 50 smaller birds were strung up to the ceiling to mimic flight, a few were stuffed to look like they’d been shot – again I guess.

He put his hands on his hips and looked around the room, giving a big satisfied exhale as he completed his scan. He looked at me and pointed up to the rafters.

Resting diagonally across the garage rafter beams was a giant yellow figure. The stuffed, dead giraffe’s head and severed neck were actually bigger than I would have guessed. It was stored in the way other garage rafters may store a canoe or a large ladder. In the corner near its head were some boxes of Christmas lights and ornaments. Next to that some camping gear. The rest were just boxes of stuff that find their way into the rafters eventually.

I turned around and left his private mausoleum – at least he didn’t taxidermy his parents and set them up holding hands in the corner or some shit.

“I’m moving out. Fuck you and your 30-days notice.”

I mean, it was a fucking giraffe for Christ sake.


Read the next story in this series: Hunting for Berries