Carl, David and Bernie were preparing for the annual hunting trip. A time for male bonding, drinking and the opportunity to kill. David stopped at the grocery store for provisions. Carl bought plenty of beer and Bernie was off to the sporting goods store to purchase the ammo. Bernie then picked up his friends and with everything packed into the truck the three men were off into the mountains.
After a night of drinking and a sleep the men woke early the next morning for the hunt. The cracking of rifle shoots echoed over the fields as the men quickly set about bagging some rabbits and pheasants. All but one hunter, David, was successful.
David would spot his prey, take aim and fire but the creature remained unscathed. Over and over the drama played out as David emptied his cartridge box. He started to think that either his gun was broken or he was losing his edge.
At dusk David was forced to retreat empty-handed to the cabin. Sitting at the dinner table, David had to settle for eating the fruits of his companions’ labor. Feeling dejected David could not understand his lack of prowess in the fields that day. The game was plentiful, his aim true, but he had no kills. He sat perplexed rubbing his hands through his hair. He had always been the most successful, and always made sure that his buddies were aware of his skills by reminding them at every opportunity. Now he sat in silence.
Carl and Bernie enjoyed the meal. David barely ate anything. After a few beers the men retired for the evening. David remained to sit alone in front of the glow of the fireplace.
The following morning the hunters left for home. They rode in silence listening to the radio. Bernie dropped Carl off at his house and gave his friend a slap on the back as they unloaded Carl’s gear. David stared blankly out of the window. On the way to David’s home not a word was said. Bernie broke the silence with a cough as they pulled up David’s driveway. The two men unpacked David’s equipment including the gun that failed David the previous day. Bernie looked as if he wanted to say something to David but climbed into his truck without a word. David slowly entered his house as Bernie drove up the street.
Bernie had a secret. After he purchased the ammo for David’s gun he poured the contents out and refilled the shells with table salt, rendering the shot harmless to anything that fell into the crosshairs of David’s weapon. It was a secret that Bernie didn’t feel easy living with, but it was easier than living with David’s bragging.