I went walking in the country with a friend a couple years ago in mid-August. Smoking thin cigars. A pickup truck pulled up beside us on the gravel road. "This is my land you're walking past," a cowboy-hatted stranger told us in a thin voice. "Someone stole my trailer a couple weeks ago." There was a woman in the backseat, barely visible through the tinted glass. There was no one in the passenger seat.
"Okay," my friend said with weary eyebrows.
"The name's _______" he informed us over the sound of his diesel engine.
"Wilkinson," I told him with a wave. "I live just over there." I was living in a small building on my parent's acreage, working at Dad's sawmill.
"Oh yeah?" he responded. "You're Garry's son?"
"Alright." He checked his rear view mirror with a squint. My friend said nothing. "Alright," _______ said again. "Well..." He paused. I turned my body away from his truck a little. My buddy shifted his face away completely. My dog was visible running across the man's field. ______ eyed my cigar with suspicion, as if waiting for an explanation.
"Nice weather," I offered.
"That trailer's worth six thousand dollars," I heard after a while. "It's not the first time either. I had some tools stolen in July." He wasn't really talking to us anymore. I didn't feel like smoking with him watching us. My friend kicked at a rock and found something to look at in the ditch. The backseat woman wasn't paying attention. I wondered about her. His wife? Daughter? Why the back seat?
"That's a shame." I paused, uncomfortable. "Well, it's nice to meet neighbours," I lied, and made to walk away. He shifted into park and turned his body toward us. I'd heard about this guy. He wasn't very popular in the area. His main claim to fame with the locals was his practice of clearing the snow off his driveway onto the middle of the road. It'd been the cause of many near-crashes, and I'd heard his name uttered like a curse. Still, I believe in some benefit of the doubt, so I was being polite.
Our dog ran up. My friend leaned down to rub its neck.
"I've seen that dog all over the place," _______ told us.
"Yeah, he loves it out here."
"He's been chasing my deer." This was said in a friendly tone, but I found it a little ridiculous.
"You own deer?" I asked. Dad had told me ________ was a hunting enthusiast and liked to put feed on his land. But I knew he didn't own deer.
He said nothing.
The sun was high. It was a clear day and I was looking forward to a beer when I got home.