Shock was the first sensation that greeted Jim, followed closely by nausea. He blinked stupidly in the harsh noonday sun, choking now and again on some cool unidentified liquid that rolled down his face.
The strong smell of rich tobacco caused Jim to cough.
“That’s done it then. Cough it up. Didn’t mean to choke you, boy.” Said a cool peculiar voice.
Jim rose slowly. Only to collapse again immediately as the pain in his mutilated feet was registered by his gradually waking brain.
Jim propped himself up by the elbow to behold a tall, stern, middle-aged man bearing a rifle. Clad in tweed and smoking a pipe the guy would have been a comical anachronism anywhere except the woodlands that surrounded Reed.
“Why did you decide to go native?”
Jim stared in confusion.
“Your shoes, where are they?”
“..huh…ho…home.” Jim replied stupidly.
“Now there’s a fool idea if I’ve ever heard one. Where pray tell is home?”
Jim shot a lackadaisical thumb backward towards the fall.
The stranger shook his head.
“You probably need drinking more than bathing.” The cool voice said as a long limb dangled a canteen in front of Jim’s face.
He drank greedily.
A lengthy silence followed.
“How long have you been out here?” The stranger asked.
“…I…I don’t know…a day…two days…”
“Romping about the wood unshod for two days is a bizarre hobby, young man.”
Jim had no defense.
“Did you come from town or were you dropped from the sky?”
It was a strange question.
“Tow..town…sss..sort of.” Jim said amid fits of coughing.
“My uncle…his cabin…near that hick shithole…Reed.” Jim’s caustic tongue returned.
“Reed is thirty miles west of my lake.”
“Yes, you happen to be trespassing.” The stranger stated matter of factly.
Again Jim had no defense.
“Though, it by no means seems intentional. Which is why you’re still alive. Most poachers don’t go bare-foot.”
Jim was still grappling with the idea that this vast patch of water belonged to a single man.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Luckadoo. I have a lodge here.”
“Yes, I come here on holidays to hunt.”
“At your lake…?”
“My family’s to be more precise. This was all appropriated before statehood. The Luckadoos have been here before Kentucky was Kentucky.”
“So you’re one o dem Brahmins.”
A thin lipped smile played across the stoic angles of the aristocrat’s face.
“I figured you were a Boston boy.”
“Let’s go Bruins!” Jim chanted with fatigue-drenched bravado.
The stranger laughed coldly. And Jim thought he noted a glint of curiosity flicker through the icy blue eyes. Eyes that seemed so very familiar.
“Well, I must say that you’ve certainly intrigued me. What’s a street urchin doing in Appalachia?”
The question and the manner in which it was asked was too direct for Jim to take offense.
“…caring for the cabin…”
“Yea, like I said. My uncle’s cabin.” Jim said covetously eyeing the thistle bearing flask on the strangers hip.
“Yea…uncle Hant…lived bout fifteen miles from Reed…has some tumblers…with that weird weed on it…” Jim said pointing to the strangers flask.
Luckadoo inclined his head slightly leftward, a motion that coupled with his hunter’s cap, gave the impression of a curious bloodhound.
“Does your uncle have a surname?”
The strangers eyes narrowed and he turned.
“Elsa!” He cried.
“Jonas!” A voice responded from somewhere beyond the shore.
“Be a dear and bring the boat round!”
“Heez naught dehd?” The Elsa voice inquired.
“Close…but no cigar.”
“Tak heem hom den. You sadist swine.”
“That’s exactly what I intend, dear.” Luckadoo retorted lifting Jim’s six four frame like a ragdoll.
“Sorry lad. I don’t have much in the way of stretchers.”
Jim fumed. He was unaccustomed to being outclassed in the physique department. But on the bright side, the guy probably had some whiskey.
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