David didn’t need to look up to know his campsite was being invaded by five teens; three girls and two guys by the din they made coming up from the shore. Maybe there was quiet one in the bunch, but he doubted it. So, maybe six of an unknown gender.
The cacophony ended abruptly when they came upon the place he’d decided was where he’d stay until he felt like moving on to his brother’s hunting cabin. He hoped that’d be far enough away from the problems in the cities, but he wasn’t sure.
After so much noise, the silence those kids left hurt his ears, so he broken the silence rather than let it build up. “Howdy,” he said, still not looking up. He might as well be friendly, though he didn’t much want to be, at least for starters.
“Is that your boat pulled up on the grass?” asked one of the boys, the loudest one. The boy didn’t know who he was dealing with and the question was confrontational and all testosterone-filled in the way that teenage boys liked to talk when they wanted to sound tough. It’d probably worked for him in the past, but it wouldn’t here.
David decided it was time to turn his fish over the fire and did so before replying, taking his time about it.
“Polite folk usually respond to a greetin’ with one in return, but understand that’s not cool anymore, so I’ll forgive you from your parents not bringing you up proper,” is how he responded. Then he waited a spell to give the kid a chance to correct his form. When that didn’t happen, David answered with a question of his own.
“You mean the ol’ white fishing boat that’s seen better days? I guess it’s mine, though it wasn’t yesterday. Circumstances have changed ownership rules, doncha think?”
The boy was dumb as shit though. “So it’s not yours.”
Rather than argue semantics, something David always preferred to avoid. “You’re a sharp one, ain’tcha? Guess I borrowed it indefinitely. Stole it, if you want, but the owner ain’t going to file a police report. He’s a little under the weather, you might say.”
“You mean he’d dead,” corrected one of the girls.
“A-yup. Plenty of folks in that particular condition these days.” David burnt his fingers a bit to check his fish he’d skewered onto some green branch earlier. The flesh flaked off nicely, so he brought the fish to his mouth to blow on it.
He took a bite. It was as damn good as he remembered fresh-caught fish tasting. Fish older than about an hour started to collect some weedy-tasting funk. You cook ’em up right away, and you kept that skunky flavor at bay.
“You got a nice camp setup,” said Mr. Testosterone. “Perhaps we’ll ‘borrow it indefinitely’. We had to leave in a hurry when the bugs came and didn’t have time to get properly equipped. So, give up and we’ll let you live.”
The idiot kid had pulled out a gun and flicked off the safety. David sighed. He hadn’t been looking for trouble, but like most of his life, trouble found him anyway. One of the girls was trying to tell Jeff to put that fucking thing away, Jeff shushed her, and the other boy saying, not cool, not cool, man, and the other two girls started weeping. David hadn’t yet looked up, but if there was another kid, that one stayed quiet about it in much the same way as David might if the roles were reversed.
But they weren’t reversed.
This time he did look up. He had is own revolver — a .357 loaded with magnum rounds because David didn’t fuck around when the world was at hand. He thumbed back the hammer of the pistol and pointed it at the boy who’d done all the talking. The kid was aiming a .22 somewhere in David’s vicinity, but the proverbial side of a barn was safe the way it bobbed an weaved.
David looked at the boy’s shaking arm, then up at his face. The kid had a diet of too many sweets lately, judging from the amount of acne erupting on his face. To be expected at the end of the world, David supposed. Time would fix that if the kid didn’t die trying to prove how tough he was. David gave it even odds at that moment.
“I sagely suggest you point that pea-shooter elsewhere, preferably after you put the safety on. You have until I count to five before you have a new hole to blow hot air out of, you little shit. One, two –“
“Okay, gotcha.” The gun’s safety went back on and the kid slipped it into his pocket.
“Good. Now git before I change my mind,” David said. He’d have to move on to his brother’s cabin sooner than he’d like or the kids might decide it might be worth ambushing his camp when they thought he was asleep. Desperate folks will do stupid things in times like these. David didn’t sleep much.
They started backing away as David took another bite of his fish, his revolver still pointed in their general direction, though he didn’t think he’d need to actually use his gun now. Damn, but was that fish was good.
The kids continued to back off, watching the business end of his gun warily until the hill they’d come from started to eclipse their waist. They they turned an ran. David felt almost sorry for them. These times were not gonna be kind to innocents.
He started packing up his gear while he ate his fish, it would be night soon, but he didn’t sleep much, so he might as well put some distance between those kids and him. It was better for everyone involved.