The river was Gar’s favorite place to go when life was stressing him out, and after the fight he’d had with Amelia, he couldn’t wait to get away. He said goodbye to the cat–“Don’t make long distance calls while I’m away, and for chrissakes, no parties!”–and jumped in the truck. He brought with him a couple bottles of water, non-nutritious snack food, and the camera. He wasn’t good at photography yet, but he liked to pretend he was.
The river was moving fast today from a string of storms that had moved through the area recently. Jumping to the flat top of a big rock, he surveyed his surroundings.
Why not just stay here? he wondered. It was the perfect place to do nothing, think nothing. Give his brain a much-needed rest. Amelia’s accusations that he was an insensitive asshole still echoed in his head.
He lay down on the rock, stashed his things in the crook of his arm to keep them safe, and closed his eyes. It was his dream to one day be able to buy a place in his beloved mountains, but he’d have to save for many years before that happened. He frowned in recollection; yet another thing he and Amelia fought about constantly. She didn’t want to leave the city. She said she needed its distractions to more fully live her life.
He heard the wind moving through the trees and birds singing. Could there be anything more peaceful than this? Amelia was nuts. This was the place to be, not the noisy, crowded city. The sun made him sleepy, and he drifted off.
It was someone speaking that woke him. “Hey there, pretty boy. Wakey, wakey.”
Something poked him in the cheek, and Gar glanced sideways to stare up the barrel of a rifle. His blood ran cold, and he tightened his bladder muscles in sudden fear.
Gar was looking at a man with long scraggly hair and an unkempt beard. His clothes were torn and dirty, and the stink that came off them, or the man wearing them, made him crinkle his nose.
The stranger smiled, revealing yellow teeth with one missing canine. “Welcome to my home. We’re gonna have ourselves a party.”