Do not leave the house, man! It’s bad weather…
-So, when should I go for geese hunting than? In spring?
– At least take warm clothes and not to forget your medications. Those were the talks between the two husbands every time the old hunter went to his geese hunting. With almost mechanical gestures, he prepared his baggage. It did not take long, because every thing was in his place. Clothes in the closet on the balcony. The shotgun, an old Krupp with three rings, bought with great effort some forty years ago, was in its place in the metal panel behind the bedroom door. The cartridges, of what he had made since the summer, were still in the drawer.
With the same excitement that had always prevailed before hunting, he carried his backpack and gun. This time, contrary to his custom, he left alone. At that hour of the night, he crossed the city easily and took the road to Baragan. The Dacia’s engine was uniform. It took him two hours to get to the edge of the village beside the big pond. He stopped the engine, pulled on his head the hunting hood, put on his warm muskrat fur hat and the gloves heavily lined with sheepskin. When he got out of the car, it was still night.
Behind the lake there was a clear gaunt whisper of the geese. A sharp wind blows from the north to the pond. “The geese will come out with the wind in front, so I have to take it to the pumping station, to get in their way.” With a backpack and gun on his shoulder, he rode firmly over the wilderness. He stood agile, but with great strides as the wind whipped his face crooked by the passage of so many seasons. They froze their nostrils, a sign that it was cold. “If this cold lasts for a few days, the lake is freezing and I can not see my geese until the spring.” A fatigue with which he was not accustomed took place in the chest basket. He stopped puzzled for a moment and looked back. The car was no longer seen, lost in the dark.
The old man ignored the fatigue and continued his strides. Suddenly, the wind began to bring a bunch of snowflakes to the mustaches. Ten minutes to get to the canal, then ten more to the pumping station. It seems more than usual. And the wind was at odds with him and seemed to blow even harder. It began to shine. From the station he took it right across the field to the pit he made in the autumn. Light with torch the bottom. A bunch of used shells, a sign that somebody else dipped his hiding place.
He walked into the pit, settled his straw on the seat to stay out of the cold, took a purse from his pocket and began gathering the shells left by the other.A stray goose passed screaming at the lake, far to the right. It was already light, and the first flock could come out instantly. Everything around has become white. He shook his mustache, then with his glove he wiped the snow gun, insisting on the rail between the barrels. He slid his tangled ears a little to hear better, but in a moment the blizzard put some cold flakes in his ears, so he put them back.
The cold, unpleasant feeling made him shake his head.The first flock passed laterally only a few meters from the ground. The Scouts. It was as though they were making heavy racing to defeat the power of the wind. The long flock crawled like a giant serpent waving in the sky under strong gusts. They giggled hard to let them know their direction and what was to come. Then one more flock, too far for the gun.
The old hunter was waiting patiently. He knew his time would come, but he hoped that this would be as soon as possible, that he was getting cold. Finally, four geese coming in front of him approached the pit. Down. Very low. Just three to four meters from land. He let them pass, then he got out of the pit and took them from behind. The first one fell into the fire. The others, alerted by the strong bang, left a wing, and the wind threw them as you blinked, a hundred yards.
Though he would have wanted, he did not even get time for the second fire. A great excitement, the joy of the success mixed with the sadness for the took life, took hold of the old hunter for a long time. With big effort pull himself out of the pit and goes to take his fallen goose. When he bends down, he feels again the fatigue in the chest. The goose in his hand goes into the pit. An enormous claw crushes his chest, and the pain makes him bend.
At the bottom of the pit, a goose looks at him through two black beads. Put the gun out of his hand and close the eyes of the geese. A wonderful warmth encompasses it. The blizzard stops suddenly. The plumbing sky is replaced by a sunny sunshine that passes through endless legions of geese and ducks from all the nations, woodcock and turtle doves, and also quails. And birds still going without stopping. He is not surprised. That’s how it should be.
The same day, in the afternoon, two hunters search for something or someone on the shores of a lake in Bărăgan. Besides, bounced by the blizzard, thousands of geese pass, gagging, but they do not shoot. They’re friends of the old hunter. After a while, they find him in the hiding place with the guns in one hand and a goose in the other hand. He does not have those big eyebrows anymore.