The third chapter is in Later Posts. Enjoy, or don't, I doubt too many will read it anyway. Thanks for those that do,
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Trenton McClelland's Story: Part One
Presentiment presented itself to Trenton McClelland as he woke up that morning. He had again been dreaming of Happy Valley, just a few miles in from Tumalo Falls. This was the fifth consecutive night walking over the little wooden bridge that, apparently during months of snow melt, would span over a tiny run-off stream. Now there lay only a dry creek bed. Up the trail about five hundred yards, he could see the bridge that crosses the actual Tumalo Creek.
In the dream from which he had just risen, as in the five nights prior, the meadow opened up to the left, just behind the thin tree line. This stage revealed a man standing in the middle of the clearing. He was wearing the same robe that he had worn the past five nights. It had reminded Trenton of a friar's outfit, like those he had seen in Shakespearean plays and movies. The man had his hood down, though the way the light danced through the early morning scene, along with the heavy presence of a misty fog layered upwards from the ground, there was no point in time Trenton was able to see the man's face.
As he sat up in bed and began to stretch, he couldn't help replaying the final moments that transpired this time around. He had no idea why the dream had altered so suddenly from it's previous routine. As he stood up, he instantly recognized that he had done so too quickly. He was overcome with a wave of dizziness and the room dissolved into a blinding white light. What seemed like an hour, but was truly only moments later, his bedroom came into focus. At first everything was blurry. A blast of sound crashed into the room. Trenton was having trouble figuring out what the cacophany was because, as he was trying to regain his senses, all of the noise filtering into him sounded distant and tinny. He was certain that someone had driven their car into his living room, but as the sound did not cease, he turned around to see his alarm clock come into focus. With his bearings mostly returned, Trenton stood up, slowly this time, and limped his way over to his desk. After resetting the alarm clock, he opened up his journal and wrote about the mysterious new ending.
Saturday, September 12th, 2010. I had the same dream again last night, but this time I was able to move in closer to him. Though I still have not seen his face, I am certain of what I heard him say. This is the first occasion that he has spoken to me and I am still having a time trying to figure out what it was that he meant. He clearly said, “Begin.” He then raised his right arm and pointed to the southwest. At this time, he and the fog disappeared. This is when the dream had ended each night before. For the first time, however, I was able to run to his position. When I looked to the southwest, from his vantage point I could see...something. This is when I awoke. Whatever it was I saw, I knew I had to go. I'll head out there next week, once this tournament's over with.
Placing the cap back on his pen, he closed the blue, spiral bound notebook. Trenton was now sufficiently awake, after the abrupt start to the day. He stood up from his desk and walked over to the bathroom door, where he started running the shower and brushing his teeth. After he bent down to spit out the toothpaste into the sink, he repositioned himself in front of the mirror and did not see his reflection. Instead, it was that of the old man from his dream. He was now clearly seeing the face of a bald old man with weathered features and ancient green eyes with yellowing whites. He had deeply tanned skin and his lips were badly cracked and dry.
Trenton let out a startled grunt and threw his toothbrush at the mirror as he stumbled backwards, only to trip over the rug and topple. The man just smiled. Trenton shot to his feet, prepared to run out of the bathroom. His elbows were throbbing as they were the first part of him to hit the floor. As he looked again to the mirror, all he saw were his own green eyes looking back with a most terrified expression behind them. Trenton reached over to the light switch and flipped it three times, off, then on again. After he was confident that the light in the room had indeed fluctuated with his flicking, he stepped into the shower.
The old man's face was burnt into Trenton's mind, and it was all he could think of the rest of the morning. He put no effort into breakfast, instead opting for his usual straight black coffee, and stepped out onto the front porch of his home. The paper was sitting on the bottom step leading up to the front door, but Trenton didn't feel like making the effort to climb down the four other steps to reach it. He just sat down in the lawn chair closest to the door. Trenton set his coffee on the table and reached into the cup holder. There, he found his lighter, and a half-smoked, full flavor American Spirit. He lit the cigarette, and replaced the lighter to the cup holder. As he exhaled the first drag, he picked up his coffee.
For the next ten minutes, he was able to stop thinking all together. No recurring dream. No old man in robes or reflection. Just smoke and coffee. Finally, he drained the last swig, inhaled the last of the smoke, grabbed the paper and headed inside. “I don't even know why I got this damn thing in the first place,” Trenton said to himself as he dumped it straight into the paper recycle bin.
He rinsed the coffee mug and set it into the dishwasher. With just Trenton living there, the machine won't get used for three more days. He walked back to his bedroom through the kitchen, so as to avoid the hallway mirror, and threw on a t-shirt that he purchased from some weird, blonde guy under an umbrella in Drake Park. The shirt said “TRY AS YOU MIGHT, I WILL KEEP MY GROUND.” He was able to appreciate the sentiment, and so he bought it. But that was ages ago. Now, he doesn't notice that it's the shirt he had chosen. He took off his cotton pajama pants and replaced them with a pair of red and white sweat pants. Hanging from a hook on the door was his plain, gray, pull over hooded sweatshirt. He threw it on over his head. Trenton then grabbed his pack of cigarettes off the night stand and put them in his sweatshirt pocket. He knew he needed to stop at the store on the way to work, because there were only two left in the box. He turned to his dresser and collected his wallet and keys. There was one for the house, one for the bike lock, and one for his 1997 green Jeep Wrangler. Trenton headed for the front door, and in the hallway, gave one last look in the mirror, and was relieved to see only himself looking back.
He locked the door and walked over to his bike, where he unlocked the chain from the make shift bike rack that he had bolted into the side of his house, the day he turned ten. His bike was a custom fit Gary Fischer Joshua “Y” frame. Trenton had Bomber fork shocks installed on the front, and a Fox Vanilla rear coil suspension added to the back. He had a nice long ride to work and it was ice cold out, the sun only just rising. The last thing he would want is a hard, bumpy ride as well. He lived on the very south end of Bend, OR, in Deschutes River Woods, and he had to be at Shevlin Park by nine. Normally, he left his house every morning around ten after eight, so he could make it to work on time. Today he was on his bike by half past seven.
Trenton rode his bike down Baker until he reached Brookswood Blvd. He made the turn onto Brookswood, and followed it for fifteen minutes down to the Old Mill District. When he got to the round-about at Reed Market Rd, he took it all the way around, with the cars in traffic, to the final exiting point headed west. Reed Market took him past the Old Mill, over the Deschutes River, and past several more businesses and round-abouts. He went through the round-about at the beginning of the Cascade Lakes Hwy, and continued on until Reed Market became Mt. Washington Dr, where he passed his old middle school. Mt. Washington Dr wound around the west side of Bend, which then intersected with Shevlin Park Rd. He made a left hand turn and the road brought him right to the expansive stretch of grass and forest that is Shevlin Park. He worked for Briggs Archery Supply, which was a business that did exactly what you would expect. On this day, they would not be at the main store.
Trenton's boss, Clay Briggs, was a sometimes gruff, though mild mannered man. He was five feet, eight inches tall, where Trenton stood about an inch higher. Clay had a big, bushy mountain-man beard that was mostly gray. It seemed though, that the remaining black hairs were doing their best to form an alliance right down the center. He was in healthy condition, with more muscle than the average sixty-one year old. His face was round and red most of the time, and his eyes were a fierce color of gray. The man's exclusively white hair was wilder than normal, Trenton noticed as he was chaining up his bike to a nearby tree. He walked over to Clay's dilapidated Ford F150. Trenton took in the paint that was peeling from the body all around the sides. The tires and bottom third of the truck were completely caked in at least an inch of dried mud. The license plate read DRINK.
“Trenton, my boy!” shouted Clay. “Didn't think you'd get here so quick. I know you don't like drivin' 'less you gotta, but I wouldn'a thought you here so quick.” Clay took a swig out of his coffee thermos. Trenton knew there were at least two shots of Carolan's Irish Cream and another shot of Bushmill's White Bush Blended Irish Whiskey in that coffee.
“Hey boss,” was all that Trenton could muster at the moment. The dream he had been having was still weighing on him. He was attempting to get his walking legs back, when he realized he had never stopped at a store for cigarettes. “Got any smokes, boss,” he asked as he pulled out his pack. “I forgot to stop and get some on the way here.”
“'Course you did. Wouldn'a thought you'd 'member anyhow. 'S'why I picked you up a pack on my trip here s'mornin'. How many you got in what you got left?” Each word in Clay's sentences generally blended into one super word.
“Two,” said Trenton seeing where this was going.
“Well, I'll trade ya. This nice, unopened blue pack, for the two in that ol' beat up one.” Clay held the cigarettes out of the window. “Now get in here, we got work needin' done.”
Trenton took the pack and handed Clay the two cigarettes he had left, and walked around to the passenger side of the car. This wasn't the first time Clay had anticipated Trenton's random needs. In fact, Trenton got the distinct impression that Clay was able to see the future. Trenton opened the passenger side door and climbed into the cab. He opened up the new blue pack of full flavor American Spirits and pulled the front and center cigarette. He went to grab his lighter and realized it was still in the cup holder of the lawn chair on his front porch.
“Bought you a lighter too, seein' as you'll be needin' it,” said Clay as he handed Trenton a fresh, forest green Bic. “Now open that glove box.”
Trenton popped open the panel in the dashboard and the smell of marijuana began to linger. He reached into the glove compartment and pulled out Clay's clay pipe. Clay's wife, Sonya, had made the pipe for him. She was a very gifted sculptor and it had been a gift she made for his birthday the week before. It was shaped like an arrow where the arrowhead was the mouthpiece and the fletching was the bowl. A bud had been freshly loaded and, with his new green lighter, Trenton took a pull of the soothing sweet smoke and held it in for a long moment. He handed his employer the pipe and let out a cloud that filled the cab of the pickup. “Thanks Clay, I needed that. I've been having the most odd dream and it has fucked my ability to concentrate.” After a minute had passed he added, “Now that I think of it, the weed probably won't help.” Trenton refused when Clay went to pass back the pipe.
“Good 'nough for me,” grumbled Clay as he took one more hit and drained his “coffee.” “Let's get set up.” With that, Clay and Trenton got out of the truck and slammed their doors shut. The doors had to be slammed, otherwise they would not completely close. Clay rounded the truck and popped the tailgate. In the bed of the truck were six hay bale targets on top of three folding tables and a large, dirty brown canvas bag, set off to the side.
Trenton jumped up into the bed and started removing the targets. Clay grabbed the first one and began moving it into the park. Trenton finished unloading the targets from the truck as Clay was returning from placing the second one. They both got the last four placed in two trips, and made their way back to the truck.
“Let's grab the tables in one go,” Clay said, sounding slightly taxed. “We'll take 'em to the trailer. “S'already set up o're there, opposite where them targets are.” Trenton hadn't even seen the storage trailer across the field. He didn't even think to wonder where it was. The day wasn't going so well, and he needed to find a way to snap out of it. The last thing he could afford at that moment was to be absent of focus. In less than two hours, hundreds of people from all over the northwest were going to be swarming in on Shevlin Park.
Trenton unfolded the three tables. Together, they placed two of the tables lengthwise out. One from the back corner near the tire well of the trailer, and one at the front corner behind the hitch. The final table was placed parallel and opposite the trailer. That table connected the two others and made a nice square area, encompassing the door.
It was a black Haulmark trailer with a diamond plated aluminum roof and identical trimming. In white lettering across the side was written Briggs Archery Supply. Clay grabbed a steel dowel that he then connected into a notch located at the center top side of the wall, just inside the square outdoor workspace that had been created. This was Trenton's favorite feature of the mobile store. He had helped Clay tear the original roof off the trailer and, together, they made their own custom roof. Clay pulled outward on the dowel and the roof panel slid out with the applied leverage. At a certain distance from the trailer, long legs connected to the corners of the roof, fell out from their compartments in the trailer's frame. They rested on the ground almost where they should, and Trenton helped get them settled just right. The roof was now an awning over all three tables, and would eventually provide shade, once the matutinal sun had risen higher in the sky.
Inside the trailer were varying levels of shelves on all three walls, all stocked with different parts and products for, and including, bows and arrows. There was also a floating wall with products for display mounted everywhere there was available space. The counters lining the far wall and the opposite end, contained numerous amounts of drawers filled with tools needed for repair work. With the roof of the trailer now over the tables, everything inside was lit up by the sun. Trenton had so much respect for Clay, and this was just one reason why. His mobile store used no electricity. For all of the fancy mobile shops that were going to be popping up in Shevlin Park today, this was his favorite.
This day saw the first ever Archer's Federation of America, or AFA, tournament in Bend, OR. When Trenton was in eighth grade, Briggs Archery Supply played host to a city-wide middle and high school archery tournament. For two months prior to the tournament, Trenton's phys. ed. classes revolved around learning how to shoot bow and arrow. Archery came so easily to him. He was immediately hooked into the world. Growing up, his favorite story was that of Robin Hood, so his fascination and passion for archery was a simple transition. When P.E. finally became the city-wide tournament, it was held at Skyliner Field on the grounds of Cascade Middle School, which is where Trenton was going at the time. Students from Pilot Butte and High Desert Middle Schools came for the tournament. Bend Senior and Mountain View High Schools were also represented. Trenton did more than prove himself that day, eight years ago. With winning the Middle School category, he earned an apprenticeship with Clay that had turned into a full time job and a friendship unmatched.
Today, however, there was much more on the line. The AFA tournaments were prestigious events with sponsors lining up to have their equipment used by the top archers. To top it off, there was a cash prize pool of $250,000 to the top three shooters. First place took the bulk of the money and would leave $150,000 richer. To the runner-up, $75,000 would be their take home. Trenton would be grateful if he was able to sneak into the money at third. Even the $25,000 at stake for that finish would change everything for Trenton. He had spent about as much as he had won throughout the last few years since high school. Junior events never paid cash and, by the time he was out of high school, the competition in archery had become ferocious at it's nicest. Traveling to competitions around the country was expensive and wasn't always worth going.
The one thing Trenton was sure of, was that he was a shoe-in for the $7500 Longshot Competition. He had already checked the online register the night before, and out of the talent signed up, no one was more accurate at long distance targets than himself. Trenton always took pride in his ability to shoot farther than anyone. But for now, he would have to continue setting up for the days events.
Trenton followed Clay into the store they had just built. Clay was already busying himself with checking the inventory one last time. “How'sa 'bout go'n grabbin' that bag from the back o' the truck, won'tcha. An' see if Mark's got his lazy ass here yet. He's got the other targets, you know.” Clay trailed off into some inaudible mumbling that Trenton was certain was a curse on the life of Mark Dagget.
As he reached Clay's F150, he removed the canvas bag from the back of the truck and set it alongside, in the parking lot. He jumped back into the bed, and made his way to the front of the truck. Using the cab as a bench, he flipped open his pack of cigarettes and pulled the one in the front, left-center. Returning the pack to his pocket, he pulled out his new green lighter, and struck the flint. Inhaling the first drag, Trenton closed his eyes for a moment of silence. He blindly, but accurately put the cigarette back to his mouth and took another drag. He saw the old man's face in the mirror again, though this time, clearly in his mind.
The escaping smoke billowed from his mouth as Trenton, coughing, opened his eyes. Driving his way into the parking lot in a very new, very shiny, deep metallic blue, 2009 Dodge Ram, was Mark Dagget. Everything you could say about Clay's truck, was the adverse way to describe Mark's monstrous vehicle. Aside from being only a couple of years old, every inch of that truck, minus some hay on the bed rails, was spotless. He had built on a huge halogen light rack to the back of the cab. The tires on Mark's truck were at least three times the size of Clay's, and the whole of the truck was neatly two and a half feet taller than Trenton. Proudly displayed over the top of the windshield was a vinyl sticker with the words Hard Country Lifts. Inside the bed, however, looked nearly identical to the way Clay's did that morning when Trenton had first arrived.
There was one small difference. Clay's truck carried six targets. There were six in the bed of the Dodge as well, but, as Mark pulled around the corner, Trenton was able to see a little flat bed towing trailer. Secured by some ropes, were four more targets, with just enough room for all of them to fit. Trenton took one last drag off his now half-smoked cigarette, and rolled the cherry onto the ground.
“I've got a halfie to finish when we finish,” Trenton yelled toward Mark. “Shut off you're shit and let's go!”
Mark turned off the ignition and opened his door. “Good to see you too, buddy,” he said as he jumped down onto the pavement. “It's only just now nine anyway, what the hell is wrong with you.”
“Daylight savings dick,” said Trenton. “It's ten, and you're an hour late. There's already three other shops getting situated and these targets are all we've got left to do for a couple of hours. I wanted some time to shoot before too many people arrived. We were the first one's here, Mark. Let's just get moving. Clay's checking inventory but he'll probably be done soon. He'll help you finish, but he's not happy.” Trenton paused. “Well, not happy, for Clay.”
“Did that old coot tell you to set your clocks back last night?” asked Mark. “Calm down, Trent. Today is Saturday. Daylight savings is on Sundays. Always on Sundays. He wanted you here early and you fell for it, SUCKAH!” Trenton thought about it for a moment, then he and Mark both began laughing.
They had lined up the targets from their second trip to the shooting field and were heading back to the truck, when Clay stepped out of the store and made his way to the parking lot. The three of them made only two more trips and all sixteen targets were aligned and spaced into eight groups of two. Each pair was separated by five yards from any other pair, and one yard apart from it's partner.
Mark pulled out his pack of Marlboro Reds and began smoking. Trenton had that halfie still in his pocket. He lit his up, and the three of them went back to the F150. Clay opened the passenger door and then popped the panel to the glove box. He pulled out his pipe and gave flame to its contents. He handed it to Trenton, who took the final hit from the pipe. “You can load it, Mark,” Clay said in a flat tone. “You gotta redeem your actions, boy. Sixty minutes late and no phone call. I ought'a fire you. God dammit, I ought'a setcha free.”
“Hush your tone, old man,” Mark said reaching into his pocket. “I told Trent you've been messing with his sleeping pattern. No more charades, he knows what time it is.” He pulled out a little clay bottle that had a cork stopper in the top. This was another one of Sonya's gifts, and all three of them had one. “Besides, I don't work for you.” Mark pulled out the cork and removed a large marijuana bud from inside as Trenton cashed what was left in the pipe. Mark placed the pot in the fletching and handed Clay the honorary first hit. “Greens for my tardiness,” declared Mark, with a big grin.
Silent, the three men passed around a pipe that looked like a miniature, clay arrow. They watched eight different vehicles appear around them over the next fifteen minutes, and four of the sixteen shooting lanes were now in use. Trenton picked up the canvas bag and made his way towards the new, temporary, Briggs Archery Supply store. Clay put the pipe back into the glove box and slammed the passenger door to his truck. He began following his two employees to work. In single file, they walked to the trailer.
“Mark,” called Clay as they reached their destination. “Set up the three'v our chairs out here. Trenton's off to go shoot. Seven lanes are full, so he's go'n now. We need the blue cooler out and under the trailer, keep the red one inside 'til later. AFA's go'n be here soon, and we still don't have out the wall.” Mark ran inside the trailer to get started. Trenton had set the canvas bag on the table furthest from the trailer.
He was opening the bag when Clay spoke. “The Diamond Ice-Man. It's a Bowtech. Aluminum. Th're's a carbon shaft string suppressor, and it's set in-line with the stabilizer, so your hand shouldn't feel much'a the vibration. This is one of the best compound bows on the market. You have two hours to get used to it, then your lane time is up. You're in 13, I reserved it for you. Happy early birthday, kid,” said Clay.
Trenton pulled out his new bow. There were wheels on both the upper and lower limbs. These were home to the tension cables and nocking string. Just above the grip was a resting ledge for an arrow to set. Only then did Trenton recognize the Hollow Pino sight by Vital Gear, mounted to the grip. He was stunned. “I, I, uh thanks, Clay. Wow.”
“You earned it kid, now get.”
Trenton noticed inside the canvas bag was a red leather quiver that was hand-stitched. This was one from Jack's Traditional Archery. The model was called “The Chief.” Trenton had sold about ten of them. They were hand made, in Alaska, and had to be shipped to Bend. After the store added it's cost for commission and profit, he was selling them at almost two hundred seventy-five dollars. Now, one was his. With a brand new compound bow, hand-stitched leather quiver, and twenty-one new Carbon Express arrows with Medallion XR Target points, Trenton made his way to lane 13.
Trenton walked down the line of shooters, watching intently each person that he passed. He was sizing up the competition, who was using which bows, and who was hitting the center of their targets. As he got to lane 11, he stopped short of breath. He had not seen this shooter's name on the online register the night before. Trenton's hopes for winning any money today had, in one swift instant, absconded into infinity. There, placing an almost perfect bull's eye, was Everette Hayes. Trenton watched as Everette nocked another arrow and landed it in almost the same spot as the last. Having lost any confidence he had gained when seeing his new bow, Trenton slumped his way down two more lanes and dropped his quiver to the ground.
He was shaking as he nocked his first arrow to the bow. Standing at the fifty foot hash mark, that a team from the AFA had recently measured and marked, Trenton gave the first pull on his brand new compound bow. He was able to, so easily, bring the string back to full draw, that it caught him a little off guard and he missed the target completely. He nocked a second arrow and steadied his aim. Looking through the Hollow Pino sight, he aligned the needles for fifty feet and focused to the dead center of the target. The snap of the string brought very little shock into his wrist and the arrow was just left of the bull's eye. “Whoa,” Trenton said under his breath.
On top of the targets now lay digital screens that displayed the speed of the arrow. Trenton's screen was flashing 309 fps. He pulled a third arrow from his new quiver, and drew back. The display was flashing again, only this time it read 312 fps. Astonished, Trenton continued firing arrows at his target. The dream he'd been having, the world around him, the sights and sounds of over a hundred people in the park, time itself, all melted into the repetition of snapping arrow after arrow.
Trenton didn't know how long he had been shooting, until a representative of the AFA seemed to materialize along side him. The man from the AFA was about a half foot shorter than Trenton. This made it very easy for Trenton to see the top of his poorly disguised bald head. It had to have been the absolute worst comb over Trenton had ever seen before. He had a thick black mustache and his little beady eyes made him very reminiscent of the Monopoly character, Rich Uncle Pennybags. He was only missing the top hat, cane, and tuxedo. The man had a clipboard and was wearing an official AFA staffer badge. The name on the badge was Dir. Charles Fulman. Charles was, however, wearing glasses with a thin wire frame that kept sliding down his diminutive nose.
“Ten minutes, Mr. McClelland,” was all he said, adjusting his glasses. He then moved on to the next lane. Trenton rocketed three more arrows toward his target in lane 13. The digital radar reader was flashing 319 fps, his highest speed yet, as he collected his arrows, and walked back to the trailer.
Mark was talking with a man and his son about the different bows available for a young archer. The boy had to be around eight years old, but as Clay always liked to point out, the earlier you start, the more time you have to get better. Trenton came around the side of the tables, and hopped over the wheel well into the little square merchandise area. He set his bow and quiver both back into the dirty canvas bag it had originally been in earlier that morning. He opened the small side compartment built into the trailer and, placing the bag inside, looked back at Mark's customers. The boy had a stunned look of awe as he stared directly at Trenton. The man noticed what was going on, and asked his son if there was something wrong.
“Did you see his bow, daddy?” shouted the little boy excitedly. Trenton smiled.
“I sure did, Jonathan. Very nice looking, huh?” The man then turned to Trenton and asked, “Are you any good with it, McClelland?”
Somewhat shocked that the man knew his name, Trenton just nodded slightly. He told himself that the man must obviously be with the AFA, though he wasn't truly certain that was the case. “Come and check out the Longshot Competition tonight,” was the only thing he could think to say, and with that, he turned his back to the three others and stepped into the sunlit trailer.
Clay was inside, restringing what was becoming increasingly obvious to Trenton, was that little boy's bow. He realized that the young boy must be competing in the Junior event that would start in only a couple of hours. Juniors were on the schedule to start at 2:30 that day. The clock on the wall showed the time to be 12:37 in the afternoon. This was the actual time, not the premature daylight savings time Clay had convinced Trenton of.
Clay finished setting the string and gave several quick, half draws and let them back in slowly, so as not to actually fire the string. “Good as new, kinda” he said, standing from the one work stool. “Tell his dad th're ain't no charge for Juniors today.” Clay handed Trenton the bow, and Trenton walked outside.
“Free for Junior competitors today, sir.” Trenton handed Jonathan back his bow, and he and his father headed off into the bustling center that had been erected around the shooting field. The smell of barbeque cooking had begun to fill the air. Several local restaurants had begun to set up their vendor stands. Mark and Clay grabbed the wall of merchandise that had been set up outside, and lifted it into the trailer. Trenton grabbed a can of orange soda from the blue cooler, cracked it open, and took a large swig that drained nearly half the can. Almost gasping for air, he saw Clay and Mark emerging from the trailer once again. Clay had a large sign that read “CLOSED FOR OUR OWN REASONS,” and he locked the door.
“Le's go'n get us a real food lunch, boys,” said Clay heartily, and with that, Trenton, Mark, and Clay of Briggs Archery Supply left behind their trailer as they departed for the parking lot. “Yer truck'r mine, Mark?”
“MINE!” Mark shouted instantly. “Oh God please, anything but that death trap you still drive.” Mark pulled out his pack of Marb Reds and removed a cigarette. Trenton followed suit and removed the front right-center cigarette. Trenton lit his Spirit and was about to return his lighter to his pocket, when Mark said, “Fire.”
“Here,” said Trenton as he handed Mark the new forest green Bic he had been given that morning. Mark lit his cigarette and returned the lighter to Trenton. Trenton placed it back in his pocket as they reached the two trucks. Trenton noticed there was an extra wide birth in the traffic around the back of Mark's Dodge. He rounded to the backside of the truck. There, still connected to the hitch, and blocking an entire lane, was the little flatbed trailer hitch. “Did you forget to do something,” asked Trenton.
“What,” was Mark's response. “It isn't that bad.”
“God dammit boy,” came Clay's burly voice. “You best remedy this 'fore I get to tannin' your worthless ass. Loads'a people are jus' tryin' to find their way by, an' you got the whole damn place blocked, worse'n my colon.”
“Oh, shove it.”
“Boy, don't give me no shit. Unhitch it, then back out.” When Mark had unhitched the trailer, Clay lifted the front end to maneuver the flatbed on its two wheels. As Mark backed his truck out, Clay set the trailer back down in the same spot Mark had been parked in. “No reason we should lose'r place,” chuckled Clay, almost to himself.
Trenton climbed his way up into the back seat of Mark's truck, but found the height to be difficult to overcome. Clay struggled his way into the passenger seat of the cab as well. They each belted themselves in, and Mark said, “Where to, boss?”
“New York.” Clay didn't have to say anymore, because Mark and Trenton both smiled. They knew where they were going.
They made their way out of the parking lot and onto Shevlin Park Rd. Instead of turning onto Mt. Washington Dr., where Trenton had originally come from that morning, Mark kept heading straight. Eventually, the road became Newport Ave and brought the three men right into downtown Bend. They crossed the bridge over the Deschutes River and, at the traffic light, turned right onto Wall St. Mark signaled to get into the left lane. At the first light they came to, they turned left onto Oregon Ave.
“Any spot'll do, boy,” Clay said as Mark drove passed two empty parking spots. They got to the light at Bond St. and took another left. Just on the left side of the one way street, were two open spots that sat together. “Those two, boy, do it,” Clay barked, and Mark brought his truck to an abrupt stop against the curb. Just in front of them was a black canvas eave with a picture of King Kong on the Empire State Building and the words New York City Sub Shop Est. 1985 written in white.
Inside the little restaurant, they stepped into the line leading up to the counter in the back of the shop. Up above the counter was the menu board, but neither of the three men needed time to consult it. Trenton ordered a whole Wall St. which was a sixteen inch long, hot roast beef sandwich. The meat was grilled along with onions and provolone cheese was melted on top of both. The bread, Italian dressing, lettuce, and tomatoes were all important to a proper New York Sub Shop sandwich, but, as far as Trenton was concerned, the banana peppers were the key ingredient that tied the whole thing together. Mark also ordered the Wall St, but without the banana peppers.
Clay, got to the counter and said to the girl running the register, “The usual, Jenna.” The girl rang up the order.
“Soda, chips, or cookies gentlemen?” Jenna asked them. When they all three asked for soda, she just said, “Grab your cups.” She finished adding the total together, and Clay payed for lunch.
Trenton and Mark got Mountain Dew, and Clay filled his cup with Diet Pepsi. They set up a table for themselves and waited for their sandwiches to cook. The woman cooking threw two bags onto the stainless steel shelf above one side of the kitchen, behind the counter. “Clay, you're up.”
In one bag were Trenton and Mark's sandwiches, four individually wrapped, eight inch subs, two of which were marked NP handwritten in black marker. The other bag had three eight inch Bronx's, extra everything. The Bronx, as all New York subs, was the same thing Trenton and Mark got, but with turkey instead of roast beef. Clay opened one of his three wrappers, and bit into his lunch. No one said anything as all of the food, save for one of Clay's eight inch sections of sandwich, were devoured.
“For Sonya?” Trenton asked after washing down his last bite with his beverage. He was pointing at Clay's uneaten portion.
“'Course. Did'n think it was for the mayor did'ya?” Clay let out a booming laugh at his own joke. “Clear the table, boys, an' le's get the hell outta here.”
They made there way out of the restaurant, and bypassed Mark's truck. They headed south on Bond until they got to the light on Oregon Ave. They made their way through the crosswalk, to the other side of the street, and turned right towards Wall St. Halfway up the block, with the door propped open, was Sonya Briggs' store, The Clay Cafe. It was an amazing little shop where people could come in and learn how to make, and paint, if they so desired, different decorative and functional items out of clay. Or they could just come in for an espresso. Sonya was a very good teacher, and her passion for pottery and sculpting fit perfectly with her love of coffee. Sonya and Clay had owned this store now for eleven years.
Inside, Sonya was with a table of customers. She looked up as her husband walked into the store. Sonya was fifty-eight years old, but was wearing thirty-five as well as anyone. She had long, silky brown hair that she tied into a large knot on the back of her head. The only thing that betrayed her age was a humble amount of gray hairs that grew from her temples. She was short, five feet tall exactly. Though petite, Trenton knew that, if push came to shove, she could still disarm twenty men without being seen. She smiled at Clay as she was crossing the store. “I think you're just the sweetest man alive.”
“An' you ain't bad y'rself, lady,” said Clay as he embraced his wife in a hug that could suffocate a grizzly. They gave each other a kiss, and Clay handed Sonya the bag from NYCSS. “Got'ya a diet cola, too.” He went to give her the cup, but she waved her hand at it. Clay took a big pull on the straw, thankful for the drink.
“So what time are you shooting tonight, Trenton?” Sonya was as supportive of Trenton as Clay. She never missed a tournament or exhibition match.
“Longshot starts after the dinner, about six thirty. The dinner starts at five. You'll be there for that, too, I assume,” Trenton asked.
“Maybe not. This sandwich'll be enough to hold me through next week. I need to get back to work now, but I'll see you tonight. Hi Mark,” she said, noticing that Mark had not actually stepped into the store.
“Hi Mrs. Briggs,” said Mark. “Bye Mrs. Briggs.” He grinned.
“If he calls me Mrs. Briggs one more time, you just go right ahead and get rid of him for me,” Sonya whispered through a clenched teeth smile. She gave Clay a meaningful look that said “Do it.” The two of them quietly laughed together as she leaned in for one last kiss from her husband. “Thanks for lunch. I'll call you when I close up.” With that, she turned back to the three other women at the table that were apparently making flower vases. Trenton, Clay, and Mark all left The Clay Cafe and walked back to Mark's truck.
Clay pulled out the pack of two cigarettes he had traded Trenton for earlier. He pulled out one of them, and stuck his hand, palm up, right in front of Trenton's face. “Lie'tr,” he said. Trenton reached into his pocket and pulled out his lighter. As Clay was sparking his very first smoke of the day, Trenton pulled out his fourth, not counting the halfie from “breakfast.” Mark joined them on the sidewalk after he had turned the music on in his truck. He was listening to Pantera's album Reinventing the Steel. The song that blared loudly from the truck was screaming “YESTERDAY DON'T MEAN SHIT!”
“Ya need that to be any louder?” Clay complained. “Why can't you kids listen to something more practical, like Mommas and the Papas, or Dylan, or Floyd, or somethin' audible on more than jus'a crack yer eardrums level. This shit is drivin' me to drinkin'. God dammit Mark, leas' you could do is turn it down some. Christ.”
“Yeah, sure boss, whatever.” Mark was clearly perturbed, but acquiesced to Clay's ranting. “Here, maybe you'll like this one,” as he started searching through his I-Pod. “Welcome to the Machine, by Pink Floyd. Well, originally anyway. This version is by Shadows Fall.”
A sludgey metal band started in with a slow, choppy yet, melodic guitar riff. “Welcome my son. Welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It's alright we've told ya where you've been,” the music played on, much quieter this time.
“The singer actually sounds like David Gilmour,” Clay said, sounding shocked. He finished smoking his cigarette, and climbed up into the truck. Trenton followed him in as Mark hopped into the drivers seat. They drove back to Shevlin Park listening to different bands cover different songs from the sixties and seventies. One of those bands was Evergreen Terrace remaking the song All I Ever Wanted by Depeche Mode. “Always did like that song,” Clay said as it came to an end. “Oh dammit. Well, we're jus' gonna hafta use the woods.”
“What's wrong, boss?” Trenton asked confused.
“Left the pipe in my truck,” Clay said matter of factly, then added, “I gotta piss.”
A few minutes later, they were back in the park's parking lot. The digital clock on the dashboard read 1:48. Trenton jumped down to the pavement and lifted the flatbed trailer that was saving their spot. He pushed it up onto the grass, and Mark was able to squeeze his truck in next to Clay's and a soft top, neon purple, Geo Tracker with bright pink writing. Mark and Clay got out of the driver's side of the cab, and Clay opened the passenger door of his own truck. He popped the glove box, and grabbed his pipe and his clay jar. Having what he was looking for, Clay slammed the door shut.
They strolled through what was now a small city in Shevlin Park. Some merchants only had tables under pitch canopies. Some, mainly the restaurant vendors, were extremely elaborate. Converted campers, large tents, yurts, a couple eighteen wheelers, and even a tepee had all surrounded the park. Close to a thousand voices created and air of excitement, as people were buying, selling, looking, or waiting. Trying not to stall for too long, Clay, Trenton, and Mark all hurried past the crowds. Trenton saw a few AFA officials informing shooters to clear the field. It was nearly two o'clock in the afternoon, and the Junior events would be starting shortly.
The three men from Briggs Archery Supply reached the tree line where Shevlin Park became the Deschutes National Forest. They hiked into the woods about two hundred yards or so, until there was no one in sight. Clay, pulled his jar and pipe out of his jean's pockets, and handed the pipe to Trenton. “Finish it.”
As Clay was removing the cork from his jar, Trenton set flame to what was almost all ash inside of the pipe. A small amount of smoke escaped his lips, and the lingering after taste of stale smoke and butane perched itself on Trenton's taste buds. With a look of revulsion, he tapped out all of the ashes, and handed back the pipe. Clay over loaded a large amount of marijuana into the pipe.
“Yer the only one'f us that ain't been first yet,” said Clay, handing the pipe to Mark.
“Glad you didn't forget about me,” Mark teased. He took an extraordinarily large hit off of the pipe, and almost instantly started coughing. “Christ, Clay. Wha-hut do you fe-heed these fu-hu-ckers?”
“Tasty, ain't they?” Clay was grinning wider than humanly possible. One thing he was very proud of was his “herb” garden. To Clay, this was an enormous compliment. “Special Blend No. 13,” was the last thing he had to say. Silently, they continued smoking until the last had been burnt away.
“One more cigarette, Trent?” Mark asked, already holding his Marb's in his hand.
“Sounds good.” Trenton reached into his pocket and found his pack and lighter. He and Mark lit their cigarettes and leaned against a couple of severely large pine trees. Clay, standing from the rock he had been sitting on, checked his pockets to ensure he had everything.
“See ya down there, boys,” and Clay walked away.
“Did you know that Everette Hayes is shooting today?” Trenton asked Mark as they remained behind to smoke.
“NO! You're kidding, right?” exclaimed Mark. “You're not serious?”
“Oh, unfortunately...” Trenton trailed off, starting to feel much more concerned about the tournament ahead.
“Well, you can beat him,” Mark said, unsure of his own words. At that moment, the crowd in the distance erupted in cheers. This was the official start of the AFA's Junior Level Archery Tournament. “That's our cue, Trent.”
Together they walked back through the forest towards the park, finishing their cigarettes as they sauntered. They reached the tree line and observed as the throngs had moved together to fence in the shooting field. Trenton and Mark decided to watch for a few minutes. What they witnessed while they watched was something they had not expected to see. Trenton would have to tell Clay about it when they could. They paused for a few more moments, stunned, before heading back to the store. Another ovation rolled through the masses.
Trenton McClelland's Story: Part Two
The crowd started to settle down as the Director of the Archer's Federation of America, Charles Fulman, raised his hand calling for silence. He was standing in front of a podium on a stage that had been set up behind the targets. There was a microphone attached to the podium, and PA speakers on either end of the stage. As a hush fell over everyone, Charles Fulman began to speak.
“Thank you all for coming out to the AFA's 2010, Northwest Pro-Am Tournament!” The crowd again started screaming. Charles Fulman raised his hand, once more to quiet the people in front of him. “Today's event's,” he continued, “will be underway with the Junior Level tournament, ages eight to twelve. Immediately following will be the Junior Level tournament, ages thirteen to seventeen. At the conclusion of all Junior events, at about five o'clock tonight, we will break for dinner. For those interested in staying, there will be an amazing buffet arranged in Aspen Hall, just off of Pacific Park Ln, not far off that direction,” he said, pointing the wrong way towards Aspen Hall. Several local audience members, laughing hysterically, corrected his mistake, and only then was he able to move on. “After dinner, in my opinion, is the most exciting event of every tournament. The Longshot begins at six thirty!” The crowd once again burst into a buzzing brouhaha. Charles Fulman waited for everyone's full attention. “LET THE GAME'S BEGIN!” he screamed. Thunderous applause bellowed from the anxious, whooping mob.
Only lanes 5-12 were being prepared for the Juniors ages eight to twelve because there were only eight shooters in that division. Jonathan Somerset, who had just turned nine years old in January, was one of those eight participants. He was nervous, mostly due to the over twelve hundred spectators. His father, Jason Somerset, was an avid bow hunter and had taught Jonathan how to shoot by the time he could walk and talk. He was aware of all of the pressure mounting in the tense afternoon atmosphere.
Jonathan took his place in lane 7 first at the thirty-five foot mark. All of the other Juniors in his division were lining up as well. Jonathan was small, even for a nine year old. He had sandy blonde hair and dark, chocolate colored eyes. When his father caught his attention from the crowd, Jonathan gave a wide smile, revealing several missing teeth. Jason waved to him, and they each then nodded to one another. Next to Jonathan, in lane 8, was his round one opponent.
The boy he was about to face off against had to be at the border age of twelve. Jonathan couldn't believe how big this boy was. Several heads taller than Jonathan, he also seemed to cast a shadow three times larger than Jonathan could. The boy's name tag said Alexander Norton A11.
“Each shooter will line up at the thirty-five foot hash mark for their first attempts,” came the voice of Charles Fulman through the speakers. “They will shoot five arrows at their targets and we will determine who was closest to the bull's eye. Each shooter will then move back to the forty foot hash mark, and will shoot five more arrows. If, at this time there is a tie between shooters, they must move back to the fifty foot mark, and at that time, they will be required to take turns shooting only three arrows, alternating one shooter at a time. The winner of each round will advance to the next. The non-winners will have another year to practice.”
Jonathan took his mark. Odd lanes were the first to shoot, then the even lanes took their turns. Being in lane 7, Jonathan would fire the first arrow. Earlier in the morning, he had snapped the string that had been on his bow since he had gotten it. He and his father had gone to a big burly old man with a bushy black and gray beard to have it restrung. While they were there, he saw the nicest compound bow he had ever seen before in his life. “Too bad we can't use compound bows,” Jonathan muttered to himself.
Jonathan's bow was a basic recurve made by Samick. It's limbs and grip were covered in a hardwood laminate that was beginning to peel. From tip to tip, it was an inch shy of two and a half feet tall, which was only a foot and three inches shorter than Jonathan himself. He was well aware by now that his bow liked to shoot the arrows up and slightly to the left. Correcting his aim towards the target, down and to the right of the bull's eye, Jonathan landed his first arrow right in the center circle. His second shot was even closer to the center. Shots three and four were a little shy of the bull's eye, in the next ring out. Concentrating hard, he nocked his final arrow, aimed, and SNAP! Dead center.
His opponent looked dumbfounded. At twelve years old, Alexander Norton knew he had already met defeat. He took his five shots, none of which landed in the center circle. As they stepped back to the forty foot hash mark, a very similar scene transpired. Jonathan Somerset ended his first round, victorious.
With four shooters now eliminated, only four remained. Jonathan had been moved to Lane 8. In Lane 7 stood his round two opponent, Phil Hart, who would start the second round. Jonathan watched as Phil landed three of his five arrows within the bull's eye. That feat alone, however, was not going to be enough to stay alive to see the final match.
Jonathan's first shot hit just left of the exact center of the target, and he would not need to fire any more from the thirty-five foot mark. Moving back to the forty foot hash mark, he again waited for Phil to take his five shots. Two of them were very close, but there was definitely room for Jonathan to win round two outright. On his third arrow, he did just that. Phil shook Jonathan's hand and wished him luck in the final round.
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the finalists of the Junior's eight to twelve division!” exclaimed Charles Fulman's voice over the PA. The crowd began cheering. “Shooting in Lane 9 will be young Jonathan Somerset, age nine.” More cheering and applause broke out from the surrounding gallery. “And shooting in Lane 10 is last year's champion, Diego Ruiz, age eleven!”
After the loud ovation had died down, Jonathan took his stance at the thirty-five foot hash mark. His nerves had not yet gotten to him, but the real pressure was now escalating. All of the attention was focused directly upon him alone. He took another look around, only to see thousands of eyes staring back at him. He nocked an arrow, pulled back to full draw, steadied his aim and dispatched his first final round arrow. It had landed completely in the second circle, outside of the bull's eye.
Hands sweaty and shaking, he nocked his next arrow. With the snap of the string came the thunk of the arrow hitting the target, very close to the heart of the bull's eye. His third shot hit within the bull's eye, but further away than the second. Nocking his fourth shot, he did not remember to aim low and right. For only the fourth time in the tournament, Jonathan missed the bull's eye altogether.
Taking careful aim, Jonathan nocked his final arrow at thirty-five feet. At full draw, he stood there, motionless. He made certain his aim was down and to the right as his fifth arrow was sent hurtling towards the target. Another bull's eye, but there was plenty of room for Diego Ruiz to take the first heat.
In Lane 10, Diego took aim and fired. It was a bull's eye, but no one could tell if it was close enough or not, so he nocked a second attempt. This one left no room for doubt. Diego Ruiz took the early lead in the final match.
Jonathan moved back to the forty foot hash mark. If he was nervous before, he was now beyond apprehensive. He had to win this heat in order to force a fifty foot shoot out. Otherwise, Diego Ruiz would be the reigning champion two years running. Jonathan reached into his quiver, and pulled out his first arrow. Taking aim at full draw, he fired. He hit the outer edge of the bull's eye, crossing just slightly into the next ring out. His next shot wasn't much better. Neither his third, nor his fourth arrows were able to give him any confidence that he would win, though they had been bull's eyes.
Making sure that he was aligned where he thought he should be, Jonathan gave his final arrow every bit of concentration he could muster. With so much riding on this final attempt, no one in the crowd was making any noise. He released his grip on the string and the arrow dashed to the target. It hit within the bull's eye, only millimeters from the black dot in the exact center of the target. The audience erupted in a deafening approval of his final shot. Proud that he had done his best, and could do no more, he awaited Diego Ruiz's turn.
Just as Jonathan had done to Phil Hart in the second round at thirty-five feet, Diego was about to accomplish against Jonathan. He nocked his first arrow, took aim, and off he sent it. There was no doubt in Jonathan's mind, nor anyone in the crowd for that matter, that the tournament was now over. Staring down at the target for Lane 10, there was no more black dot in the center of the bull's eye. There was only the shaft of a single arrow visible.
Jonathan turned to the boy that had just beaten him, Diego Ruiz, and offered his hand in congratulations, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. Diego shook his hand, and Jonathan turned to see his father running towards him smiling.
“You did great, buddy. I'm so proud of you. You should have seen the look on that poor boy's face when you landed that last arrow. I thought we were about to see an eleven year old have a heart attack.” Jason Somerset chuckled and gave his son a big hug.
Jonathan, enveloped in his father's arms, wanted nothing more than to begin bawling right there. As several tears streamed down his cheeks, he wiped his face on his sleeve, and, sniffling, gave his father his best toothless grin. Several spectators had gathered around Diego to congratulate him on his win. As they finished complimenting the winner, a few had noticed Jonathan and a small crowd had amassed itself around him to give him their praises as well.
Just then, Charles Fulman's voice came back into the speakers. “Congratulations to the runner-up of the Juniors Ages 8-12. Jonathan Somerset, please join me on stage.” A large round of applause, accompanied by hooting and several loud whistles came from around the audience.
Jonathan looked up at his father. Jason smiled down at his son and said, “Go on then.” With the biggest, most obviously toothless grin he had yet had that day, Jonathan bolted through the people around him and climbed the stairs to meet several AFA officials. Charles Fulman was still at the microphone.
“And please,” Fulman continued, “let's hear it one more time for our Juniors Ages 8-12 champion, two years running now, DIEGO RUIZ!” As Charles Fulman shouted into the mic, the sea of people, now in front of Jonathan, began chanting “DEE AY GO!” over and over again as Diego made his way onto the stage. After the hysteria had lulled, Charles Fulman began again. “To our runner-up, you receive a $100 gift certificate to Briggs Archery Supply, here in Bend. Jonathan, I congratulate you on your fine performance today. I would like to present you with the second place trophy. Well done.” The crowd gave him a round of applause as Jonathan accepted his winnings. “Diego Ruiz. Congratulations on your achievement. You will receive a $250 gift certificate to archersunlimited.com. I would like to present you with your trophy.”
Jonathan didn't notice the crowd. Being on stage, in front of that many people, he was so overwhelmed with wonder, that none of his senses could focus. He held his trophy up in the air, proud of what he had done. He didn't win, but he still felt like he had. Charles Fulman began announcing the next event, Juniors Ages 13-17, as the other officials escorted Jonathan and Diego off stage.
Jonathan ran back to his father, who smoothly lifted him off of the ground and swung him around in the air. Jason brought his son into himself, and they hugged each other for several moments. When Jonathan was back, feet on the ground, he examined, for the first time, his trophy. He had already noticed is was smaller than the one Diego had won, but he hadn't had the chance to really look at it yet. There was a light gray veined, white marble base. Atop the base sat a bronze figure of an archer with his bow at full draw. The man was so detailed, his cropped hair seemed to be blowing in the wind. Even the quiver that was on his back had several arrows jutting out of it, and a criss-crossing diamond pattern down its length.
In his other hand, Jonathan remembered he had a gift certificate. He handed it up to Jason. “Oh, that's perfect,” his father said happily. “That store is where we got your bow restrung this morning. He did excellent work. We can go look some more later, but how would you like to go get some ice cream, right now?” Jonathan screamed with excitement, and together the two of them strolled off towards the food vendors. They left behind them the conclusion of the first round of the next tournament.
Darby Wilson sat off to the side of the competitors, watching as fourteen lanes of boys shot arrows to determine who would move on into the next round. She was not your typical sixteen year old girl. As a few of the lanes began to clear out, she heard the boy who had won his first round in Lane 14 shout out at her, “The next bye you're gonna get is from me, when I kick your ass! Why do they even let stupid girls enter? You should just go shopping or something!”
Taking into consideration that one; it wasn't her fault she was the only female archer her age; two, it wasn't her fault there weren't an even sixteen shooters and that the AFA decided to give her the BYE for the first round; and three, she was better with a bow than anyone she had ever shot with before, she decided to just ignore the foolish teenage boy. He was soon to find out that talking a big game, and actually having a big game, were two entirely different ways to go about his life. She said nothing as all of the lanes cleared for round two.
As fortune would have it, she was set into Lane 12 for the start of the round. Lane 11, was filled by that same boy who had just been yelling at her. She noticed his name tag said Dana Butler A13. She smiled to herself, so he wouldn't notice. Amusing as it was that this mouthy little shit had a girl's name, Darby knew she would have to center her attention on the task at hand, not spend time arguing with some idiot. Because Dana was in Lane 11, he would start the second round from which one of them would be eliminated. Darby was confident it would not be her.
She watched as Dana completed his third shot. Just as his first two shots were, this was also a bull's eye. However, Darby saw her opponent was having trouble bringing in any of his arrows. The fourth lingered on the edge of the inner circle as well. When he missed the bull's eye entirely on his last shot, he turned and looked at Darby with a presumptuous look on his face. “Good luck with that, girl. I bet you can't even hit the target. Don't choke!” He placed his hands over his throat and began to pretend gag and convulse.
Darby pulled a single arrow from her quiver, and threw the rest behind her. From thirty-five feet, Darby rarely missed. Stretching the string back to full draw, and aiming for only a moment, she released the arrow. It hit its intended target. The black dot in the center of the bull's eye was now the shaft of an arrow and the first heat was over. Dana and Darby both lined up at the forty foot line, and again, Dana would shoot first.
“Beginner's Luck,” he said to her, his voice having lost its self-important tone, though the words remained cocky. “Watch and learn how it's really done.” Dana took his first shot and hit the inner circle. His second and third shots were even closer now to the center. He had found something within himself that allowed him to improve in the second heat. It appeared to Darby, that he was actually shooting more accurately, as the pressure had mounted on his side. Dana's final shot was nearly dead center. “Beat that, bitch.”
Darby stared her opponent down, with a dangerous look in her eye. Dana's face went pale with the sudden loss of blood pressure inside his head. She made sure he knew she meant him harm, and then she began laughing hysterically at him. As pale as his face was just a moment ago, it was now twice that red, compensating for not only embarrassment, but a rush of anger that pulsed throughout his hormone driven body.
Before Darby had finished laughing at him, so hard her eyes were closed, and before Dana could think of what he was doing, he had balled up a fist and swung as hard as he could towards her head. Several people had begun watching what was going on between the two shooters in the last two lanes. As his fist slammed into the side of Darby's face, the people that were observing gasped in one collective breath. Her mouth filled instantly with a mixture of thick, foamy saliva, and rich, warm blood.
Several of the onlookers rushed to see if Darby had been seriously injured, while a few older men had restrained Dana from being able to inflict any more damage. One of the AFA officials hurried to the scene and began asking people what they had seen.
“I don't even think she's said a word to him yet,” said one of the other boys from the competition. “He called her a bitch,” said an older woman. “She's only even shot once,” came another voice. After the official seemed to have gotten a good enough sampling from everyone as to what had taken place, he turned to Darby.
“Ms. Wilson, are you alright?” he asked her. All she could do was nod to him and spit out more blood. Her head was throbbing, and her vision was still blurred by tears that had formed in her eyes. She was shaking uncontrollably at the sudden burst of adrenaline. “Are your parents here? Do you want to press charges?” the official asked her, looking nervous.
“NO!” shouted Darby. Her parents would be furious with her if they found out she had come to compete in an archery tournament. The man from the AFA looked shocked at the way she reacted to his questioning, and she quickly added, “No, my parents aren't here. I'm fine. He's just a sore loser and I hadn't even beaten him yet. No, we don't need to deal with my parents or the police.” Darby looked around and found her quiver. She slid out an arrow and nocked it to her bowstring. People leaped out of the way as she took aim from the forty foot hash mark and fired. Again, she had replaced the little black dot in the bull's eye with her arrow. “Just to prove a point,” she said to herself.
A splattering of applause broke out at her resilience. Charles Fulman, the man directing the tournament, had even come down to see what was holding up the third round. He looked at Darby's most recent shot, then looked back to her. He said only one word. “Winner.”
Dana Butler's parents were now escorting him out of the park and you could her his father yelling. “I can't believe you hit a girl. For Christ's sake son, you'll regret this day for years to come. Just wait until we get home!” Officially, Dana had been disqualified from the tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct, although everyone was aware that he had gotten off far too easy. He could have been slapped with a Measure 8 violation, which was a “Zero Tolerance” policy enacted in Oregon for violent crimes dealing with minors.
When all of the chaos had settled, Darby had picked up a large group of fans preparing to watch her in the next round. From fifteen original shooters, there were now four going to the third round. Darby Wilson had still not technically won a single match, and she was now entering the semi-finals. She walked over to Lane 9 and prepared herself for the first shots from thirty-five feet. This time, she would fire first.
As her first arrow landed slightly off to the left, Darby realized that her vision still had not been fully regained. She nocked a second arrow and fired again, this time landing in the second ring. Trying not to lose her composure, let alone her second match, she asked her opponent for a time extension. He said it would be fine, and she ran over to a little table set up behind the shooters. There, she found several large water coolers and tall red plastic cups full of icy cold water. She grabbed one of the cups and threw its contents on her face. The second one she grabbed, she took a drink from, and ran with it, back to her lane. Quickly gulping down the rest of the water, she returned to the thirty-five foot hash mark, and took aim at her target once more. The third arrow hit dead center. Her opponent would have to try very hard to beat her this heat. Her fourth and fifth shots were more careless, because she knew she could not get any closer.
Her opponent, Jake Albright, was not able to get any closer, either. In fact he could not place an arrow to match hers, and Darby Wilson had won the first heat. Both of them stepped back to the forty foot mark, and again, Darby would have the honors. Each arrow she shot seemed to creep inward toward the center mark until finally, her fifth attempt landed mere millimeters from the true bull's eye. Glad to look over and see Jake Albright unsure of his chances, Darby took a seat in the grass and awaited Jake's turn to finish.
The audience surrounding Lanes 7-10 were rapt with attention. The object of their scrutiny being what took place in this match. Lanes 7 and 8 had finished their match, and the winner, Brady Hayes, would be meeting either Jake Albright, or Darby Wilson in the finals, to determine the champion. The outcome of this match would be decided in five shots.
Jake lined up the target and fired. The arrow was not close enough to win, so he would have to try again. He nocked the second arrow, pulled back, and fired. Again, within the bull's eye, but not as close as the first. His third arrow was what caused a huge round of applause. It looked as though it had come very close to the direct center point. His fourth and fifth shots, though all bull's eyes, were not any better than his third.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if I can have your attention for a moment,” came the familiar voice of Charles Fulman. “Mr. Albright has forced a measurement against Ms. Wilson.” The audience began screaming wildly. “As the judges are removing the targets for the measurement, I would like to thank all of the Juniors who came out to compete today. Let's have a round of applause for all of the participants!” The audience again exploded. Only a few moments had gone by before everyone was shushing their neighbors.
“The judges have measured each shooter's closest shot to the center. Miss Wilson, whom has had a very rough day, if I do say so myself, measured out at two point three millimeters,” Fulman stated. There was a subdued celebration, as no one was sure yet who had won the second heat. “Mr. Albright,” he continued, “has measured out at...” With the pause in his sentence, the only audible sound in the entire area was a flock of Canadian Geese that were flying overhead. “TWO POINT SEVEN MILLIMETERS!” As Charles Fulman shouted this information, a barbaric uproar overpowered Darby's ears. The crowd had a new hometown hero, and her name was Darby Wilson.
For what seemed like five full minutes, the crowd was in hysterics. After the decibels had decreased, there was still a very loud buzzing from hundreds of excited conversations. Darby made her way over to Lane 8, where she would face one of the toughest competitors she would ever again come up against. Standing in Lane 7, where he had won his last round, was Brady Hayes. Darby knew that any archer with the family name of Hayes, was as good as impossible to beat.
As she approached her final opponent, he winced as he made eye contact with her. “Darby, right?” Brady asked. Darby nodded her head affirmatively, and he then asked, “Does it still hurt?”
“No. Thank you,” she lied, pleased that he was concerned, but not wanting to show any weakness. Brady was seventeen, and this would be his last Juniors event. He was a very attractive young man, with dark brown hair that fell over his deep brown eyes. Darby had seen him once before, and had an instant crush. One of the top archers in their age group in the country, he was also an extremely humble, and soft spoken person. Darby liked that, because it was something of herself that she saw in him.
“Are you sure,” Brady asked again, “because that looks painful.” He pointed at her face. Only then did she realize she had no idea what she must look like. Darby reached her hand up to the left side of her face, and ran it across her cheek, where she had been punched. The whole of the left side felt swollen, and the area was tender, and hurt to touch. She started to get the picture in her head. The entire left side of her face had to be deep purples and blues by now. Her jaw was also very stiff, and she felt every bit of movement her mouth made when she spoke.
“I'm fine, thanks.” Darby wanted Brady's attention, just not this way. She decided that if he was going to worry about her, it would be over the outcome of the final match, not her stupid bruise. Right then, Charles Fulman walked up the staircase leading to the stage. Everyone was waiting with their full attention to hear what he had to say, but instead of walking to the podium, he began talking to and shaking the hands of the other officials that were standing in a row along the back of the stage. Any minute, he would be announcing the start of the championship match in the Juniors Ages 13-17 Division. But there was something he was all of the sudden very excited for.
Trenton opened the blue cooler and pulled out a can of Lemon-Lime soda. He cracked it open and made his way back over to his chair that was set up within the merchandise area of Briggs Archery Supply. He sat down and took a big chug, draining half the can in one loud gulp. He set the can into the cup holder of his chair. From the pocket in his sweatshirt, he pulled out his pack of cigarettes. He lifted the lid and raised the pack to his lips, using them to secure a single stick. He lowered the pack, closed the lid and returned the cigarettes to his pocket. There, he switched the pack for his new Bic and, striking the flint, set flame to the end of his cigarette.
“Get me one'a them, wontcha?” Clay said to Trenton. Clay had smoked his last cigarette after he had returned to the store following there mini excursion into the woods after lunch. Trenton opened the lid on his pack and held it in front of Clay, gesturing to take one. Clay held out his hand again for the lighter, and soon Mark Dagget had a Marb in his mouth.
The three of them sat there, silently smoking cigarettes. Clay reached behind the back of his chair and, without looking back, popped open the top of the red cooler. Inside were two gold cans remaining of a six pack of Miller Genuine Draft, and six 22oz bottles of Silver Moon Brewery's selections. Clay, still not looking and, with one hand still smoking a cigarette, removed one of the cans from its plastic ring and closed the cooler. Across the long field of Shevlin Park, the voice of Charles Fulman began speaking.
“If I may have your attention please. Let me introduce to you our two finalists in the Juniors 13-17 age division. Brady Hayes, and Darby Wilson!” As he shouted the names, the whole of the crowd in front of Briggs Archery Supply was cheering. “A coin toss decided who would open the championship round. Mr. Hayes won that coin toss and he has elected to be the first to shoot. Give them one more round of applause!”
When the noise had died down, Trenton and Clay were each finishing their cigarettes. Trenton hurriedly drank down the last of his Lemon-Lime, and Clay had already finished the beer he had just opened, and then opened his final can of MGD. Mark leading the way, the three of them began rushing to watch the final match take place.
As Trenton and Mark were returning from the woods to the store, at the beginning of the tournament, they had noticed a huge crowd of people rushing around. One of those people had informed the two of them that there had been a fight, and a girl had been punched in the face.
They had told Clay what they had heard and seen, and that she was competing in the tournament. When Charles Fulman announced Darby Wilson would be a finalist, all three of them were very curious to see what this girl was made of.
Pushing their way through the crowd of people, trying to get a glimpse of the final match, was not an easy task. From where Trenton stood, he could just make out the girl, Darby. He watched her fire toward the target. It looked to him to have landed on the center point. The crowd in front of him cheered, clapping their hands violently and stomping the ground so hard, Trenton thought that that was what a small earthquake must feel like.
He moved closer and saw her land another shot almost touching her first. The crowd went even more insane. As her opponents target came into view, Trenton realized that, though one arrow had also removed the black dot from his target, the second closest was not remotely touching the first. Darby Wilson had won her first heat.
The screaming turned into whispers as her opponent lined up at forty feet. Trenton realized then that this boy, Brady Hayes, was unmistakably the younger brother of Everette Hayes. Knowing this to be the case, Trenton knew it meant also that this girl, Darby, had not only pulled off a stunning victory in the first heat, but also, that she was still a long way from winning the tournament. Just then, he thought he saw something by the stage. A brown robe. He whipped his eyes back to the spot he thought he'd seen it, but nothing was there.
Brady fired his first shot from forty feet, and landed it exclusively in the center dot. This time around, his second arrow did nestle up to the first. And the third. The fourth arrow hit the shaft of one already embedded in the target, and deflected itself into the second ring. The fifth arrow was a bull's eye, but not touching the other three. Wildly, the crowd applauded Brady for his fine shooting.
The crowd began fervently hushing itself to give Darby an atmosphere in which to concentrate. Lined up at the forty foot mark, Trenton watched as her first attempt was as accurate as possible. Her second arrow stuck right against the first, just as Brady had done. One thing was certain, this girl knew how to shoot. Trenton was impressed at her third shot. She had employed the archer's version of a golfer's lay-up. Instead of trying to kill the bull's eye and have three shafts touching, all she did was make sure that it didn't land as far out as Brady's fourth furthest arrow.
Trenton knew from experience that what she was doing here was placing a guide shaft. As long as Darby was able to place her first of two remaining arrows, clustered in with the two in the center of the target, all she would have to do on her final arrow is land it anywhere closer than her guide and the tournament would be over. The audience around appeared to be keen to this fact as well, for Trenton did not witness anyone near him blink. Very few people were even breathing.
Darby gave her fourth arrow a full draw and steady aim. Trenton could hear the snap of the bowstring and the whispering whistle of the flying fletching. Perfect shot. The arrow indeed rested right against the other two shots clustered on the center point. A quick burst of cheering and applause disappeared before it had even really begun. The heat was not over. She took out her fifth and final arrow.
The clanking sound of the metal arrow tip ricocheting off one of the embedded arrows, brought a sudden, horrified gasp from the spectators. Darby's last arrow did not land in the bull's eye. It did not land in the second ring out, either. Trenton stared down at her last attempt, and the final shot was barely on the target paper at all. The shaft hung downward, diagonally to the right, and was almost flush with the paper. If her guide point did not measure out closer than Brady's fourth furthest shaft, there would be a fifty foot shoot out, best of three.
“Please may I have your attention,” came an all to familiar voice. Trenton looked up and saw that it belonged to the Uncle Pennybags looking man that cleared him out of Lane 13 that morning. Charles Fulman was standing at the podium, hands raised above his head calling for quiet. “Miss Wilson has forced a measurement against Mr. Hayes. Please bear with me a moment while our judges are figuring it out. Because we are so near the end of the Junior Division tournaments, I would like to take this time to remind you that at the conclusion, there will be a buffet in Aspen Hall for anyone wishing to attend.” He turned to two of the officials standing off to his right and smiled. The two men grinned back at him. Charles then turned to the line of six men and three women behind him, presumably other officials and some of the sponsors. He nodded to them, and they all began grinning as well. “Do make sure...”
The judges began making their way up to the stage, and Charles' voice had been instantly drowned out by the excitement of the people he was attempting to address. Trenton turned to ask Clay what he thought of this girl with a half-purple face, that was making life difficult for Brady Hayes, but his mouth was no sooner able to open when Clay asked, “She's one helluva shot, ain't she?”
“Yeah, boss,” Trenton responded. “Imagine if she beats a Hayes. She's gonna have a story to tell, if she pulls this off. Not too many people can say they've done it.” Trenton felt sick knowing that he was only a couple of hours away from his own trouble with Everette Hayes. Trying not to think about it, he changed the subject. “We can hear whats happening from the parking lot. You guys want a smoke?”
“Not now, kid. Figure I'm 'onna stick this one through.” Clay wasn't one to smoke cigarettes as regularly, but Mark looked as if he couldn't wait to get out of the crowd. As conversations began to dwindle, Mark and Trenton shoved their way through the audience, and walked quickly toward the parking lot.
“Now that I have your undivided attention,” came Charles Fulman's voice through the PA, “I would like to continue with what I was saying before I read the results from the judges.” Trenton laughed as the whole crowd behind them let out a collective, disapproving groan. “Do make certain not to forget that after tonight's dinner, the longshot competition will begin. There are only seven shooters signed up for this event. I would really like it if some of you would come and register before or during dinner.”
“Only seven,” Mark said, shocked. “How are there only seven people signed up for it?”
“One thing,” Trenton explained, “it doesn't pay out like tomorrow's event. Secondly, most of these guys here, they're good at close range shooting. Put them out another hundred and fifty feet, another two hundred feet, a lot of them lose their depth perception. Finally, the reason most won't do it is it can be a huge game changer. You might feel confident in your shooting of the 50-60-80, but miss the target completely, three for three no less, and you're no longer so hopeful for the next day.”
“Sounds kinda like being on tilt, doesn't it?” asked Mark. While he loved working with Clay and Trenton, and while he was a decent shot himself, Mark was a poker player, not an archer. He preferred to win money by having his opponents willingly give it to him.
“Exactly like being on tilt.” Trenton lit his cigarette, and inhaled deeply. He had gone to some of the private games that Mark had invited him to, and one night, he found out the hard way that poker was an easy way to misplace your rent if you were ever on tilt. Thoughts aren't as clear as they should be. You no longer are able to make rational decisions based on instinct and practice. Emotions guide your hand when you're on tilt, be it at a poker table, an archery tournament, or at work giving a presentation for the boss of your boss's boss. If you tilt, you need to do everything you can think of to forget the past disaster, and focus on the present situation.
Trenton and Mark continued smoking as Charles Fulman's voice filled the distant background, announcing the outcome of the measurement. “Our judges have informed me that they had to measure out to the fourth. This means that both Mr. Hayes and Ms. Wilson's closest three shots were equidistant to each other. The fourth arrow from the center did come out two different distances. With a measurement of four point seven three centimeters is Mr. Brady Hayes!”
Where normally the audience would be buoyant with enthusiasm for a competitor who had shot four arrows within four and three quarters centimeters space, they were instead, deeply absorbed into the silence, waiting to hear of their heroine's proficiency. Trenton took one last long pull off of his cigarette, and dropped it to the asphalt beneath him. He stomped out the cherry with his feet.
“Ms. Wilson's measurement, which I'm sure is what you are all waiting to hear was...” Charles Fulman spat slow staccato syllables when enunciating Darby's measurement, almost as if each were it's own word. “FOUR. POINT. SEH. VEN. TWO. CENTIM. METERS!”
Even in the parking lot, well over fifty yards from the side of the crowd, the sound was deafening. Trenton had to cover his ears while the city of archery enthusiasts had just witnessed a near miracle. Not only had Darby managed to beat Brady Hayes, but she had done so in two heats. Trenton was highly impressed.
“Good for her, then,” Mark said. “Wanna see if Clay wants a smoke smoke 'fore dinner?” Trenton thought that maybe he should abstain from another session, but after a brief reconsideration, thought it couldn't hurt. He realized now that dinner was the only thing left between him and a likely face off between him and Everette Hayes. A bit of weed would help lower his nervousness.
They headed back as Fulman was presenting the two finalists with their winnings. Brady had received a $500 gift certificate to Jack's Traditional Archery, which is where Trenton's new quiver came from. Darby had won $750 gift certificate to Briggs and that meant he would get a chance to congratulate her in person when she came into the store to redeem it, if the chance didn't come today. The audience was disbanding, most headed in the direction of Aspen Hall, but some passed Mark and Trenton on their way to the parking lot. When they found Clay still standing where he had been earlier, he was on his phone.
“Sure's shit, babe. I love you more, alw'ys.” Clay smiled as he closed the flip. “Reckon we oughta head towards and get grub 'fore it's gone.” Trenton was about to ask if Sonya would be joining them for dinner, when Clay said, “Shain't go'n be here for twenty minutes, so no sense waitin' 'round.” He ushered Trenton and Mark to his sides, and the three of them motivated themselves to follow the rest of the crowd towards food.
“WAIT!” Mark shouted, startling Clay and Trenton out of their lemming-like state. “Why don't we, uh, just wait in the store for her?”
“Now why'n the hell would we wanna do that?” Clay said. Trenton noticed an all to familiar twinkle in the old man's eyes, and Clay all of the sudden grinned as wide as Trenton had ever seen him go in the past. “I knew I kept you 'round for a reason, Mark. It's your quick thinkin'. That, and your witless charm.”
“Hear me, y'old nut bag. I have no charm of which to speak!” Trenton snickered. Listening to Clay and Mark banter back and forth was one of his favorite things to do. Every once in awhile, he found himself stepping in, but his relationship with Clay was far different than that of Mark's.
Mark was the first one of them to reach the tables, and he pulled the furthest one out at an angle, enough to allow all three of them to get through, and then replaced it once they were. Clay closed the roof over the trailer, the legs of the awning snapping back into the storage slots. Inside the trailer, Mark pulled out his clay jar and loaded his own glass pipe that he called “Pipesces.”
The pipe was a solid black, basic glass steamroller, with a quarter inch carb at the end. Below the bowl was an ergonomically designed clear glass protrusion. The design allowed the person holding it to cup the almost ball in their hand, and use their index finger to block the carb with ease. Encased inside that clear glass were two neon tetra fish, both about an inch long. The fish each had a bright blue strip along their sides, and a bright red stripe along their tail fin.
Mark passed the fresh bowl to his best friend, who took a hit. Exhaling the smoke he had been holding in his lungs straight into the air where the roof was again in place, Trenton felt his nerves lessen. As the pipe was handed back to him, he inhaled another lung full. From out of the corner of his eye and out the doorway of the trailer, Trenton saw someone standing on the outside of the far table. “Boss,” he said, using his eyes to indicate to Clay what was going on.
Clay stood from the one work stool and went outside. Trenton and Mark made eye contact, and both of them leapt towards the seat at the same time. Mark had been quicker, and yanked the stool from Trenton, scraping the feet along the metal floor. Trenton slammed into the back counter and, with the impact, shouted a loud “GRAAGHH!!” When he turned around, Mark was sitting on the stool, chuckling to himself.
“Keep it down in there, you two!” Clay shouted from outside. Trenton tried to hear what the two men were talking about, but all he could make out were monotonous mumblings. The conversation outside continued on for several more minutes, all the while, Mark and Trenton were only able to hear words like, “This isn't...” or, “highly unusual,” or, “...provided with,” or, “additional event.” Those last two words intrigued Trenton the most. Finally, the two men outside seemed to wrap up their conversation. “Thanks a lot, Charles,” they heard Clay say, before he stepped back inside.