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Tails of Hunting

American Cooner, April 2012AMERICAN COONER – “No good deed goes unpunished.” I have often wondered about this statement that has become a cliché in our society. What exactly did the Creator mean by that and who exactly was the person that came up with the saying? I may lack the detail particulars and am not sure what made this statement actually come into being, but I definitely have the knowledge that no matter who or why was involved – it was so true!!!

Like many of you out there, when something breaks in my house or on my farm, I tend to call one of my buddies who has the knowledge and skills to help me address the issue. I am not sure if it is for the reason that they are usually cheaper to pay (if they accept anything) or if it is for the fact that I trust them to be honest with me. Whatever my inner motivation, this is a practice that I have done for years. It was one that would also get me in a bind and make me wonder if the punished for the good deed is not sometimes the receiver versus the doer?

My story began with my furnace deciding to take a break at a time that it was not convenient. In fact, the furnace had been working overtime at that point and I think it decided it needed a break. Sadly, that would not work for the wife and I.  My friend Bobby has held several jobs in his lifetime, which has not been fun for those depending on a steady check, but it has given him quite the experience needed for the odd job here and there. He was always looking for an extra buck.

Though he could be quite the character, Bobby always did a good job for me. Most importantly, I trusted him. I knew that if I gave him $1,000 to hold for me, I may get back $1,005 when I went to collect it.

My wife is not quite as enthralled with Bobby as I am and tends to ‘go shopping’ when he is around and the day he came over was no different. Bobby and I were in the basement where the furnace is located. I was basically just moral support for him and would hand him a tool he needed. Bobby was telling me that his family had just gotten together when one of their relatives passed away and he reconnected with cousins that he hadn’t seen in ages.

Then came the ‘moment’ came … the one where the good deed was about to turn … only I didn’t know it at that moment. Hindsight is truly 20/20!

“My cousins and I were talking about growing up and the things we used to enjoy doing together. We got on the subject of coon hunting and talked about all the fun we used to have going out together.”

“Really? Do any of them still coon hunt?”

“No, they all got out of it as they got jobs, wives and kids.”

“Yeah that happens to a lot of people. It is hard to balance it all and take the chance of being out all night then having to get up and function.”  “Well, I was wondering if I could talk you into taking all of us out one night?”

There it was that moment where you scream “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” in your head, but out of your mouth comes something completely different, “Sure I could.”  Now I really didn’t want to take Bobby and his cousins out, not because I didn’t want to do the favor for Bobby, but I knew

that Bobby could be a handful. I was trying to picture in my head what his cousins were like and also just how many we were talking about. However, Bobby was at my house doing me a big favor right now so I really was not in the position to bow out of this.

It was then that hope hit me! Bobby was by far not my most stable buddy. He was known to be a little flakey from time to time. If his cousins were anything like him they probably wouldn’t show anyway. I probably didn’t have to worry about anybody actually coming through so why should I not agree?

“Yeah, Bobby, that would be just fine. You talk to them and see when it works out for them and we will make it a date.”

“Thanks, Jess! I know that they would all enjoy it and I always enjoy when we get to go.” Bobby finished up and when I went to pay him he refused it. “Nah, just take us hunting and we will call it even.” “Let me cover your gas at least and buy you lunch today.”

After much insistence, I was able to get him to take a $50 dollar bill. I also made the silent vow that even if his cousins didn’t go with us, I would take Bobby and his kids out at least.

I truly appreciated him coming over and helping me with my furnace. Though my wife had skipped out on the afternoon and was not one to truly appreciate Bobby’s style of things, she did appreciate the fact that we had heat thanks to Bobby’s skill. When she asked how much it cost us, I told her about the conversation that had ensued.  “I don’t know, Jess. You may have been better off to pay him more and got out of that obligation.”

“Okay, tell me that you could say ‘no’ to someone who is doing you a favor right at the moment that they ask you to reciprocate. I am sorry, but I felt that I couldn’t really tell him I couldn’t. What was I supposed to say, ‘Sorry, Bobby, even though you’ve been a good friend to me all these years, you are a bit on the crazy side and I am worried about the other nuts on your family tree – really?’ I’m mean really, dear.” “You are right, Jess, but you know what you just might have gotten yourself into right?”

“I’m banking on the fact that Bobby’s family is as wishy washy as he can be sometimes and they will never even get organized enough to pull off this trip. You know how funerals can be, people talking who haven’t seen each other in ages and making promises to get together soon. Afterwards, they get caught up in their lives and forget all about it by the end of the week if not by the end of the day.”

“You have a point there, Jess. However, if they do pull it off, I promise I will keep the bed warm for you until you get back in. If you aren’t in by daylight, I will send out a search party for you. Is that more supportive dear?”  “Thanks hon. you’ve always got my back don’t you?”

We chuckled and went on with our day and the start of our week. Just like most of those promises made by relatives who haven’t seen each other in a while, I figured Bobby’s family was the same. I didn’t give it another thought…that was until my phone rang that Wednesday evening.

“Hello.”  “Hey, Jess, it’s Bobby. I didn’t think my cousins would be available so soon, but if you’re open this weekend we can go Friday or Saturday if one of those works for you.”  There was a bit of a pause as my mind was screaming “Oh nooooo!!!!” in my head.

“Jess, you there?”

“Yeah, Bobby, sorry I was just thinking over if I had anything going. How about Friday night?” I thought that it might be better if the search and rescue team didn’t have to miss church on Sunday morning to come look for me. “Cool, man. I will call them back and we will come over to your place Friday night.”

“Okay,” that was about all that I could get out of my mind.  “I’m going to call them right now. I’ll call you back if there are any issues with that, but I don’t think there will be.”

“You do that.”

Click.

I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there for a moment dazed.  Did this really just happen? Did I really want to tell my wife?  What did I get myself into? I was about to find out in just two days …

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