The Evil Men Do
"It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” – Mark Twain
“It’ll take days for this to droop back down,” I complained. “If the nob is under water those two buildings are going to be too.”
Lee nodded. “Probably. We’ll just have to try and different area.
“Well I’m glad you’re so calm. Those two shacks were the highest I knew of. If they’re under water everything else is too.”
Lee nodded again, “On this side of the lakes.”
Stopping to think I said, “You’re talking about that old CCC camp.”
“That and I know there were some private vacation cottages over that way.”
“The hunting parties are over that way too,” I reminded him.
“Maybe. If we can get in and out today we might beat them coming back up. The recent rain is probably going to make most of them too worried about snags and stuff to risk their boats until the waters settle. We can skirt the worst of it by staying close to the the shoreline. What do you say? Wanna see what’s over that way?”
What was there to say? We headed out at full sun up and took both boats. Mischief and Molly flew back and forth between us and cawed encouragingly to keep us moving.
Twice we saw herds of deer picking their way through the trees. Once we saw a bear fishing on the thin strip of land between two “lakes.” Lucky for us we didn’t need to cross right there so all of us went our own way in peace.
We came to shore at a relatively easy disembark point. We hid the boats in the branches of a partially submerged tree, tyingthem securely, then hoisted our packs to walk the three hundred yards to the area Lee wanted to look over.
We were halfway there when the sweet stench of death met our nose. “That’s either fresh, or big, or both,” I said from behind my hand.”
Lee grimaced in agreement then told me, “Wait here.”
I wanted to argue but we weren’t just friends anymore. I agree to him being the head of my house and some authority came with the job. Instead I nodded. He reached out a gloved hand and brushed at a strand of hair blowing across my face in the cold wind. “I’ll be right back.”
I just nodded again.
Five minutes later I heard him coming back at a stumbling gate and then saw him stop at me bushes and puke. “Lee?!” I called running forward.
He stopped puking though he kept gagging as he hussled me back the way we’d come. “Gah,” he said hawking up a glob of yuck and spitting. “I hate puking.”
“Most guys do. What set you off? What’s over there?”
The question was almost too much for him. He shuddered before saying, “You don’t need to see that.”
“You gonna leave me to guess at it then?”
He shuddered again then finally said, “Small hunting party, I saw four … bodies … but there was too much gear for just four men. Saw a splintered leg, don’t know which one it belonged to.”
“Don’t know … it … it ain’t … attached?”
“Something got ahold of them. Two of the tents are still standing though there isn’t anyone in them. Three other tents are partially collapsed and ripped open. Some of their gear is wet, but neat; some is scattered all over the place.”
“Bear?” I asked. Lee shrugged. “Hogs?” I asked again.
He shrugged again before saying, “Maybe both. But it started with guns I think.”
I stepped closer to Lee and then looked around. He didn’t object to giving me some comfort. “Easy Bella. I’ve seen dead bodies before with the VFW. After the floods … and before when someone would die alone and not get missed for a few days. These just caught me off guard with how messed up they were.”
“Ew is right but it is the way God made us. This is bad but I puked more because I had been expecting maybe an animal pile up in a stream and instead got … what I got.” He hawked up a little more nasty and then spit it out. “Two days, not less than twenty-four hours. Mostly it was the shredding by the carrion eaters and the rain that is making it worse. You wait here and I’m going to see what all is left that could be useful.”
Shocked I yelped, “Lee!”
“Don’t Lee me. You’ve picked through houses, how’s that any different?”
“Those places didn’t have dead bodies in them.”
“How do you know? You said yourself the water was too deep to see the first floors in most of them.”
He had me there and before I could object further he left and then came back with two filled packs and a garbage bag of odds and ends. We took those back to the boats and then went back for the ammo and the bear proof container hanging in a tree near the camp.
“What do we do with the bodies?” I asked.
“Nothing we can do. You really aren’t wanting to bury them are you? You know that isn’t feasible.”
I sighed. “I know. Ground is too hard; and where it isn’t too hard, it’s too wet.”
“I think there is a trailhead over that way. We’ll leave a note and that’s the best we can do.”
I nodded but remained depressed. “you still want to hit those buildings?”
“Yeah. I know you ain’t in the mood but we’ve come all this way. We’ll just go quiet and careful and leave if nothing presents itself real quick.”