|The Sacred Wilds|
His chest inflated and his waddles fire red, his dewlap dangles over his beak like a ragged flag of glory from fights past. He thrusts forward on his branch and roars at the top of his lungs, shocking the world around him and demanding that they bow and recognize that the King is now awake.
100 yards away I sit at the base of a pine tree, covered in 3-D camouflage. I can smell the forest floor’s musky scent. Pine sap is stuck on my index finger as I check the safety of my shotgun. I shoulder my gun resting the fore end on my knee. I know that soon His Majesty will fly down from his perch and waddle down the path to his strutting zone to begin his daily mating ritual amongst the ladies of his court. My heart beats wildly as I hear him gobbling to his flock. He is walking down the path toward me.
A large hen appears and veers off to my left behind a row of
forsythias. My heart sinks. “What if he follows her?”
|The Waiting Place|
Another hen appears and circles the hummock in front of me, then disappears to my right. She putts curiously, then settles into her contented purring sound, feeding on grubs. I’ve got one bird on my right and one on my left. “This is good” I think to myself. I am surrounded by real hens and all I have to do is convince the King that I am the concubine he has always desired.
I cluck tentatively, then gently purr a sweet satisfied trill, seducing the monarch toward me. He gobbles back vociferously. He is on his way.
Moments later he appears 70 yards distant, behind a downed pine tree. He struts back and forth displaying his imperial fan for all his subjects to see.
I sit still, the white bead at the end of my barrel on his majestic head, waiting for a closer shot. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears, drumming as if my tympanic membrane is going to shatter.
He walks around the pine and strolls powerfully toward me. His eyes are burning a hole in my camouflage. I breathe through my nose, slowly, deeply, expanding my diaphragm to center myself.
He is now 25 yards away. I am feeling his breath in unison with my own. His chest expands and mine does the same in perfect time with his. I avert his gaze as he stares at me. He knows I am here and every fiber of my being is intertwined with his. We are one.
After a long prayer of thanks and forgiveness, we walk home together.