Daybreak

Lined on both sides by dark-windowed, quiescent dwellings he sips his coffee as the truck flows through the artery, extremity bound. He’s found a spot that isn’t phenomenal, but on the list of go-to’s it holds its own. The irrigation system long failed, the overgrown sod farm doesn’t look like much, and there’s a bigger tract just down the road where success is much more likely. The state increasing the odds once, sometimes twice, a week, but with those odds comes much more orange. A color he doesn’t mind, sometimes, his tolerance saved for when the guys are in town or they caravan westward.

Today the cab is quiet. The chatter from the news and the low rhythm of breathing from the kennel in the back seat barely audible over the whir of the tires. Going solo today.

Pushing the truck around the curves, his torso sways in the seat from the force. And the dog is up, she’s knows what’s coming.

Last corner now and he’s peering through the trees ahead. The headlights show no reflection, no sign of betrayal from the pull off.

He fidgets, takes another pull of coffee, and soothes the anxious dog as the sky starts to lighten. Almost girl, almost.

Close enough, he says and swings the door wide, pulls on his vest, and checks the front pocket for shells. He tops off the bottles from the jug in the bed, and unzips the case under the backseat. Light’s coming on fast as he depresses the latch on the kennel and he catches her before she can leap for freedom.

Collar on, barrels broken, rays of light starting to poke out from the east, he settles her down. This is the part he always looks forward to, the anticipation, the unadulterated start.

Hunt ‘um up.

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