A Walk in the Woods

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The only sound in the forest was the breeze swishing through the tops of the tall pines. On the forest floor, the thick mat of needles was like a soft, spongy carpet that cushioned each footstep. As we carried our picnic provisions between the tree trunks, each step was as silent as if we were tiptoeing, and the music of the pines was like the background score in a suspense movie. We found a tiny clearing, just wide enough to accommodate our blanket, and set Jan’s backpack down in a corner and my cooler next to it, agreeing to all these decisions in muted voices, barely above a whisper. Looking around, we were fascinated by the solemn beauty of the place. It could have been a majestic cathedral.

I lay down on the blanket and motioned Jan to lie beside me. Our eyes darted everywhere, taking in the interplay of light and shadow, of brown trunks, light green undergrowth, and darker pine needles.

Jan rolled onto her side to face me and softly said, “Hold me, Jack.” I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and gently pulled her close. I could feel her breath against my neck. “I love you, Jack. It’s so still here, like being in a world of our own, without another soul to break in on our privacy. This is our own little Garden of Eden, and all the world beyond these trees doesn’t exist any more.”

“You’re right, that’s just what it feels like. Lying here, I can feel every muscle in my body relaxing. And I can feel your heart beating. It’s so peaceful, and the trees sort of recede into the background so I can concentrate kurtköy escort on you. This is the only way that I ever feel totally at peace, when I’m holding you, looking at your face, your body, and feeling you warm and soft in my arms. Comfortable? Can I do anything to make it better for you?”

“I’m all right now. My shoulders were a little tired from hunching forward carrying the backpack but they’re feeling better now. Could you rub them a little?”

The invitation was unmistakable, and I had to suppress the impulse to reach over suddenly and rip her clothes off. Instead I made myself move slowly, undoing one button at a time, but I didn’t stop at two or three; instead I let my fingers march steadily down to the very last one. I pushed the shirt open, and Jan raised up halfway to let me take it off and toss it over by the backpack. I pushed her blonde hair back from her shoulders and rubbed the places where the straps had pressed against her tender skin. Then I slipped the bra straps down off her shoulders and rubbed those spots, too. Finally I reached around back and unhooked the bra, which found its new home on top of the shirt. Jan smiled a little contented smile and did to my shirt what I’d done to hers, then lay down with her beautiful breasts pressed into the hairs of my chest. We lay still, just enjoying the feeling of skin on skin and the intimacy we had achieved without saying a word. “I love you, too, Jan. Loving you is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I want to hold you like tuzla escort this forever.”

Then a bullet slapped into a tree trunk about four feet from our heads with a cracking sound, followed immediately by the bang of a rifle in the distance, and I instinctively tightened my grip on Jan and rolled up over her to shield her from harm. I could feel little pieces of pine bark falling onto my bare back.

Jan struggled a little, and I whispered, “Stay down. We make a small target down here on the ground. That shot may have been to scare us into doing something, and if we stand up and run we may be shot down. If the message is just supposed to be for us to get out of here, somebody will warn us off. Let’s just wait and see what happens. You stay where you are.” I rolled off her and reached over to the backpack, lifting the flap on the side so I could pull my pistol out of it. It was a 9mm, loaded with thirteen hollow point cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber. It was an accurate shooter, a good defensive weapon at twenty yards but useless at a hundred, which I guessed was the distance from us to the rifleman. With my other hand I grabbed Jan’s shirt and quickly rolled back to her side, laying the shirt over her, and spreading it out so it covered the gun on the blanket between our bodies.

“Just lie still. If they just want us to clear out, they’ll tell us. If they want to kill us, the shooter will have to get closer to get a clear shot between the tree trunks. I’m hoping that he’ll come right up to tuzla escort us to say something. Then I could get a shot at him. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

“Jack, I hear somebody coming!” I laid a finger across her lips and inched away just enough to free up my right hand and arm. I picked up the pistol and shoved the safety off with my thumb, and then tried to hold it loosely so my hand wouldn’t shake when I raised it up. Jan was trembling with fear. I was afraid, too, but tried not to let my body fail me when I needed to act quickly. I recall bargaining with my body, thinking that when this was over I’d allow myself the luxury of going all to pieces, if only I could maintain control when I needed it.

A man approached and stopped just beyond the blanket. He was tall and lean, wearing jeans tucked into work boots and a plaid shirt with the sleeves torn off. He had a week’s growth of beard, and dark hair sticking out from under a grimy John Deere cap. In his right hand he held a 30 caliber bolt action rifle with a scope, pointing down at the ground. He looked us over and said, “Well if this ain’t cozy. Listen, I’ll give you two kids a chance to git outta here. You got one minute to git outta my sight ‘fore I start shootin’.”

Way back where the gunman had come from, a man shouted, “Put ’em down, Newt. Can’t have ’em runnin’ their mouths to the law. Remember, they’ve seen yer face.”

Newt’s hand holding the rifle started to move, and stopped. He was thinking, apparently something that he didn’t do often and couldn’t do quickly. I guessed he was hesitant to murder us in cold blood, and he might be thinking of the hard work of dragging our bodies away through the woods and digging a grave. While he thought it over I lifted my pistol, still covered by Jan’s shirt, and got off a q

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