The Hunting Club membership gathered in the large round corner booth of Doreen’s 24 HR Eat Gas Now Café. As is now the norm, the guys concentrated on the cell phones in their hands. I’ve given up arguing that we should leave them elsewhere when we’re trying to talk.
Instead of peering at my own device, I tried to start a conversation.
“You know, I think we just got out of the mildest summer in years.”
Jerry Wayne glanced up, and then back down to his phone.
“Let me fact check that.”
“No. Let’s rely on our memories and anecdotes.”
“What are those?”
“Stories. It was really hot year before last, because I remember we went fishing and you complained that we’d had too many hundred-degree days already and we should find something to do where it was cool.”
“Well, hundred degrees is hot.”
“So is ninety-nine, but the weather guessers have that number in their heads they use to amp the story up. One hundred isn’t a magic number, but it’s the one they used to make you think it’s hot.”
Delbert P. Axelrod addressed his phone without making eye contact with any of us.
“It is when you have a hundred-dollar bill in your pocket.”
Instead of answering, I simply blinked and took a sip of coffee.
Neither Wrong Willie or Woodrow heard the exchange. Doc sighed and leaned back.
“Fine then. What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, I just gave up on that, too, after listening to Delbert.”
Wrong Willie glanced up.
“Hey, I just ordered a thousand rounds of 9mm ammunition. Right here. On this device. They’re sending it straight to my house.”
Doreen came by with the coffee pot.
“Why do you need a thousand bullets?”
“Didn’t say I needed them. Said I ordered a thousand.”
“Because I didn’t want to order five hundred or two thousand.”
She frosted him with a glare and filled my cup.
“You guys make me want to dip snuff.”
I grabbed a napkin and wrote it down.
“Why’d you do that?” she asked.
“Because I haven’t heard that old timey phrase in years.”
“You’re trying to change the conversation.” She held the coffee pot between us, like a shield.
“Anyway,” Willie interrupted. “Have you guys ordered very much outdoor gear off the internet?”
“I did.” Doc held out his cup for more coffee. Doreen poured, frowning. “I like Bushlan camo, but you can’t find it in stores anymore, so I found it and got a whole new set.”
Jerry Wayne was surprised and looked down at his ample stomach.
“You can order off the rack and it’ll fit you?”
“Makes sense,” I told them. “The only problem is that what you order might not be what comes in.”
“He’s right.” Wrong Willie pointed a finger at the ceiling and we all looked up. “No, the finger is just for emphasis. What I meant is that I ordered new sling for my deer rifle. It looked good in the picture, but when it came in, the leather was so thin I could almost read through it.”
I’ve had the same experience.
“Was it expensive?”
“No. Less than half the price than the one in the store.
“That’s the meaning of buyer beware.” Doc studied the screen on his phone. “You get what you pay for.”
“That’s right.” Delbert attempted to join in the conversation. “I ordered an olive tree for the backyard and it looked big in the photo. When it came it, the stinkin’ thing was barely five inches tall.”
“Delbert, we’re talking about hunting gear.”
Wrong Willie eased us back on course.
“Anyway, there’s a lot of gear we can order. It’s a heckuva lot easier than going from store to store, looking for what we want.”
“There.” Delbert looked up from his phone with a pleased look on his face. “I had a friend that ordered some mulch for his flower beds and they brought it right to his door.”
“Is that where he wanted it?”
“Well, no, he wanted it around the side and they stacked it up on the walk about ten from his front door, but the point is that he didn’t have to load it up at the store, then unload it at home.”
“Who moved it?”
“Well, he did, and he wasn’t able to spread it that day, so he had to move it again, but that’s not the point.”
“What is the point?”
“It was easier than going to the store. It should be at my house in two days.”
“Delbert, we’re still on the subject of hunting and fishing.”
I thought about the 10 feet tower deer stand I wanted and what it would look like delivered to my house. Instead, I quietly ordered three hundred pounds of deer corn to be sent to Delbert’s house.
It’d be easier to load in his truck before we left for the lease.