It hadn’t occurred to me to check my answering machine. I’d been gone only an hour and a half, and most everyone I knew had my pager number if they needed to get a hold of me. My first thought was that it had something to do with the bear. Maybe someone else had seen it outside their house, or maybe it had gotten into another pigpen.
When I pushed play there was the raspy sound of breathing on the other end for a while before a man finally spoke: “Mike? Hello? Pick up if you’re there.” There was a long pause. Then, in the background, came a woman’s voice: “Is he there?” The man said: “No, goddamn it! He’s not home!” Followed by a disconnect.
I didn’t recognize the woman, but the other voice was deep and monotone, just like mine, and hearing it again after two years was enough to start my pulse racing. Why was my father calling after all this time?What could he possibly want from me now?
I stood still in the dark while the tape rewound.
Excerpted from The Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron. Copyright © 2010 by Paul Doiron. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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