BOOK PREVIEW: ‘Anamakee’ by Garret Schuelke
In Anamakee, Garret Schuelke’s aimless hero, Floyd Spicer, returns to his hometown of Alpena, Michigan, after bombing out of college. Taking place between the final weeks of October and the beginning of November, Anamakee follows Floyd’s depressing home and social life, his nerve-racking job at the local linen service, and his schooling at Alpena Community College. Anamakee will be published by Riot Forge in January 2016.
Floyd sneezed into his sleeve.
He wiped, sucked up the snot, and spitted it out the blind window.
He went back to reading the same issue of Hustler from the early nineties that had been in there since he was a kid.
He once again read the letters section, the interview with Yasser Arafat, the mediocre horror/erotic short story, and examined the personals.
He put the magazine down.
He leaned back in the office chair and looked at the termite-damaged ceiling.
His foot accidently bumped the heater.
Floyd looked at the magazine rack.
It contained two old and ragged copies of Penthouse and Easyriders.
He sat up and looked out the window.
Down in the clearing, to his left, he saw a doe staring at him.
Floyd stiffened and held his breath, looking directly at the deer.
After a few seconds, he exhaled, relaxed his body, and blinked a few times.
The doe continued to stare at him.
Floyd grabbed his rifle and cradled it on his lap.
The doe resumed feeding.
Floyd inched up to the window.
The doe started moving.
Floyd froze until it stopped to feed again.
He took a deep breath, counted to three, and slowly placed the barrel on the window sill.
The doe looked up, and went back to feeding.
Floyd aimed the scope until all he saw was brown fur.
He tried to relax.
He breathed deeply.
When he exhaled, the scope started shaking again.
The doe moved.
Floyd took the shot.
The scope hit his eye.
He looked up and saw the doe running away.
Floyd smacked the counter.
He placed the gun back down, and leaned back in the chair.
Floyd let out two shots.
The deer turned back and ran the way it came.
He shook his head and growled as he watched it disappear.
He closed the windows, turned off the heater, stuffed the three empty shell casings into his pocket, locked up the blind, and went down to the clearing.
He scanned the ground with his flashlight.
He walked onto the trail where the last deer passed by.
He didn’t find any blood.
Floyd went back into the clearing.
He discovered a red spot on top of a beat.
He scanned the rest of the area and found more blood on top of the snow.
The followed the trail the spots made into the swamp area near Will’s blind.
He heard thrashing.
He pointed his flashlight at the direction of the sound.
A deer’s head appeared for an instant in front of a tree.
He shined the flashlight at its base.
The deer went wild.
Floyd recognized it as the doe he thought he missed.
He stepped closer.
The doe grunted and wheezed.
It attempted to heave itself foreword.
It fell down and smashed its head on a root.
Floyd paced, muttering “Fuck”.
The doe started thrashing about again.
He looked around until he saw a downed branch.
He placed the flashlight on it, and adjusted the light onto the doe.
He unstrapped his rifle and walked up to it.
“God, I’m sorry,” Floyd said, aiming at the area of fur that was red.
He breathed deeply, closed his eyes, and pulled the trigger.
The doe screeched.
It kicked Floyd in the shin.
Floyd back off and watched it freak out.
Floyd swallowed, slung his rifle over his shoulder, grabbed his flashlight, and walked away.
Floyd showed Will, Henry, and Kurt where he shot the doe.
He proceeded to lead them into the swamp.
Floyd noticed that his Dad wasn’t with them.
He looked back and saw him still looking around the area.
Floyd called for him.
Henry told him he was going to search for signs of the other deer.
Will asked Floyd where he shot it.
Floyd explained what happened.
“You’re supposed to kill them with one shot,” Will said.
“That’s what I was trying to do,” Floyd said.
They came to the doe, which was lying still.
Blood covered the snow and roots.
Kurt bent down and examined it.
“Sure you were,” Will said.
Floyd narrowed his eyes. “Fuck you.”
“Hey,” Kurt said, holding the deer’s head up, “this is a buck.”
“What?” Floyd walked over and crouched down beside his Grandpa. “Where are its horns?”
Kurt handed Floyd his flashlight.
He pushed some of the fur away from the deer’s head, revealing two stubs.
Floyd punched the ground.
“Hey, it happens,” Kurt said, patting Floyd on the back. “I’ve done it more than once. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Want to gut it here?” Will asked.
“Your Dad has the tools,” Kurt grabbed one of the buck’s legs and stood up. “Let’s drag it back to your blind.”
“I got this, Grandpa,” Will took the leg from Kurt. “Lead the way.”
Floyd handed Kurt his flashlight, and took a hold of the deer’s other leg.
“Good job, dumbass,” Will whispered as they started dragging it.
Floyd kept his attention on Kurt’s outline.
They entered the clearing.
Henry was in the woods on the opposite side of the trail, scanning the ground with his flashlight.
Floyd dropped the leg and walked over. “Hey, Dad, we need—”
“DON’T MOVE!” Henry said.
Henry walked back, his flashlight illuminating a trail of blood spots.
“You said the other deer you shot went this way?”
“Yeah, it ran off towards Uncle Bruce’s blind.”
“Buck or doe?”
“That’s what you thought last time,” Will said, walking up.
“What happened?” Henry asked.
Will nodded at Floyd. “He shot a buck that barely had its horns out.”
Henry glared at Floyd, pursing his lips.
“I thought it was a doe,” Floyd said.
He tried breathing through his clogged nose.
“Come on, let’s see where this other deer went,” Henry said, turning around and following the blood.
Will whistled to Kurt, and they followed Henry through the woods.
Kurt joined Henry up front.
Floyd ignored what Will was saying, but determined that, from the tone of his voice, he was trying to lecture him.
They heard grunting.
Henry and Kurt moved to the right.
Floyd and Will ran after them.
Henry and Kurt were illuminating a deer that had its stomach blown out.
It tried to move.
Its insides scraped against the ground.
The deer grunted.
“Jesus Christ, Floyd,” Will said.
Henry handed Kurt his flashlight.
He unstrapped his rifle, pressed it against the deer’s neck, and pulled the trigger.
The deer screeched, and violently thrashed about.
Henry back away, took aim, and shot its upper body.
The deer grunted a few more times, and went still.
“Shit,” Henry said, lowering his rifle.
“What is it?” Will asked.
Kurt pointed the flashlights at the deer’s head.
Henry bent down. “Doe,” he said, holding its head.
“You got it right his time,” Will said.
“Fuck you,” Floyd said.
“This one will be quicker to clean,” Kurt said. “Want to do it here?”
“Might as well,” Henry said, laying out the gloves and knife.
Henry cleaned the deer, and him and Kurt dragged the deer back to the path, following Will and Floyd.
Will started lecturing Floyd again.
Floyd stared at the ground.
Will punched him in the arm. “Did you hear me?” he asked.
Floyd suddenly raised his flashlight over his head.
Will covered himself.
Floyd walked ahead.
“I said, ‘this is what happens when you don’t join Dad and I when we’re getting our scope’s adjusted,” Will said, walking up to him.
“Yeah, because I really wanna be around you two as it is,” Floyd said.
“You’d be good at this too if you actually cared!”
“It wouldn’t matter how good I was,” Floyd sniffed hard, and swallowed. “You’d still find a reason to run your fucking mouth.”
“HEY!” Henry yelled. “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
They retrieved the buck, and walked back to the camp in silence.
Henry said, as they hung the deer on the pole, that they would claim Floyd shot the doe, while Henry shot the buck.
Will whispered to Floyd as they went inside that Henry had better not get in trouble “due to your fuck up.”
Floyd went to the back room and put his rifle in the case.
He grabbed his backpack and put it on as he passed by Henry, Kurt, and Will, who were unloading and inspecting their rifles.
He used the bathroom.
After washing his hands, he looked himself over in the mirror.
He saw the reflection of the buck painting behind him.
He dried his and hands, blew his nose in some toilet paper, and entered the kitchen.
“Hey Floyd, you want to help me get dinner ready?” Henry asked, holding four steaks he took out of the freezer.
“Nah, I’m gonna head home,” Floyd said, walking by.
Henry put the steaks on the counters and grabbed Floyd by the shoulder. “Why? What’s the matter?”
“I got my deer for the season. I don’t have to be out here.”
Henry laughed. “You don’t have to stop hunting at two! Just try to leave some for us!”
Floyd looked at Will and Kurt, who were sitting on the couch, watching television.
Will looked over at him, glared, and shook his head.
“No, I’m good. I should check my homework anyway, or Mom will get on my case.”
“Hey,” Henry looked Floyd directly in the eye, “shit happens—there’s no use getting upset over this.”
He didn’t look at anyone as he walked out.
He saw Kurt and Will’s shadows from the living room window be joined by his Dad’s.
He looked at the deer hanging on the pole, slightly illuminated by the porch light.
The wind made them swing.