The tree line stood in inky contrast to the background of the dull red sky as the sun’s rays slowly darkened into twilight. Jack leaned forward, prodding the camp fire with a stick. Satisfied, he leaned back and pulled a worn stone and his Buck knife from his pocket. Spitting on the stone, Jack casually flipped open his knife and commenced sharpening it.
“Nice night.” A voice said from behind.
“Yes it is.” Jack replied, not pausing on the job at hand.
“Mind if I join you?” The voice continued.
Jack motioned vaguely, “Not at all.”
Jack silently studied the man as he sat down next to the fire. While clean shaven and appropriately dressed, something seemed odd with the man. There was a harshness to him that put Jack on edge.
“Coffee’s still fresh.” Jack said, nodding to the pot resting near the fire. “There’s water to rinse out the cup, if you want.”
The man glanced at the offering, but passed. “Not that thirsty. Got a smoke?”
“Yep.” Jack said as he set the stone down and fished for the pack.
The stranger noticed that Jack kept a hold of the knife in his other hand. “Marlboro?”
Jack shook his head as he tossed the pack. “Paul Mall.”
A flash of disappointment crossed the man’s face as he caught the cardboard pack. “Hmm.”
Flipping the box open, he pulled one from the ten remaining cigarettes and nonchalantly tossed the pack back. “Thanks.”
Jack caught the pack with his free hand. “Don’t mention it.”
The stranger took a piece of wood burning in the fire and used it to like his cigarette.
“Hunting season’s over.” The man said behind the flame. “Usually the woods are empty. What are you doing here? Poachin’?”
“Camping.” Jack answered, patting his pack.
The stranger looked sidelong at Jack’s rig. “Not much there. You playin’ Rambo?”
Jack shot him a glance. “Longhunter.” He stated. “I’m campin’ old school. 1800’s.”
“I don’t recall them smokin’ cigarettes and havin’ foldin’ pocket knives back then.” The man coldly challenged.
“They didn’t.” Jack replied, holding the four inch blade up for view. “But they would’ve used them if they had.”
Jack folded up the knife and stuck it in his pocket.
The man’s shoulders relaxed a little as he took another drag of his cigarette.
“You?” Jack asked as he flipped the pack open and pulled out one for himself.
“What about me?” The man asked as his eyes darkened.
Jack clarified. “Why are you here? Like you said, ain’t huntin’ season and nobodies around.”
The eyes cooled and the man responded, “That’s why I’m here. No one’s around. I like my privacy and I can get it here; Usually.”
Jack smiled at the not so subtle comment. “I won’t be here long. Just the week. You’ll have the place all to yourself soon enough.”
“It ain’t me you gotta worry about.” The stranger replied. “There’s a killer on the loose out here.”
“A killer?” Jack echoed.
“Yep.” The man asserted. “And he is Rambo.”