I Gotta Go, Now! by Gary Benton
Two days before the opening of deer season me and Bubba were sitting at my kitchen table sipping on cola’s and eating moon pies. Since my divorce, almost seven years ago, I live alone and enjoy my freedom, especially my outdoors time. While I have a woman I care about, Bubba has been married to the same woman for over thirty years, so he envies my way of life. Now, unlike some men, I keep my place clean and you’ll very rarely even find a dirty dish in the sink. Since I spent over twenty-six years in the military, well, I can assure you that I know how to clean or paint just about anything.
I walk over to the sink, rinsed out my glass and said, “Come on, Bubba, let’s go outside and I’ll show ya my new deer stand I bought at Willie’s Hunting Supplies and Bridle Gowns.”
Bubba stood, leaving his dirty glass and plate on the table, and as he walked toward my front door he said, “Shore, he’s got some dandy stuff in his place.”
I cleared my throat and said, “Bubba, ya forgettin’ something?”
He stopped, gave me a mean glare and replied, “The glass and plate?”
“Uh-huh,” I said and then continued, “I ain’t got a wife and do my own cleanin’ and I’m not cleanin’ up afteh ya. Yer a big boy, a real big boy.”
“I’ll do it, but I don’t like it. And, ya leave my weight problem out of this conversation. The doctor thinks I got a thyroid problem.”
“I didn’t ask ya to like it, I asked ya to do it. The only weight problem ya got, son, is a see food problem. Ya see any food and ya eat it.”
The rest of the evening was spent discussing what we’d need for the coming hunting trip, who would drive, me of course, and where we’d go. Bubba promised to be ready to go right after work on Friday and I’d pick ‘em up. I knew he wouldn’t be ready, but I didn’t say anything to ‘em about it. See, if you want him to be some place at five in the morning, ya tell ‘em ya need to be there at four, that way ya’ll get there on time, maybe.
Friday was cloud covered and the threat of rain or snow was very real. The winds were light, but the temperature had dropped about twenty degrees in the last hour. I pulled up in Bubba’s driveway and was met by about twelve mixed-breed dogs, all barking at the same time and jumping on the door of my truck. I got out, stretched and looked around the place. I saw an old 55 Chevy Bubba had bought way back in 1973 to fix up, but all it was now was a rust bucket. There were a good dozen fifty-five gallon drums scattered around in an almost artistic manner, two fridges with the doors off, an old gas stove, and enough scrap wood to build a two bedroom home.
The door opened and out stepped Bubba, “Howdy, Gary, ya ‘bout ready to go?”
“Yep, ya ready?”
“Nope, I gotta feed the critters and chop some firewood first.”
“Ya feed the critters and I’ll do the wood.” I replied, expecting something like this. The last time we had to finish placing pink flamingos around the yard with Maude telling us where to put each one. I thought more than once were she could put one.
Finally, an hour late, we arrived at our campsite. Bubba was fuming over the goat he has, because as he bent over to fill a pail with chicken feed the goat saw too good of a target to resist. Bubba thought the impact his head made on the barn wall gave him a concussion, but I was more worried about the goat. Anything hitting that man’s rear-end real hard is in facing a serious natural gas danger.
“I’ll tell ya what,” Bubba spoke as we unloaded my truck, “if I don’t get a deer, by golly, I’ll have goat.”
“Bubba yer actin’ like a kid. I remember the time ya relieved yerself on an electric fence, ya didn’t tear miles of fence up did ya?”
The fat man turned to me and his eyes narrowed as he replied sternly, “That’s not a subject to be discussed. I learned somethin’ from that act. Besides, I lost interest in ‘lectric fences real quick like.”
I gave a loud laugh and replied, “I’ll just bet ya did too!”
That night, as I started supper, I noticed the pans Bubba brought were still dirty from his last camping trip and it would take hours to clean them up. The food was not only bunt on, but completely dried . . . as hard as concrete. I threw them aside, pulled out some aluminum foil and started placing my steak, potatoes, carrots, and onion on it.
“I don’t do aluminum foil.” Bubba said, just like one of them girls from the west coast do in the movies.
“Ya don’t do aluminum? What do you do then?”
“Nope, I don’t. I only cook with manly gear!”
I grinned, picked up a badly soiled frying pan and said, “Then take yer buns to the crick and wash this, because I don’t do dirty cast iron skillets.”
“It don’t need cleanin’. I neveh clean my pots and pans.”
“That, Bubba, I honestly believe. But, ifn you cook on one of these, ya’ll get sick. I saw lots fellers in the service get diarrhea from dirty cookin’ gear.”
“Hogwarsh, I been doin’ it fer years.” Bubba replied as he placed his dirty skillet on the red-hot coals of the campfire and tossed his steak in.
We ate, made small talk and then the weather kept its promise. It was near nine when the wind suddenly gave a loud groan, long fingers of lightning streaked across the dark horizon, and a loud crack of thunder was heard and was immediately followed by the patter of a light rain.
“Get in the tent Bubba and just bring yer coat with ya,” I called out as I picked up my wool blanket and made for our tent.
We no sooner zipped the door on the tent closed, when a mighty gust of wind rocked it so hard I thought it would blow over. But, she stood. I moved over to my sleeping bag, sat and lighted my lantern. Bubba, cursing the storm, moved to his side of the tent, and spent a few minutes messing with his lantern. Finally the man got up, walked to the door, unzipped it and tossed his lantern out into the driving rain.
As he returned to his sleeping bag, I asked, “What was the problem with yer lantern?”
“No fuel and mantles were burnt off.”
“Didn’t ya check ‘em before the trip? And, besides, I got fuel and mantles.”
“Of course not! Heck fire, nobody but you ever checks their stuff! I ain’t got the patience to fool with that thing right now.”
Ya never have any patience, I thought, but said, “We might as well get comfortable until bed time. I want to be in my tree stand an hour before sunrise.”
“What ya gonna do?”
“Read my latest book and check for errors in spellin’ and such.”
“Ya mean ya read yer own books? Why would ya do that, I mean, ya know how they’ll end.”
I chuckled and said, “Bubba, before they do the next run of the book we can have the errors fixed.”
“I don’t see . . .” Bubba started talking alright, but there came a loud gurgling from deep in his stomach.
“Ya ok?” I asked, because the big man had paled and his eyes had grown in size.
His eyes met mine as he said, “I gotta go!”
“Go where? Heck, its pourin’ rain out there!”
“Potty and now!” He spoke with a deep sense of urgency as he stood and made his way to the front of the tent. Just as he reached the door, he turned and asked, “Ya got any . . .”
“Toilet paper? Yep!” I reached into my backpack, pulled out a roll and toss it to him. He grabbed it like a professional football receiver and disappeared into the rain. I had interrupted Bubba, because I knew he didn’t bring any T.P. with him, he never did. Over the years, if you hunt of camp with a person long enough, you’re almost like two married people; you know what the other needs before they even ask.
The remainder of the night Bubba kept me awake moaning and with more runs out into the pouring rain. The thunder boomed and the lightning flashed throughout the darkness, but near dawn it grew quiet. Well, almost.
“I gotta see a doctor.” Bubba cried out from the gray semidarkness.
“Bubba, it’s openin’ day of deer season! For goodness sakes!”
“What’s more important, me or some ole’deer.” Many long minutes passed in silence and then he finally asked, “Well, what’s takin’ ya so long to answer me?”
“That’s a hard question. I’m thinkin’ on it.”
Abruptly the man stood and ran from the tent, out to the bushes once more.
Two hours later we were at the hospital. The doctor looked at Bubba and said, “You have a severe gastrointestinal disorder. Have this prescription filled, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest.”
“That doesn’t mean beer, Bubba.” I quickly added, because I knew the man.
“Nope, no alcohol, it will cause additional problems.”
“Is that disorder fatal? I mean do I have enough time left to get my things in order before I die?”
Ya’ll never have that much time Bubba, never, I thought as I stifled a snicker.
You’ll be back to normal in no time and you’re not close to death, but I’m sure it felt like it a time or two last night. I am curious though, what have you been eating?”
Bubba looked over at me, lowered his eyes, and as he slowly shook his head he said, “Must have been some bad meat.”
Author’s note: Sanitation in the field is very important and poor hygiene can cause some very painful, as Bubba found out, illnesses. While this article was written with humor in mind, behind the words is a warning. Keep your gear clean, your food properly stored, and never eat anything that smells “funny”, is discolored, or your dawg won’t go near.