They met in the forest and dealt in death.
‘I have hunted and killed most creatures on this earth, and I freely admit that I take a great deal of pleasure when it comes to killing people. Distinctly I remember the deaths of my parents, and whenever my hand hesitates, my heart does not.
‘Today, I met a fellow traveler in this place.
‘It did not end well.
‘He was dressed strangely, with a hunting rifle in his right hand and a dead black bear slung over his right shoulder.
‘The man smiled at me, and it was the smile that a predator bestows upon its prey.
‘I stopped a fair distance from him, and when he continued toward me, I held up a hand and shook my head.
‘He came to a standstill, and his smile broadened. I could see his hand tighten around his rifle and his body relax. He would drop the carcass as soon as he thought he could, and he’d try to put a bullet in me.
‘Of that, I had no doubt.
‘He called out to me, asking, “How are you, Friend?”
‘I told him I was fine, but I was no friend of his.
‘This didn’t cause him any discomfort. Instead, he chuckled and took a half-step forward, stopping only when I drew my pistol.
‘His eyes narrowed, and his smile became colder, cunning. It was the smile of the predator gauging the speed of his prey. With that false smile upon his face, he asked, “Would you shoot me?”
‘He raised an eyebrow. “A perfect stranger?”
‘As the last word slipped from his mouth, the man dropped his left shoulder and dumped the bear, bringing up his rifle.
‘But he was dead before he could pull the trigger.
‘He collapsed beside the bear, and for a moment, I stood there, waiting to see if the man would rise to his feet. When he didn’t, I moved closer, took his weapon and ammunition, and after a moment of consideration, used his own knife to cut off his head.
‘I set the severed head on the bear’s chest, placed its paws upon the bastard’s face, and hoped he could see it from Hell.’