Tom hid in the bushes, making as little noise as he could. They’d almost caught him a few weeks ago, but he’d managed to get away. Since then he’d been hiding out wherever he could. He knew he wasn’t safe as long as he stayed here. Sooner or later, they’d find him again and then he’d be done for. If he could just make it to the border, he figured, he’d be all right. And he was going to have to do it soon, too, because the weather was turning colder and colder. He couldn’t risk any populated places where there might be warmth, so unless he headed south, he’d likely freeze.
He listened carefully for a while, but he didn’t hear anything much. Just the occasional thwack as a pine cone hit the ground. Good. He was safe for the moment. He poked his head around the bush to be sure. Nobody there. Tom was getting tired, but he couldn’t afford to stop now. There were still a few hours of daylight left and he’d have to make use of them.
For a long while he moved along in a southerly direction, stopping now and then to listen for sounds that they might be following him. Once he heard voices calling to each other and hid until they went by. Finally he saw the sun start to dip behind the white spruces and the jack pines. He was going to have to find shelter for the night soon. Tired, hungry and very much afraid of being caught, Tom finally found a place to settle in. He hid among some white pine branches – not comfortable, but he was used to this by now – and tried to get some rest.
When Tom woke, the sun was just peeking over the horizon. It was early, but he wanted to get a move on. He had a long way to go and who knew how long it’d be before they’d pick up his trail. He shook himself a little and went in search of something to eat. There wasn’t much at this time of year, and he couldn’t afford to be seen going to a grocery store or a restaurant. So he foraged around until he found some chestnuts and one of the last of this year’s apples. That would have to do.
After he ate, Tom was ready to get going. He pointed himself south and spent half of the day making as much progress as he could. At least the weather wasn’t too bad. There’d been some snow, but he’d dealt with that before. It was cold, but there wasn’t much he could do about that. Just as the sun got to the highest point in the sky, Tom saw it straight ahead: the border!
He’d have to be very careful. A fugitive like him couldn’t just approach the Customs inspector, show his passport and go. He’d have to find another way. He waited for a while, watching everything from behind a convenient Douglas fir. No-one noticed him. Finally he saw what he wanted. An old pickup truck with a cover over its bed had joined the trail of vehicles on the Canadian side of the border. Tom glanced around quickly. Nobody was paying any attention. He quickly scurried up to the truck and dove onto the truck bed under the cover. It was tight and uncomfortable and not at all what he was used to doing. But he had no choice. The last thing he wanted was for anyone at the border to see him. It seemed to take forever for the truck to approach the border crossing, and Tom was getting a little claustraphobic stuck under that cover. But he stayed still and made no noise at all. It was the only way to get across.
After an eternity, the truck finally finished clearing Customs and crossed to the U.S. side. Finally!!! Safety at last! Tom felt a weight lifting off his shoulders as he thought about what he’d do next. It occurred to him that if he stayed in the truck, he’d get where he was going a lot more quickly than if he got out. And it wasn’t easy for a runner like him to hitchhike. So, despite his close quarters, Tom decided to stick it out for a bit.
The truck continued for about three hours and then came to a stop. Tom felt the driver get out and slam the cab door. Then he risked peeping out from under the cover. They were at some sort of hotel or motel – not the sort of place Tom could afford to be seen. He was going to have to take his chances somewhere else.
He got all the way the out from under the cover, hopped down from the truck bed and headed directly for the trees that lined the hotel’s property. At least among the trees he’d be less likely to be seen. Before long, he’d completely lost himself in some woods.
‘Shhhh!’ Mack hissed. ‘I hear something!’
Jared nodded and froze in place. For a short while there was no sound at all. Then they both heard it: a soft rustling of leaves.
‘That’s a gobbler for sure!’ Jared whispered. Mack agreed, but conversation wasn’t his thing, especially after a long, fruitless day of hunting. He pointed wordlessly ahead of him and both of them looked intently in the direction of the sound they’d heard. They’d been sitting for an hour with their backs against two big oak trees, just waiting for this moment.
In a moment, Tom came into view. Mack and Jared were fairly sure he didn’t know they were there. Jared pointed, and Mack nodded and aimed his gun. Bam! They’d gotten a beautiful big bird. Poor Tom! Too bad no-one told him that the US and Canada don’t celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day!
Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it. And to all of you, wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, all my best always. Know that I am grateful to you.