“Me, I just walk over to him slowly. You can see he wants to run, but he’s iced in and it just isn’t going to happen. But there’s no way I can bring myself to shoot a defenseless critter when he can’t get away-what kind of man would I be if I done that, heh? So I takes my shotgun and I fires off one shell, straight up into the air wine cellar hong kong.
“Well, the noise and the shock is enough to make that buck just about jump out of his skin, and seein’ that his legs are iced in, that’s just what he proceeds to do. He leaves his hide and his antlers stuck to the ice, while he charges back into the woods, pink as a newborn mouse and shivering fit to bust.
“I felt bad enough for that old buck that I talked the Lakeside Ladies’ Knitting Circle into making him something warm to wear all the winter, and they knitted him an all-over one-piece woolen suit, so he wouldn’t freeze to death. ‘Course, the joke was on us, because they knitted him a suit of bright orange wool, so no hunter ever shot at it. Hunters in these parts wear orange at hunting season,” he added, helpfully. “And if you think there’s a word of a lie in that, I can prove it to you. I’ve got the antlers up on my rec room wall to this day HKUE DSE.”
Shadow laughed, and the old man smiled the satisfied smile of a master craftsman. They pulled up outside a brick building with a large wooden deck, from which golden holiday lights hung and twinkled invitingly.
“That’s five-oh-two,” said Hinzelmann. “Apartment three would be on the top floor, around the other side, overlooking the lake. There you go, Mike.”
“Thank you, Mr. Hinzelmann. Can I give you anything toward gas?”
“Just Hinzelmann. And you don’t owe me a penny. Merry Christmas from me and from Tessie.”
The old man scratched his chin. “Tell you what,” he said. “Sometime in the next week or so I’ll come by and sell you some tickets. For our raffle. Charity. For now, young man, you can be getting onto bed.”
Shadow smiled. “Merry Christmas, Hinzelmann,” he said Air Purifier.
The old man shook Shadow’s hand with one red-knuckled hand. It felt as hard and as callused as an oak branch. “Now, you watch the path as you go up there, it’s going to be slippery. I can see your door from here, at the side there, see it? I’ll just wait in the car down here until you’re safely inside. You just give me the thumbs-up when you’re in okay, and I’ll drive off.”
He kept the Wendt idling until Shadow was safely up the wooden steps on the side of the house and had opened the apartment door with his key. The door to the apartment swung open. Shadow made a thumbs-up sign, and the old man in the Wendt-Tessie, thought Shadow, and the thought of a car with a name made him smile one more time-Hinzelmann and Tessie swung around and made their way back across the bridge.
Shadow shut the front door. The room was freezing. It smelled of people who had gone away to live other lives, and of all they had eaten and dreamed. He found the thermostat and cranked it up to seventy degrees. He went into the tiny kitchen, checked the drawers, opened the avocado-colored refrigerator, but it was empty. No surprise there. At least the fridge smelled clean inside, not musty.