Hunters in the Snow
by Tobias Wolff
Approximate Word Count: 5952
Tub had been waiting for an hour in the falling snow. He
paced the sidewalk to keep warm and stuck his head out over the
curb whenever he saw lights approaching. One driver stopped for
him but before Tub could wave the man on he saw the rifle on
Tub's back and hit the gas. The tires spun on the ice.
The fall of snow thickened. Tub stood below the overhang of
a building. Across the road the clouds whitened just above the
rooftops, and the street lights went out. He shifted the rifle
strap to his other shoulder. The whiteness seeped up the sky.
A truck slid around the corner, horn blaring, rear end
sashaying. Tub moved to the sidewalk and held up his hand. The
truck jumped the curb and kept coming, half on the street and
half on the sidewalk. It wasn't slowing down at all. Tub stood
for a moment, still holding up his hand, then jumped back. His
rifle slipped off his shoulder and clattered on the ice, a
sandwich fell out of his pocket. He ran for the steps of the
building. Another sandwich and a package of cookies tumbled onto
the new snow. He made the steps and looked back.
A truck had stopped several feet beyond where Tub had been
standing. He picked up his sandwiches and his cookies and slung
the rifle and went up to the driver's window. The driver was bent
against the steering wheel, slapping his knees and drumming his
feet on the floorboards. He looked like a cartoon of a person
laughing, except that his eyes watched the man on the seat beside
him. "You ought to see yourself," the driver said. "He looks just
like a beach ball with a hat on, doesn't he? Doesn't he, Frank?"
The man beside him smiled and looked off.
"You almost ran me down," Tub said. "You could've killed
"Come on, Tub, said the man beside the driver. "Be mellow.
Kenny was just messing around." He opened the door and slid over
to the middle of the seat.
Tub took the bolt out of his rifle and climbed in beside
him. "I waited an hour," he said. "If you meant ten o'clock why
didn't you say ten o'clock?"
"Tub, you haven't done anything but complain since we got
here," said the man in the middle. "If you want to piss and moan
all day you might as well go home and bitch at your kids. Take
your pick." When Tub didn't say anything he turned to the driver.
"Okay, Kenny, let's hit the road."
Some juvenile delinquents had heaved a brick through the
windshield on the driver's side, so the cold and snow tunneled
right into the cab. The ehater didn't work. They covered
themselves with a couple of blankets Kenny had brought along and
pulled down the muffs on their caps. Tub tried to keep his hands
warm by rubbing them under the blanket but Frank made him stop.
They left Spokane and drove deep into the country, running
along black lines of fences. The snow let up, but still there was
no edge to the land where it met the sky. Nothing moved in the
chalky fields. The cold bleached their faces and made the stubble
stand out on their cheeks and along their upper lips. They
stopped twice for coffee before they got to the woods where Kenny
wanted to hunt.
Tub was for trying someplace different; two years in a row
they'd been up and down this land and hadn't seen a thing. Frank
didn't care one way or the other, he just wanted to get out of
the goddamned truck. "Feel that," Frank said, slamming the door.
He spread his feet and closed his eyes and leaned his head way
back and breathed deeply. "Tune in on that energy."
"Another thing," Kenny said. "This is open land. Most of the
land around here is posted."
"I'm cold," Tub said.
Frank breathed out. "Stop bitching, Tub. Get centered."
"I wasn't bitching."
"Centered," Kenny said. "Next thing you'll be wearing a
nightgown, Frank. Selling flowers out at the airport."
"Kenny," Frank said, "you talk too much."
"Okay," Kenny said. "I won't say a word. Like I won't say
anything about a certain babysitter."
"What babysitter?" Tub asked.
"That's between us," Frank said, looking at Kenny. "That's
confidential. You keep your mouth shut."
"You're asking for it," Frank said.
"Asking for what?"
"Hey," Tub said, "are we hunting or what?"
They started off across the field. Tub had trouble getting
through the fences. Frank and Kenny could have helped him; they
could have lifted up on the top wire and stepped on the bottom
wire, but they didn't. They stood and watched him. There were a
lot of fences and Tub was puffing when they reached the woods.
They hunted for over two hours and saw no deer, no tracks,
no sign. Finally they stopped by the creek to eat. Kenny had
several slices of pizza and a couple of candy bars: Frank had a
sandwich, an apple, two carrots, and a square of chocolate; Tub
ate one hard-boiled egg and a stick of celery.
"You ask me how I want to die today," Kenny said. "I'll tell
you burn me at the stake." He turned to Tub. "You still on that
diet?" He winked at Frank.
"What do you think? You think I like hard-boiled eggs?"
"All I can say is, it's the first diet I ever heard of where
you gained weight from it."
"Who said I gained weight?"
"Oh, pardon me. I take it back. You're just wasting away
before my very eyes. Isn't he, Frank?"
Frank had his fingers fanned out, tips against the bark of
the stump where he'd laid his food. His knuckles were hairy. He
wore a heavy wedding band and on his right pinky another gold
ring with a flat face and an "F" in what looked like diamonds. He
turned the ring this way and that. "Tub," he said, "you haven't
seen your own balls in ten years."
Kenny doubled over laughing. He took off his hat and slapped
his leg with it.
"What am I supped to do?" Tub said. "It's my glands."
They left the woods and hunted along the creek. Frank and
Kenny worked one bank and Tub worked the other, moving upstream.
The snow was light but the drifts were deep and hard to move
through. Wherever Tub looked the surface was smooth, undisturbed,
and after a time he lost interest. He stopped looking for tracks
and just tried to keep up with Frank and Kenny on the other side.
A moment came when he realized he hadn't seen them in a long
time. The breeze was moving from him to them; when it stilled he
could sometimes hear Kenny laughing but that was all. He
quickened his pace, breasting hard into the drifts, fighting away
the snow with his knees and elbows. He heard his heart and felt
the flush on his face but he never once stopped.
Tub caught up with Frank and Kenny at a bend of the creek.
They were standing on a log that stretched from their bank to
his. Ice had backed up behind the log. Frozen reeds stuck out,
barely nodding when the air moved.
"See anything?" Frank asked.
Tub shook his head.
There wasn't much daylight left and they decided to head
back toward the road. Frank and Kenny crossed the log and they
started downstream, using the trail Tub had broken. Before they
had gone very far Kenny stopped. "Look at that," he said, and
pointed to some tracks going form the creek back into the woods.
Tub's footprints crossed right over them. There on the bank,
plain as day, were several mounds of deer sign. "What do you
think that is, Tub?" Kenny kicked at it. "Walnuts on vanilla
"I guess I didn't notice."
Kenny looked at Frank.
"I was lost."
"You were lost. Big deal."
They followed the tracks into the woods. The deer had gone
over a fence half buried in drifting snow. A no hunting sign was
nailed to the top of one of the posts. Frank laughed and said the
son of a bitch could read. Kenny wanted to go after him but Frank
said no way, the people out here didn't mess around. He thought
maybe the farmer who owned the land would let them use it if they
asked. Kenny wasn't so sure. Anyway, he figured that by the time
they walked to the truck and drove up the road and doubled back
it would be almost dark.
"Relax," Frank said. "You can't hurry nature. If we're meant
to get that deer, we'll get it. If we're not, we won't."
They started back toward the truck. This part of the woods
was mainly pine. The snow was shaded and had a glaze on it. It
held up Kenny and Frank but Tub kept falling through. As he
kicked forward, the edge of the crust bruised his shins. Kenny
and Frank pulled ahead of him, to where he couldn't even hear
their voices any more. He sat down on a stump and wiped his face.
He ate both the sandwiches and half the cookies, taking his own
sweet time. It was dead quiet.
When Tub crossed the last fence into the toad the truck started
moving. Tub had to run for it and just managed to grab hold of
the tailgate and hoist himself into the bed. He lay there,
panting. Kenny looked out the rear window and grinned. Tub
crawled into the lee of the cab to get out of the freezing wind.
He pulled his earflaps low and pushed his chin into the collar of
his coat. Someone rapped on the window but Tub would not turn
He and Frank waited outside while Kenny went into the
farmhouse to ask permission. The house was old and paint was
curling off the sides. The smoke streamed westward off the top of
the chimney, fanning away into a thin gray plume. Above the ridge
of the hills another ridge of blue clouds was rising.
"You've got a short memory," Tub said.
"What?" Frank said. He had been staring off.
"I used to stick up for you."
"Okay, so you used to stick up for me. What's eating you?"
"You shouldn't have just left me back there like that."
"You're a grown-up, Tub. You can take care of yourself.
Anyway, if you think you're the only person with problems I can
tell you that you're not."
"Is there something bothering you, Frank?"
Frank kicked at a branch poking out of the snow. "Never
mind," he said.
"What did Kenny mean about the babysitter?"
"Kenny talks too much," Frank said. "You just mind your own
Kenny came out of the farmhouse and gave the thumbs-up and
they began walking back toward the woods. As they passed the barn
a large black hound with a grizzled snout ran out and barked at
them. Every time he barked he slid backwards a bit, like a cannon
recoiling. Kenny got down on all fours and snarled and barked
back at him, and the dog slunk away into the barn, looking over
his shoulder and peeing a little as he went.
"That's an old-timer," Frank said. "A real graybeard. Fifteen
years if he's a day."
"Too old," Kenny said.
Past the barn they cut off through the field.s The land was
unfenced and the crust was freezing up thick and they made good
time. They kept to the edge of the field until they picked up the
tracks again and followed them into the woods, farther and
farther back toward the hills. The trees started to blur wiht the
shadows and the wind rose and needled their faces with the
crystals it swept off the glaze. Finally they lost the tracks.
Kenny swore and threw down his hat. "This is the worst day
of hunting I ever had, bar none." He picked up his hat and
brushed off the snow. "This will be the first season since I was
fifteen I haven't got my deer."
"It isn't the deer," Frank said. "It's the hunting. There
are all these forces out here and you just have to go with them."
"You go with them," Kenny said. "I came out here to get me a
deer, no listen to a bunch of hippie bullshit. And if it hadn't
been for dimples here I would have, too."
"That's enough," Frank said.
"And you--you're so busy thinking about that little jailbait
of yours you wouldn't know a deer if you saw one."
"Drop dead," Frank said, and turned away.
Kenny and Tub followed him back across the fields. When they
were coming up to the barn Kenny stopped and pointed. "I hate
that post," he said. He raised his rifle and fired. It sounded
like a dry branch cracking. The post splintered along its right
side, up toward the top. "There," Kenny said. "It's dead."
"Knock it off," Frank said, walking ahead.
Kenny looked at Tub. He smiled. "I hate that tree," he said,
and fired again. Tub hurried to catch up with Frank. He started
to speak but just then the dog ran out of the barn and barked at
them. "Easy, boy," Frank said.
"I hate that dog." Kenny was behind them.
"That's enough," Frank said. "You put that gun down."
Kenny fired. The bullet went in between the dog's eyes. He
sank right down into the snow, his legs splayed out on each side,
his yellow eyes open and staring. Except for the blood he looked
like a small bearskin rug. The blood ran down the dog's muzzle
into the snow.
They all looked at the dog lying there.
"What did he ever do to you?" Tub asked. "He was just
Kenny turned to Tub. "I hate you."
Tub shot from the waist. Kenny jerked backward against the
fence and buckled to his knees. He folded his hands across his
stomach. "Look," he said. His hands were covered with blood. In
the dusk his blood was more blue than red. It seemed to below to
the shadows. It didn't seem out of place. Kenny eased himself
onto his back. He sighed several times, deeply. "You shot me," he
"I had to," Tub said. He knelt beside Kenny. "Oh God," he
said. "Frank. Frank."
Frank hadn't moved since Kenny killed the dog.
"Frank!" Tub shouted.
"I was just kidding around," Kenny said. "It was a joke.
Oh!" he said, and arched his back suddenly. "Oh!" he said again,
and dug his heels into the snow and pushed himself along on his
head for several feet. Then he stopped and lay there, rocking
back and forth on his heels and head like a wrestler doing warm-
Frank roused himself. "Kenny," he said. He bent down and put
his gloved hand on Kenny's brow. "You shot him," he said to Tub.
"He made me," Tub said.
"No no no," Kenny said.
Tub was weeping from the eyes and nostrils. His whole face
was wet. Frank closed his eyes, then looked down at Kenny again.
"Where does it hurt?"
"Everywhere," Kenny said, "just everywhere."
"Oh God," Tub said.
"I mean where did it go in?" Frank said.
"Here." Kenny pointed at the wound in his stomach. It was
welling slowly with blood.
"You're lucky," Frank said. "It's on the left side. It
missed your appendix. If it had hit your appendix you'd really be
in the soup." He turned and threw up onto the snow, holding his
sides as if to keep warm.
"Are you all right?" Tub said.
"There's some aspirin in the truck," Kenny said.
"I'm all right," Frank said.
"We'd better call an ambulance," Tub said.
"Jesus," Frank said. "What are we going to say?"
"Exactly what happened," Tub said. "He was going to shoot me
but I shot him first."
"No sir!" Kenny said. "I wasn't either!"
Frank patted Kenny on the arm. "Easy does it, partner." He
stood. "Let's go."
Tub picked up Kenny's rifle as they walked down toward the
farmhouse. "No sense leaving this around," He said. "Kenny might
"I can tell you one thing," Frank said. "You've really done
it this time. This definitely takes the cake."
They had to knock on the door twice before it was opened by
a thin man with lank hair. The room behind him was filled with
smoke. He squinted at them. "You get anything?" he asked.
"No," Frank said.
"I knew you wouldn't. That's what I told the other fellow."
"We've had an accident."
The man looked past Frank and tub into the gloom. "Shoot
your friend, did you?"
"I did," Tub said.
"I suppose you want to use the phone."
"If it's okay."
The man in the door looked behind him, then stepped back.
Frank and Tub followed him into the house. There was a woman
sitting by the stove in the middle of the room. The stove was
smoking badly. She looked up and then down again at the child
asleep in her lap. Her face was white and damp; strands of hair
were pasted across her forehead. Tub warmed his hands over the
stove while Frank went into the kitchen to call. The man who had
let them in stood at the window, his hands in his pockets.
"My friend shot your dog," Tub said.
The man nodded without turning around. "I should have done
it myself. I just couldn't."
"He loved that dog so much," the woman said. The child squirmed
and she rocked it.
"You asked him to?" Tub said. "You asked him to shoot your
"He was old and sick. Couldn't chew his food any more. I
would have done it myself but I don't have a gun."
"You couldn't have anyway," the woman said. "Never in a
The man shrugged.
Frank came out of the kitchen. "We'll have to take him
ourselves. The nearest hospital is fifty miles from here and all
their ambulances are out anyway."
The woman knew a shortcut but the directions were
complicated and Tub had to write them down. The man told them
where they could find some boards to carry Kenny on. He didn't
have a flashlight but he said he would leave the porch light on.
It was dark outside. The clouds were low and heavy-looking
and the wind blew in shrill gusts. There was a screen loose on
the house and it banged slowly and then quickly as the wind rose
again. They could hear it all the way to the barn. Frank went for
the boards while Tub looked for Kenny, who was not where they had
left him. Tub found him farther up the drive, lying on stomach.
"You okay?" Tub said.
"Frank says it missed your appendix."
"I already had my appendix out."
"All right," Frank said, coming up to them. "We'll have you
in a nice warm bed before you can say Jack Robinson." He put the
two boards on Kenny's right side.
"Just as long as I don't have one of those male nurses,"
"Ha ha," Frank said. "That's the spirit. Get ready, set,
_over you go_" and he rolled Kenny onto the boards. Kenny
screamed and kicked his legs in the air. When he quieted down
Frank and Tub lifted the boards and carried him down the drive.
Tub had the back end, and with the snow blowing in his face he
had trouble with his footing. Also he was tired and the man
inside had forgotten to turn the porch light on. Just past the
house Tub slipped and threw out his hands to catch himself. The
boards fell and Kenny tumbled out and rolled to the bottom of the
drive, yelling all the way. He came to rest against the right
front wheel of the truck."
"You fat moron," Frank said. "You aren't good for diddly."
Tub grabbed Frank by the collar and back him hard up against
the fence. Frank tried to pull his hands away but Tub shook him
and snapped his head back and forth and finally Frank gave up.
"What do you know about fat," Tub said. "What do you know
about glands." As he spoke he kept shaking Frank. "What do you
know about me."
"All right," Frank said.
"No more," Tub said.
"No more talking to me like that. No more watching. No more
"Okay, Tub. I promise."
Tub let go of Frank and leaned his forehead against the
fence. His arms hung straight at his sides.
"I'm sorry, Tub." Frank touched him on the shoulder. "I'll
be down at the truck."
Tub stood by the fence for a while and then got the rifles
off the porch. Frank had rolled Kenny back onto the boards and
they lifted him into the bed of the truck. Frank spread the seat
blankets over him. "Warm enough?" he asked.
"Okay. Now how does reverse work on this thing?"
"All the way to the left and up." Kenny sat up as Frank
started forward to the cab. "Frank!"
"If it sticks don't force it.
The truck started right away. "One thing," Frank said,
"you've got to hand it to the Japanese. A very ancient, very
spiritual culture and they can still make a hell of a truck." He
glanced over at Tub. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't know you felt
that way, honest to God I didn't. You should have said
"When? Name one time."
"A couple of hours ago."
"I guess I wasn't paying attention."
"That's true, Frank," Tub said. "You don't pay attention
"Tub," Frank said. "what happened back there, I should have
been more sympathetic. I realize that. You were going through a
lot. I just want you to know it wasn't your fault. He was asking
"You think so?"
"Absolutely. It was him or you. I would have done the same
thing in your shoes, no question."
The wind was blowing into their faces. The snow was a moving
white wall in front of their lights; it swirled into the cab
through the hole in the windshield and settled on them. Tub
clapped his hands and shifted around to stay warm, but it didn't
"I'm going to have to stop," Frank said. "I can't feel my
Up ahead they saw some lights off the road. It was a tavern.
Outside in the parking lot there were several jeeps and trucks. A
couple of them had deer strapped across their hoods. Frank parked
and they went back to Kenny. "How you doing, partner," Frank
"Well, don't feel like the Lone Ranger. It's worse inside,
take my word for it. You should get that windshield fixed."
"Look," Tub said, "he threw the blankets off." They were
lying in a heap against the tailgate.
"Now look, Kenny," Frank said, "it's no use whining about
being cold if you're not going to try and keep warm. You've got
to do your share." He spread the blankets over Kenny and tucked
them in at the corners.
"They blew off."
"Hold on to them then."
"Why are we stopping, Frank?"
"Because if me and Tub don't get warmed up we're going to
freeze solid and then where will you be?" He punched Kenny
lightly in the arm. "So just hold your horses."
The bar was full of men in colored jackets, mostly orange.
The waitress brought coffee. "Just what the doctor ordered,"
Frank said, cradling the steaming cup in his hand. His skin was
bone white. "Tub, I've been thinking. What you said about me not
paying attention, that's true."
"No. I really had that coming. I guess I've just been a
little too interested in old number one. I've had a lot on my
mind. Not that that's any excuse."
"Forget it, Frank. I sort of lost my temper back there. I
guess we're all a little on edge."
Frank shook his head. "It isn't just that."
"You want to talk about it?"
"Just between us, Tub?"
"Sure, Frank. Just between us."
"Tub, I think I'm going to be leaving Nancy."
"Oh, Frank. Oh, Frank." Tub sat back and shook his head.
Frank reached out and laid his hand on Tub's arm. "Tub, have
you ever been really in love?"
"I mean _really_ in love." He squeezed Tub's wrist. "With
your whole being."
"I don't know. When you put it like that, I don't know."
"You haven't then. Nothing against you, but you'd know it if
you had." Frank let go of Tub's arm. "This isn't just some bit of
fluff I'm talking about."
"Who is she, Frank?"
Frank paused. He looked into his empty cup. "Roxanne
"Cliff Brewer's kid? The babysitter?"
"You can't just put people into categories like that, Tub.
That's why the whole system is wrong. And that's why this country
is going to hell in a rowboat."
"But she can't be mroe than--"Tub shook his head.
"Fifteen. She'll be sixteen in May." Frank smiled. "May
fourth, three twenty-seven p.m. Hell, Tub, a hundred years ago
she'd have been an old maid by that age. Juliet was only
"Juliet? Juliet Miller? Jesus, Frank, she doesn't even have
breasts. She doesn't even wear a top to her bathing suit. She's
still collecting frogs."
"Not Juliet Miller. The real Juliet. Tub, don't you see how
you're dividing people up into categories? He's an executive,
she's a secretary, he's a truck driver, she's fifteen years old.
Tub, this so-called babysitter, this so-called fifteen-year-old
has more in her little finger than most of us have in our entire
bodies. I can tell you this little lady is something special."
Tub nodded. "I know the kids like her."
"She's opened up whole worlds to me that I never knew were
"What does Nancy think about all of this?"
"She doesn't know."
"You haven't told her?'
"Not yet. It's not so easy. She's been damned good to me all
these years. Then there's the kids to consider." The brightness
in Frank's eyes trembled and he wiped quickly at them with the
back of his hand. "I guess you think I'm a complete bastard."
"No, Frank. I don't think that."
"Well, you _ought_ to."
"Frank, when you've got a friend it means you've always got
someone on your side, no matter what. Taht's the way I feel about
"You mean that, Tub?"
"Sure I do."
Frank smiled. "You don't know how good it feels to hear you
Kenny had tried to get out of the truck but he hadn't made
it. He was jackknifed over the tailgate, his head hanging above
the bumper. They lifted him back into the bed, and covered him
again. He was sweating and his teeth chattered. "It hurts,
"It wouldn't hurt so much if you just stayed put. Now we're
going to the hospital. Go that? Say it--I'm going to the
"I'm going to the hospital."
"I'm going to the hospital."
"Now just keep saying that to yourself and befor eyou know
it we'll be there."
After they had gone a few miles Tub turned to Frank. "I just
pulled a real boner," he said.
"I left the directions on the table back there."
"That's okay. I remember them pretty well."
The snowfall lightened and the clouds began to roll back off
the fields, but it was no warmer and after a time both Frank and
Tub were bitten through and shaking. Frank almost didn't make it
around a curve, and they decided to stop at the next roadhouse.
There was an automatic hand-dryer in the bathroom and they
took turns standing in fron to it, opening their jackets and
shirts and letting the jet of hot air breath across their faces
"You know," Tub said, "what you told me back there, I
appreciate it. Trusting me."
Frank opened and closed his fingers in front of the nozzle.
"The way I look at it, Tub, no man is an island. You've got to
"When I said that about my glands, that wasn't true. The
truth is I just shovel it in."
"Day and night, Frank. In the shower. On the freeway." He
turned and let the air play over his back. "I've even got stuff
in the paper towel machine at work."
"There's nothing wrong with your glands at all?" Frank had
taken his boots and socks off. He held first his right, then his
left foot up to the nozzle.
"No. There never was."
"Does Alice know?" The machine went off and Frank started
lacking up his boots.
"Nobody knows. That's the worst of it, Frank. Not the being
fat, I never got any big kick out of being thin, but the lying.
Having to lead a double life like a spy or a hit man. This sounds
strange but I feel sorry for those guys, I really do. I know what
they go through. Always having to think about what you say and
do. Always feeling like people are watching you, trying to catch
you at something. Never able to just be yourself. Like when I
make a big deal about only having an orange for breakfast and
then scarf all the way to work. Oreos, Mars Bars, Twinkies. Sugar
Babies. Snickers." Tub glanced at Frank and looked quickly away.
"Pretty disgusting, isn't it?"
"Tub. Tub." Frank shook his head. "Come on." He took Tub's
arm and led him into the restaurant half o the bar. "My friend is
hungry," he told the waitress. "Bring four orders of pancakes,
plenty of butter and syrup."
When the dishes came Frank carved out slabs of butter and
just laid them on the pancakes. Then he emptied the bottle of
syrup, moving it back and forth over the plates. He leaned
forward on his elbows and rested his chin in one hand. "Go on,
Tub ate several mouthfuls, then started to wipe his lips.
Frank took the napkin away from him. "No wiping," he said. Tub
kept at it. The syrup covered his chin; it dripped to a point
like a goatee. "Weigh in, Tub," Frank said, pushing another fork
across the table. "Get down to business." Tub took the fork in
his left hand and lowered his head and started really chowing
down. "Clean you plate," Frank said when the pancakes were gone,
and Tub lifted each of the four plates and licked it clean. He
sat back, trying to catch his breath.
"Beautiful," Frank said. "Are you full?"
"I'm full," Tub said. "I've never been so full."
Kenny's blankets were bunched up against the tailgate again.
"They must have blown off," Tub said.
"They're not doing him any good," Frank said. We might as
well get some use out of them."
Kenny mumbled. Tub bent over him. "What? Speak up."
"I'm going to the hospital," Kenny said.
"Attaboy," Frank said.
The blankets helped. The wind still got their faces and
Frank's hands but it was much better. The fresh snow on the road
and the trees sparkled under the beam of the headlight. Squares
of light from farmhouse windows fell onto the blue snow in the
"Frank," Tub said after a time, "you know that farmer? He
told Kenny to kill the dog."
"You're kidding!" Frank leaded forward considering. "That
Kenny. What a card." He laughed and so did Tub. Tub smiled out
the back window. Kenny lay with his arms folded over his stomach,
moving his lips at the stars. Right overhead was the Big Dipper,
and behind, hanging between Kenny's toes in the direction of the
hospital, was the North Star, Pole Star, Help to Sailors. As the
truck twisted through the gentle hills the star went back and
forth between Kenny's boots, staying always in his sight. "I'm
going to the hospital," Kenny said. But he was wrong. They had
taken a different turn a long way back.