September 01, 1914
Sweetwater, Darport Suburb
Sweetwater, Darport Suburb
Oliver woke up to the sound of the birds chirping above him. He opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was the familiar green canopy of forest, so he sat there for a while, taking in the scenery. He watched the birds sing and listened to sounds the forest made on a daily basis. It has been a day since he left his family to go out hunting, but he didn't mind, he enjoyed his time out here. It was peaceful, a welcome distraction from the routine of everyday life. Gathering himself took a little longer this morning. A groan escaped Olivers lips as he sat up, his muscles protesting from the strain of all the work he’d done the day before setting traps as he walked deep into the forest overlooking his hometown.
A whine coming from his left jogged Oliver’s senses fully. With a glance to his left he saw his hunting companion, an
Old, Back Labrador called Dutch. Dutch has been with the Sinclairs since Oliver was four, making the dog Oliver’s oldest and most loyal friend.
Dutch whined again as he reached the end of the rope tying him to a tree that was next to Oliver’s sleeping bag. The rope fluctuated between taut and loose as he paced back and forth, but he was eager to get moving to sit still.
“Alright, alright, Dutch,” Oliver said, “I'm up boy, calm down..”
with a groan as he stood up, he shuffled over to the tree and untied his friend. This act was met with a bark and an excited Dutch pressing himself into Oliver’s side, eager for the obligatory pats he knew he’d receive
“Alright, that’s enough boy we got work to do!” Oliver said with a chuckle as he gave his dog pieces of Jerky to eat. It’d be another ten minutes before the campsite was picked up and Oliver and Dutch were on their way, checking the traps set the night before.
Four hours into the day and Oliver had done good for himself, he’s almost caught his entire daily limit of rabbits. Eight per day was the law in Darport and he was at five, this was a good haul. To his left he heard the panting of Dutch, the old boy laying down besides the final trap Oliver set the day prior. Dutch was a strong willed animal, but he was getting up there in age and after four hours of trotting and running through the woods, he needed a break. Still Oliver protested, they were making good time and he wanted to see if he could set a few more traps and catch another two or three rabbits before they went home that evening.
“No, no cmon Dutch we need to keep moving boy, we’re almost done.” Oliver pleaded, whistling and patting his thigh to urge the dog along, still Dutch didn’t move. The old dog was stubborn. “Ugh… Fine, We’ll take a break.. Y’lazy mutt.” Oliver said with a grunt to accentuate his frustration, he stepped over to the tree Dutch picked for himself and slumped down beside his best friend. It was then he started feeling it, the soreness in his legs, maybe the old dog had a point. Oliver sighed and patted Dutch’s head; a wordless apology for pushing them both so hard without any breaks. Dutch wagged his tail, the telltale sign that all is forgiven.
They sat there together against that tree for another forty five minutes, the day slowly getting away from them. Oliver glanced up past the canopy of trees, a glance at his watch confirmed what he already knew, it was noon. “Well Shit.” Oliver muttered as he rubbed his thighs the soreness still not fully subsided. To his right Dutch lapped water from a bowl Oliver placed for him, the old boy likely still not ready to move. Oliver sighed, resigning himself to losing more of the day before the hunt was done. My luck? I might not even get to check all the traps before nightfall. Oliver rubbed his eyes before reaching over for his bag, he wanted to take stock of what he had in case he needed to spend another night out in the forest. Half a bag of jerky, box of .35 Remington rounds and a half empty canteen of water. It wasn’t much gear, but they were maybe a quarter mile away from a creek so if it was really necessary Oliver could get more water.
With another sigh Oliver pulled his father's old
Lever Action onto his lap. The rifle was older than Oliver was if only just, and it was the first gun Oliver ever fired. He smiled as he ran his hand over the rifle carefully, fond memories of his father having him shoot at cans teaching Oliver from an early age how to shoot. Thanks to Oliver’s old man taught him how to maintain and care for every inch of this rifle, hell every inch of this forest. A rustle of leaves ahead of him and low growls from Dutch snapped Oliver out of the memories of his father, he quickly patted Dutch on the head to silence the dog, as he looked on ahead. Out from behind a tree Oliver saw the outline of a Buck, its antlers sporting four points. It seemed the thing hadn’t heard Dutch’s growls as it approached, the healthy looking animal too absorbed with the grass it was eating. Oliver smiled at what felt like the first bit of good luck he’d gotten in a long while, if he managed to put down this buck he could sell it for twenty dollars and that would help his mother pay for the rent easily. Quickly and silently, Oliver shouldered his Lever action, resting his elbow on his knee to stabilize himself, he got ready to place a shot on the animal.
A loud Bang! startled both Oliver and the buck, the latter dashing away deeper into the forest. “No, no no no..” Oliver muttered and he quickly gathered himself and looked toward where Dutch should of been, he wasn’t. Dutch had already ran down after the buck, barking all the while. “Shit!” Oliver now shouted as he ran after both his dog and the prize he wanted. What the hell was that? Oliver thought as he ran after the pair of animals ahead of him. The answer was pretty clear, hunters likely firing a shot at some animal nearby them, just another example of Olivers luck screwing him over. With a grunt of frustration Oliver slowed down to just a walk, He’s lost Dutch and the deer and running blindly through the forest was just going to tire him out and get him lost. After a few moments of heavy breathing and gulping down the rest of his canteen, Oliver took stock of where he was. The creek would be to his left and to his right he saw the land beginning to elevate, a small cliffside forming overlooking the creek. Giving the tracks he was chasing a hard look he noted that both Dutch and the deer were running off toward the creek, so Oliver made toward the right and up the cliffside, highground could help him spot them.
He reached the top of the Cliffside overlooking the creek, It easily was fifteen feet above the water, rocks and pebbles dotting between the two places. Oliver hardly had time to think about the height, his hunch was right. Sighting in his rifle he spotted the same buck that ran off making its way toward the Water, no sign of Dutch, Worrying. Oliver would have to find him, even if it took all night. Pushing those thoughts aside, he inched forward slowly, his rifle at a low ready as he got right up onto the edge of the cliff cautiously, the rocks up here felt a little loose, this cliffside likely about to give way thanks to the roots of the trees surrounding it. Still Oliver scoped in, remembering the lessons his father taught:
Aim for the heart, breath, count to four, breath out, Squeeze the trigg- Just as Oliver was pulling the trigger, panic struck him as he felt the rocks under his feet begin to give way, jerking to get back his aim went off, the loud bang and the bestial sounds of the deer made it clear that a shot connected with the animal, but that was the least of Olivers concerns as he began to tumble fifteen feet down the side of the cliff, his head and his side banging hard against the side of the cliff and then the pebbles below. Oliver came to a rest right beside the water where it all went dark for a time.
Flashes of light. Pain. More lights. The world slowly came back into focus for Oliver. Once again he found himself looking up at the canopy of trees, but the groggy feeling he felt earlier in the day was replaced with a dull pain in his side and a maddening headache. “Awh.. man..”
Oliver complained as he touched a hand to his head, feeling a slight wetness on his forehead. A glance told him what he already knew; blood, he was hurt. He took a while collecting himself after that, wanting to make sure the fall didn’t do worse than give him a hard bump on the head. To his luck, finally, Oliver found that besides maybe his pride and his head, he wasn’t too badly hurt. A gentle touch to his side, and only a slight tenderness, not a sharp pain coupled with no shortness of breath made it pretty clear to Oliver nothing was broken. Still, he had to find Dutch and that deer. A bark and a splash solved one of the two problems for Oliver, maybe his luck had turned afterall?
Dutch ran up to his friend, tail wagging, he was excited to see Oliver, Oliver was excited to see him. “Well Hi to you to Dutch.” Oliver said with a small chuckle considering the situation he now found himself in. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed away some of the blood from the side of his head. Mom’s going to throw a fit. Oliver thought to himself, doubly so when he glanced at his watch and realized it was now close to evening, he was due back home an hour ago. “Shit” Oliver muttered to himself as he quickly grabbed up the pack and gear that spilled all over the creek when he fell and rushed to find the deer, he shot it that much was clear from the blood trail leading off. Luckily for him, it didn’t take long to find the long dead animal besides a tree not far from the creek, that's where his luck ended. It didn’t take long to notice the deer had bled out, from a gut shot, the fall threw off Olivers aim just enough and now it was likely that a large portion of the deer meat, as well as its price was ruined now. A groan escaped Olivers lips as he silently cursed his luck, but he had no time to mourn the bounty he would have otherwise gained from the animal, he still had to drag it back out of the forest, and it would be nightfall soon.
With Effort, and sheer grit, Oliver pushed past his own pain and dragged the Carcass out of its final resting place, out through the forest, and into the back of his Truck The drive into town was thankfully not a long one, the streetlights leading up to Mr.Sheffer’s Butcher shop was a welcome change of pace after the fall he took out in the wilderness. Pulling up to Mr.Sheffer’s shop he noted to his relief it was still open. Oliver stepped inside of the shop and immediately drew the eyes of everyone inside. Ignoring most of the worried and repulsed looks they gave him on account of his and various animal blood on his person he walked over to the counter and rang the bell to call attention to anyone working in the back.
A clang of metal followed by a curse is what Oliver heard before a booming voice shouted from the back room.
“Out in a minute!” Mr.Sheffer shouted, but it was really more like five. The burly old man’s slow movement gave Oliver enough time to look around the shop, noticing in the back of the shop, seated at a table enjoying a sandwich was a man in a military Uniform, a sergeants rank on the shoulder. The man noted Oliver’s glance and nodded at him, a polite and silent greeting shared between the two men.
Another loud bang noise drew Olivers attention back toward the door into the backroom. In front of the door stood the looming figure of Mr.Sheffer with an annoyed look on his face. Oliver regarded Mr.Sheffer for a moment, it has only been two weeks since he last saw the man, but Oliver figured he must’ve gained at least twenty pounds since that time. Sheffer was as tall as he was fat, and Oliver couldn’t help but be intimidated by the bearded bald man’s figure.
“Shit Sinclair! What the hell happened to you?” Mr.Sheffer bellowed, the annoyed expression turning into one mixed with slight concern as he regarded Oliver.
“What this? Nah, It’s nothing Mr.Sheffer. You should see the other guy.” Oliver responded in a dismissive manner, a grin on his face.
“Other guy.” Mr Sheffer Scoffed. “Sure kid, whatever you say, you’re still bleeding all over my floor, so sit your ass down and i’ll have Amelia clean you up.” Mr.Sheffer said it in such a way that Oliver knew this wasn’t a suggestion, it was an order. An order Oliver complied with.
“Amy! Get your ass out here and bring a first aid kit!” Mr.Sheffer shouted into the backroom, eliciting another bang as another voice shouted back.
“Alright! I’m coming!”
Another two minutes passed before out from the back room jogged out a young girl in Overalls. Amelia Sheffer, Mr.Sheffers eldest daughter. Unlike her father, she was not at all intimidating standing at just about average height, and slender. What she lacked in terms of being intimidating she made up for in her beauty. Oliver couldn’t help but let his eyes linger on the girl as she worked around the shop, she was a year younger than Oliver and a big part of the reason he liked coming to Mr.Sheffer to sell his meat as opposed to Darport city.
“Howdy Amy I’m sorry about all this.” Oliver managed with a cool smile, still trying to play down his injury.
“Howdy Olive, don’t you worry about anythin’. I’ll get you all fixed up.” Amelia responded, with a courteous smile as she got to work on cleaning off the blood from the side of Olivers forehead
The two shared a comfortable silence, Amelia working on stemming the bleeding from Olivers cut, giving him some medicine for the pain, the two occasionally exchanging glances into each others eyes. Mr.Sheffer watched the two in silence, his look of concern turning back into annoyance as he cleared his throat.
“Sinclair, your mama came through earlier on boy.”
“Did she?” Oliver responded, glancing at the man. Shit Oliver thought as he waited for Mr.Sheffers response.
“Damn right she did, damn woman came in here hollerin’ about where the hell you’ve been and if I’ve seen you, why in the hell are you so late, you were due here ages ago.” Mr.Sheffer said with a grumble as he crossed his arms.
“Yeah Olive, where have you been? Y’got a lot of people worried sick about ya, Bill came in with your mama and we-” Amelia couldn’t finish her sentence before Mr.Sheffer cut in.
“Right! That damn Cumberland! Came in here with your mama. Let that woman get all uppity with me, then had the balls to talk back to me when I raised my voice! You boy’s don’t got any manners I tell ya! Back in my damn day . . .” Mr.Sheffer then trailed off into a story about his youth that Oliver couldn’t be bothered to care about.
“Yeah well, sorry about that Mr.Sheffer. I got held up during the hunt, y’know.. Lost track of time, got all turned around.”
“Right.. Well, y’got anything for me?” Mr.Sheffer retorted coldly as Amelia finished cleaning up Olivers cut.
“That’ll bruise up somethin’ fierce Ollie, but it shouldn’t bleed no more.” Amelia said in a soft, sweet voice before turning to her father.
“Be nice papa.”
“I’m always nice!”
“Mhm….” Amelia said with a roll of her eyes before smiling at Oliver again then turning heel and heading back into the backroom to finish her chores. Both Oliver and Mr.Sheffer watched her leave. Oliver’s eyes lingering for a little longer than he perhaps should’ve, Mr.Sheffer slamming his hands on the table Oliver was sitting at to snap his attention back to him.
“So.. Sinclair… Got anything for me?” Mr.Sheffer said, the words exiting his mouth like a low growl.
“Yeah. I got somethin’ for you Mr.Sheffer, it’s in the back of my truck.” Oliver said standing up, heading for the door.
“Four point buck, good meat on it took me a hell of a long time to get it out of the forest.” Oliver said smiling at the man. Mr.Sheffer didn’t smile back.
“Four point huh… alright let's see.” Mr.Sheffer replied as Oliver pulled down the door to the bed of his Truck, Mr.Sheffer fussed from behind him.
“Gut shot.. Damn it Sinclair, I thought you knew how to shoot.”
Mr.Sheffer’s words stung, Oliver stayed silent.
“Son of a bitch.. This’ll be a pain to clean. How long has it been dead?” Mr.Sheffer asked as he scratched at his beard looking over the Deer, as well as the sling of rabbits laying beside it.
“Few Hours?” Oliver replied and was met with more cursing from Mr.Sheffer.
“Damn it Sinclair.” Mr.Sheffer growled as he grabbed the hind leg of the buck
“Grab the rabbits and follow me inside.” Mr.Sheffer said before hefting the buck over his shoulder in an impressive show of his strength, lugging the animal inside with relative ease and into his backroom. Oliver followed behind him, nervous but eager to get home. Inside the backroom, Mr.Sheffer got to work on placing the Buck on a hook, quickly chopping off the Antlers and getting to work on butchering the meat. Amelia buzzed around the backroom as well, fluctuating between cleaning countertops and handing her father tools he requests without delay.
“Alright Sinclair. What do you want for him?” Mr.Sheffer says, not looking away from the work he was doing.
“I reckon that buck weighs quite a bit. there's plenty o’ meat coming’ offa him.” Oliver says, trying his best to talk around the obvious problem with his statement. Mr.Sheffer didn’t reply.
“Id reckon 18 Dollar’s outta cover him.” Oliver says hopeful.
Mr.Sheffer bellowed a dismissive laugh before replying.
“You reckon I’m a fool Sinclair?.”
“Then why’d you say 18 Dollars, y’know I can’t use most of the meat on the chest.”
“Try 5 dollars Sinclair, I’ll give you 1for the rabbits.”
Oliver stayed quiet for a moment. Six dollars for almost two days of work.. That can’t be it.
“Now Mr.Sheffer, cmon now. That buck’s got plenty of meat in his hinds, and back. He’s worth much more than five.”
“Five dollars Sinclair.” Mr.Sheffer growled, annoyed at the attempt at haggling.
“Amelia go get his money.” Mr.Sheffer barked at his daughter who moved quickly for the door to comply with the order. Oliver moved to block her.
“Hey wait, Mr.Sheffer c’mon sir. I got mouths at home to feed, please be reasonabl-”
“I don’t give a damn Sinclair, everybody’s got mouths to feed! Don’t be a pain in my ass now kid! Move out of the way!” Mr.Sheffer barked, angry at Oliver’s actions.
“Sorry Ollie..” Amy said as she tried to move past him quickly to retrieve the money.Still Oliver persisted, taking Amelia by the elbow as she tried to move past him.
“Hey wait, cmon Amy. Mr.Sheffer, I’m not asking for much mor-” Oliver couldn’t finish his sentence, the air knocked out of him as he felt himself get lifted off the ground, instantly his grip on Amelia’s elbow lost as he now found himself desperately holding onto the maw of Mr.Sheffer as the brutish man slammed and then pinned Oliver against the wall. Oliver felt the soreness in his ribs spike one hand firmly wrapped around Olivers throat, holding him in place.
“No! You do not! Touch! My! Daughter!.” Mr.Sheffer screamed in Olivers face, the rage in his eyes apparently and enough to quell any fight Oliver might of had.
“Mr.Sheffer..” Oliver said in between coughs as the screaming continued.
“I don’t give a shit Sinclair! You take what I say or you fuck off and stop bringing your food here! I don’t give a shit what your problem might be! You want money son? Get a damn job! Or bring me something I don’t have to work doubly hard to use you son of a bitch!.” Mr.Sheffer continued to shout obscenities as Oliver sat there choking for a time taking it all in without protest or fight. Before long Mr.Sheffer let him go.
“I Don’t want to ever! Ever! Catch you layin’ a hand on Amelia y’hear me son.” Mr.Sheffer said, his voice coming down from an incoherent scream, to a loud shout.
“Yes sir.” Oliver said, clearing his throat. Pointedly not looking at Amelia, he didn’t want to risk it.
“Daddy.. It was fine.. He didn-” Amelia tried to finish speaking, but a pointed glare from her father silenced her before she could.
“Get the boy his money, so he can get gone.” Mr.Sheffer commanded, Amelia complying silently, Oliver still not risking a glance at her.
“Sinclair… Take the Antlers” Mr.Sheffer said, his voice showing just the tinge of sympathy, before fading.
“You can get something for it in Darport city, Folks like making fancy knives.”
“Right.. Good idea.. Thanks Mr.Sheffer.”
“Yeah son. Take your money and get gone.”
Oliver complied, looking at Amelia as she handed him the money and the Antlers. The look on her face one of concern and sympathy. There weren’t words spoken between the two, but they both noted nothing has changed despite the situation that had just occurred. Oliver made his way back to his truck, Dutch sitting in the passenger seat. As he was opening the door to his truck to greet his dog he heard a voice from behind him.
“Hey Sinclair!” It wasn’t Mr.Sheffer, even though the words were the same he was used to hearing from him. Oliver turned his head to see a man he hadn’t noticed before, a patron of Mr.Sheffer. The man was in a military dress uniform, sergeants stripes on his arms and a clean cut look about him. He approached Oliver, holding out a hand.
“I’m Sergeant Whitaker Vinland Army.”
Oliver nodded warily at the man shaking his hand before replying.
“Howdy there Sergeant Whitaker, what can I do for you?”
“Well let me be frank son, I was in Mr.Sheffer’s shop just now enjoying my evening dinner after work down at the recruiting office in Darport city, and I couldn’t help but overhear your.. Conversation.” The man paused for a moment, clearing his throat. The event was loud and no doubt awkward for everyone within earshot, Oliver’s cheeks blushed red as he listened to what the man had to say silently.
“Anyway son, I'd be lying if I said I didn’t take stock of you soon as you came inside the shop. You’re able bodied and strong enough I reckon, though I suppose you could do with a little more meat on your person.” The man chuckled in an attempt to diffuse the awkwardness. It didn’t work.
“I wanted to let you know that, the army pays its soldiers well son. Eighty three dollars on the bi-week. Now, I reckon that’s more than six dollars per day now.”
“I reckon so.” Oliver replied coldly, not liking the remark about the money he currently had on him.
“So, here’s my proposition son. Come down tomorrow to my recruiters station early, bring your mama if’n you wanted to keep her informed. I won't lie to you, it’ll be dangerous. There's a war, but you’ll be able to more’n pay for whatever it is you and your mama need. I’ll even throw in 18 dollar signing bonus.” The man looked Oliver over, a grin on his face.
Oliver was caught in his web. “Y’know.. Thats.. A lot of money Mr.Whitaker..” Oliver cleared his throat, the prospect of it still too much for Oliver to outright refuse.
“Yes son, it is. Paid for by the Vinlandian Government. For every man and woman that wants to serve.” The man’s grin never left his face.
“Alright sir, I’ll come down tomorrow with my Mama to talk more about it at least.”
“That’s all I’m askin’ for.” Said Sergeant Whitaker, producing a number he could be reached on.
Oliver left not long after, heading home to his mother and sister where he was met with hugs, slaps and another hug. As both his mother and sister went from topics like where he was to what happened to his face, to being angry about the money Mr.Sheffer had given him, to apprehension over the offer Sergeant Whitaker had made. Still, Oliver made his mind up, for his family he’d do anything. And the next day he went with his mother to Darport city, where he then signed his enlistment committing himself to the armed forces, being shipped off for training not long after that.