Friday, December 15, 2023

The Cost of Squirrel Meat (Cumberland Saga)

“You know” Blain said as they were trudging back to the cluster of buildings that was the center of Copperhead Cove “you could have made enough money to buy this meat in about 20 minutes.”

“Mebbe” Lliam said, agreeably. “But I had a lot of fun and that counts for somethin’.”

“Did you make a lot of money before you came here?” Lliam asked, truly curious.

“I could have” Blain said. “I studied to be a Pharmacist in college. They make $60 an hour, starting out, in Florida.”

“A dollar a minute. That is amazing” Lliam said.

“So why didn’t you stay?” Llaim asked. It was clear the question had been on his mind.

“Well, for one thing, I didn’t finish. I am NOT a Pharmacist” Blain shared.

“Why didn’t you finish?” The idea of not finishing something was foreign to Lliam. If you plow a field, you plant it. If you invest your time and seed in planting it, you weed it. If you plow, plant and weed a field then you sure as heck harvest it. To do all the work and not harvest? Unheard of.

Blain probed in his mind WHY? It was like a tongue probing a sore tooth. Why had he lost-his-way?

“Mostly because of girls” he finally responded. “More accurately, it started with one girlfriend.”

They trudged along silently except for the crunching of fallen leaves for a minute or two. Blain realized that Lliam had no experience in the matter of “women” so he felt compelled to finish his thought.

“I had a girlfriend. She was exciting and beautiful and willing to try anything. I felt really lucky to have her” Blain said.

“She had a lot of money. Her family was LOADED” he continued. “A LOT of money. She thought nothing of just deciding to jump on an airplane and fly across the country on a whim, spend the weekend in a high-class hotel and then fly back on Monday. And she took me along, too.”

“I couldn’t say no” Blain said, with a rueful grin. He could not tell Lliam that Meghan was a total, insatiable mink in the sack, but it was a fond memory indeed.

“So why did you break up?” Lliam wanted to know.

“She was a dabbler. She was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. She protested for black people in Los Angeles and against oil in Portland. She protested for seals in Montreal and for the environment in Miami” Blain said.

“She wanted to get back-to-the-land and she found an “intentional eco-village” near McDuff, Scotland and signed us up for a three-month stay” Blain said.

“What is an eco-village?” Lliam asked. “It sounds interesting.”

Pondering a bit, Blain replied “An eco-village is a lot like Copperhead Cove except they take money from rich kids and put them to work. And they are always near a town with great pubs and hotels with soft beds so the rich kids can take breaks when their back hurts or they get a sunburn.”

“There is a story there, to be sure” Lliam said based on the bitter turn to Blain’s voice.

“We were assigned to the dairy and we were supposed to sleep in a small dorm in the barn above the cows” Blain said. “After three days Meghan decided that it was not for her and she moved into town.”

“The eco-village administrator told her that as long as I stayed and worked full-time for the entire three months we would both get our certificates.”

“Did you stay?” Lliam asked, marveling that rich people would pay to work.

“I had no choice. Meghan had my plane ticket” Blain explained bitterly. Word had gotten back that nympho-Meghan had a string of local-lads more than happy to take care of her “needs”. 

"I found out that I had been dropped from the Pharmacy program for academic reasons just before I got back to the states."

The flight back had been made in stony silence. The relationship ended very messily at the baggage claim in the Detroit airport.

Still trudging along; you get get a long way from home-base in five hours of hunting, Lliam asked “Did you have any fun when you were in Scotland?

“The second night we were there we closed down the local Pub. That is, we partied until they threw us out” Blain said. “There was an MMA fight televised that night and all of the locals were betting on the local fighter. The other fighter was from the US. I got very good odds on my wagers.”

“So you made a lot of money?” Lliam asked, trying to figure out this weird, new world he had never imagined.

“Yes and no. I won a lot but then I bought rounds for the bar so there were no hard feelings. Just trying to fit-in, ya know” Blain tried to explain.

“How much did you win?” Llaim asked.

“About 700 pounds” Blain said. “That is about $900 US.”

“And you spent it all that night?” Lliam asked, aghast. “In a bar?”

“Pretty much” Blain said. It seemed really stupid now. “Easy come, easy go.”

“I don’t mean to be a smart-ass” Llaim risked language that his mother would have washed his mouth out with soap for using “but it is funny that you would call five hours of enjoyable hunting an expensive way to collect ten pounds of squirrel meat when you spent $900 in about is much time and walked away with a hang-over and an ex-girlfriend.”

Blain winced. That hit too close to the mark.

“I have to agree with you. And I am here, now, and not in Scotland or with somebody like Meghan, am I?” Blain said.

It pained Blain to think about how many Meghan-clones he had lurched to one-after-the-other after Meghan. Every one a little crazier and living a little bit closer to the edge of what was legal.

Tuffy did not offer an opinion one way or the other. 


  1. Thanks for another installment, I'm addicted to the story

  2. Everyone needs at least 1 Meghan in their life! Nobody reminisces about the times you used the missionary position...

    1. Agreed with having past regrets, but the Megans also cause a lot of damage to others after they are gone. Many promising relationships refused or thrown away because of past wreckage. Until a person truly gets over a bad break-up, they should cool it on relationships, keeping it light. If you are unhappy with yourself, it is likely you will only cause harm to others, spreading the ripple further along.

  3. My crusty old hard drinking/smoking Irish grandfather had a saying that I remember being perplexed about when I was just a young boy. I did not fully understand it until I was in my 20s and it dawned on me long after he had passed away.

    The saying was all about Meghan-clones:

    "The best laid women are just like the best laid plans - they often go wrong."

  4. Thanks ERJ. This is actually a really interesting installment and background on the character.

    While I certain did not have Blain's "experience", I spent a lot of time trying to chase having a girlfriend when I was in my late teens and twenties (nerd in high school and introvert, the usual story). I failed to make Blain scale errors, but I did end up wasting a lot of time and mental energy I could have put somewhere else.

    There is a saying in Scottish Gaelic: "I married a trollop for her gear; her gear is gone but she's still here".

  5. I declined an internship because of a girl.
    Before that, I declined a very generous offer from my boss.
    Because of a girl. The same girl.

    I was well on my way on my chosen path. I was making solid connections. I had a zeal that got me noticed.


    What can I say but I was young.

  6. He is still making mistakes.
    Too much info......


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