"Hear that," Dick McIlhenny said.
He removed the headset and handed it to me, while holding the Bionic Ear cupped toward the woods.
"I hear it."
"What does it sound like to you?"
"Footfalls, coming this way. Look at that horse."
The gelding stood at attention behind the trailer, his body rigid and his ears forward while the mare cropped the little grass she could reach from the shortened length of rope. The dark woods dripped around the circle of light the lantern made, and in the headset the measured stealthy tread drew closer. I shucked it off and gave Dick back the equipment.
"It's just Larki pulling grass," I said.
We heated coffee on the Primus stove and opened two MREs from the carton Dick had brought. The night chilled, and rain started to fall again. We drew on ponchos and ate supper off the dropped tailgate of the pickup truck, the shotguns within easy reach under the camper shell.
"I vote we sleep in the truck tonight," Dick said.
"Agreed. It will be a hell of a lot drier."
"And safer. We're not secure surrounded this way by woods."
While he arranged the truck bed and unrolled the sleeping bags I watered the horses and loaded them in the trailer for security, leaving only the manger doors open to the night. It got colder and the rain went on falling, stirring...