His reputation grew by leaps and bounds. Still, Shame preferred isolation over the praise of his neighbors. Anxiety kept him from fully engaging with the public. Law Enforcement Officer Rachel Winterborne had introduced herself to Shame during the case of Bethany Wiesmann, and a friendship had taken root. She became his primary point of contact with cases that required his skills. The chemistry they both felt in the presence of each other, led Shame to give his contact information to Rachel. After admonishing her to keep his information private, they kept in touch whenever they were able.
This morning, as Shame waits for his coffee to brew, he hears a knock at his door. He pulls his Kel-Tec .22 Magnum CMR and takes up a position away from the door.
“Shame, it’s Rachel. I need to speak to you. We have another missing person. Do you have time to help us out?”
Holstering his sidearm, Shame unlocks the door.
The door swings open and Rachel Winterborne enters the living room. Looking around the small room, she realizes this is her first time in Shame’s house. No pictures reveal his time as a soldier, no art hangs on his walls. The house reveals the simple nature of the complicated man that lives here.
“Nice place you have here, Shame. “
“Thanks. What can I do for you?”
“We received a call from a worried wife. Her husband, Anthony Morley, is a suspected poacher. He hasn’t come home in two days. His wife said he left Friday afternoon and went hunting in West Point.”
“And? You want me to find him?”
“Yes. You are the best tracker we know.”
“The government will take care of your needs. How soon can you leave for West Point?”
“Fine. I will leave in the morning.”
“I will let my superiors know. We expect updates daily.” Rachel hands Shame a small two-way radio. Shame nods his head and puts it on the counter.
After sharing a cup of coffee and a few moments of chit-chat, Rachel left. Shame walks to his closet and pulls his bug-out bag from his war chest. The assault pack holds three days of clothing, waterproof matches, a tactical flashlight, and other items he may need. He puts the two-way in with the rest of his gear. He takes his weapons and locks them in his weapon vault. Shame keeps firearms for home defense, to hunt wildlife he uses a compound bow.
He fills his quiver with arrows and tests the tension on his bow. Satisfied that the bow and his equipment are up to par, he loads his gear into his ‘84 Power Wagon. Preparations complete, Shame sits in his recliner and waits for his alarm to go off at 0400.
At 0400, Shame pulls out of his driveway and makes his way to West Point. He arrives to the location of the missing poacher at 0515. Stepping out into the morning air, he pushes his arms overhead and stretches. Shame bends at the waist and touches his toes. He rolls his shoulders. The exercise warms up his body, and he shoulders the assault pack and steps into the woods.
The early morning is eerily silent. As if something or someone was stealthily watching Shame’s every move. Quietly, he moved through the brush. After a half hour of walking, the sun breaks through the towering trees. The chatter of squirrels fills the morning air, as they gleefully leap from branch to branch. Shame stops. In the distance he sees a broken limb, a sign that he is on the right track. Further on, Shame finds a footprint. It doesn’t belong to the missing poacher.
It belongs to a big cat.