THE ADVENTURERS CLUB
By… …R. D. Peters
Horror Genre – Word Count 1517
We all had too many drinks and were having the usual good fun, most of us telling some tale we had told many times before, reliving some past adventure and adding just a bit each time we boasted of the deed. It was a part of this select group of adventurers to honor our halls with such events. Many had traveled together and separately to all parts of the globe in search of a good hunt. But one fellow, a lean and timid looking gent by the name of J. R. Davenport never partnered with any of the club members, yet was always producing tales that even embarrassed me, and I could stretch the truth as far as any good Christian man without jeopardizing his soul.
Tale telling was surely a trademark of a good adventurer and after several shots of smooth whiskey chased with beer, one could conjure such things with even greater enthusiasm. It seemed however that another member by the name of Leon Wood, would put forth the events of a very well organized and successful past trek into some remote region where he had taken big game only to be out done by J.R. It was to say the least beginning to test Leon’s patience, not to mention wearing thin his welcome with the rest of the clientele.
Leon had finished telling an amazing story of bravery and challenge, one where he had used a primitive longbow and arrow to bag a Cape Buffalo, but Davenport couldn’t leave it alone. He proceeded to tell of just such an event, but of course it topped Leon’s, J.R. killing two of the massive animals with one precision shot placed through the necks. According to his absurd version he had to place the arrow in the perfect spot as the animals stood in the perfect place long enough to draw back the bow, aim and fire. One of these animals was so massive and possessed such stamina as to make it very difficult to kill one even with a high-powered rifle. To kill one with a bow and arrow was a tremendously dangerous and almost impossible feat, yet for Davenport to have the gall to even think anyone in our circle would be fool enough to believe his account was for sure, folly.
There was an instant and simultaneous surge of grumblings and discord, with one or two members laughing to such a degree so as not to be able to converse for quite some time. But J.R. stood unruffled, looking indignant down his snotty nose. He put one hand on his side and looked about as if to say “what?” But Leon Wood was fed up with this frail little runt of a man always stealing the polish from one of his fabulously royal episodes. It was time to put him in his place, and the six-foot-six Wood was just the man to do it, banging his fist on the heavy oak table and throwing back his head against the high-back chair. Leon’s blonde mane of hair shook out of place and his big tobacco stained teeth could easily be seen as he growled his profane opinions, looking Davenport in the eye and calling him a liar.
Words flew back and forth until Leon had to be held, he being a physical man would have no doubt beaten the lesser man to a pulp, but even that didn’t seem to unnerve the boastful Davenport. He dared to challenge the enraged Wood. The somewhat wimpish Davenport went to a glass case and withdrew from it a handcrafted bow made by some aborigine, along with its arrow and said that he could shoot an apple from off the top of Wood’s head. At last a laugh surfaced, exposing Wood’s stained teeth from behind his overgrown mustache as he proceeded to tease his tormentor. He would remark to Davenport as William Tell, each time causing him to burst forth with more boisterous ridicule at the absurdity of the proposal.
But the smaller man didn’t think himself any lesser a man and demanded Wood and the crowd take him seriously, it was then added that we were laughing due to a cowardly trait which we were trying to conceal. To add to his sober challenge Davenport then added an extremely exorbitant wager, one which he would match with any member. That was of course, if Wood had the nerve. Soon all of us had a bet laid and were goading the sweating Wood to take him on, not for a moment did anyone believe either man intent on carrying out this game of ego. But the big Irish looking adventurer snatched an apple from a bowl of fruit and sat down again, placing his head against the tall back of the oak chair, instructing Davenport to proceed. There was a sudden pushing and shoving of members, finding themselves safer with backs to the wall, leaving the center of the room for the two combatants at opposing ends of the long table.
Wood sat there with sweat running down his face profusely as the fragile looking opponent clumsily tried to align the arrow correctly within the bow. The ruse that had led to this event was beginning to haunt Wood. How could he have actually let himself be intimidated by such a weak and unworthy adversary? There were two or three shaky attempts made to pull the heavy wood bow, to get the full draw of the exceptionally long and primitive arrow, but at last the trembling man had it accomplished, trying to get it aimed correctly. There came at once an orchestrated protest to halt the foolish game when Davenport let the string go. We felt the sick fear of tragedy when the arrow was almost instantly sank through Wood’s head, his eyes bulging wildly and his mouth opened to express a scream that was not forthcoming. The bloody tip of the arrow dripped of its ruddy residue that emerged through the back of the chair, nailing Wood’s head securely to it. The club members stood petrified with shock except for Davenport who shrugged with an almost casual response, acting no more remorseful than had he missed a shot playing billiards. I as well as the others pointed out his incredibly radical attitude and prepared to call the police, several members physically restraining the discompassionate agitator.
Davenport was quick to note how we had all placed bets and though he didn’t have the funds to make good, that we were all partners of the circumstance and accessories to the fact. It appeared he was right. It would have been fool hearty to contact the police and expose our recklessness. Many a fine reputation would be ruined and poor Wood would still be dead as doornails. We then reminded Davenport if not for his controversial and perturbing mannerisms none of this would have ever taken place. It was noted we would have all been better off had we not consented to allowing him into our exclusive club. With this line of conversation finally came the responsibility of the body, a problem which seemed to cause each member to escape to someplace within themselves, withdrawing into silent muse. Wood sitting there with his mouth agape and eyes fixed with that dull focus to some distant horizon in another world, made us shiver at the thought of disposal.
Davenport spoke up, apologizing to all and taking the blame upon himself. After confessing to fault and admitting to inflaming the situation, the somewhat less than accurate archer conceded that it should be he who should be in charge of our deceased colleague’s remains, leaving him to arrange for its conclusive state. Without question it was agreed with the understanding that Davenport was to suffer lifetime expulsion and to never return. A moment later a story was fabricated to help remove suspicion from Wood’s disappearance. We were to say he spoke of a trip into the Andes and that was the last anyone knew of him.
After that night it appeared everything had truly been covered up and after some months of investigation, the authorities finally closed the case. But one day as I thumbed through the organization’s mail, I was struck by a letter that was addressed to me: In care of the Adventurers Club. I opened the letter which was but a small sheet of paper with several photographs inside. The note read:
I thought you would like to see the trophies of a truly great hunter. Leon Wood was quite an addition to my collection.
J. R. Davenport
I opened the second paper exposing the photographs. Each and every one was a monstrous atrocity, each the form and figure of a deviant mind. There were at least a dozen or more photos displaying the frozen expressions of so-called lost or missing members of the “Adventurers” world community, now mounted and preserved through the art and craft of taxidermy, hung with pride in the secret world of J. R. Davenport.