Charlie had reached the same conclusion. The little patch of trees could not shield her for long. If she left their cover, she’d provide an easy target in the scraggy grass. He had Gale trapped like a rabbit under a bush.
Charlie got up, wiping his hands on his pants. He picked up his gun and began to stroll towards the thicket. He started to whistle. He’d killed one of the bitches, the one in which he had the least interest. He was glad he’d just winged the other. He wanted to keep her alive if possible. If not, well, he could still enjoy her.
“Play time!” Charlie yelled. He fired into the air. “Come to papa, bitch!”
He caught a glimpse of Gale darting between two trees. He dropped the muzzle and fired in a single motion. The woman collapsed with a jerk.
“Gotcha!” Charlie said. He quickened his pace into the woods.
Finding Gale proved no trouble at all. She lay in a bed of ferns, face down. Her shirt had bunched up around her waist, offering Charlie a delicious view as he approached from behind. He stopped to stand over her. He felt a little disappointed; he had hoped to hear her scream good and loud, scream her little head off while he amused himself. But the main thing, the important thing, was that he’d done what he set out to do. He got the bitch.
Besides, she was, after all, still warm.
Charlie propped the rifle against a tree. He stooped, rolling Gale over.
In that instant, she plunged the jagged point of a broken stick into his eye.
Charlie screamed. Gripping the stick with both hands, he pulled it free. He bellowed in pain.
Gale made a leap for the gun. She grasped the rifle, lifted it, but Charlie got his arm around her neck. He squeezed. She dropped the weapon. He thought he could hear the vertebrae in her neck separating. She struggled, then weakened, her strength futile against the might of Charlie’s arm.
“Die, you goddamn little cunt! Die!”
Charlie didn’t feel her groping for his belt buckle, or feel her hand slide down lower, following the trail of the zipper. Then she found the bulge of his testicles inside his baggy pants. She grabbed them and squeezed with all her might.
Charlie screamed, releasing her. Gale coughed, stumbled a few steps. Charlie swung blind. His fist made a satisfying cracking sound as it connected with the side of Gale’s head. She went down, lay still.
Charlie held himself, groaning. Gale lay sprawled beside him. Blood poured from the empty socket of Charlie’s eye as he leaned against a tree, doubled over in pain. He sank to his knees, vomiting. After a few minutes, he looked over at Gale with his remaining eye. She lay unmoving.
“This time the bitch ain’t faking it!” Charlie pulled his hunting knife from its sheath.