posted on Mar, 9 2015 @ 03:00 PM
Billy* had made the long trek from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to Rangeley, Maine dozens of times in the past year alone. He loved the journey. The
cascading hills and ocean views of his birthplace, magical in their own right, became the boring flat highways of New Brunswick, but his breath was
taken away once again as he crossed the Canadian border into Maine. With it's lakes, rocky cliffs, and miles of forest views, it felt like a home
away from home. He took comfort that the Mainers weren't unlike his people of Cape Breton: happy, simple, slightly eccentric, some with accents that
were charmingly unintelligible.
When Billy stayed in Rangeley he would always treat himself, and instead of bunking down in the cab of his truck, he'd book a nice room in one of the
better hotels. Rangeley was a bit of a resort town, and it attracted all kinds of people who wanted to get away from it all. The visitors could fish
and hunt, and still enjoy first class room service.
It was peak season in Rangeley. Tourists were relaxing on the hotel patio in the slow, humid evening, enjoying suppers of seafood, moose, things they
couldn't get at home. To Billy's eyes, the hotel seemed busier than normal. His suspicions were confirmed as he walked up to the front desk and was
greeted by the same man who always saw to his reservations, probably for all the years he'd been coming down this way.
" Bill, good to see you, man. We're runnin' a tight ship tonight but I'll squeeze you in," the man at the front desk winked at Billy, "No view
of the lake though, bud. Bad timing."
Billy could care less about the view. He and the front desk man had struck up an easy friendship over the years, and he was just glad to see an old
"What's gotcha so busy on a damned weekday, Al? You runnin' some kind of nice resort now or somethin'?"
Al gave a laugh, but to Billy, something seemed off. They agreed to have a late dinner together later in the evening and share the bottle of
"screech" Billy would always bring with him.
As Billy made his way to the room he took notice of all the people he passed. They all seemed rich and white, "golf people" he called them. The
people who golfed back home in the highlands were either tourists, or rowdy drunk bachelors who were in the game only to take the carts out for a rip
before a community hall wedding. These guys seemed to fit into the tourist category. Some gave him uneasy glances as they passed by, and turned
slightly as to not brush a shoulder with Billy, who in his own words was slightly ripe from travel.
" I thought we'd booked the entire hotel, Dan?" one tourist remarked to another.
" Well we did, but a few guys didn't make it."
God, Billy hated a tourist. He didn't think of himself as one because he didn't wear damned ridiculous socks, and he never had to ask the Mainers to
repeat themselves. He just hoped they weren't some rowdy corporate messes.
Al knocked on Billy's door at about 9 pm, and he'd brought a "normal supper" he called it, nothing fancy. There were beans and ham, some coleslaw,
a staff dinner. Billy appreciated the home style meal, and the men took to drinking.
"So Al, who're all these tourists booked up the whole hotel 'n givin' me dirty looks?"
"Well man, I don't full know who they is. Booked about a full year ago, one guy came up to the hotel. Right old guy, paid me in hundred dollar bills
'n asked if we left the doors open all night. You know we don't, bud, but I looked at that stack and said 'Yessir we do'. Then he asks me if I
know a good hunting guide, so I give him old Jims number. Old Jim takes him out the woods the next day, and then he left. So I asks Jimmy what two old
men were doing out the forest, 'cause they didn't come back with nothin'. So Jim says to me, ' Them fackin' tourist are weird as anythin'. I
asks him what he wants to hunt and he tells me he just needs. To find a good place for a danged private picnic.' Well don't that sound a little
friggen fancy to you, Bill? "
" I fricken hate picnics, Al."
" So now they're all suitin' up to the nines to go on some damned fancy touristic' fackin' night picnic."
The men kept drinking, and they couldn't stop talking about just how strange the whole thing was.
"Hey Al, Jim ever tell you where they was goin' anyways?"
"I can't barely remember, but it was up some old lumberjack road."
"Hell, let's follow 'em. We won't tell the wives. I can still drive, maybe, if there's no Stateys drivin' around."
"Well f$@k it, Bill, there ain't nothin' to hit on the loggers anyways."
Bill and Al climbed in the cab of the truck and drove off, leaving the trailer in the parking lot.
"Jesus Bill, this things noisy as hell, if they hear us, we've gotta haul outta there and you'll be parkin' your truck at the damned woodmill."
Billy and Al made a plan to park the truck a bit down the road and creep through the woods, then they could get a good view of just what the tourists
were doing out in the field off the logging roads. They felt 18 again. Just this side of drunk, tearing down the dirt roads with the radio set to some
far off hair metal station.
The two grown men were up for an adventure by the time they climbed out of the truck and darted into the woods. They didn't see another vehicles on
the road, and Al had figured the group of tourists had made the 3 mile or so trek on foot through the forests behind the hotel. Through the thick
pines the could see a roaring bonfire. All around it the men were stacked three deep, hand in hand, still dressed in their business suits. They were
chanting and shouting, but Billy couldn't make out what they were saying.
"This is the weirdest damn thing I've ever seen," Billy whispered to Al.
"Why in bleedin' hell did we come out here"
"Let's watch for a few minutes, Billy buddy, see if they cast a friggen spell er somethin'"
The chanting continued for what seemed like hours, the men turning around and around the bonfire. Suddenly they stopped. All of the men lined up on
three rows, tallest to smallest with their backs to the fire. One man stood in front and talked to the men in words Billy and Al couldn't make out.
"That's the rich tourist who came in last year, I swear it."
Another man from the middle of the rows of other stepped forward. He kneeled in front of the elderly man, who took something from around his neck and
placed over his head. The younger man then stood, and addressed the crowd, who cheered and hollered.
" Jesus Al, they're just a bunch of Masons or somethin' like that, out here doin' whatever weird s*!t they do."
When Billy turned back to the crowd of tourists, he saw the old man was laying on the ground, yelling at the sky.
"Let's friggen go before this gets weirder."
"Hey bud, just wait a few minutes, I never saw this in my life. Not even in a movie."
Men were now gathered at the elderly mans head and feet, grabbing at what seemed to be a sheet underneath him. The tourist who he gave the necklace to
was throwing some kind of powder all over him, shouting the whole time. They all began to chant, first low, then louder, and louder until their voices
could surely be heard across the lake. The men folded the sheet in on either side, wrapping the old tourist up, like a cocoon.
"Jesus, Billy, is the old bugger dead, what the heck are they doin?"
"I don't really want to find out, man!"