Living for the Hunt

by Derrek Lucas

DuckMy journeys through the world of video gaming began at a young, young age. I was playing a game called Duck Hunt, and I proved to be far more superior at the game than my father. Even at a young age I could tell my father was a fool. He was either overconfident of his abilities, or wasn’t at all mindful of his surroundings; whatever the case may be, he was foolish enough to sit as far away from the screen as the light gun’s cord would allow him.

As the music played, notifying everyone in the house of my father’s failure, it was my turn to prove I was lucky enough to inherit my mother’s intellect. My father didn’t know that I studied his mistakes and altered my own strategy to maximize accuracy, I moved closer to the screen and my prey fell faster.  I chuckled with glee as the barrel of the menacing orange gun was sliding around the screen, chasing my avian foe.

The high pitched sound of the spring resetting the position of my trigger was consistently followed by the satisfying “plunk” of the bird hitting the wet ground beneath. I turned to look at my father with a smile on my face as my dog confirmed my kill; and I watched his expression change as he realized he would need more than a dog who laughs at his failures if he was ever to defeat me.

As my points rose, so did his frustrations. My father’s piercing stare was difficult to ignore as my turn finally came to an end, and my superior score blinked on the screen for all to see. I searched for emotion, but on his face all I could find was a scowl as I announced my intentions to ask mother for some kool-aid. I went into the kitchen, and I heard the high pitched, almost imaginary whistle my television made when it was left on, but was receiving no signal. That was my father’s white flag, that was him stating that play time was over.

“Mommy! Mommy!” I announced to the siren seated at the table, a cup of coffee in one hand, a romance novel in her other. “I beat Daddy at Duck Hunt!” My mother laid down her book, oblivious to the damage that she unknowingly inflicted on the spine, as she looked at me with pride. Her eyes were beautiful enough to entice my smile to grow larger yet.

“Did you?” she asked me, already knowing it was true.

“Yup” I nodded, looking for more of her attention.

But before she had an opportunity to bask in the pride she had in her only son, an ominous voice startled us both. “He cheated” was all I heard. I turned to see my father in the doorway, his knuckles white as his fingers were wrapped around the orange gun, the cord trailing behind him. “Hun?” My mother inquired, her smile fading as she searched for reasoning behind my father’s accusations. “He cheated… he… he was too close to the TV” was his response.

I searched for reasoning behind his words, but I did not grasp his argument. I needed to end the conflict, I remained quiet as I gathered my thoughts and rehearsed my argument in my head before I opened my mouth and my well thought out sentence emerged, “I shooted all the birds Mommy! Daddy missed lots” I triumphantly exclaimed.

The words flowing from my mouth like poetry, I knew I had won the argument, it was not the first time my logic had won out over my fathers. My trophy was a choice of flavour of kool-aid. My father retreated to the garage, to drink a case of his funny smelling pops, as my lips were stained purple to proclaim my victory to the world. That day everyone would know who the victor was.

Since that day I regret to say my relationship with my mother grew, as my father drifted farther apart from us. He and my mother divorced 8 years later, and my father and I haven’t spoken in years. One warm spring day I received a phone call from my uncle, it seems my father had become a victim of his own drunk driving. My uncle arrived on the scene where my father asked him to deliver his final message to me, his only son. It was only 2 words long, but I will never forget it. “You Cheated”