“I’m pretty sure that’s known as littering,” said a deep voice.
“Oh, phbbbt,” replied Gopher, waving a dismissive hand in the direction of the voice. “Ain’t no bloody cats in there.”
“You’re a local scholar, are you?” said the deep voice, unamused.
“Born and bred,” Gopher replied, puffing out his chest. “These here lands y’see…” He paused for dramatic effect, and then blinked with confusion, as the break also momentarily derailed his train of thought. “Oh yes. Right. These here lands? They belonged to my fathers. And his before him. Kept it in the family, we have. Y’know what I mean, mate? That’s...that's...what's-his-name...ancillary, that is.”
“Indeed.” The voice sighed. “Let’s not dwell on that subject too far, shall we? I was actually going to ask you for directions…why are you unfastening your trousers?”
“Had a lot to drink,” Gopher said, following this with a belch.
“You’re going to do your business on a tree, then?”
The tree swayed before Gopher, and he stopped it with his hand, nodding smartly. “As good a place as any, innit?”
“You know, that tree could be someone’s home.”
“Ha! Not bloody likely.” Gopher shook his head. “Nuffin lives in the Lost Woods, and that’s a fact. Now turn around, forner. I don’t need a bloody audience for this.”
“By all means.”
The shadow lifted from Gopher, remaining a discreet distance away.
“All through, then?”
“Hadda lot to drink.”
After a moment, Gopher refastened his pants and then attempted to take a pull from a phantom bottle. He frowned at his empty hand. “Sorry ‘bout that, mate. But when nature calls, it’s rude to not water the nearest tree, eh?”
He cackled, and as he turned and faced the bearer of the voice, the laughter died in his mouth. One of the strangest things about sobriety is how fickle its lifespan can prove to be. Some people can drink for hours on end and not lose their buzz for nearly a day later. Others can hold their liquor and not even feel the slightest bit of manufactured happiness. But regardless of the status of the drinker, a good shock can knock all of the foolishness out of them and leave sobriety in a lifeless heap.
The giant wolf looming before Gopher was an adequate shock for such a murder.