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Unformatted text preview: is waist. Once situated, he said, in a low voice, "I knew Pepper. He came to the cabin one day asking for food. It was just before Christmas of '91. He told me he lived in the woods most of the time. I cooked bacon and eggs for him and he ate like a refugee. He stuttered, and was very shy and uncomfortable around me. Obviously, I was intrigued. Here was this kid, he said he was seventeen but looked younger, who was reasonably clean and dressed and had a family twenty miles away, yet lived in the woods. I made him talk. I asked about his family, and got the sad story. When he finished eating, he was ready to go. I offered him a place to sleep, but he insisted on returning to his campsite. "The next day, I was deer hunting, alone, and Pepper tracked me down. He showed me his little tent and sleeping bag. He had cooking utensils, an ice chest, a lantern, a shotgun. He said he hadn't been home in two weeks. Said his mother had a new boyfriend, who was the worst one in years. I followed him deep into the woods to a deer stand he'd found. An hour later, I killed a ten-point buck, my biggest ever. He said he knew the woods inside and out, and offered to show me the best places to hunt. "A couple of weeks later, I was back at the cabin. Life with Trudy was unbearable, and she and I both lived for the weekends so I could leave. Pepper showed up not long after I arrived. I cooked a stew and we ate like hogs-I had an appetite back then. He said he'd gone home for three days, and left after a fight with his mother. The more he talked, the less he stuttered. I told him I was a lawyer and before long he told me his legal troubles. His last job had been pumping gas at a station in Lucedale. Some money came up missing from the cash register. Because everybody thought he was retarded, they blamed it on him. He, of course, had nothing to do with it. It was another very good reason to stay in the woods. I promised to check into the matter." "And so the setup began," Sandy said. "Something like that. We saw each other a few...
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- Spring '10