The Red Cap


The full circle of the moon is clearly visible in the cloudless, blue, winter sky. The sun is low sun and casting long shadows through the tall trees. Sam and Jenny are walking off their large lunch, having both eaten two meals worth of food in one sitting.

The couple often come here on a Sunday, after a large lunch at their favourite pub. Ring woods is an ancient woods, full of old trees with memories that span a thousand years and thick undergrowth that insist visitors stick to the path.

They turn off the main fire trail, onto a well trodden path. The forestry commission has marked out routes and a sign designates this particular path with a circle. They walk for a while and reach a clearing. The path continues across the clearing back into the deep woodland on the other side. Another path leads off up a small incline where there are some pretty snowdrops coming into bloom.

"Wait here a moment," Jenny says, putting her hand on Sams arm. She turns away and heads up the path towards the flowers.

"What's up?" Sam replies after her, he follows her intently with his eyes admiring her silhouette against the winter sun. He continues to watch her as she get her camera out of her bag and remove the lens cap.

"I've just seen some snowdrops I'd like to photograph, I won't be a minute," Jenny says bending down to take a few close up pictures of a small bloom on a bank. The path bends up to the right and Jenny slinging her camera around her neck, follows the path out of sight.

Sam waits a while but Jenny does not return. The sun is particularly warm for this time of year. There is a chill to the wind but he is comfortable. Testing the ground for dryness he sits down on a small mossy bank. He leans back into a large tree letting the slight warmth of the sun fall on his face. He closes his eyes.

His peace is shattered by someone shouting in the distance. Sam wonders why someone would come to a peaceful wood like this and shout their heads off. What an asshole. Sam hears the shouting again, it is louder now. He can't quite make out what is being shouted. He hears it now.

"Asshole," shouts the man.

Sam gets up and turns around. A man is in front of him. He sees the man's fist.

Sam comes to, still in a daze. The man has gone but Sam's face is sore from the punch. What the hell just happened? He gets up and brushes him self off. His lower lip feels particularly sore, he dabs it with the back of his hand and it leaves a blotting of blood. "What an asshole," he sighs under his breath. He head up the snowdrop lined path to look for Jenny and find her crouching, still taking photos.

"I'm nearly done," she says, sensing his presence, "I've got some great macro shots of these beauties." The shutter clicks. She gets up and looks around at Sam, "What the hell happened to you," she says slightly smirking, "did you fall over or something?"

"Thanks for the sympathy! Some asshole just hit me. He came out of nowhere, it was completely unprovoked"

Jenny's smirk turns to a look of concern, "Are you okay? We should call the police, he sounds like a nut job"

"I don't think they would-"

"He might hurt someone else. What was he wearing?"

Sam tries to remember, "he was wearing jeans and a green coat."

"That narrows it down doesn't it. You're wearing jeans and a green coat," Jenny pauses and looks up at his forehead, "Where has your cap gone?"

Sam instinctively reaches up and touches his head feeling his slight baldness but no cap. He hastily pats his coat pockets, "it must have come off when I got attacked."

Sam turns and starts running back down towards the clearing. Jenny follows a few paces behind. As they reach the clearing it is apparent the cap is not there.

"I love that cap, " Sam says, his shoulders dropping.

"Why would anyone mug you for your cap?"

"I wasn't mugged."

"You know what goes around comes around, I think that guy has a bad thing coming to him," Jenny gives him a little smile, "I know what will cheer you up when we get home." Jenny rubs his arm tenderly as they head back towards the pub.

As Sam and Jenny walk, they spot a another clearing ahead and Sam stops dead in his tracks. "Look," he says with alarm.

"What are we looking at? I don't see anything," Jenny expression turns to one of slight concerned.

"Over there, look, in the clearing sitting down. It's him, it's him, he has my hat on," Sam starts running at the man.

"Asshole," shouts Sam.

Jenny leans forward, shielding her eyes from the sun with her hand, her expression is quizzical. She strains to look closer at the man sat in the clearing. Wait, that is Sam. She looks back at the man running towards him, but that is Sam too.

"Asshole," Shouts Sam.

Jenny sees him punch the man and as he falls to the floor, take his cap.

StoriesJon Baker