A few more days pass and grandpa asks Billy to come on down to the store. Billy is worried that his grandpa is going to want to talk about Rubin's death.
Sure enough, it's the first thing his grandpa asks him about. But it's not the only thing.
He wants Billy to enter a Championship Coon Hunt.
And by "wants Billy to enter" he means "already paid the entry fee and registered the hounds." All Billy has to do is show up with his hounds.
Billy takes some convincing, but he sees how excited his grandpa is and figures, why not?
By the time they're done discussing the details, Billy can almost feel the cup in his hands.
On his way home, Billy skips the whole way. Birds are singing, rabbits are hopping, it's practically a Disney cartoon. Life is good.
He reflects on the last two years. And realizes life is good.
When he gets home, he asks his dad if he wants to come with him to the coon hunt.
His dad is worried about leaving the farm and Billy's mom. Billy looks at his mom and notices that her belly is "all swelled up" (14.94).
Duh! She's pregnant and Billy hadn't even noticed. Talk about distracted.
Billy's mom tells his dad she'll be fine for a few more months. There really isn't any work to do on the farm, so he should go.
He agrees, and Billy's littlest sister asks if she can have the gold cup when Billy wins it. He swears she can, and everybody is super duper happy about life.
We don't know why, but we get the feeling this isn't going to last.
The next couple of days are spent preparing the house to make it as easy as possible for Billy's mom.
Billy also gets his dogs ready for the competition. Remember how Billy likes to sit down and have a chat with his dogs? Well, he still does that. The night before they're supposed to leave, he sits his dogs down and tells them how important the hunt will be.
The next morning Billy and his dad head down to his grandpa's store.
His grandpa is loading up the buggy with a tent and groceries. And some other stuff, like Billy's old ax.
All the blood's been cleaned off, but Billy still feels a fleeting twinge about Rubin.
Well, but not too bad. He's more interested in the hunt, to be honest.
All three dudes—at this point, Billy basically feels like a real dude, not a little kid—pile into his grandpa's buggy and head off on their road trip, or rather, buggy trip.