Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Father, the Axe Murderer

Buzzard Billy has asked us to share our critter stories. Growing up in the country, I had plenty of stories about critters. There was the time my brother caught the biggest bullfrog I've ever seen. Our hop toad family (Hoppy, Mrs. Hoppy, and the baby Hoppies...we were creative children) that lived under the back step. And the deer that wore a blaze orange vest all through hunting season. Since then I've blogged about Saddam the crawdaddy and the tomato-eating turtle.

But this one is the one that I will never forget.

I was about 10 or 12. Our dog Fido had gotten the worse end of the fight with a critter the night before. Though Fido was a small dog, he never backed down.

The next night, we heard Fido out back cutting up a shine. (That means barking like the Devil himself was creeping around for the hillbilly-impaired readers.) Dad ran, looked out the back window, and then ran back to his bedroom.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm going to kill me a possum," he answered. (In hillbilly, the dative case is still used.)

OK, dad's going to kill the possum that's messing with Fido. Makes sense. Except...

Dad didn't hunt and didn't own a gun. Possums, unlike the reputation they get with their "playing possum" reputation, are nasty critters with teeth and attitudes. Think of a double-sized rat whose mother you've just insulted, and you've got the picture. How in the world is Dad going to kill him without a gun?

This I had to see. I ran to the back window, where I saw my dad with his axe raised high over his head. That's when I realized that a gun wasn't necessary. I figured that I would be explaining this in therapy some years hence, so I turned away.


That was the end of the possum. And I don't blame him for it one bit. That possum had attacked our dog, a member of our family. What if next time it was me or my brother?