On a dreary tax day we all need Ray Stevens:
Hits a little close to home. When I was young my grandfather taught me to hunt, and we’d often head to this 40-acre wooded area off the farm to take squirrels, deer, turkey and rabbit. One fine day I have a Ruger Mark 2 pistol and he has a shotgun, when I see two squirrels chasing each other through the walnut trees. Three missed shots later, I ask for the shotgun. I hit the squirrel, who sort of froze in place for a moment, then tumbled and landed in the crotch of the tree about 12 feet up. Well, I wasn’t raised to waste meat so I handed the shotgun back and started to skinny up the tree. Got up to that Y where the two large branches split and pulled my head up, expecting to see a dead squirrel.
Instead there was a very much alive, very, very pissed off, red-furred rage monster quivering and chattering in anticipation at ripping my jugular OH MY GOD THOSE INCISORS ARE HUGE!
Surprised out of my wits and fearing for my life, I pulled the Mark 2 from the shoulder holster and thrust it into my left palm for firing. Notice something with that statement? It involves both hands.
Did you ever see those Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons where the coyote runs off a cliff, stands there for several seconds until he notices he’s no longer supported by terra firma, and then and only then does gravity do it’s thing and send him crashing into the canyon below?
Yeah, it was sort of like that. I fell backwards from the tree, Mark 2 aimed at the squirrel and yelling Words of Power that I sure wasn’t going to tell Mom about. Landed flat on my back in the leaves. Once I regained my breath and determined I had voluntary movement in all limbs I rolled over a bit and looked to grandpa for help. Wasn’t going to find it for a while, grandpa being all rolling on the ground clutching his sides and gasping for breath. I honestly thought he was going to have a stroke, he was laughing so hard. As soon as he’d start to calm down and take a breath he’d look up, see me on the ground, and just go into convulsions. Took the poor man about ten full minutes to be able to compose himself.
About twenty years later, as my grandfather lay dying in a hospice from prostate cancer that had spread, we were reminiscing and reviewing our time together. We talked about his rifles and shotguns, now in my gun safe. He told me to never sell that land. And then he scared the hell out of me and started convulsing right there in the hospital bed. “Remember that time,” he gasped, “when you shot…” (snork) “that squirrel and climbed the tree” (cough!) (wheeze) (giggle) “and fell out trying to…” (gasp!) “shoot it?” (HAW HAW HAW HAW SNORK!)….
To this very day I miss him. And I hate squirrels.
An on-going serialized novella. Lesbian squirrel harness the power of Swedish disco to erase common sense. When drone strikes, trans-species raptors, and a racist bear all fail, two brilliant college dropouts in a Subaru are mankind’s last hope. We’re probably doomed.
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