Fire up the gas chamber (A history of slaughter)

By | January 18, 2010

If there is anything I am well-known for in most of the communities I frequent, it is the bloodthirst of both my dad and me for small animals. More particularly, the small animals that dare to wander within the relatively broad boundaries of our yard. And recently there has been a wave of brash animals challenging Dad’s territorial claims, and he just won’t stand for it.

First, a bit of explanation. Having acquired our land when the area we live in was fairly undeveloped, we were able to seize a particularly large space of land. That means there is quite a bit of yard to take care of/guard against the forces of evil (animals). And this being rural southern Georgia, you bet your sweet lily ass there are animals waiting to snatch our land out from under our grasp with their filthy claws/hooves.

From the very get-go, Dad waged a campaign against Mother Nature and her furry bastard children. The first to feel the wrath of Angry Middle-Aged White Man were the squirrels; the furred freaks enraged Dad by climbing up the bird feeder and stealing the seeds meant for the adorable cardinals, robins, blue jays, and finches that frequented our birdfeeders. Dad set out wire traps, and like moths to the flame the squirrels practically barreled into the cages to get at the concoction of peanut butter and something else (I don’t recall) placed inside the trap. Once trapped, Dad would proceed to put the squirrel, trap and all, in a plastic garbage bag, attach the opening to the exhaust pipe of his truck, and rev the engine. My brother and I would stand in fascination, as the squirrel’s death scene played out unscene behind plastic bags. It was hauntingly beautiful, listening to the frantic scrabbles slow and then stop, much like a play, as the garbage bag was then dramatically removed to reveal the corpse of the squirrel, frozen in death. Dad would then take the body and throw it in the ditch behind our house. Our next-door neighbor observed the phenomenon with horror and dubbed our house the “Gas Chamber”.

The squirrels took the hint and stopped coming back, for the most part. Then the moles moved in. They were much trickier than the squirrels, for moles are much much harder to trap or even catch. This is when Dad became almost frightingly dedicated to eliminating the Mole Threat. He started tracking the moles; whenever he caught sight of an extremely fresh ‘mole trail’ (dug up ground), he would fetch a golf club and stand by the hole. And he waited. And waited. Sometimes he would be waiting for hours, but he was determined. When one is waiting out a mole, it is imperative that one try to move as little as possible, lest the mole sense the vibrations and veer away. Dad was very good at waiting motionlessly. Eventually he would feel the vibration of the mole returning and as soon as he could discern movement below the earth his golf club would come crashing down. I only glimpsed this almost epic clash twice, not having the patience to wait with Dad. It was an exciting thing; to see Dad, motionless, poised, then suddenly leap into action with a terrifying force. Without fail the mole would pop up, dazed, and Dad would take a chop that would put Tiger Woods to shame. The frail, small body would spiral almost gracefully through the air, blood sprinkling the earth, and land with a gentle thud, only to be picked up and thrown unceremoniously into the ditch to join the cooling bodies of the squirrels.

The moles never really went away, but their numbers dwindled enough so that Dad was not enraged every time he stepped out into the yard. Then the armadillos stepped up to bat. THEY have been Dad’s most infuriating opponent yet. For while moles are largely nocturnal, moles actually pop up rather frequently during the day. Armadillos, on the other hand, absolutely refuse to come out during the day, so Dad had to stalk them at night. They are also extremely fast, so one shot is all you get. Their skin (armor?) is also apparently rather tough, as Dad was forced to cast aside his pellet gun in disgust and take up his shotgun after the pellet merely bounced off the blind fucker. They are supposed to be extremely blind, but they are paranoid little bastards; when Dad sat in the yard just waiting for them to come out, they did not linger long enough for him to get a good shot. They probably smelled him, I guess. This frustrated Dad even further; now he had to stand by the door that opened to the area the armadillos seemed to favor, looking out the window, watching for the motion-sensor light to snap on and reveal the armadillo snuffling about. It was a long, laborious effort; oftentimes there would be nights were the armadillo didn’t come out at all, or came out but only long enough for Dad to rush down the hallway to grab his gun. Then there were the times Dad missed or didn’t hit a vital organ; then Dad had to watch in frustration as the armadillo shot up in the air and then hauled ass back into the forest next to our house. The only aspect in his favor is that armadillos are extremely territorial, so he was only dealing with one or two armadillos. It took two weeks for Dad to get the first armadillo, then its mate the next week. Fortunately it didn’t seem to have reproduced–a very good thing since armadillos have four babies at a time.

The armadillos stayed away until recently; Dad has noticed to his fury the beginnings of another armadillo settling in. I have also noticed the motion-sensor light snapping on during the night, so there is definitely something out there. Squirrels have also been starting to swarm the birdfeeder recently established right in front of the house; these squirrels won’t fall for the traps, so Dad has resorted to killing them face to face. As soon as he sees a squirrel through the window, he goes barreling down the hallway, loads his gun, and creeps out the door and around the corner, usually catching the squirrel unawares. I will often follow, for the thrill of seeing Dad have a classic Gregory Peck moment from To Kill a Mockingbird. The moles have also been making a comeback, moreso than the armadillos, and Dad has already stalked two.

If I ever wrote a memoir, I can bet that there will be at least five chapters dedicated to Dad’s sheer insanity, obnoxiousness (he once called me ‘a bigger faggot than your brother, and given how your brother hasn’t gotten any, that’s saying something. Why don’t you stop eating so much fucking ice cream, goddamn, that’s my ice cream, you’re already fat.’) and bloodlust. I can guarantee there will probably be more posts similar to this one; this Thanksgiving, Dad lamented the fact that he had never opened a morgue/crematorium and made it a family business. “Can’t you see us working together, Edith? Just shoveling in the bodies and making statues out of corpses to put in the bathroom? We could learn taxidermy and make the dogs into statues and put them in your mom’s bedroom. Wouldn’t that be awesome.” My dad is batshit insane and it is fucking awesome.

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