I wonder if we ever reach the point in our lives when we feel comfortable right where we are. It seems no matter how long I live in our rural area that I’ve grown to love so much, I can’t escape being a south Detroit girl. It shows in my reactions.
We’ve had trouble with an armadillo the past couple weeks. Or another armadillo, I should say. And I’d be willing to bet he’s a direct descendant of the one that initially traumatized me. All my experiences with them culminate in one fact: I don’t like them. No, the emotion runs deeper than that. I hate them. There’s something downright unnatural about a critter that looks like a possum wearing full body armor. Not even my Cajun friend who grins and slides me a sideways look while saying, “Mmmmm, possom on da half shell! Cook some rice!” can get me to laugh about them.
I hate that armadillo’s ancestor for what he put me through. They’re ugly, disruptive and carry some pretty horrific diseases (like leprosy) for starters. For finishers the first one wrecked my sleep for six straight weeks–which means through two full moons, the time when nocturnal wildlife dance and romance with relentless, never-ending abandon. We had beagles in outdoor kennels and this particular armadillo made a game of running back and forth along the chain link, sending the dogs into a frenzy. I was up and down, up and down, every hour on the hour all night long, yelling at the dogs to shut up and trying to get a bead on the critter with the spotlight. All I could catch was a glimpse of his ratty tail disappearing down a burrow or beneath thick blackberry brambles. It got so bad I sat outside in ambush. Zombie ambush. When he didn’t show I was overjoyed, believing he’d finally moved on. All the way up until the next night when the dogs went crazy barking again.
On top of no sleep, day after day I trundled a wheelbarrow of dirt through the horse pastures filling in holes he’d dug to keep my horses from breaking their legs. He was one industrious fellow, bent on reaching China by several routes. Morning after morning I replanted my rose bushes in the front flower garden. The dogs weren’t really bothered, because they napped all day and could count on me to wake them up to eat. But I finally had my chance at him.
Hubby, leaving right at daylight, rushed back into the house. “Get your pistol! Get your pistol and come quick!” It was high summer, but Hubby keeps the AC unit on Hang Meat and I had slept in a long flannel nightgown.
I grabbed a little .380 I had and followed him outside, granny garb and all. We had an old Nova that sat pretty low to the ground, and the armadillo had bedded up underneath it. Hubby backed the car out of the way and the critter stood up. Now, my oldest boy went Scout/Sniper in the Corps and I taught him to shoot. It may sound gross to some, but when I popped a round into the nasty thing I know I saw brains and blood kick out.
Did he fall down dead? NO. Instead, he just swayed in large circles. I waited until he lifted his head and shot him in the throat. He jumped a full three feet straight in the air and landed back on his feet. Still didn’t fall down dead. He just started swaying in circles again, tighter and tighter circles until he froze in place– eyes locked on me. He charged.
South Detroit kicked in and I took off running, .380 in one hand, hem of the flannel gown up around my ear in the other to keep it from tangling with my feet, and calling poor hubby nine kinds of an SOB because he was rolling on the hood of the Nova laughing instead of helping me! I was half way to the pond before he snorted enough air to holler “You can stop running! He’s not chasing you anymore!” A .380 only holds five rounds, but I whirled and emptied the last three into the bast–uh, beast. He went aerial with each shot, jumping an incredible three or four feet straight into the air.
And still wasn’t dead! I had to go inside and get my .3030 rifle to finish him off. Hubby didn’t have time to bury it before work, but I knew if he left him there, the ugly thing would come back to life and get me. I insisted he do something with him right then. I stood shading my eyes, watching hubby disappear into the distance. My last sight of him was with the driver’s door propped open with his left foot, a dust trail kicked up by the dead armadillo being dragged down the road by his rag-wrapped tail in his left hand, steering wheel in his right. Good thing he has orangutan arms. Made it easier to drive leaned out like he was.
But hear this, Mr. Current Armadillo; this time will be different. I’m smarter now. I’ve already gone on the offensive. My thermies and cammies are laid out and I plan to hunt tonight.
And if that doesn’t work, I’ll sic the grandkids on you and pull out that secret little cellophane-wrapped package in the top of the bedroom closet.
Yeah, that’s right. Earplugs.