Thursday, February 12, 2004

Bleatings and Beatings 

My family has never been a 'gun' family. Not for lack of trying, mind you...Fate just always seems to intervene. My father had a very nice ruger when I was younger...He had taken it apart to clean it, my Mom found it, pronounced it 'broken in pieces' and discarded it. After that, my dad stopped trying. My dad once told me he was going to take me hunting. I woke up ill that day. He never took me hunting, I've never been hunting. I'm not a hunter. Sad, I know. Actaully, I'm not sure my Dad's ever been hunting either...

Anyway, both my Mom's side and my Dad's side are not real hunters. Or shooters. My uncle Mickey, who married into the family, has a hairy back, a surly disposition, a genius IQ (so he says) and a large gun collection. He's the exception to the rule. I don't mind guns, I like guns. I respect guns. I would like to own a gun. My wife says no. Again, sad. I know. Anyway, my family doesn't own too many guns. This will come into play later.

My Mom's parents (my grandparents, duh) live in Grand Junction, which is on the western slope of Colorado. My grandfather served in the Navy in WWII and spent the rest of his life as a carpenter. He built lots of things, including his own house out in what WAS the middle of nowhere back when it was built. Large plots of farmland where folks could raise up a family, a couple cows, 2 or 3 crops and all the other trappings of the american dream. As it pertained to those with land. Anyway, neighbors slowly trickled in over the years.

The folks across the street from my Grandparents raise animals for slaughter and other forms of amusement. They are never without chickens, some cows, goats...The goats...The goats have a nasty disposition. Also, they can defeat whatever crude means of restraint their captors are using to hold them onto their side of the road. The goats routinely wander across the road to chew on whatever they can. Some years ago, this included a very nice garden that my Grandfather had planted. He complained loudly to his neighbors about the goats to no avail. Finally, they conceded that if the goats wandered into his yard again, he was free to shoot them. The goats. Shoot the goats. No shooting the neighbors. not even a little.

See, their reasoning was "we're just going to slaughter them anyway, they've about reached slaughterin' age, so if he shoots them, saves a step for us." Grandpa's reasoning was much more basic. "Kill the goats."

Remember what I typed earlier? Grandpa doesn't own a gun. Not a single one. I'm not convinced that he ever carried a gun outside of his service to our country. Either way, this fact would prevent his shooting of any goats. Luckily, he had a backup plan. He owned a shovel.

The next day, sure as shit (which is an expression I've been longing to use) the goats wandered back his way. My Grandfather immediately captured the large male goat and tied it to a tree. He then wandered off to complete some chores, seemingly so the goat could contemplate it's fate. The only thing the goat did, however, was to free itself by chewing through the rope. Well played, mr. goat. Well played.

The next day, the goats, seemingly emboldened by the previous day's escape, came across the road and into my Grandfather's garden. Grampy wasted no time that day, grabbing the male and tying it to the same tree as the previous day. He then went directly to grab his shovel. Here is an account of what happened next, which I got from my then 76 year old grandfather...

"I looked the goat in his eye and it looked back at me...I brought up the shovel and came down on his head, square and hard. So hard, that I broke my shovel. Damn goat broke my shovel! And he didn't die straight away, either...Just lay there on the ground, lookin' up at me, moving it's hooves and going 'eee, eee, eee'...Well, I had to finish the job, so I grabbed the handle and proceeded to bludgeon this goat the rest of the way. Part way through, I saw my neighbor drive up...I dragged the goat behind the garage, so they couldn't see, and finished the job. I buried the goat there when I was done."

"You buried it?" I asked.

"Behind the Garage." he replied.

"Don't you figure they would've liked to use the carcass? After all, I figure that's why they said you could shoot it." I inquired.

"Never thought of that." he said. "Humph. Well, it's done now. Maybe they figured it just up and ran away."

On certain nights, when the moon is full, you can see the lonely spectre of a goat, bleating his final death-bleats in the pale moonlight behind my Grandparents' garage. Ok, maybe not, but it makes for a fun story. The goat did die, it is buried there and my Grandfather still doesn't own a gun. I can't rightly say that I've seen 'ghost goat', but I'm not ruling anything out just yet.

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