Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Al -vs- The Big Eyed Monster

A message from Al - Some stories are best told in the course of conversation, and this might be one of those stories, so in order to make it worth reading I went back and told a bit of the history of it all, so you can get a feel for time and place. I hope I succeeded at that. Mind you this type of writing isn't my stick, but it was fun retelling the past.....maybe I'll do some more of it. With each story there is another and another....some funny, some tragic. My friend Doc, who I mention in this story was murdered a few years also....and that place of his that was as dear to me as it was him is gone...clear cut and farm land now. And me, I live back in town now. Back in the house I grew up in. Moved back in with my father in his last few years of life, and something I wouldn't trade for all those beautiful sunrises and sunsets I got to experience for a good enough amount of time...But I've got memories...of Doc. Of his place and of mine. And of my dad, who in reality made it all possible. And I've got you, who made me put this memory down for posterity. Thank you Marian. Al

A good while back I wrote Rex an account of a terrible, but true, event. The object of concern was of an armadillo and a near death experience I’d had with such. I think what I wrote was in reply to one of Rex’s, or perhaps one of Rex's daughters (?) blogs about an encounter she had had with one of the evil creatures. In conclusion I told Rex that one day I would tell him the tale about another true happening from my past.

Marian was kind enough to post that first story on this blog, Rex, after all, had said that he might if I wouldn’t. Well, women being women, she has insisted on me telling the second story as well…and Rex being gone and unable to do anything about it…here goes.

To make this thoroughly fascinating story at least somewhat interesting let me start in the beginning. Here I was, a long, long time ago…

I had a good friend who was a veterinarian, ag-pilot, cattle rancher (and a tad eccentric/hermit). We called him Doc. Everybody called him Doc. Doc was an unusual character to say the least, but that’s an entirely different story.

I hunted with Doc. Doc had one of those special places that you don’t find very often. Unkempt comes to mind, but don’t let that say something it shouldn’t, for Doc loved it that way… wild, grown up and over grown. He had horses and cows and a house way up off the ground where they would often get in bad weather and such. And it wasn’t unusual to find a deer there, under his house, or maybe in his barn. Some of the deer around Doc’s place were almost tame, so when hunting you had to be extra careful… and there is ANOTHER story.

Well, Doc never ever asked anything of me to get to hunt on his land, but occasionally he would ask for something. I never took it as an obligation or requirement or such, but as a friend I would always gladly lend Doc a hand when the odd occasion arose.

One of several of those odd occasions occurred and it found me helping him to haul hay. He made those big round bales that you need a tractor to load and also a tractor to pull the trailer that you loaded it on, so trailer hauling duty fell to me. This day found us several miles from his place, picking up hay he’d cut the week before off of another friends place. I love that term when it comes to land – “place”.

Anyway, Doc knew that I was looking for a ‘place’ of my own. Somewhere out in the country. Somewhere where we could have horses and all the dogs a wife could want. As we drove down a long seemingly deserted road Doc stopped and got off his tractor. I pulled up behind him and shut mine down, thinking something was wrong. “You still looking for a house out in the country?” he asked.

I replied that I was, but wasn’t having much luck finding anywhere that I could come close to affording. “What about this one?” he asked. I swear that I had no clue a house was anywhere within a mile of where I was standing. There wasn’t, except for the one hidden by the tall grass and weeds along side of the road.

We made a trek back through the growth and found a diamond. Not only was it what I thought was one of the most beautiful homes in this part of the country, but it had a pond too. A three acre pond. And a pasture to boot. To make a long story short, I bought the place for next to nothing. That’s another story in itself…

But back to THIS story. My wife and I had both grown up within some city limits. Me in Tallulah, her in Shreveport. Neither of us knew much at all about country life, but that didn’t matter, we weren’t planning on being farmers or anything like that. I just had visions of being a gentleman rancher… that’s all.

Being unaccustomed to the country life we were a bit afraid of the unknown. Different noises, even a different darkness… it took a bit of getting used to. And we weren’t used to it yet.

On night as we lay in bed, in the deafening silence that the country can have sometimes, I heard a noise. A weird, rustling, noise, different than I ever heard before… then a crash. Not like glass, more like metal. Then quiet. Then another noise that did sound like glass, or something, tinkling! I lay there frozen. Eyes wide as saucers. My wife asked under her breath, “What the H--- was that?”

I wanted real bad to say it was a dog or something, but I knew it wasn’t. There was somebody, or something, just down the hall, in the den.

Being Mr. Protection for my wife (read that as chicken), I kept my trusty old .45 on the nightstand beside me. Gun in hand it was time to investigate. Much like the other story that night found me once again clad in boxers, creeping down a darkened hallway. Holding my breath (and hearing my heartbeat) I slowly walked into the den.

Just inside the doorway I stopped and looked around the dark room. Ever so slowly I eased forward. Then I saw it, standing to my right, two huge eyes, open wide and looking back at me. A BIG EYED MONSTER! I spun, raised my gun, and just before squeezing off a round, up it went. Fast as that! Up over my head! Up to the balcony overlooking my den! Dang Owl!

Thankfully there was no floor cleanup required, oh but ever so close.

Somehow a big old hoot owl had come down my chimney, knocked over the screen in front and had lit upon the top of my television. Exactly at human height he stood there staring at me. Big round staring eyes. The lucky part of all this is I don’t have an overly itchy trigger finger, or some poor endangered specie of an owl would have bit the big one that night. The owl and the five hundred dollar plate glass window behind him, or perhaps the brand new color TV.

I pondered for a bit on how to remove said owl from the balcony overlooking my den and finally decided to go out and get a fishing net from the garage. It seemed like a sound idea. How hard would it be to net an owl? When I went out of the door the thing followed right along behind, just like he knew just what a door was for. Well, in hind sight it could have been HIS house in the first place…

We've had a few laughs about this over the years, and heck, it was even funny at the time. My house in the country had some really good memories. One Easter morning I had two Bald Eagles in the tree in my front yard. Every fall thousands of ducks, in the air, in my pond, and in the slew across the road. Deer tracks in my yard. Bass in my pond… And not only for me, but others as well. An acquaintance had also looked at the house before I bought it. When he went inside he found a doe making herself at home inside, apparently coming and going often and at will through an open back door. Who scared who worse no one knows….

I miss the place. I don’t miss the road I had to travel to get to town and back, but the place I miss a bunch. It was paradise, but sometimes good things do have to come to an end don’t they. I hope you’ve found this story a good one, this is THE END.

Al - My Dismal Swamp ~
Thank you Al for sharing your story with us! It was great! Marian


Anonymous said...

Great post. What a story...and you tell it so well. I hope you elaborate on the other stories. ~Mrs. Scratch.

Editor said...

Great story, Al
when are you coming to the camp to see us?
I am in New york trying to buy some of that picante sauce but can't find any.
Will try to head home in the morning, if we can hitch a ride.
Thanks you to everyone, this is a great blog as long as I am out of the picture.

Marian Love Phillips said...

So glad to see you are back in the States and almost back to Mississippi! No, this blog is your blog, you made it...we are your friends when you need us! See ya soon! :)

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