from A Squandered Life / Shooting Mice '66
Without a moment's thought I passed him the loaded gun.....
One night, on one of my infrequent visits back from university, I was up late and sitting in moonlight in the kitchen after everybody else had gone to bed. All the lights were off because I was simply having a quiet cup of tea and absorbing the benignly beaming light washing across the fields and trees outside.
Suddenly I heard scratching on the kitchen counter behind me. Turning slowly I saw movement behind the bread bin. Watching in the half light I gradually made out a pair of mice rummaging among the crumbs and the discarded cups. At that time we kept an old .177 air rifle in a corner of the living room next door. I thought to myself, why not?, and carefully stole out of the kitchen to get it, stole carefully back to my seat in the moonlight by the window, and waited for more scratching.
After a moment or two of silence the scratching resumed and I saw the mice again. Taking careful aim, pfft, I killed one of them instantly. I walked over, picked him up gently by the tail, and dropped him into the bin.
I then resumed my seat thinking that was the end of the evening's hunting, but moments later the scratching started again. Again I shot, killed, and disposed. After a few more moments, the scratching resumed, but I also heard the floorboards in the living room creak and realised something much larger was afoot.
Out of the silent semi-dark loomed Henry. He seemed somehow attuned to the situation, neither switching on any lights nor speaking. He spotted me by the window and whispered, “What are you doing?” Feeling not a little caught out, I whispered back, “Shooting mice.” He came over and sat beside me and looked in the same direction.
We sat there in complete silence for a couple of minutes, then we both heard the scratching. Without a moment's thought I passed him the loaded gun. He took aim, fired, and scored a direct hit (these mice were only a few feet away). I went over, picked it up by the tail, showed it to Henry, dropped it in the bin with its cousins, and resumed my seat. Henry quietly passed the gun back to me, said “See you in the morning.”, and creaked off back across the floor boards. This represented one of the few “bonding” experiences I ever had as an adult with my dad.
© 2013 Deacon Martin
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