The air was cool and the yard light bright Monday evening as I stood on the back porch relieving myself.
It was just a typical night on the farm, but then I heard something scratching at one of the trees behind me. I figured it was just one of the cats climbing the tree, but I turned and look anyway.
I saw a bristly, fat possum climbing the tree.
Nodding my head slowly I walked back into the house.
Roommates Jerod Horchem and Travis Schafer were sitting in the living room playing a football game on the XBOX.
Walking up to them casually, I said, “There’s a possum climbing a tree out there.”
The two looked up at me and shrugged. “Go get my axe and take care of it,” Horchem said.
I laughed, remembering the time he had used an axed to chop a baby possum into tiny pieces when he found the varmint in the garage eating the cat food.
“How about a gun?” I asked.
“They’re in the closet,” he said, barely taking his eyes off the screen.
I went and retrieved a 12-gauge shotgun and asked Horchem for the shells.
“They’re in there too, but bring them to me first. I want to make sure you have the right ones,” he said.
I did as I was told and handed him the box of shells I figured fit the gun.
“These are it,” he said.
I nodded and looked at him.
“Well load it.”
“I’m not sure how,” I said.
“Are you serious?” he asked as he snatched the gun out of my hand and began loading shells into it.
Travis began to try to tell me how to put the shells into the gun, but when he saw how it was being loaded he stopped because he, like me, thought they went in a different way.
After Horchem had put three shells in he handed the gun back to me.
“Good luck,” he said, turning back to the video game.
I slipped a pair of shoes on and began to head for the door.
“I’m going to go watch this,” Schafer said, smiling.
“Me too,” Horchem said as they both dropped their controllers and followed me outside.
“Grab a flashlight or something,” I called over my shoulder.
“Why?” Horchem asked.
“Well, it’s probably already up the tree by now,” I replied.
“We don’t have one that works,” he said.
“Fine,” I said as we all went outside.
I couldn’t see the animal anywhere at first, but soon Schafer and Horchem both saw it.
“It’s right up there,” Horchem said pointing.
I saw it and nodded. Schafer covered his ears as I brought the gun to my left shoulder and peered down the barrel.
Letting out a slow breath, I squeezed the trigger.
Horchem began laughing hysterically, and Schafer said, “I can’t believe you hit it on your first shot!”
“It’s not like I haven’t shot a gun before,” I said as nonchalant as possible.
I looked around at the ground and realized the deceased animal was stuck up in the tree, so I walked closer and took aim again.
The body of the animal fell to the ground flopping around. Horchem continued to squeal with laughter.
“You didn’t even kill it,” Schafer said. “It’s still moving.”
Between peals of laughter, Horchem said, “Oh it’s dead.”
Since Travis didn’t believe I had killed it and knowing I had one shell left, I pointed the gun at the animal’s head.
The possum’s head disappeared, leaving only blood soaked grass. The body was still twitching, though.
“It’s still not dead?” Schafer asked.
“There’s no head,” I said. “It’s dead.”
“Yeah,” Horchem said. “It’s dead.”
We all went back into the house. As Horchem and Schafer resumed their game and I put the gun away, Schafer said, “That was awesome.”
“Yeah it was,” Horchem said. “I can’t believe you shot it three times.”
I shrugged and smiled. “Well, I had three shells.”
“That doesn’t mean you had to use them all,” Horchem said.
“It felt like I did,” I said.
As I went to sleep that night, I had a strange sense of calm come over me. It was like all the tension had left my body.
Shotgun therapy helps. Everyone should try it.