Go Check It Out, Richard

When I was a teenager, we used to hunt rabbits at night sometimes. We’d go out to where a farm road ran between an alfalfa field and the desert, and the rabbits would be thick, going in and out partaking of the alfalfa field buffet. It was a pretty sweet deal for the rabbits, except for the part about us shooting them.

Back then, every kid had a 22 rifle, and nobody thought anything about us going out by ourselves to target shoot, or to hunt rabbits. Most of us had a shotgun too, and when dove season rolled around, we’d go hunt doves by ourselves, too. We never shot each other or anything, so I guess that’s why our parents didn’t worry about us. It was different back then, that’s for sure.

Anyway, me and my pal Richard Grijalva went rabbit hunting one night, and we were driving down a road we always hunted on. We came upon this weird pile of dirt off to the side of the road by the irrigation ditch. I stopped the pickup, and we stared at this thing for awhile, trying to figure out what it was. It looked like a giant ant hill; it was about three feet tall and probably three or four feet in diameter. From where we were, you could tell there was a hole in the top of it, just like an ant hill.

I was thinking if it was an ant hill, I did not want to see the ants; those suckers would be huge!

I told Richard, “Go check it out.”

He laughed and said, “I ain’t goin’ over there. You go check it out.”

I stared at the strange hill of dirt and said, “I’m driving.”

Richard laughed again, but his curiosity was getting the better of him, and he opened the pickup door. The dome light came on, and I snapped my head around and looked at him. “You going over there?”

He didn’t answer; just opened the door and got out. I’m thinking, holy crap. I didn’t think he’d do it.

With the headlights on him, Richard was a silhouette—a dark shape—moving stealthily toward the giant ant hill. He was moving slowly, and I could tell his intent was to be as quiet as possible.

He got to the big pile of dirt, and, standing with his toe as the bottom edge of it, he leaned over to peek into the hole in the top. I honked the horn.

Even with the windows rolled up I could hear his shrill scream, and I thought, “Man, I didn’t think I’d scare him that much; just honking the horn. Turns out, it wasn’t the horn that scared him.

Richard’s eyes were about to come out of his head, and he was still trilling that scream, as he ran toward the truck. There was a badger—it appeared to be a really mad badger—hot on his heels.

I threw the truck in gear and popped the clutch, and as I went by, Richard bailed into the back of the truck. The badger disappeared into the darkness behind us.

When we’d gone far enough so I was sure the badger couldn’t have followed us, I stopped and rolled down the window. “Richard?” I said, leaning out the opening.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You want to get back in the truck?”

“Okay,” he said. His voice was a bit shaky.

He jumped out of the back of the truck and hurriedly got into in the front. He stared straight ahead as we eased on down the dirt road. After a few minutes he said, “What the hell was that thing?”

“Badger,” I said.

He continued to look straight ahead, and after a minute or so, said, “I don’t like badgers.”

A few minutes later he said, “How come you honked the horn?” He’d calmed down some since his encounter with the angry badger, and now he sounded a little mad himself.

Always quick on the draw, I said, “I saw the badger. I was trying to warn you.”

I could see him turn to look at me, checking to see if I was pulling his leg. I kept a straight face, and after a bit, he said, “Oh.”

We drove in silence until we got to the end of the hay field and turned onto the paved road that would take us back to town. Then Richard said, “You liiiiieeee.”

I laughed, but he didn’t think it was all that funny. Go figure.

2 Comments »

  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    I have a picture of a badger over my desk at work. When anyone asks, I tell them it is a picture of my husband. Maybe Charlie will share that story some day.

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