Its 2 AM when I step out my back door into the moist humid and nearly suffocating night air. The back yard is filled with the deafening sounds of crickets and cicadas. In the distance the sounds of frogs and their deep throated croaking is a reminder of summer nights long ago.
My grandparents had a "place in the country"… every city boy's dream. A pond, a corn field, just like one shoeless Joe might walk out of, and a place to shoot your BB gun with no one around to tell you not to shoot at anything.
My cousin Bill was "old enough" to have his own BB gun at a time when my BB gun was really my dad's. Gift wrapped and labeled from Santa somehow it was snatched from my hands right there in front of the family Christmas Tree, shortly after I pointed it at my brother, pulled the trigger and yelled POW!
Not much you can do with a BB gun living in the city anyways… but in the country everything is a target for mayhem and mischief.
My cousin Bill was the best shooter I ever met. He was a good shot at about 10 feet; a little better at 5 and damn fine marksmen at point blank range.
Bill's target of choice, was the cat across the gravel road. But the cat had wised up and didn't come across the road after the second time Bill walked up to it and pulled the trigger. Soon just the sight of my red haired cousin would send the cat running for cover.
Tin cans and paper targets were good things to shoot at but Bill prefered live things like cats and crows. But the darn crows were so high up on the telephone wires that even when you hit one they'd just shake their wings and sit there.
I asked Bill why he was shooting at the crows…. And he would just say "you saw the movie "The Birds" right?"
Then he'd go on to explain… "well them birds want to peck our eyes out so I got to teach them a lesson".
Seemed to me that shooting the crows was not a really good idea since they never bothered me before, and I'd never seen these crows attack anyone except the cat across the street. I didn't think pissing off these large black birds was all that bright an idea.
I think I related to the crows, because the one time Bill had shot me with the BB gun and I would have certianly pecked his eyes out had grandma let loose of my arm.
Now there's not much to do in the country at night. Keep in mind this was way before Sony play stations and the internet.
So what do two young boys do out in the country at night???
Well if you have 3 acre yard with a bunch of mercury vapor lamps, that's what they used to call them, and a pond and you get a lot of bugs. Thousands of bugs flying around the yard and of course they are attracted to the light.
Well, guess what else is attracted to the light and the bugs?
Or more correctly toads and that's where sharpshooter Bill comes into the picture.
Yeap game warden, toad population control expert, hired gun and one hell of a good shot at point blank range, that would be my cousin Bill and I was part of the posse.
During those hot summer nights in the country Bill must have executed thousands of tresspassing frogs and toads. Frog guts all over the path to the pond and in the garden and on the driveway.
The next morning my grandfather would walk around the yard and garden and wonder why the aliens were killing the frogs and not leaving crop circles instead?
I suppose I busted a cap or two on a toad, don't know why but it just wasn't that much fun, and so I never stayed out that long when Bill was doing his night job.
Maybe it was because those crows, the ones in the movie... they always attacked at night!