Before we go any further, there is something I must make abundantly clear:
Raging at me will not bring the possum back.
Anyway, when the time comes to have a few words with my maker, I hope to have a frank discussion about neighbors and the edict to love them. Such is problematic. Be it the neighbor of my in-laws, scandalized at their want of raking, who violates the sanctity of their lawn and rakes their leaves. Or my own, who have sworn blood libel against me for having the audacity to tear down a fence…on my property…and which, frankly, looked less like it was erected than excreted.
(They have since erected their own fence – a chintzy affair trying mightily to look like gothic wrought iron. I’ve been fighting the urge to buy a legion of rake wielding garden gnomes, place them at three foot intervals facing their fence, and put up a couple signs reading “GNOME KOREA” and “DE-GNOMEITERIZED ZONE” respectively. Those without a sense of humor deserve to be punished.)
Of course, beyond petty property tyrants, there’s another variety of dubiously loveable neighbor, and that would be the too helpful kind. My parents have one of these. And he, singlehandedly, has led to a revision of the occasionally cited friendship test – the one that goes something to the effect of:
As one might imagine, there is a story to go with this – a story I must relate secondhand as I was not there. My brother was, I’m told, and before anyone gets the idea to arrest him as an accomplice to second degree possumcide, I’m fairly certain that when this incident went down he was ineligible to be tried as an adult.
Given the possibility of an insanity plea, perhaps the adult in question was ineligible, too. Though, to his credit, I don’t think he explicitly knocked on my parents’ door with the intention of murdering a marsupial. That part just sort of…well…happened. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Regarding what moved him to knock, this is a subject of some debate. He might have made some mention about the possibility of it, the late possum, being rabid. The evidence presented was that it was just sort of wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood. Personally, I associate “wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood” with “being a possum” as well as with “being a political pollster.” For whatever reason, the latter has never met the fate of the former on my stoop, but that is not for want of desire.
Returning to our resident Strictly Marginal Samaritan, I understand he was originally seeking a box. I think he thought the possum, which was playing possum at this point, would go in the box. The rather glaring flaw in this plan is what precisely one does with a box containing one (1) possibly rabid possum. Liven up Christmas at the in-laws? December is still months away.
Anyway, I think a box was procured, but by then, yet another flaw had manifested in Pete Possumpunter’s grand plan, which can be expressed in the form of a rhetorical question: Do you want to pick up a possibly rabid possum with your bare hands, put it into a box, and not have a clear plan for what happens next?
I think this is when he asked for the 2×4.
Now, to reiterate, I wasn’t there. This narrative I’m stitching together is my own cobbled together version from multiple accounts. And like any good car wreck – and make no mistake, this is a car wreck – each actor tells it a little differently.
Like, as an example, one party might say the 2×4 was going to be used to gently leverage the possum into the box. (Problems of what to do with the box afterwards notwithstanding.) I, and several members of my family, would like to believe this was going to culminate in a safe and humane disposal of the critter in question.
As opposed to, say, Pete smiting the possum like it was Job. Repeatedly.
All witnesses are in agreement that a possum stands up to a remarkable amount of smiting.
Now, I know, some read the above with understandable shock and horror. The possum, only possibly rabid, should have been treated as innocent until proven guilty. Someone should have wrested the 2×4 from our…sort of hero and gone all Dr. Quinn on the animal in question. But in all seriousness, what in the world was my younger kin, or even my older sire, really supposed to do in this situation? Call the police?
“Yeah… Car 9… We have a call about a man beating a possum to death with a 2×4.”
“This is Car 9… My radio’s acting up. I heard you say ‘a man beating a possum with a 2×4.’”
“Your radio is working fine.”
“I… So… You want me to…issue a citation?”
“We aren’t really sure.”
“Can I even do that? Do you need a license to hunt possum?”
“Well…no, but it’s generally discouraged to beat them to death in broad daylight on property you don’t own.”
“Dunno. I hear the owner’s kid is helping him put it in a box.”
“Disturbing the peace?”
“I think the possum is beyond pressing charges.”
“Look… I’m going to wait twenty minutes and do a drive-by. Provided nothing else is being actively beaten with a 2×4, we’re just going to let this one go.”
“I thought you said 2×4.”
“… We’re done here.”