Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets


My trophy wife, Sugar, was outside with the dogs while I watched Chisum.  As it turned out, viewing the John Wayne movie was a good way to prepare for my imminent deadly showdown.

I heard my wife’s alarming scream.  Then she called out to me, “Al, come out here.  Hurry!”  I moseyed up from the couch, ever obedient, ever vigilent.

I still did not know what she was frightened about.  (Girls can be overly dramatic and mysterious).  I empathetically inquired about what was troubling her.  Her response was not responsive to my question.  She uncalmly commanded, “Get a gun.”  Well, that was the main idea.  She was much more eloquent.

As an aside, in order to give some background to the scenario, I want you, gentle readers, to be informed that Sugar grew up in Texas.  Also, she is of Italian extraction.  You may combine your prejudiced stereotypes as you imagine  her emotional communication.

Further, Sugar’s desire that I bring a gun was not unrealistic.  I possess several firearms, including a pair of Colt .45s in a quickdraw holster, various rifles, and a couple shotguns.  They are part of the decor of our mountain cabin and readily available.  The NRA sends emails to me daily concerning unconstitutional threats to gun ownership.  I also am a member of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which sponsors cowboy shooting competitions.  My SASS alias is Big Bronc.  Her’s is Miss Sugar.  Clearly, it was not unreasonable for her to ask me to get a gun.

So I emerged from the front door unarmed.  Sometimes I opt for hand-to-hand combat.  I wanted to assess the enemy’s strength before selecting a weapon.  I try to make it a fair fight.  No sense wasting ammo.

“Who needs killin’?  It don’t make me no nevermind.”   I stated the obvious.  “Womenfolk got nothin’ to fear when Big Bronc is around.  I will fight to the death anyone that threatens you and them yeller dogs.”   This little gal surely knew she could count on me.

“Oh, Big Bronc, there is an evil rattlesnake down there.  Please protect me and our precious pets.  You are so brave and strong and handsome.”  Those were not her exact words, but I knew that was what she desired to tell me.

“Get the shotgun with the snakeshot shells!,” Miss Sugar daintily suggested.  “Shoot it from up here on the porch so you don’t git yerself kilt.  I ain’t in the mood to call no hearst.”  She doesn’t talk like that either, but it would sound more like an authenic western story if she would have.

So I went to the toolshed and got a shovel.  I know she wanted me to use a gun, but this particular shovel is a narrow type of spade known in these here parts as a “sharpshooter.”   It is a weapon with which I have beheaded unfortunate snakes in the past.  Yes, this was fixin’ to be a fight to the death.

Miss Texas noticed what I had selected.  “You dang fool!  That rattler is going to bite you.  They can strike further than that little shovel.”  I wish she didn’t talk like that.

So I walked over to the snake, carrying only the sharpshooter shovel.

It was coiled and shaking its rattles.  It was a mean one, poised to strike.

Women are no help at a time like this.  I didn’t need some girly girl weeping about me.  I can take care of myself.  Still, through it all, I could hear Sugar’s sweet voice.  “Watch out, you idiot.  He is going to strike.”  I supposed that she was addressing the snake, giving him one last chance to retreat.  That is certainly how I took it.

Members of the general public are not usually quick enough or coordinated enough or brave enough to attempt what I was about to do.  That mean old snake probably did not recognize who he was facing.  He probably thought I was a member of the general public.

Instead, he was dealin’ with Big Bronc, the toughest hombre north of the Pecos, or at least the North Poudre Irrigation Canal.

I met his steely glare.  He didn’t show any fear as he hissed and rattled, but I had a feelin’ that, deep inside his cold heart and reptile brain, he knew this showdown would be his last.

My calloused hand was ready for action.

“Say when.”  I confidently offered him that advantage as I smirked.  (I have found that smirking intimidates.)

The tension grew.  Then Old Snake Eye made his move.  It was the moment of truth.   Or consequences.  One of us would soon be dead as a doornail.  He had my vote.

A blood-curdling scream broke the tense silence.  (Sometimes smirking alone is not intimidating enough.  One has to be adaptable when engaged in a fight to the death.)  I should not have called it a scream.  It was more like a war-cry.  A manly war-cry.

Well, I’m here to tell you that with one lightning fast blow, I pinned that coiled snake to the ground.  The blade of the sharpshooter got it right behind its open-mouthed head.  I did not let up until I cut its head clean off. Sugar warned that the venom is still dangerous, even after it was beheaded.  Like I don’t know that.

I scooped the detached head into the shovel and proudly showed her the proof of my victory, waiting for her to praise my skill and courage.  She did not express her admiration in words, but I could see it in her eyes.

“Shucks, M’aam.  It weren’t nothing any old hero wouldn’t do.”

I could tell she longed to reward me with a kiss.  There was things I had to take care of first.  After disposing of my vanquished foe, I put my trusty sharpshooter back in the shed and quietly rode off into the sunset.

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16 thoughts on “Sharpshooter

  1. As your trophy wife, I can vouch that the rattlesnake “didn’t have a chance.”

  2. Now, do I have this story right, sir? Here was this innocent rattler going about his own business, acting as your friendly neighborhood pest control agent, devouring those nasty rats that would gnaw you out of house and home.

    Suddenly there arose an awful screeching, some lady bird perched on the porch sounding an alarm that terrified him. And before he had time to take cover, out comes this menacing man beast waving a cold steel shovel in his face.

    So the snake acts purely in self-defence and for that he’s cruelly put to death. Totally denied due process of law to determine his lawful claim to the area. Now the ecological balance in your yard is completely upset and rats are gnawing at the corners of your stable, a just reward for your unwarranted heroics.

    (Would I make a good lawyer?)

    • Yes, M’am, you purdy much got it right exceptin’ about the rats. We don’t got none. The mountain lions take care of ’em. You would be a fine lawyer as long as you don’t make assumptions such as about us having rats. It was baby birds I was defendin’. See Me and Pecos Bill.

      • You’re right; a lawyer has to take every single thing into consideration. And since you were defending baby birds…

        By the way, thank Miss Sugar for the idea about using a mirror to look into a nest. I’m about to do just that right soon.

  3. I don’t think John Wayne would have used a shovel 😯 I’m with Sugar…get the shotgun!

    • I wasn’t killing it the John Wayne way. I was killing it the Pecos Bill way, swinging it around my head and tossing it off the porch, then cutting its head off. A shotgun takes no talent and little bravery. I like to show off.

  4. May I use this story at a story telling at my local “Active Adult (senior) Center? I usually and appropriately ask permission in case you are copyrighted. I am a story teller and this is really really really good stuff!

    • You are welcome to use my stories. I hope the senior center audience likes them. I am flattered that you want to share them. Thanks for the compliment.

      • Thank you for the permission. I’ll let you know! Last week the storyteller did not show up and had I known. . . so I am going to offer/volunteer for a story telling spot. I just joined the group recently. I absolutely love telling stories but I don’t like to write them. I always borrow. Thanks again for permission!

  5. Since we are swapping snake stories you may want to read mine! lol

    • You win, based on greater number of encounters. Do you save the rattles? Anyone can say they have snakes, but can you prove it by taking scalps, I mean rattles?

      • No……… not only do I not do good with snakes…… dead things make me scream like a girl! I will take pictures….with my zoom lens….from far away! You win Big Bronc! lol

  6. Reblogged this on Shootin' the Breeze and commented:

    This is a re-blog of a story that fits the subject matter of Deadly Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch.

  7. Snakes. Any snakes. Eeeek!

  8. Little targets are tough to hit with the shotgun~!!~ My grandmother lived in the Mojave Desert in California and never went anywhere without her shovel, sharpened with a death edge. She was certain to bury the head after removing it from the body of the snake. It is said that the venom will crystallize and be lethal for years. I remember having similar encounters as a small child and witnessing the 5 foot tall, white haired woman in an apron using the shovel !

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