I arose long before dawn, in the fog enshrouded dark, from my warm air mattress alongside the radiator. Consoling my groggy innards with coffee as hot as the morn was not, and as dark as the window through which, with sleep begrimed eyes I watched, I balanced my shotgun, breeched, upon my knee. For some time I sat upon a stool, watching nearsightedly for some stirring near a white fence that loomed monolithically in the mist.
The hillcrest became a black line contrast. A buck placidly eased along it. Another followed. Then suddenly my eyes were snatched by the trap at the periphery of my vision. In it wiggled a white- faced vermin. I had the satisfaction of having stopped this threat to my chickens, but was nevertheless burdened by the duty that I now had to execute.
I donned my marine-corps sweatshirt and stocking hat, belted on my jeans, and shut the breech of my shotgun with a determined click that announced its latent power. Too powerful: at the gun-case I traded it for a restrained but equally reliable .22. In my rubber boots I rounded the house. The possum faced me from its cage, a white circle of fur with malevolent black angled slits of eyes that held hatred and sure knowledge of what was to come. Not afraid, not sad, the possum awaited me head-on, angry that it had been suckered by this inferior creature, but resolute in the knowledge of its fate.
"Im sorry possum," I said, looking it in the face, and took direct aim at its forehead. Josie the cat appeared, rubbing around my boots and looking at the possum. "Go on Josie," I said, not wanting her to see what I had to do, nor to be startled by the gunshot. She did not listen, so I walked a distance to get her to follow. I left her sitting near the porch. I had to act now before she returned to be an outward judge of my inward compunction.
I clicked back the safety, took four quick strides towards the possum, formed an E upon its face with the sights of the rifle, and shot it. The possum whipped around, dying. I had hit it straight through the head, but I wanted no risk of it suffering, and fired twice more. The second shot blew its jaw half way off, and it bled heavily. One sure look confirmed the deed, and I lingered not one second more. I safed the rifle while turning immediately around, and as I stepped grimly, one step after another, I could not keep my head from hanging.
It is not possums' fault that they are evil, but nevertheless they are evil. they would gut 50 of my chickens in a few minutes, just for the fun of it, and eat only a mouthful. It had to be done.