Troy and Samantha are perfectly fine people. He works hard, fishes a bit and uses his small college baseball skills as a Little League coach. She also works (not as hard), looks a little more than good in a sundress and unloads a torrent of dirty jokes after a couple of cosmos.
But the sonsabitches destroyed a bird cover of mine. Sometimes I can’t get past that. Sometimes I want to pull into their yard on a Saturday morning, uncrate the dogs and let ’em shit on the lawn as I stand on their beautiful back deck and fire both barrels at their clothesline.
I won’t do that of course. I took at a verbal poke at them one buzzed night for being flatlanders – chiseling down the price of 20 acres from a nearly broke dairy farmer and then building a tidy $400,000 home in an overgrown apple orchard and taking away a sweet little spot I had to hunt just minutes from my house. It didn’t go over so well – maybe it was my delivery. Maybe it was a little too close to the truth.
It happens a lot around here. A lot, a lot. A new house goes up in the middle of a perfectly good bird cover – an overgrown assemblage of old apple trees, a few awkward aspens, a clumping or two of softwoods and maybe some dogwoods. I’ve stood in Troy and Samantha’s back yard, long before it was a backyard, of course, and killed a big mature grouse as it flushed directly over my head. Where I was standing – I folded the bird with the first barrel, by the way – is now the spot they keep their kayaks in the winter.
Troy told me it wasn’t his fault, you know, that we build new houses on old land. We’ve got plenty of trees and forests around here (which is true), so it’s not like he assembled a strip mall in the middle of a wildlife refuge.
He reminded me I’m not without sin, either. My house stands in an old farm field. It’s not like I live in a old house in the middle of town and walk to work. I should have come up with the money the farmer needed and bought the bird cover if it meant so goddamn much to me. He told me this as I sipped his Crown Royal. As a response I took a big, deep drink.
He’s right. He’s not entirely to blame. I’m not, either. While I’ve gained friends and damn fine neighbors and all that hunky dory stuff, I’ve lost a few bird covers over the years. All in the name of progress and growth, I guess.
I’m waiting for the day they tell me – they’ll be laughing of course – that those birds I always hunt, what are they? Partridge? Grouse? Are they the same thing? Yeah, well, anyway one of them flew into the sliding glass door on their back deck and must have broken its neck. They found the poor thing dead, “Tits up” she’ll say, right there on the Trex deck. She’ll tell me it kind of made her sad.
Yeah, kind of sad. That’s about right.
– Matt Crawford