Monday, November 25, 2013
The Price of Liberty
“Son of a buzzard,” Abram Turkle muttered. He shoved back from the table and stalked to the front door. Barely three hours into the Thanksgiving holiday and already the shotgun leaning by the doorjamb had seen action. He might even have hit the last one. He’d slammed the door before making sure.
Abram flung the door open and swung the gun to his shoulder. “Nothing here for you, bub. Just keep walking.”
The wolf stopped dead. Of course it was a wolf. It was always the wolves. They never learned. “Just hunting for my holiday dinner, Mr. Turkle sir. I’ll be on my way.”
“There’s no turkeys on my property, wild or domestic. Try the next ridge over. Or go down to the exit like the pigs are doing. There might be some food left at the buffet if you haul tail.”
The wolf was trying to peer past him into the house, where his family was seated at the dinner table. “As long as I’m here, can I—”
Abram fired over the wolf’s head. The man yelped and shifted to wolf. He hightailed it into the forest, leaving a pile of shredded clothing behind. Abram shut the door. “Every year,” he muttered. “Every damn pinfeathered year.”
It usually started the week before Thanksgiving. Suddenly every predator in Talbot’s Peak just “happened” to wander by the Turkle homestead. They knew he was retired and didn’t run the game farm any more. But then, it wasn’t game they were hunting for.
“Eat beef, dammit,” he grumbled. “Or fish. Or grouse. No law says it has to be turkey. Eat whole grains. They’re better for you. Damn stupid tradition anyway.”
He resumed his seat at the table. Scarcely had he got his butt situated just right when Abel, who was watching the monitors, announced, “We have movement. Six of ‘em coming up the slope from the east. Looks like they’re headed for the pens.”
“Not my chickens!” Abram’s wife Norma shoved back from the table. “I got this one.”
“You want the tommy gun, Ma?” Jimmy asked.
“Got something better.” Norma detoured into the kitchen. Moments later they heard the back door creak open. Abram buttered a biscuit.
Shortly after that a huge whump sounded from out back. A second, louder blast followed it. Abram heard a thin howl, but couldn’t tell if it was a sound of pain or terror. Hopefully both.
The kids abandoned dinner to cluster around the surveillance screens. “Holy crap! Lookit ‘em scatter!” Abel cackled. The whole family rose to award Norma a round of applause when she returned. “Way to go, Ma! What’s in those things?”
“A few common household chemicals in the proper proportions,” Norma said coolly. She seated herself without fuss.
Abram passed her the beets. “You’re a damn fine cook, Mrs. Turkle.”
“Got some stink bombs in the shed,” she said. “In case they come back.”
But nearly an hour passed with no action on any of the hidden cameras posted on the Turkles’ property. Maybe Norma’s homemade explosives had startled some sense into the fuzzy buggers. The kids got a kick out of watching deer and raccoons wander past the motion-sensitive cameras. Best investment he’d ever made, Abram decided, even if they only really used it on this one dad-blasted holiday. Better than watching football, that was for damn sure.
His daughter Sharon got up to clear the table. She still limped a bit from that close call a couple days back. Some she-wolf had chased her almost up to the property line. Lucky for Sharon the wolf was in heat, and a big male had distracted her. Sharon escaped with a pulled calf muscle. It could have been a lot worse.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so the old axiom went. For turkey shifters, it was more a way of life. Especially at this cursed time of the year.
“We should warn Mrs. Goslin,” Abram said. “Christmas coming up. Lotta folks might be wanting a fat goose this year.”
“Already talked to her,” Norma said. “Her girls are sensible and they know self-defense. They’ll be on guard until New Year’s.”
“We could have Jimmy give ‘em some target lessons. Just in case.”
“Movement,” Abel said suddenly. “Up in the trees. Could be a cougar.”
“Can I take this one?” Jimmy said. “The Winchester hasn’t seen action today.”
“Take your sister,” Abram ordered, motioning to Sharon. “You got the eyes for cats. Watch your brother’s back.”
“Yes, Daddy.” The two made for the gun safe in the den.
Abram loosened his belt. “I hate the holidays.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!