Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Shot in the Dark

           Mother and I were sitting at the breakfast table; I do so enjoy papaya with a little lime juice squeezed delicately over it.  Mother had taken the time to cut some small squares of cheese cloth and each section of lime was carefully wrapped in a little square of cheesecloth and secured with a neatly tied piece of fine white string. I put the piece of lime down on a small china plate and wiped the tips of my fingers with the linen napkin that was at my place.

            “Well, Mother,” said I, “What do you think of our new neighbours?”

            Mother replied, “As little as I possibly can.”

            Ever since that debacle by the mailbox Mother had been chiding me.  In all fairness, how was I to know that my dramatic performance the other morning would actually entice them to lease the house next door?  I said, ‘lease,’ not ‘rent.’  Lease for a whole year, no less.  Imagine that!  Not merely rent for a month or so.  I fear that we are in for troubled times.  Why only last night there was a terrible commotion.

            We were sitting in the living room listening to Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  You know, that wonderful piece with the cannons firing in time with the music, when there was the sound of loud shot from somewhere near our front yard.  We knew it wasn’t one of Tchaikovsky’s cannons because it sounded, quite clearly, out of proper rhythm.  Then, just as the Overture reached its crescendo there were several more loud reports from the front of the house.

            Now we generally don’t make it known but Mother’s maiden name was Toliver and she came from one the oldest and finest New England families.  Her grandfather Antonio Talliaferro emigrated from Palermo to England and thence to Boston, Massachusetts, where he changed his name to Anthony Toliver.  Among his belonging was a marvelous old lupara.  You know, that short Sicilian shotgun.  Grandfather Toliver had it embossed with the family crest and it has been handed down as a family heirloom. 

            We have had a number of robberies and home invasions in the better area of town where we live.  We have of late been quite concerned for our safety and security, so I took  the lupara and loaded it with rock salt laden shells and put it in the umbrella stand by the grandfather clock in the foyer.  After all, the intention is just to warn these unconscionable criminals.

            Now, when Mother heard the shots outside she was seized with a passion for home defense and moved with dignity, but with considerable alacrity to the foyer and seized the lupara, opened the door, and discharged both barrels into the front yard.  Immediately we heard loud muffled screaming from inside our neighbour’s house, echoed by even louder screaming from the bushes in front of our home.  I quickly took the lupara from Mother and dropped it into my golf bag in the foyer closet and called 911.  I suppose I will have to go golfing next week.  There is a marvelous water hazard at our club where I have lost an untold numbers of golf balls, and that will come in quite handy.

            In a matter of minutes there was the sound of sirens closing in on our neighbourhood.  When the dust settled and things were sorted out, the police let it be known that the large unkempt woman next door, curlers, house coat and all, thought she saw a skunk out in front of their house.  She took her pistol and rushed out front and discharged several bullets.  One of the bullets wounded her husband in the posterior portion of his anatomy.

            As I said to the police, “There was no odour of skunk.  It was probably the horrid little black and white pug belonging to the neighbour across the street.  They have the nasty and disgusting habit of letting that little monster out the front door where it roams the neighbourhood and does what it considers it duty on all of our lawns.”

            As I said to the police, “I have no idea where the other shots came from, and as the large bellicose woman who had been firing an unlicensed fire arm only suffered some stinging cosmetic wounds, I consider that all in all there was no harm done.”

            Now, to be fair, I was somewhat uneasy about what had happened so I remonstrated with Mother.  “Now, Mother,” said I, “it is hard to imagine Jesus discharging a lupara out the front door.”

            Mother replied loftily, but quite correctly, “Now, now, Alfred.  I’m sure that Jesus didn’t have to contend with neighbours who discharge firearms in the middle of the night.  What a shame!  What a shame!”

            Well, nevertheless, when all is said and done, it says somewhere in the Bible, better safe than sorry, and I will just have to go golfing in the very near future.

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