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Humor February 2013

Strictly Humor

The Big Loaded Gun

By B. Elwin Sherman

With my finger on the trigger, my heart in my throat, my wife safely secured in the privy and another colorfast washload thumping away, I was ready to fire. The bear was teetering on the sill.

Gun control. Let’s straighten this out:

I have a big loaded gun. I don’t have a license or permit for it. Neither is required where I live, unless I want to carry it concealed while on foot, or loaded, concealed or not, in a vehicle.

There has been one time since I’ve had my big loaded gun that I’ve come even remotely close to using it on anything that uses lungs to exchange air (thus far, I’ve never felt mortally threatened by an intruding worm or land shark bent on destruction, but if either one makes a move toward me at home, I’m ready. I haven’t considered what I’d do if attacked by a giant centipede while driving, but that’s a risk I’ll assume.).

As a working humorist, danger is my business, and I’ve never wanted to put “mobile big bug self-defense” on the form as the reason why I was applying for a concealed carry permit.

One evening, as my wife Judy and I were busy in opposite ends of the house, I heard a thumping sound. I had a load of wash going, and I always manage to pack the clothes just off-kilter enough to set the thing a-thumping in the spin cycle. That’s what I thought I heard.

Until Judy screamed.

To be fair, it was more like a long “Aaaack!” sound: the kind of modified shriek she reserved for domestic crises, like when she discovered that I’d put her favorite white wool sweater in with my cheap dark socks.

But, her next utterance clarified everything: “HONEY! IT’S A BEAR!”

Even then, my first thought was that she was reacting to something on TV. Judy did this, and it was a behavior I’d always found endearing, though she’d subjected me to a few fits and starts before, when we’d begun watching an Agatha Christie mystery together and I’d drifted off to sleep, only to be jolted awake by her “Aaaack!” when the plot suddenly thickened.

But, this time, when I stood to investigate and looked down the hallway, I saw it. Holy shrunken discolored wool sweater on Miss Marple, Batman. This was serious. A big black bear was coming through the window.

There it was: its head and front paws inside the house, as it was attempting to pull itself over the windowsill.

Now we’ve arrived at the issue of gun control.

Most of us claim to know what we’ll do in a perceived life or death scenario. I say “perceived” because sometimes a treasured heirloom wool sweater permanently shrunken to size pre-toddler can feel like life or death for both wearer and shrinker.

But, at that moment, no further perception was necessary. Judy, peeking around the corner, leveled one more “Aaaack!” in the direction of the poised invader, then disappeared when I yelled something at her resembling “GO LOCK YOURSELF IN THE BATHROOM!” It resembled that a lot. She bolted off toward the john with a departing “Aaaack!” for good measure.

I reached for my big loaded gun, which was sitting nearby. I aimed it at the animal and shouted something resembling “SHOOO!” It resembled that exactly.

With my finger on the trigger, my heart in my throat, my wife safely secured in the privy and another colorfast washload thumping away, I was ready to fire. The bear was teetering on the sill. Time stood still, and I knew, then and there, that I would never mistake a hungry bear for an errant appliance again.

I also knew that if I didn’t shoot, and the bear toppled into the house and became trapped, all bets would be off. There’d be no politely showing it the door. Judy might never come out of the bathroom, and I’d never again do another load of mismatched clothes.

Then, simply and suddenly, the bear solved the problem by falling backward out the window and running off. I gave it another “Shooo!” as it crashed over the BBQ grille and into the darkness. Three well-aimed “Aaaacks!” and two “Shooos!” had taken their cumulative toll, shocked the bear into retreat mode, and Nature had done the rest.

Yes, I would’ve shot the bear. Shot it dead. And, I would’ve felt awful about it. The bear was just doing what bears do: following the trail of sunflower nuts on the ground under the birdfeeder to its source in the bag on the bench inside the house. Still, I’d have dispatched it with my big loaded gun if it had come to that, if for no other reasons than to save my wife and free-up the bathroom.

Now … the issue of gun control?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that arming bears isn’t it. I know that I controlled my big loaded gun. I know that it was me with the gun, not the gun without me, that didn’t shoot the bear.

I know that ruined laundry is no longer a crisis in this house.


B. Elwin Sherman writes from New Hampshire bear country.

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