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Shannon Bardwell: One that got away


Shannon Bardwell



That morning while putting out cat food, I noticed a possum in the critter trap. We had extra family at the house and everyone was scurrying to get to church. I asked my brother-in-law, Tim, if he''d mind getting rid of the possum. Tim''s the kind of guy you can ask that sort of thing.  


People know when they spend the weekend at the Prairie house it ain''t condo-living. It means the electricity might go out or the phones will stop working, you might not have cell service, and there''s no high-speed Internet. But there''s fishing in two lakes, watching deer grazing, bunnies hopping, birds feeding, possums, raccoons, armadillos -- and there was that alligator once.  


We do have satellite TV. 


The week before, I hauled off another possum to Leroy''s Landing (and previously more than 50 varmints) but on this day, I didn''t have time, and besides, I was wearing high heels. Tim was agreeable. I figured he''d find a nice place down near the river somewhere.  


At church Tim reported that everything went fine with the possum, except he wished he had put some newspaper under the cage. "Oh, I forgot to tell you that," I said. "Where''d you let him out?" 


"Near the bridge on the one-lane road going to Shaeffer''s Chapel." 


Oh no, I hope the church people didn''t see him. I was hoping he''d do the deed in a more inconspicuous place. 


"Yep," said Tim, "The little fella flipped right out of the cage and into the water. He flipped and flopped, got out of the water on the other side and took off." Tim grinned, and there was a sparkle in his eyes. I recognized a kindred spirit.  


I''m pretty proud of my possum-trapping ability. With a bit of braggadocio, I told Sam, "Tomorrow I''m going to catch two possums." We laughed at the absurdity.  


The next morning I peeked out the window, and there were two possums at the cage. "Sam ... " I whispered. "I got two!" 


"Two what?" 


"Two possums!" He crept to the window and, sure enough, there were two. 


Possum hunting can be a dangerous sport and only for the quick and agile. One night while the critter trap was on the side of the house, I spied a possum munching the cat food on the back porch. I ran to get the trap and place it alongside the wall, forcing his retreat into the cage. Possums can''t see too good, so I was pretty sure I could pull it off. 


In my haste, I failed to remember a planter in my path and found myself flying through the air with a critter trap following.  


Let me tell you, flagstones have no give whatsoever.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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