Submitted By mywbm
R.J. Meaddough, III, The Death of Tommy Grimes (1962)
Tommy had become part of the ground. At least he felt that way as he watched the dew and the daylight make giant shiny cobwebs of the treetops. The sun had not yet risen and a mist lay over the ground, which made the forest seem rather spooky to him. His nose itched and he longed to scratch it, maybe just nudge it a little, but Pa said don’t move, don’t twitch, don’t even breathe hard. Not one arm, one hand, even one finger, he said. “He knows the woods,” Pa told him; “you’ll never know he’s there; suddenly he’ll just be there looking at you, just looking.” It started so long ago, Tommy remembered, almost a year, when he was just eleven. That night, in the hen-yard, with the weasel’s eyes glistening in the flashlight. He never even fired a shot, just stood there with his mouth open, foolish, while the weasel dashed into the woods. And Pa knocking the rifle from his hands and asking, “Why didn’t you shoot? What you waiting on? What’s wrong with you, boy?” “Pa, I . . . I couldn’t, Pa. I just couldn’t.” Pa hunkered down and pulled on a blade of grass. He didn’t say anything for a minute, just knelt there chewing on that grass. “You never did like to kill nothing did you, boy? Even when you was small.” Tommy looked at the ground with out saying anything and his father sighed, “Tommy, dammit, a man always dies a little when he kills something, but it just plain has to be done. Some animals just ain’t no damn good and got the be killed. Understand?” He nodded without answering, still looking at the ground, and Pa stood up with a groan and they walked into the hen-house without speaking. They counted forty-three dead pullets, lying in red and white patches of feathers, blood and confusion. So he began to practice with the rifle, shooting at…...