Orion and I were walking to get the mail and stopped to talk to a guy who lives further back up in the woods and I honestly don’t know, do you have such weird conversations? Cause I do, all the time, I’m just walking along minding my own business and next thing I know someone is telling me about his dogs. Couple of embellishments but this is largely as I heard it.
Beauty knew there was something in the grill as soon as we walked out onto the deck. I had been to the post office and when I came home she was going nuts in the back sun room. I put my package down – a box of socks from Amazon, funny what sticks in your head – and walked back there to see what got into her.
She’s a Jack Rat, see, a Jack Russell crossed with a Rat Terrier, and she’s real smart. Not too hyper, I mean, she’s a terrier, sure, but nothing like her momma, Beatrice, she was the Jack Russell, whooo she’d go harder than a meth cook. Anyway, so Beauty was sure there was something on the deck. Once she got me back in the sunroom she went straight back to the back door and stood there, quivering, glancing up at me and then up at the door knob, just in case I had an attack of the stupids and forgot what she wanted.
I asked her, what’s wrong, girl? Is it a rat? Is there a rat out there? Getting her all hyped up. I thought it was a tree rat, see, one of them big things looks like a squirrel got its tail skinned. They’re fast, but she’s faster, she’s killed a couple of ’em. She knew what I was doing, but she didn’t go crazy like she usually does, hopping up and down barking at the door. She just stood there, steady, trembling, waiting.
Well, I figured she didn’t have to play my game to deserve her chance to have fun, so I opened the door and she shot out and something in the grill thumped as it hit the inside wall.
It was one of them propane grills, a big, nice four-jet one. Had lava rocks to distribute the heat evenly, a bun warmer in the lid, little burner on the side to keep your bar-be-que sauce hot, bottle opener on the other side. I paid damn near four hundred dollars for it. Such a nice grill. But anyway, it went thump and Beauty starts darting back and forth under it, claws scrabbling on the deck boards. I couldn’t work out how a rat got in there, but I didn’t really stop to think about it. I didn’t want a faceful of rodent so I grabbed a broom propped by the back door and used that to flip the lid back.
Something black and shiny and fast popped out of there and I had just a second to think, hey, that ain’t no rat I ever seen before Beauty was on it, snarls bubbling out of her like a tea kettle, and it hissed and they were rolling around on the deck together.
I flipped the broom around, held it like a spear, see, but I’m not gonna lie, I couldn’t get a shot at the thing because that little dog was all wrapped up in it. I could see the legs, and that long, thick tail, and I saw the fangs when it hauled off and bit Beauty in the face. She shrieked and let go of where she was worrying at it and it was like the son of a bitch levitated, it just went flying across the deck so fast. It hit the corner of the house and started up it, got chest-high to me before I could blink. Beauty got herself flipped back on her feet and she jumped like I’ve never seen, straight off the ground flat-footed and she hit that thing six feet off the ground.
They came tumbling down together but something was different, and it took me a minute to realize that the thing had been shrieking the whole time and now it wasn’t shrieking. See, terriers, they’re vermin killers. They’re not big enough to grab the big vermin and shake them and snap their necks, not like a real big dog can, so what they do is grab their prey and squeeze their lungs and suffocate them. And that’s what Beauty was doing, now that she had it by the right spot she wasn’t gonna let go.
And she wouldn’t let go, not for damn near twenty minutes. I went and got the shotgun – it had birdshot but I loaded it with buckshot, I wasn’t taking any damn chances with that weird looking son of a bitch, but she wouldn’t come off it til long after we both knew it was dead.
So there you go, Warden. I dunno what the hell it is. Like a goddamn armadillo crossed with a rat, but that face almost looks human. Beauty looks like she don’t feel too hot, so I might watch those teeth for poison maybe. We’re on the way to see Doc K and get this little girl patched up, so if you don’t have any more questions right now?