My mother, the killer


We were a gun-totin’ family.  My father had at least half a dozen hunting rifles, of which he was very proud.  After his death, my mother kept one (loaded) in her bedroom, for emergencies.



Yes, I know. Mammy Yokum. Ma Kettle. But she knew how to use it.



She continually fought moles in her beloved garden; she set traps for them, mean little miniature bear-traps, stuffed down into their burrows.  (If you’ve ever seen a mole, you know how small and delicate they are.  But, to my mother, they were Lucifer incarnate, because they ruined her garden.) Sometimes, however, they triggered the traps and then ran away unharmed, and this infuriated her.  So she came up with the idea of chaining the trap to a metal post.



One morning she looked out the window to see the post rocking back and forth frantically.  Moles (as I said) are pretty small.  She’d obviously caught something much bigger.



It turned out to be a big mean angry badger.  It was caught fast, and it growled at her and ran back and forth, and tried to get free



And she shot it dead.



Story number two:



On one of my visits to her in the earlyt 1990s, I woke in the middle of the night to hear an odd scraping sound outside. Mom’s house was miles from anywhere, out in the woods, so there was normally complete silence outside, apart from wind and rain and the howling of coyotes. I mentioned this at breakfast. She looked grim. “I heard it too,” she said. “Goddamned porcupine.  Chewing on the back steps. I’ll get it one of these days.”



(Editorial note: porcupines like to chew on wood that’s been handled by human beings. The wood gets impregnated with salt – generally from our sweat.  And porcupines are infatuated with salty wood.  They will eat the handles of axes and mallets and hammers, just to imbibe all the delicious salt that’s in there.)



Within a few weeks after my return to Providence, Mom told me the following story:



She started waiting for the porcupine, and finally one evening, she surprised it, and came out of the house toting her rifle.  Being a smart little porcupine, he flattened himself against the house, reasoning that Mom wouldn’t be so stupid as to shoot into her own house. 



He didn’t realize how resourceful she was.  She put down her rifle, picked up a broom, and started spanking him.



Squalling, he ran from her, out into the yard.



And then she shot him.



I come from tough stock, people. 





About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to My mother, the killer

  1. kleeyaro says:

    I learned something new about porcupines today. Salty wood. Yummy.

  2. christiana83 says:

    Nice to hear about someone who takes matters into her own hands! I’m definately an admirer. I pity anyone who tries to break into her house.

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