When the phone rings at night, and you live in a rural area, typically things are not well.
Is there a bear on the front porch?
Is someone trapped in a mine shaft?
Is your neighbor drunk and running over your cattle with his pickup?
I wanted to share a story from this Christmas, a minor story, but one that I found very representative of my life, and even scarier, my mother.
So a few days ago I was at mom's for Christmas. Some friends were visiting and were staying in the "bunk house" on the property, a recently redone, smallish building that doubles as a guest house. It's too small to be a house, but you get the point.
Typically Texas, temps were going from the 20's to the 80's and back again, and the animal world was probably wondering which way was up.
At midnight on the second night I heard my phone buzzing. I hate the phone. Have I mentioned this? I could go for the rest of my life and not talk on the phone and be perfectly happy. But, it starts buzzing and I wonder,"Hmmm, who is calling at midnight?"
I check the number and see that it is our friend in the bunkhouse, a mere 50 yards away.
"Do you have a flashlight?" my friend asks.
Ahhhhh, the infamous question.........which again, in the rural world, or even semi-rural world usually means something is a little off.
Luckily for me, and thanks to my amigo Eric, Numero Siete, I not only have a flashlight, I have the Special Forces flashlight. This baby cuts a serious beam. You can blind people for fun.
So anyway, as I'm angling down the cut log stairs of my mom's cabin, she hears me and says, "What's up?"
My friend had asked for the flashlight because "something" was under the house. I relayed this to my mom, she went one way, and I went out the front door to walk to the "bunk house" and see what was what.
My friend was outside and said, "There is something under the shower, and it's clawing at the floor."
Now, anything that will hole it's way under a house and nest in the middle of the night is probably not something I want to spend a lot of time around, and when you add the darkness, the late hour and the aspect of the unknown, I become a complete chicken.
So, my buddy and I are standing there with flashlights and S-L-O-W-L-Y inching our way around the back of the structure.
Did I mention how dark it was?
As we were doing our thing my mother had decided to take up a suppressing fire position just off to our right.
Now here is the critical point to this story.
I look over and there is my 70-year-old mother, all 5 foot 5 of her, in her SANTA PAJAMAS, holding a twelve-gauge, over-under shotgun.
Just the idea of this pairing would stun most humans, but there she was in her fully glory. Christmasy, but thirsty for rodent blood.
"I'll blast it," she said.
Suddenly I was five.
"What do you want for Christmas little Danny?" Santa would ask.
"I want a vaporized skunk that my mom shot!!"
What do you think of that Santa? How you like me now?
Ever had a request like that Santa?"
"Santa, I want fresh meat!" I would squeal.
Now here is the real kicker.
At the moment.........I didn't even give this a second thought.
Is it my time in California, my city life beginning to erode all traces of my once rural life?
Mom plus gun, plus Santa pajamas? Is this normal?
What would Santa think?
Maybe he would leave her a few dozen rounds of buckshot. A slug for being extra good.
Her nickname is Annie Oakley, and it ain't by accident. She earned it.
And Christmas was the perfect time to remind us all.
We never did find what was under there, but I can see her a few weeks from now, dressed in camo, staring down the beast.
"Come get some."
Merry Christmas everyone.