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Cat Skinning and Other Hobbies
by Matt Mok

Joe had spent nearly an hour digging at the dense unrelenting ground with his hoe in a futile attempt to remove the tree stump. He was drenched in sweat and tired and sore, but all he had managed to accomplish was clear the soil around the foot-wide trunk. He wiped the sweat from his brow and threw down the hoe.

"You gonna give me a hand or what?" he asked Ben, who laughed.

"Who, me?  No way."  He swatted away some dirt that clung to his shirt from Joe's last swing.

Joe grunted, picked up a pickax and swung it at the stump near its base. He wedged it under a large entrenched root and using a rock as leverage, tried to pry the trunk loose. But it was useless.

"Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat," he said as he threw the pickax onto the accumulated pile of useless garden tools.

"What cat?" asked Ben.

"Huh?" Joe started walking to the shed. Ben followed.

"What cat are you skinning?  You making a hat?  A scarf?"

"You realize you're an idiot, right?"

"Seriously, that must be one of the most nonsensical sayings around. I mean, on any given day, what person would be faced with not only the task of skinning a cat, but also the conundrum of finding alternates methods for it?"

"Mmhmm." He was used to Ben's ranting and was already rummaging through the shed for a solution to the current predicament. Meanwhile, outside on the grass, Ben continued his tirade against idioms in the English language.

"I mean, why not 'There's more than one way to murder a hobo'?  Or, milk a spider monkey?  Or--"

He was interrupted by the loud revving sound of the chainsaw Joe had brought out of the shed.

"You keep thinking about that while I take care of this stump."