by Phil Temples
I step out onto the back
porch to feed my pet lemur when my foot hits a
loose wood plank. The nail thats supposed
to keep the plank in place has been missing for
several weeks. You see, its the one I was
planning to fix it this weekend. I dont
know what happened to the missing nail. I reckon
the squirrels came along and pried up the plank
thinking there might be food under it or
something. Or maybe they was stashing their nuts
underneath the floorboards. It would have made a
good hiding place. Thats where Id
stash them. My nuts, I mean. If I
was a squirrel.
I was planning to fix the
plank this weekend. Well, actually, I was
going to fix it last weekend. But I wanted to
watch the football game and it started at 4 PM
but by the time the game was over it was totally
dark outside seein as how the game went
into overtime. I couldnt see to fix it
because the porch light burned out a few months
ago and since I almost never go out on the porch
except to get dog food from the airtight storage
tub to feed Banditlike I said, hes my
pet lemurit didnt seem like no big
deal to get around to it later. Anyway, on
account of the burned out bulb I never got around
to fixing the loose board last weekend. I like to
say, Never fix today what you can put off
til tomorrow. Actually, its the first
time Ive ever said it, plus I didnt
come up that up sayin to begin with. Its
somebody elses sayin.
Anyway, I step on the plank
and it flips up and smacks Bandits cage and
that causes the latch on the cage door to fling
open. I almost never bring Bandit and his cage
out onto the porch but I figured Id save
myself from havin to fetch the plastic
scoop from the kitchen where I last left it and
instead bring his cage out and grab a couple of
big handfuls from the tub and toss them in. But
now the door is wide open.
Bein the clever
little opportunist that he is, Bandit immediately
flies through the open door and skedaddles to
Gods-knows-where. Actually, I know where Bandit
skedaddles to. He heads across the back yard and
squeezes through a small break in the wooden
fence separating my yard and Betty Crawfords
like a little ghost he is. Its a good name
for em seein as how lemur
means ghost or spirit
from Roman mythology. Thats what the guy
told me the word lemur means, the one who sold me
Bandit. I was thinkin about naming him
Bernie at first, but Bandit seemed
like a better name cause of the rings hes
got around his tail. Makes him look kinda sneaky
like a criminal, right? The guy said to be
careful and not tell anyone I had him because
lemurs are endangered animals and Im not
supposed to be owning him in the first place. He
also said never to tell anyone his name since he
runs a reputable pet store and it could get him
into a lot of trouble with the authorities. I
couldnt do that anyhow because I forget his
name now. Not my lemur. I mean the
guy who sold me my lemur. My lemurs name is
I yell out, No!
but Bandit doesnt listen. He never
listens to me, seein as how Bandit doesnt
have the sense God gave a lemur. Instead he runs
right into Betty Crawfords yard where she
keeps her awful yappin pit bull, Ebenezer.
Now Ebby is a mean son of a
bitch. I always thought there was something a
little off about that mutt. He howls at just
about anything that moves--squirrels, birds,
airplanes. Why, hell even bark at the wind!
Sometimes Id walk up the fence and peer
over it and stare at him. Just lookin at
him must have been the same as tormenting him.
Ebbyd see me and start frothing at the
mouth and then hed charge at me. Its
like he didnt even see the fence between us,
or he didnt care. That damn dog would slam
into the fence over and over. I guess he wasnt
smart enough to figure out he couldnt get
to me. One day when I was peering over at
Ebenezer he charged at me twelve times! Ebbys
snout was covered with blood. Maybe he thought he
could break the sucker down. Old lady Crawford,
now she usually comes out and yells at Ebby and
tells him to cut it out but she must nota
been home that day. Ebenezer just kept
coming and coming. After awhile I felt sorry for
the stupid mutt so I left. I spect he broke
his goddamn nose.
Im fearing the worst:
that dogs gonna get a hold of Bandit and
rip him to pieces like he did to a squirrel a few
weeks ago. I cant cotton to that seein
as how Im attached to that dang lemur so I
run to the garage and I grab a shovel. I figure
if I get there fast before he can catch up to my
Madagascarian friend, I can tap the mangy dog
over the head without killing him. Who knows? It
might even knock some sense into the crazy mutt.
I race through the gate
separating our two yards and enter Crawfords
property half-expecting to come across Bandits
bloody remains but instead I see Bandit sitting
half-way up old lady Crawfords persimmon
tree on a big branch. Hes peering down at
Ebby and me with them big, wide eyes. I feel so
relieved! Now I surely dont know how Bandit
learned to climb trees. I didnt teach him.
Maybe its something thats bred into
them seeing as how they must have trees in
Ebby hears the gate open
and he turns around and spies me and Im
half-expecting him to come charging at me but no
hes totally fixated on Bandit. He continues
to bark his fool head off as he claws up big
clods of dirt and grass and flings it every which
way. Bandits taking this all in from
above. He looks like he could care less as he
sits there in that tree stroking his pecker.
Now what kind of self-respecting
primate plays with himself like that?
Meanwhile, old lady
Crawford appears at the back door with some kind
of a big handgun. I reckon its a .44 Magnum.
The recoil from those suckers is wicked! I shot
one last year at Smittys Range so I know
what Im talking about. Im
thinking to myself she shouldnt be waving
something like that around at night especially
seein as how shes blind as a bat so I
start to yell at her.
Hey, its me,
your next door neighbor, Clyde! Put that damn
thing away before you hurt somebody with it!
But she cant hear me on account of that
damn dogs infernal yapping. She steps down
off the porch and moves closer but on the last
step she trips on the edge of her nightgown and
starts to take a tumble and thats when her
finger accidentally squeezes the trigger and she
lets off a round. Fortunately she wasnt
aiming in my general vicinity but instead in the
vicinity of the Hogstead house, namely their
upstairs window. Well she wasnt actually
aiming at it. It just happened to go that
direction. The round, I mean. At
The bodacious sound from
that .44 puts the fear of God in Ebenezer. That
dog hightails it lickety-split for his doghouse
and once hes there he starts in to
whimperin. I feel sad for him. I guess he
dont like loud noises. I look around for
Bandit but hes nowhere to be found. Guess
he dont like loud noises neither.
This doesnt look
good I think to myself as Im
bending over Mrs. Crawford trying to wake her up
out of her concussed state because she hit her
head on the stone step from the recoil of the gun
and theres still the matter of me in a
backyard where I dont belong with a shovel
in my hand and her with a big gun still in her
hand smokin and the police pullin up
because the Hogsteads were scared shitless when
their bedroom window was blown to smithereens so
they called them. Them bein
the police. They bein
Before I know it, the cops
are in that backyard along with me and old lady
Crawford, pointing their Glocks. At me.
Not at old lady Crawford.
Now those Glocks are nice
weapons. I can see them clearly in the moonlight
and Im thinkin theyre fifth-generation
models probably the Glock 17 or 19, chambered for
9x19 millimeter if I had to guess.
Drop the shovel!
I recognize the voice
immediately as belonging to an old high school
friend of mine, Buddy Henderson. Even so, I
figure I better comply so I drop it. The shovel
makes a dull thud as it hits the ground but not
before the handle grazes old lady Crawford on the
pinkie of her right hand. Her shootin hand.
For a half a second, Im afraid it might
trigger what youd call an unconscious
reflex in old lady Crawford causing her to pull
the trigger, you might say triggerin a real
trigger. I could just see an unintentional
shooting war with me being the recipient of a lot
of 9x19 millimeter lead, something I dont
like to think about to this day.
Clyde? Is that you?
The two officers lower
Buddy motions at old lady
Crawford. She okay? Crawford is
beginning to sit up while holding her hand to her
Yeah, shell be
fine. Recoil from a .44 Magnum.
I guess youre
probably wonderin what this is all about.
You might say that.
I dont rightly
know where to start.
Start at the
beginning. Its usually the easiest.
Okay. Here goes:
I stepped out onto the back porch to feed
my pet lemur when my foot hit a loose wood plank.
Now, the nail that was supposed to keep the plank
in place has been missing for several weeks, its
the one I was planning to fix it this weekend but