Perhaps this requires some background information. You see, I grew up in a heavily wooded part of western Massachusetts, miles from anything remotely resembling civilization. We always knew that it was time for dinner when our neighbor's car drove by, because we were the only two houses on our road, which, incidentally, had no name and mostly consisted of dirt and sharp rocks.

My father tells me that he was a sheep farmer before I was born, but he had given up farming after he met my mother and now keeps chickens and bees as a hobby, but a far more modern passion has recently enthralled him. After a lifetime of working for Boston & Maine and tending to his farm, his new hobby is the buying and selling of old railroad magazines on eBay, and I swear he must pull in over two grand a month as he slowly sells off his collection of 100,000+ magazines.

It so happened that it all started on a Thursday night of no importance, except for the fact that every Thursday night was very important, and my father had been working late (for him, late meant anytime after 20:00). You see, anyone who knows anything about selling items on eBay knows that Thursday is the day to sell. A seller can only post an item for a maximum of 10 days, meaning that the auctions will end on a Sunday. Sunday is eBay's biggest traffic day, and the bidders are all lined up to outbid each other at the last minute.

This Thursday was also my sister's birthday. If I were to describe the blood curdling terror of ten prepubescent girls on a sleepover birthday, it would bring back memories too horrible to put into words. The only details that I won't leave to your imagination is that they had set up camp in the living room and I recall that there was a makeover festival that went late into the night.

That's when the screaming started. Screeches of death in the night air.

Worst of all, the screaming was coming from outside, in the chicken yard.

Apparently, everyone was so busy on that particular Thursday night that the evening chores were forgotten. The chicken coop was left open and Mr. Bobcat was having a late dinner with our prized chickens. My father was furious.

So my dad sleeps naked. I am of the mind that this is the proper way to sleep, but many people seem to disagree. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. You need to picture a 60 year old naked farmer, with a bald head and a long, flowing beard, carrying a double barreled shotgun as he strides off into the crisp night air. Payback's a bitch!

The bobcat had been coming around every few days for the last two months. My father had been trying to find him since he first showed up because he was getting braver and braver as time went on. Bobcats love chickens, especially dead ones.

So it was with satisfaction that I watched my father from afar, completely naked except for some rubber boots and a shotgun, as he walked into the open door of the chicken coop. He said something heroically stupid, such as "Gotcha red handed!" or some similar drivel and pointed his shotgun.

BOOOOM.

Oooh the screaming of little girls was deafening! They all were yelling and running and trying to hide, but all the hiding places were taken, so they had resorted to just running and yelling.

My father came back, covered in blood. He muttered to me, "God damn it! That bobcat got one right between the eyes, but I think that I shot the Polish cock too."

He put the gun away and went back upstairs to take a shower. The Defcon level was returned to normal, and the little girls all fell back asleep after an hour of whimpering. All was well again.

Except the next morning, after burying the bobcat, my father could not find the Polish cock. He seemed really confused because he remembers exactly where the corpse was lying the night before. Theories of two bobcats started surfacing.

But this was not the case, as we found out later that day. The cock was alive and well and pecking at all the chickens. Apparently the noise from the gunshot had scared the rooster so much that he went unconscious. He wasn't dead after all!

There was much rejoicing, but not from my mother. She had spent the day explaining to confused and/or angry mothers about the events of the previous night. Needless to say, my father no longer sleeps naked.

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