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Gun Control

It was a pitch-black night. I glanced up, opened my mouth to say--felt the body hit, heard the lump lump lump as parts thumped the underlength of our car. "We've got a problem; I've got to pull over," my husband's voice sounded strained. I glanced over and saw all of the idiot lights on the dash lighted up. "A wof, it was a wolf," I said. "All the lights lit the instant we hit; I've never seen a dash light up like that," he said. "When we were abreast of the truck, I got a really good look at it in the truck's headlights. It was stretched out, running for all it was worth. It was furry and golden and beautiful--and very well-fed." "I just saw it out of the corner of my eye; it was huge." "I can't believe there are wolves here. I thought they were all up at the Canadian border."
"I feel really bad, hitting it like that. I suppose I should go back and make sure it's dead; I'm sure it is. It sounded like it was dismembered under the car." "Yeah, I'm sure it's dead; you can't back up the freeway." "No, I'll have to walk back and take a look." "What will you do if it is still alive?" "I suppose finish it off; I hate to see it suffer." "With what? You don't have a gun; you don't even have a big stick. You know Dad said he had to club animals to death when he trapped during the depression." "Oh gross. I'm sure it's dead. I suppose I could hit it with the tire iron." "Don't be rediculous. Besides, if it is alive, injured animals can be really ferocious, I've heard." "I don't even have a flashlight with me; it's a ways back, I think." "Oooo, you can't go back." "Why not?" "They run in packs; where there's one, there's more." "Oh. Well, I'm sure it's dead. It has to be--with all that thumping around. Besides, we have another problem--the car.

It was a late spring afternoon, a rare clear day. "No one's been up here for a while," my husband steered our little white truck around some of the bigger fallen branches and crunched over the littler ones. We stopped in a road cut, climbed out of the cab, stood with our backs to the bank, and looked out over the little canyon below us where we could see the creek meandering through our quiet neighborhood of rural homesites. We looked across to the spruce-covered hills on the other side. Then we turned and threw out a couple of small branches we had pruned from a little tree in our yard. I was facing my husband when I said in a hushed voice, "I feel like we're being watched." "Get in," he was scanning the bank above now. I got in the truck, and so did he. "I didn't see anyone," he said. "Neither did I." "No one's driven up here for a long time." "No."

He pulled ahead to a clear-out area and stopped. He looked around. I think this will be all right. "Let's throw the rest out here, and then we'll go. It's getting late anyway," he said. There were very few branches to throw. It was dusky by now. We got back in the truck, he started the engine; he flipped on the headlights, and turned to see where he was backing. At that instant I saw it. A lithe tawny cat leaped off the bank and slunk under the low-hanging branch of a cedar. "A cougar!" He whipped around and stared in the direction my finger pointed. We waited some moments, but saw nothing more of it. "We're probably only half a mile off the main road," he breathed. I shuddered. "No wonder we never see deer around here anymore."

It was a rare, gorgeous, warm, sunny afternoon at the beach. A few other people were out to walk like we were. I scanned the horizon for boats and kept my eye out for sand dollars. As many people as there were out today, finding one wasn't likely. I watched the wet sand squish around my old tennis shoes. I had my arm through my husband's. He had his hands in his pockets. "Whoa!" His voice sounded alarmed; I glanced up to see two tall gray timber wolves bounding toward us, probably somebody's pets. A man held leashes they must have been hooked to. A woman stood near him.

They didn't call the animals back, though the wolves were baying, lips skinned back over their ragged teeth. They reached us in an instant and started circling around us. We stood back to back, facing them, turning, turning in circles, always facing them. They were working together, closing in, circling, circling. They made biting motions toward our mid-sections as they worked their way closer, closer. We turned and turned to keep facing them; my husband yelled and kicked at the wolves with his boot; I yelled and kicked at them with my flimsy tennis shoe. The wolves snapped their teeth inches from our stomachs as we circled, back to back, yelling, kicking. During one instant, I was conscious of my husband's solid warm back; conscious that he was desperately trying to save us. The fury behind his boot was all that kept the wolves from making their final assault. Finally, when it seemed we couldn't hold them off any longer, when it seemed they would tear our guts out, the woman began yelling, yelling, yelling. I couldn't understand the words, but the wolves finally turned and loped over to her. She still didn't put them on leashes. We cautiously walked backwards. When it seemed the wolves were going to stay by their owners, we turned and walked away. Still afraid, we looked back, only to see the wolves make a move toward us again. "Don't look back," the people called. "I'm calling the sherriff," my husband called. The people snapped the leashes onto their pets and led them off the beach.

It was evening. My husband and I sat in a gun class. My husband was taught to use a gun by his father. My husband taught our sons gun safety, but I was never interested. No one in our family hunts, and we were never interested in guns. Actually, guns kind of gave me the creeps, but the incident with the wolves was the last straw, and if I ever have to face a pack of them, I thiknk I want an AK 47 with a high-capacity magazine. I don't want to have to reload.


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