Halloween was a hoot. And election night proved to be downright electrifying. But after all that excitement, the lady of the house and I needed a break.
I wanted to go on a hike. But the lady wanted me to take her on a drive. So we compromised: I drove her way up high onto the side of Skagit County’s Anderson Mountain, and then we went on a hike.
But what began as just a quick, innocent stroll over some overgrown logging roads turned quickly into a emotionally taxing ordeal when—while crossing through the middle of an enormous clear cut—we walked into a gaping gravel quarry that had been turned into an outdoor firing range.
“What the blazes are all these colorful little cylindrical things?” the lady asked, stopping to pick up one of the thousands of empty bullet casings that littered the quarry from top to bottom and everywhere in between.
“Technically speaking, those are spent 12-gauge shells,” I said, stepping with bemused curiosity around the grievously deformed, half-shot-apart frame of a rusty, 100-year-old-looking motorcycle. “But Constitutionally speaking, they are the Second Amendment.”
“Dear Lordy,” she gasped, skirting around a mushy pile of gun-splattered pumpkin parts with visible concern. “What the heck do people do up here? Just stand around shooting their guns at shit, or what?”
“Yes,” I said, thinking back through all the hundreds of innocent televisions, sofas, recliners and lamp stands that I’d had a hand in destroying in similar fashion during my early-to-mid formative years. “That is precisely what they do.”
Yet as much as this meddlesome microcosm of firearms-induced destruction succeeded to rouse my lady’s concern, I could sense how much the sheer gruesomeness of the pumpkin slaughter all around us was starting to vex her even more.
“These poor jack-o-lanterns weren’t just dragged up here in a pickup truck and shot willy-nilly,” she remarked, probing inquisitively through the mushy parts with a stick. “They were lined up in a row and summarily executed.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “but also, I can’t help but think that if I were a pumpkin there might be more dignity in a demise like that than simply being left to molder away on the porch, only to get chucked out into the street by some roving gang of juvenile delinquents.”
By the peculiar way my lady looked at me, I could see my analogy had struck somewhere left of bulls-eye.
“Ha!” she smirked, wheeling around to whap me hard, yet playfully, on the shoulder. “If you were a pumpkin, then I’d turn you into pie!”
Clearly, even mired as we’d become in the grimness of our shot-up surroundings, the fresh air on the mountaintop had managed to re-energize our autumnal spirits regardless.
“What say we blow off this redneck mountain?” I said, walking as briskly away from the quarry back toward our vehicle as I could. “We’ll tootle on down to Edison and park ourselves at a table behind a nice, big, frosty-cold pitcher of ale.”
“Throw a raft full of oyster shooters into the mix and you can count me in,” the lady answered, smiling. “I’ve seen enough humanity today. Bring on the mollusks!”
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