Friday, June 27, 2008


While I was out and about, I ran into one of my favorite charactors. He's probably about 65 or so, big burly bearded bear of a guy, white haired, always wearing suspenders, looks like he would kick your ass in a minute. Looks like my dad did before he got sick and left this world going on eight years ago. Maybe that's why Mr. M. is one of my special charactors. I don't know. When Mr. M. speaks, it is in a deep rumble, like my dad, but Mr. M. is a quiet guy, speaking hesitantly. Like me, he talks looking off, glancing at you every now and again, catching your eye, quickly looking away. I'm not shy. I don't think he is either, but you can tell that neither one of us are quite sure of our place in this world.
Anyhow, Mr. M. has a dog. Misty is a good dog, and she's devoted to Mr. M. It always tickles me to see him shuffling along in his big bare feet enjoying his back yard, while Misty keeps a good eye on him. I've got the notion that Mr. M. was pretty sick, maybe. He's got a heck of a scar running diagonally across his belly. He moves slowly, and his dog is never far from him. I carry dog biscuits in my truck for when I meet dogs, and I always bring one for Misty. I tell Mr. M that Misty is a fine dog, and he agrees. "Best dog, I ever had in my life. Smart as a whip and bravest thing you ever saw in your life. She'll take on anything, and she don't care. She won't have a bear in the yard, and she'll take on a coyote or a bobcat." Before I know it, he's in the house bringing out a photograph album.
Turns out he's a trapper. Big time. I have only run traps once in my life, and that was in the Army. I didn't have a choice. We trapped porcupines. Uncle Sam doesn't give a rat's butt if you are morally opposed to leg traps. I shut up and did what I was supposed to do. But Mr. M. had pictures of bobcats in traps, the dog taking them on. Coyotes with mangled feet. One picture broke my heart. Two coyotes, stretched out side by side, dead, one with a torn and bloody leg, the other with legs intact. The male had been caught in the leg trap, and the female refused to leave his side. Mr. M. dispatched both of them. The pictures were a bit sickening. I just don't understand killing something that you're not going to eat. I surely don't understand leg traps.
Mr. M. flipped through his pictures, talking away in his quiet, rumbling voice. This is a free country, and you run into all kinds of folks, all kinds of beliefs. It's not my place to judge him. As for me and my house, well, we don't trap. He'll be judged on his life, I'll be judged on mine, and the One doing the judging will have the final say. I don't like trapping, but Mr. M. is 'good people'.
Before I go, I invite him to see a program with Tim and I in July. A rattlesnake wrangler is coming to do a demonstration on timber rattlers. I'm allowed to invite guests. So I invite Mr. M. I think this pleases him. We walk across the yard talking. He pops open his garage door and there lays a half completed curio cabinet that he's building. I couldn't believe my eyes. He shows me the dragonfly inlay, and the little knobs for the three drawers, engraved with intricately carved dragonflies. This is the work of an artist and is breathtakingly beautiful. I tell him so. He smiles and rubs a big hand across the wood. "This is for my girl," he rumbles. "She got married two weeks ago, and all she wanted for a wedding gift was for me to make her something purty for her house." And he was proud of his girl. You could see the love for her on his face just as plain as anything, and that love had poured right out of his finger tips as he turned wood into an heirloom.
I walked back to my truck thoughtfully. The same hands that set those traps were the hands of an artist. People are a real mixed bag, aren't they?


Scotty said...

Indeed they are, Debby, and sometimes, some really pleasant surprises come from the quiet unassuming people we find in the world.

Redlefty said...

Great story and writing!

Lavinia said...

Yes Debby, most people are a mass of contradictions.

PaintedPromise said...

wow, awesome post!