Drive By Shooting on Goose Creek

Darkness fell. Bonnie and Clyde planned their attack. They climbed stiffly into the rust-and-deer-battered farm-use truck. Tension mounted. There would be dozens–hundreds of them, maybe–and it wouldn’t do to make a mistake. A slip-up could be deadly. Or at least painful. Clyde drove, Bonnie packed heat and had killin’ on her mind.

A few days earlier a farming-neighbor accessory to the crime dropped a white rag to mark the spot as he tractored quickly past the gang’s hideout before they could mount an attack.

The pair could barely make out their target in the dim light, rounding the bend by the barn, moving in a slow and deliberate creep through the pasture. The decrepit truck weaved between the large round rolls of sweet-smelling hay, closer and closer to the strike.

Tension rose. The air hung wet and dead still; a few bats traced arcs overhead as if it were any ordinary summer evening. But Clyde began to sweat with the heat and the threat of pain. He rolled up his window as Bonnie rolled hers down. The time had come.

She lifted her weapon, feeling its heft, positioning her finger expertly on the trigger. It would be a one-two punch. She was confident; he was not so sure.

The enemy was quick; and they would be fierce in the protection of the turf they had claimed, squatters hidden in the tall grass, thinking no one would ever find them there. As the truck pulled alongside their neighborhood, they had to know their fate.

Bonnie had gained a reputation as a seasoned assassin, determined, steely-eyed, not afraid of pain. Through the open window she fired–a long steady sweeping burst into the enemy’s bunker. It seemed to last forever. She was taking no chances.

And when she was sure the massacre was done, she doused the hole with gasoline. Take that! Door slammed, window up, and the pair moved along down the pasture to repeat this mayhem one more time before their day of murderous home ownership was done.

It’s not always pretty, life in the country. Sometimes, it’s them or us.

Later today, just to prove we mingle mercy with justice, I’ll tell you about an enemy of the state that we found stealing our food, and let live.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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