Grim's Hall

A Little Mountain Feud:

It seems I may owe something by way of apology to those city neighbors I mentioned in a recent post. I take it back: from now on, I only want bears for neighbors at all. No people, city or country, thanks aye.

The other night I was laying in bed, when off to the southwest I heard the report of a pistol. It sounded like a mid-range caliber, something in the weight of a 9mm or .40 Short & Weak. After a few seconds, there was a second shot, and then a third following two seconds after the second. Then, there were three shots in rapid succession; a pause, and then seven shots more, also rapid-fire.

There was quiet for a bit, and then two more shots.

"Fifteen," I murmured to my wife before rolling over and going back to sleep. "Try to remember, in case anyone asks."

Well, I didn't think too much about it, because as a kid I often heard guys out target-shooting, even at night, down in the Georgia woods. If you work all day, when else are you going to go shoot? And if it's on your property, and you take the right kind of safety precautions, it's legal and fine.

Things are a little different in Virginia. My wife was off visiting the neighbors today -- a chili dog luncheon, some of the local mothers got up for the kids who live around here. She came back with quite a few good stories to tell.

JHD will appreciate this.

Apparently it all started a few weeks ago when one of the boys up the valley started letting his pitbull out to wander. The thing was not all that nice, and it set after the neighbors' cats. Now, most of the houses around here are not within sight of each other, but these two happen to be. So they're "close" neighbors.

Well, the dog ate the cat, and the man was absolutely outraged to find his feline half-devoured the next day. So he told his neighbor that he'd best get that dog tied up, or else. Needless to say, the neighbor did no such thing.

So, the guy shot the dog. It had eaten his cat, after all, and his neighbor refused to restrain it. If it was dangerous to more than just cats, that was probably justified -- although it wouldn't have been a bad idea to call animal control instead. That was in the afternoon.

The story gets a little fuzzy on the details at this point, but by midnight or so, the two neighbors were both, independently, roaring drunk. The fellow with the cat was drunk on liquor, but the fellow with the dog was drunk on real old fashioned moonshine. Turns out there's supposed to be a still around here somewhere.

I gather but am not certain that Captain Moonshine is the one who decided to take a shot at his neighbor. They had been yelling at each other -- the poor wife of the cat-lover reports that her husband was "frothing at the mouth, he was so drunk" -- and then there was the first shot. Our cat lover went for his gun, which he had close to hand as he'd been expecting his neighbor to take exception on behalf of his dog, and shot back. There was one more careful shot, and then they opened up. The poor wife, trying to restrain her husband, was now squashed between the door and the wall as the brutal but cat-loving man attempted to keep her out of his way, while still returning the fire.

They shot until they ran flat out of ammo, and the only casualty was the fish tank in one of the houses -- both of them were so drunk that they couldn't hit each other, or anything near to each other. When they ran out of bullets the real fight began: they cast down their guns and went at it hand to hand, beating each other until the deputies arrived.

It would have been a kindness, all things considered, if they'd just started with that and saved gunfighting for serious-minded folks. These things are not toys. No word yet on whether the arrested are named "Hatfield" or "McCoy."

I'll be interested to see how the county handles the case. My hope, of course, is that these irresponsible idiots get the book thrown at them. I hate to see a free man sent to jail, like I hate to see a healthy man become weak and sick; but I'm willing to make an exception in this case. I'll keep you posted.

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