D___ and A___ tore off across the field with a single rock between them. The woodchuck was a good long ways out there, farther than you’d want to run carrying a rock built for two. But A___ or D___ had said, “Let’s get him,” for no real good reason except we’ve never needed a reason between the three of us to do much of anything. I stood there in the middle of a pre-plowing spring cornfield, the trees budding on all sides, the woods so thick and the sun so bright that I couldn’t see the world for the sky and the land, holding the box of white zinfandel and three plastic cups, yelling, “Kill that fucking rat.”
A woodchuck’s job is to keep himself between you and his hole. He’s always got a backdoor. Always. And he can move pretty damn fast when he’s getting chased by something. On the other hand, get him cornered, he’ll have your thumb faster than you can say, “I wished I’d a stayed home today.” D_ and A___ got up there and the woodchuck hadn’t run off. Rather it looked up at them, didn’t bare his teeth, didn’t hiss or peep, didn’t waddle off or scurry. They hesitated, looked each other in the eye, and didn’t have any reason to mash the woodchuck or even real desire. But, well, for Christsake, they set out across that field to chase something beyond themselves, something that by all rights should be elusive, and here it was. Without a word, the rock went above their heads and down on the woodchuck’s spine. His tail might have twitched a touch, but he had had it.
To this day, I wouldn’t mention this to them if I was you. By all rights the woodchuck should have hustled off to its hole, should never even have been threatened. But there it was. And D__ and A___ have to carry this around with them now, one more thing shoved deep in their guts that makes them, every once in a while, pound their fist on the steel and stone of their respective lives for, what you might say in looking at them, is no apparent reason.