Monday, March 13, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 66th Installment

I was clubbing jackrabbits with great abandon because when they are this thick and close, you just hit one after another.

Swing straight over your head like chopping wood; that way you won’t be clubbing your neighbor at your left or right shoulders,” someone yelled. As a wave of jackrabbits came straight in a line like a wave on the ocean trying to bust through and over the rocky shore line, we would drop to one knee and swing as fast as we could to beat them back. When the horde of jackrabbits reversed course and were pushed back toward the pen, we would rise and press on leaving a long and still quivering mound of jackrabbit bodies where they met our line.

To my left was a smallish boy about ten doing his best to hold his ground. Another wave of jackrabbits swung into us, and we dropped to hold and turn the critters back. I saw a larger, bolder jackrabbit jump from a short distance back, like it was trying to leap over us but didn’t. The jackrabbit hit the lad in the chest, and by reflex, the boy threw his arms around the jackrabbit and the fight was on. The force pushed the boy on his back, but he held on as the panicked jackrabbit clawed and thrashed with his powerful hind legs. The boy seemed to hug the jackrabbit tighter, even though the animal’s claws were shredding the boys coat and the stuffing was flying. There was no way for the boy to win this battle; he could only hang on. I was watching for an opening to club the jackrabbit but couldn’t without hitting the boy. Then the jackrabbit broke the boys grip and escaped racing for the desert. I turned and threw my throwing stick at it. I missed, enraged that the monster had gotten away after fighting with the boy. But this was only one of quite a few jackrabbits that broke through our lines.

The pen was about a football field away, and at this point, the old and the very young would drop back because we were all getting so close to each other. Either that or they were just tired of driving and beating back these animals. I was not. The final push to the pen is a real frenzy; the drifts of dead jackrabbits were getting deeper with a couple of feet of them piled and finished off against the snow fence.
I looked over at Russ and yelled, “Now?”

Before he could answer “yes,” some of the other young men had broken for the pen along with us. We ran the last fifty feet through a snow storm of frantic jackrabbits, land animals, but swarming like birds, through the gate and into the pen. For the next hour or so our work really began. There was about twenty of us in the pen each working his area. We would hold our club with both hands

500 more words tomorrow

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