The Tale of the Suburban Huntsman

Like a ceramic saint in a white Elvis sweatsuit, my father stands on the front lawn armed wth a garden spade. 'Quiet, Buddy,' he says, 'if you're not absolutely still they won't move. They might be blind, but they got ears like a damn owl.'

His eyes shift behind gold-rimmed glasses, scanning a long serpentine mound a few inches thick. My gaze follows his expectantly. I squat near the begonias holding my breath and swatting mosquitoes.

Tales of my father's exploits have traveled as far as Powder Mill Woods, how one August afternoon he single-handedly took three hairy-tailed moles while amazed neighbors looked on. Now grave-faced men despairing of ever having fine, unblemished lawns seek out my father with offerings of money and beer to rid their property of the pesky rodents. He refuses the gifts, naturally, preferring to instruct those interested in the art of mole hunting. 'Teach a man to fish--' my father says sagely.

Suddenly the earth trembles, followed by the faint quiver of a tuft of grass, and like England's saint my father pounces, driving the spade through the tiny hillock and sending a bladeful of soil skyward. My untrained eyes detect nothing unusual till the clump of dirt thumps the ground, and a grotesque, velveteen creature, no larger than a chipmunk, emerges panic-stricken from the dust and begins wildly scraping at the earth, burrowing toward subterranean safety. In an instant my father is on top of the mole, driving his spade home and slicing it into perfect halves.

'You see that, Buddy?' my father says mopping his brow. 'That's how it's done. You've got only three, four seconds from the time you see movement till you cut him in half. If you hesitate, you're lost.'

I see, yes, unable to turn my gaze from the still shimmering mole bits. The huge naked hands, the eyeless face with its pig snout. I feel suddenly nauseous. There is a half moon of blood crowning the tip of my father's spade. He scoops up the halves of mole and carries them off behind the garage, whistling some old tune.

Inexplicably, I feel closer to him already.

About the author:

Chris Orlet was born in a log cabin in southern Illinois, unnecessarily. You can visit him at, just don't stay too long.