One of my friends is fond of saying, "There are only two kinds of friends, the kind who will help you move and the kind who will help you move a body."
I also say there are two kinds of friends: the kind that invite you over to dinner or to visit and the kind who call only when they need something. The latter type can be so irritating it's tempting to consider strangulation.
Maybe that's why I enjoy watching a good murder mystery at the end of the day, that and being a mom. In addition to our five kids, I have three infamous kids. Their names are: I Don't Know, I Didn't Do It and Not Me. And if I ever catch them ... as I was saying, I enjoy a program where the bad guy or gal is apprehended, the trial is loaded with suspense and the penalty is swift and harsh. I can then go to bed feeling vindicated, believing that truth and goodness will always prevail and that our justice system works.
Until the phone rings at 1 a.m.!
Throwing back the covers I stumble out of bed.
My first thought, "Ohmygosh, I hope nobody died."
After tripping over the dog I feel slightly less compassionate. "Somebody better have died or I'm killing the party on the other end of line."
"Hello? What? Eee-o-w, sounds gruesome. Was anyone else hurt? I'll be there as soon as I can. No, Kenny's at work for another week. It's fine. I can handle it."
I hang up the phone and realize that I'm insane. I also realize I need help.
Who do you call? Ghostbusters? Wrong movie.
I need to snatch a live body, preferably someone we've invited to dinner recently, someone with a strong back. I also need to get Patrick out of bed, "Get up honey, Mommie needs your help ... wear your old jeans."
What else do I need?
Garbage can check.
I need coffee check.
I'm thinking slightly more clearly now ...
I gather rope, a tarp; the first aid kit and flares are already in the truck check.
What else? Flashlight, spare batteries, knife sharpener, cookbook check.
Knife, knife ... where the heck did Ken stash the knife?
I dial the only friend in my Rolodex who is likely to own a good knife.
Trying to sound sweet, I manage to con my accomplice into helping me, "Hello, hello? Were you sleeping? Awesome! That means you aren't busy right now. Listen, I need a favor. Are you up to it? Really? OK. I'll meet you on the K-Beach side of Bridge Access.
"No Ken's at work, but I'll be driving his truck (no way I want blood all over my white truck too O.J.) And could you bring your best hunting knife?"
When my partner in crime arrived at the road-kill scene he burst out into his characteristic bearish laughter, "You had me going for a while, I wasn't sure what you killed or if you realized hunting seasons over."
Although our friend is an expert hunter and all around outdoorsman, he'd never before slew a moose. So, being the seasoned Alaska woman that I am, I thought back to my first butchering experience. I did what I had to do; I gave orders to the one and a half men at my disposal.
"Someone hand me that Joy of Cooking book on the front seat."
I glanced at the diagram on butchering a cow, and then went straight for the jugular. That really brought back memories, as I thought back to my first kill.
"Did I ever tell you about the time Ken left me alone in a remote cabin for six weeks! With no shells for the rifle and four little kids to feed? Had to go hunting with a gaff hook and a skiff."
I was on a roll telling about my adventures.
"Then there was the time I employed a Skilsaw to quickly cut up a huge rack of ribs. Dang. It took lots of scrubbing to get the bone chips off the ceiling."
I eviscerated and decapitated the roadside victim, and continued the butchering until the hindquarters were free.
We worked as a team to hoist the hindquarters into the truck.
Next I told the story about how Ken shot a moose way-way back in the woods and our now grown kids Jeanene and Alex went along to help out.
"The bugs were vicious, but Jeanene was a real sport. Not Alex. He moaned, and he whined, and with every step he complained. Finally I lost it and took off in a dead run after him, with a huge front quarter on my back no less, good thing I had some weight slowing me down ..."
I stopped cutting for a moment and wiped the bloody knife across my jeans. Pausing for effect, I let out a cackle of maniacal laughter. "No telling what would've happened if I caught him ..."
My one half-man stood very still as his eyes glazed over with a terrified, deer-in-the-headlights look.
When it came time to split the front quarter, I completely forgot what to do next. Not wanting to mess up my cookbook with sticky fingerprints I sort of winged it from there. I straddled that old cow as my crew pulled on opposing hoofs to hold her open. Gripping the ax tightly, I came down hard right down the center of the backbone. Crack! Blood splattered everywhere.
I threw a chunk of carnage in the trashcan and asked Pat in a macabre tone, " Did I ever tell you about the time your brother stole the deer jerky from the smoker and tried to deny it?"
In the end, it all turned out well. We shared the meat and we plan on inviting friends and family over for turkey and a moose roast this Thanksgiving. I told Ken he now has a license to grill.
As far as I Don't Know, I Didn't Do It and Not Me, well, I haven't seen hide nor hair of them for some time. I think the little rascals have newfound respect any wo-mom who can wield an ax or a gaff hook with such accuracy ...
Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives in Soldotna. Currently she is running a mouse trapline in her garage.
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