My latest book, HALLEY, has just been released by NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley
It all started one dark and stormy night two months ago. Or that’s when my husband and I thought it started. The day after the storm Benjamin kept seeing fresh holes all around the yard, the barn, and out by his shop. At first we blamed squirrels, but we’ve always had squirrels, and they’ve never dug holes this large and deep. These holes were large enough in places to make walking hazardous, and there were fresh ones every morning. After researching, and then talking to the extension service, Benjamin identified the culprit.
It might be a herd of them, judging from the number of holes. Shouldn’t be hard to catch. The literature indicated they were slow, lethargic creatures with slow wits.
Well, my husband wasn’t going to let a stupid armadillo defeat him! He brought out a large, heavy-duty trap he had used to catch rats in the barn several years ago. He oiled the hinges and springs and set the trap in an area behind his shop, where the pattern of holes seemed to define a trail.
“And what will you do with him?” I asked when he placed the trap.
“You don’t want to know,” he replied. “He-he. He-he.”
“Benjamin!” I said, “You’re not going to…”
“Of course not,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “I’ll just relocate him. He-he.”
The next morning he hurried out to check his trap and came back with a demolished wire cage. Whatever he had caught had escaped.
Benjamin built a bigger, stronger trap and decided to get up a couple of times during the night to check it. Once something scampered right beside him, but he could not turn on his flashlight quickly enough to identify it. Nights passed with no success, but the holes circled the trap, and eventually came right up to our back porch steps.
“Next, he’ll be in bed with us,” Benjamin muttered. He searched the nearby woods. “Ah-ha!” he said when he found an enormous hole. “His den!” When poking long sticks into it brought no results, he got his bee smoker and blew smoke into the hole so thick, nothing could have breathed in there. No results.
Next he ordered worms. “I’ll start growing bait armadillos can’t resist,” he said. That’ll draw him into the trap.”
The worms came special delivery and he soon had tubs of them growing in his shop. Grinding up oatmeal for their food was becoming an everyday job. Benjamin set up a lawn chair a few yards away from the trap and began slipping out there at night. He started carrying a baseball bat with him. “Just in case,” he said.
I went out there with him one night and I thought I heard a soft “He-he-he” in the bushes.
Weeks have passed and all we’ve found in the trap so far are worms, but the fresh holes keep appearing every morning. Benjamin has begun researching cannons and machine guns. You know, I’m thinking we might turn our yard into a golf course. All we need are sandbars. We have all the holes we’d ever need!