I assure you that Gryphon is not a clown, comedian, or plastic (he’s one of my two stern critics) so when this his non-fiction piece made me laugh, I asked his permission to repost it ( he wouldn’t submit voluntarily even when I asked him months ago). Here’s his amusing story:
This is true story. All the pictures except for the one with the groundhog with the bandelero and automatic rifle are photos that I have taken of the creature and location in question.
I have a foe.
His name is Phineas Quilorian Grundschwein, esq.
He didn’t tell me his name. He has never spoken to me though I have spoken to him many times. I named him. I wasn’t going to, until he made it a personal issue. Anyone with whom one has a personal history especially one of animosity should have a name. And so after considerable deliberation I decided that my mortal enemy’s name would, from this time forward, be P.Q. Grundschwein, esq.
It all began over three months ago on August 1st. I moved into a new residence which I lease. The house is located on the edge of a small woods about halfway up a hill. The property surrounding it is about 4 acres and the property and the house belong to the organization where I perform ministry services. My primary service I render is that of property manager for the ministry–which includes the house where I now live. The woods are close enough to residential housing and a commercial district and major traffic arteries to be frequented by homeless people whom I have observed leaving the premises after spending the night in the woods.
The house was unoccupied for quite some time before my arrival and was in a medium state of dilapidation. The windows were boarded up. There was a basement entrance to the outside that was missing a door. The house had been broken into at least once. On the non-woods side is a large apartment complex that is the densest crime district in the city.
There is also, because of the woods, a LOT of wildlife. I have observed squirrels, raccoon, an owl, snakes, deer, and groundhogs–grundschweinen. Working on the property before taking up residency there I have many times seen groundhogs all over the four acres–one time three at once peacefully searching for grubs in the back lot behind one of the other houses on the property. If I had any thoughts of them at all at that point is would have been along the lines of, “how quaint.”
30 feet from my back door
My bedroom projects out slightly from the main body of the house. I had noticed a groundhog hole going under the foundation and into the crawlspace directly outside the wall
where the head of my bed is. Around the corner was a smaller hole. This is the “backdoor” for the varmint. Groundhogs and many other burrowing creature will always provide themselves with at least two points of access to their underground lairs. I thought the hole was abandoned. Why I thought this is unclear because there is ample evidence of many many groundhogs living on this property. As I said I have seen more than one Grundschwein at one time taking their meals on the lawn.
Nevertheless, I thought nothing of it when I moved in. And then one night, about three a.m., I heard a furious commotion from beneath the floor. I thought I had a homeless person in the basement as the outside entrance to the basement was wide open. The house had been previously unoccupied for a long time and there were no blinds in the window so it might be natural for a homeless person to assume that the house was vacant and that a wide open basement might be a good place to crash for the night.
Out in the woods as I am, I was not about to go down to the basement, which would involve going outside, to confront someone. Instead, I stomped around the house and loudly opened and closed the front and back doors. The noises stopped and I spent a very restless night.
Phineas Q. Grundschwein
A night or two later the noises resumed. This time I pinpointed their location. They were coming from directly below my bed, and there is no basement beneath my room–only crawlspace! The noises were horrible. Something was violently scratching and clawing at the wood floor beneath the bed as though intent on coming up into my room.
Boys and girls, I am a pretty tough cookie. I have been through a hell of a lot in my 50 years and there is very little that frightens me, but let me tell you something–this spooked me pretty good. I have a very vivid imagination and this sounded as though Satan himself had finally grown tired of me eluding him and had decided to come up through the floor to personally put an end to me. This time, it was three a.m. It was loud. It was violent.
Of course it wasn’t Satan. It was a groundhog. A VERY excited one from the sound of it! The prospect of a demon possessed groundhog coming up through the floor wasn’t much more appealing than the thought of it being the Father of Lies. In some ways it was even more spooky. I could always invoke God and His protection had it been spiritual evil. I would actually have to physically handle a groundhog, and any creature that was capable of clawing and/or chewing it’s way through a floor wasn’t one that I wanted to encounter.
Don’t get me wrong. I can do it. This isn’t equatorial Africa and we are not talking about Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh MY! But it was scary nonetheless in the beginning.
I took my duck head cane and beat it on the floor over the source of the commotion and shouted loudly. I stomped on the floor and shouted some more. The noise ceased. I went to bed and to sleep. Again, I didn’t get much rest. It became a nightly event. Phineas would act as though he was going to come through the floor and get me. I would stomp and shout. He would quiet down and I would sleep without actually resting much. Something had to be done.
I don’t care if was living here before me. I was here now. I was paying rent. I was evicting his ass! It was time to make a plan.
I decided to plug the hole with concrete. I told my landlord/supervisor that I wanted three bags of Quikcrete for that purpose. There was some worry that I might actually seal both his holes while he was down there and he would die a horrible, cruel death of hunger. There was the thought that while dying that he might begin to frantically continue to claw and chew on the floorboards. There was also the thought that if he died under my bed that I would have the stinking corpse of a groundhog perfuming the locale.
Don’t get me wrong again. I am the LAST person who would wish cruelty on any of God’s creatures, but THIS GRUNDSCHWEIN HAD TO GO!!! There was no good way to verify that he was down there, so I determined to just go ahead and plug the holes and if he was down there at the time, then it would become HIS problem!
So one bright and sunshiney day I got a bag of quikcrete and a wheelbarrow and a shovel and a bucket of water and praying that I wasn’t sealing Phineas up down there with a Cask of Amontillado, I proceeded to seal the holes. I took care of his smaller auxiliary hole first, and then I sealed the main hole up with thirty pounds of wet concrete–lime, sand, and large gravel. I know it was thirty pound because the weight is on the bag and I know the proportion I used to go into the main hole. Brothers and Sisters, I packed it good and tight! I smacked it in hard and smoothed the outside with the flat of the shovel, and then I walked away convinced that, whether of not he was in there at the time of the deed, he wasn’t going to be going under my bed through that hole anymore.
I walked away and went on to do other work and came back about one hour later and, in passing, went to check on the drying status of the concrete. As it turned out he HAD been under the house. He DUG through THIRTY POUNDS OF WET CONCRETE and freed himself from the deathtrap that I had placed for him.
That is a very significant thing. Let me repeat it. HE DUG THROUGH THIRTY POUNDS OF WET CONCRETE!
This is one bad-ass Woodchuck! It was at that point that he became Phineas Quilorean Grundschweine, esq.–a very worthy opponent . . .
I supplied him with the material and the initial labor for him to do his own Home Improvement. Where, at one time,
Holding Cell for P.Q. Grundschwein
he had a very rough dirt hole going into his house, he NOW has a very smooth and very circular concrete tunnel. I call it his Groundhog Condominium.
I conceded to him a major battle. But I was NOT to be defeated. The war was mine to win or lose. I began looking into the possibility of getting a live animal trap to catch him. The problem was what to do with him once caught. I called the ASPCA. They said I could catch him if I wanted and I could kill him if I wanted but I could NOT release him on anyone else’s property–public or private. I could kill him because by law groundhogs are considered “varmints” and are open season all year long with no bag limit. But, to release him onto someone else’s property would be to give someone else MY problem and that is a no-no. *sigh*
So, I started asking around if anyone had a live animal trap and a coworker did. And he gave it to me to use and return sans Grundschwein. And that is where I am right now in my Groundhog Wars. I’ll keep you updated. Denouement will be shortly.
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