Our neighbor Jack was a retired DEA agent and Secret Service man. His stories, and the stories his buddies told, were legendary, from being detailed to watch over President JFK as he boated offshore in Florida, to interdicting drugs and bad guys on various Caribbean islands.
Jack was an Irishman from New York and a former policeman. Built like a fireplug, his appearance and character were straight out of Central Casting. He was our Go To guy when we needed a bit of extra firepower (he had an awesome shotgun), an extra pair of hands, or someone to spend an evening with, drinking beer out on the end of our dock under a full moon.
Anyway, perhaps you get the picture of this stocky, kinda gruff, buzz-cut, red-faced Irish guy as he laughed and told us his tale when he showed up at our cabin one weekend morning.
Seems the day before, he’d had a call from his neighbor Mrs. Rush, who lived in a little cinder block house down by the lake, across Yellow Bluff road from Jack’s place.
Her call had come early in the morning, before Jack had brewed his tea. Without preamble, Mrs. Rush insisted that he come right over to her place and bring his shotgun. He asked why he needed the shotgun, and she explained, huffily, that a ‘gator was parked right outside her front door, sunning itself on the concrete pad, and blocking her access to the clothes line outside.
“I need to get my wash hung up before it rains later, so bring your shotgun over here and shoot this ‘gator, Jack!” she insisted.
Well, the thing is, ol’ Mr. and Mrs. Rush were retired farmers form south Georgia, known to be intolerant of anyone fooling around their property, and determined to get on with their daily lives, in spite of the locals or the local wildlife. Mr. Rush had passed on a couple of years earlier, and while Mrs. Rush was quite independent, thank you, she wouldn’t hesitate to call Jack if she felt that a firearm was needed to quell a situation. This, apparently, was such a situation.
Jack said he’d come along but wouldn’t bring his shotgun, there was no need to go shooting a ‘gator and besides, they were protected unless you had a hunting permit during ‘gator season. Which he didn’t, and it wasn’t.
Jack told us that he cautiously came around to the front of Mrs. Rush’s place, which faced the lake to the east, and of course the nice warm sun. Sure enough, there was an 8-foot ‘gator lying peacefully in the sun on the concrete pad in front of Mrs. Rush’s front door. Jack backtracked to the rear door of the place and was met by Mrs. Rush, who asked him where was his shotgun?
Jack repeated his reasoning about not shooting the ‘gator, even as Mrs. Rush led him to her front screen door and pointed at the ‘gator snoozing just outside.
“Why can’t you just use the back door to take your laundry out?” Jack asked, patiently. Mrs. Rush explained that her clothesline was just too close to that ‘gator and she wanted it gone, and right now, so she could get her laundry hung out to dry.
Retelling the story, Jack shook his head while we both grinned. Yeah, Mrs. Rush sure was a stubborn old thing, and cranky to boot. We knew what he meant when he said she just wouldn’t listen to reason, insisting he go back home and fetch his shotgun.
Turned out Jack went back home, Mrs. Rush called him a few more times, the ‘gator moved right up against that screen door and stayed there until the sun came off the concrete pad, then it moved on down the lawn and into the lake. By that time, the afternoon showers were threatening and Mrs. Rush never did get her laundry out on the line that day.