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POSSUM



I was 8 years old and I was sitting on the back steps of the boysí building at the Children's Home Society Orphanage. I just sat there staring at the clumps of bamboo, which surrounded the tin metal building that housed the heating unit for our dormitory.

I was still upset and very hurt about having to clean up our one and only dog named "Honey." She was run over by a car the day before, right outside the orphanage fence.

Then I noticed something moving in the leaf beds beneath the bamboo, so I got up off the cement step and slowly walked over to investigate. I picked up an old, brown, dried piece of bamboo and poked around in the leaves where the movement had come from. All of a sudden, this thing came running at me. It looked like a big rat with a long pointed nose and a long, long tail, without any hair on it. It stopped directly in front of me, so I pointed the long stick of bamboo at its head to keep it away from me.

The back door of the old, brick building opened and the man who took care of us orphans started yelling at me. He told me to put the bamboo stick down on the ground. After I did, he picked up a red brick and threw it at the large rat hitting it in the head. The thing started bleeding, went running around in a small circle and then fell over on its side. He walked over, picked up the bamboo stick and poked around at it. The big rat thing moved just a little bit and then the man stuck the stick through its neck. It made a loud hollering noise.

"Please let it go," I begged.

But he pulled the stick out of its neck and stuck it through its back end.

"It ain't hurting anybody," I told him. "Please let it go back to the woods."

The man took the bloody stick and poked me in the back, tearing a hole in my shirt as I pulled back.

"It's just a possum," he told me.

"I know, but it is alive and it is not hurting anyone."

Once again, he poked me with the bamboo stick and grabbed me by the back of my shirt.

"Poke this stick through his head," he said.

"I don't want to kill nothing," I replied looking away from the bleeding creature.

The man threw the bamboo stick down onto the ground. He reached into his pocket pulling out a large knife, which he unfolded. "You poke that stick through his neck and kill it or I'll cut his damn head off!" the man shouted.

"I don't want to kill it." I repeated.

The man reached over, bent down and cut the thing's tail off, and it squealed again very loud. I could feel myself getting sick, but I did not know what to do. I reached down, picked up the stick and pointed it toward the big rat thing. I touched it on the face; it opened its mouth and snarled at me as if it wanted to bite something or me. I jumped back and the man started laughing. The man grabbed the stick from my hand, hit me across the leg and then pushed me toward the bleeding rat. I screamed as I fell on top of it. I jumped back up as fast as I could and ran against the tin heater building.

The man walked over, picked up the ratís tail and told me to come over to him. I walked to where he was and he held out the big tail, and told me to put it in my pocket. I started backing up, but he grabbed me by the arm and turned me around. He held me against his body and forced the large tail into my pocket. I felt the tail in my pocket, because it was still warm. Then it moved in my pocket; I started yelling, screaming and running around trying to get it out and away from me. The man just kept on laughing as loud as he could.

"Every one of you little bastards is nothing but a bunch of damn pussies."

He continued to laugh aloud. Then he took his knife and cut the head off it, while it was still alive. Lastly, he kicked the big rat's head with his foot and it rolled a long, long way down the cement driveway. I stood there horrified, my little hands covering my face.



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