One Of Them Shall Not Fall On The Ground Without Your Father


I have not forgotten the last time I killed an animal in cold blood, though it was half my lifetime ago. It was not the last time I killed an animal, of course; we all kill animals by proxy, we all command the steak and deputize the death. Even if we are vegan we consent to the distant dispatch of foliage-threatening deer and marauding mountain lions and unwanted pets. But this was the last time I pulled a trigger and deprived another creature of life for sport, on a whim, for pleasure. And there are evenings when I remember it, though it is counterproductive to do so, though it is meaningless, though it is weak.

In the fall of 1992 I was wandering through a small patch of thickly wooded ground south and east of Miami University. Perhaps eighty acres at most, behind a trailer that itself sat a hundred yards back from a country-maintained two-lane. It was fifty degrees out and the trees were bare. My tennis shoes crunched on the leaves. It was perhaps five-thirty in the afternoon.

In both hands I carried a Marlin Model 60 semi-automatic rifle, caliber .22 LR, fourteen shots from a tube magazine beneath the barrel. It was literally the most common smallbore rifle in America and it had a cheap 4x scope mounted on the rails. On my hip, in the factory-supplied belt slide holster, I carried a Glock 21, caliber .45 ACP, thirteen shots of Federal Hydra-Shok 230grain defensive ammunition. The purpose of the Marlin was to amuse myself, to take potshots at random junk and squirrels as I wandered through the woods. The purpose of the Glock was to settle disagreements.

Strictly speaking, this was not a place where you could legally fire a weapon. It was simply an area that nobody had ever bothered to clear into usable land. Why would they? The trailers around it rented for four hundred dollars a month or less, including utilities. With road frontage, it might have sold for two thousand dollars an acre. Without it, in Butler County, Ohio, the value was mostly theoretical. There were hundreds of places like this south of the university and north of Cincinnati. A twenty-two rifle is quiet and the locals rarely had any interest in some college kid wandering across their property. I was bored with my life and too lonely, poor, or both to partake in the school’s social life, so I’d hunt “varmints” and cans as I tramped past rusted-out barbed wire and and faded signs demanding that I turn back. I spent the time thinking about the books I’d read in the previous days. Fall and winter days were the best, the cleanest, for this activity.

Yet in the previous year, as I did wander, I’d come across a few people who objected. Once I was trespassing up near Darrtown Road, my Colt AR-15 Sporter HBAR held loosely across my chest, when I descended a hill and found myself facing two hard-faced men engaged in a quiet discussion. They’d heard me coming; they had Remington or Winchester bolt-actions held low, fingers alongside the triggers. For a long moment we faced each other across an empty stream bed. I knew my capability to make two-hundred-yard headshots with the AR, maybe a hundred yards on a moving target. I was an outstanding shot with a variety of weapons, because I’d spent the previous summer working at Ford Credit during the day and shooting most nights at various outdoor ranges.

The men frightened me. I sensed that I had very little in common with them, that they had not read Marcus Aurelius or listened to Wynton Marsalis. I also understood that the more I said to them, the more unsure, the more frightened, I would appear to be. So I said nothing.

“Lot of gun you have there,” the smaller one said, with a disdainful toss of the muzzle towards my Colt.

“I… mostly hunt cans,” I responded, and I smiled though I didn’t want to. It’s thirty yards, I thought. Make the first shot as you pull up to offhand position, follow up with another to the chest, let the recoil carry you to the head, then pivot your forward foot to the right, drop to a crouch, and work the second target. I shrugged to conceal the fact that I was turning my body perpendicular to them. There was a long pause.

“These… cans,” the man continued, “these cans are mine. You’re on my property here.”

“I’m very sorry,” I said, with my tongue dry, because I saw that his friend was nonchalantly stepping away to the side, “I thought I was on my friend’s land here. Guess I went too far west. Which way,” I continued, “is out?”

“You can turn right around the way you came,” was the response, “and take that rifle there with you.” Any pretense at courtesy was gone at this point. I took a long, deep breath. I turned around about one hundred and fifty of the required one hundred and eighty degrees. I stepped hard into the leaves to conceal the sound of my thumb flicking the safety off. And I walked slightly sideways away from them, looking back every few steps. They watched me all the way to the top of the hill.

When I hit the open field I shouldered the rifle and ran. It was probably nothing more than two guys out poaching deer off their own property out of season, annoyed and perhaps troubled themselves by some wild-eyed kid dressed for the city and carrying a scary-looking weapon for no apparent reason. Yet later on in life when I met people who had done multiple acts of casual violence I recognized the bearing and the flat affect of my rural interlocutor and I shuddered inside.

After that I left the AR-15 in the car when I went wandering. I took the Marlin instead and wore the Glock in case I ever ran into some mythical creatures — marijuana kingpins, psychopathic hillbilly rapists, black bears.

On the last day I killed an animal for fun, I was accompanied by an eleven-year-old boy who lived in a century-old farmhouse near Stilwell Beckett. Some day I’ll sit down and write out the story of how I met the… ah, let’s call them the Davises for now. I’m saving that story for the day I really need it. For now, let it suffice to say that I was sponsoring the kid’s BMX racing — call him Jake, Jake Davis — through my mail-order bike shop, and that I used to run around and get in mild trouble with his coke-addict, wannabe-biker-gang-member father, who was perhaps forty years old at the time.

This was yet another one of the days where the father was holed up in a trailer somewhere with a prostitute or fellow addict, avoiding his warrants, sleeping on some dirty mattress with his finger on the trigger of a Colt Trooper revolver. On days like this, I’d take the son out to keep him away from the situation. His mother was barely any better. I used to fancy myself a bit of a volunteer social worker, I used the phrase noblesse oblige without irony, I thought that the only way I could redeem myself from the sin of attending an expensive school and having a father who was an executive somewhere was by doing my own brand of outreach to the poor. Not fake poor, like I was — I might have had ten dollars to my name but at any time I could call home for help if I needed it. Real poor, dependent on the SSI checks and the random dope deal for grocery money.

Jake walked behind me, carrying a Browning BuckMark pistol, caliber .22 Long Rifle, six-inch blued barrel, ten-shot magazine, also belonging to me, tucked into his belt and with the chamber empty. When we had walked far enough into the woods that we couldn’t see the surrounding landscape, we set a few random items on a fallen log and plinked at them from twenty yards or so away, perforating the can of Coke I’d carried in with me and shattering a cloudy old beer bottle we’d found earlier. I reloaded the Marlin with Remington Thunderbolts and idly glassed the trees beyond our makeshift targets. I saw a plump sparrow on a head-height branch, maybe fifty yards away.

“Man,” I said to Jake, “that is one well-prepared bird, he’ll make it through the winter no problem. Can you see it?” He squinted, then nodded. In my scope, the bird was a thick blob at the crosshairs. I could see its head flicking from one side to another.

Then, quick as thought, it spread its wings and left the branch. “Check this out,” I mumbled to Jake. I drew across the sparrow’s flight path and fired the Marlin with just the right touch, the first pad of the finger on an isolated hinge as I swung the smooth arc.

Just for fun; I’d been shooting a lot of clays on the weekends when I went home. It never occurred to me that I’d hit it. Not a flying bird at fifty yards with a Marlin .22. But it dropped from the air and I did not hear it land.

“Fuck,” Jake breathed, “you shot it out of the fuckin’ sky.”

“Stay here,” I instructed him, as if we’d wounded a Cape buffalo, and I jogged towards the area where I thought it had fallen. I’d searched the leaves for a minute or two when I heard a faint peep and I looked up to see the sparrow lying on its side between two roots of a broad tree.

It was breathing rapidly and I saw no blood. For a moment I thought that I had stunned it somehow, but then it shuddered brokenly and its beak fell open. Yet it continued to breathe, the plump breast rising and falling with a desperate speed.

I looked up to see that Jake was still safely where I’d placed him. I aimed the Marlin at the small bird but turned my head as I pulled the trigger. A moment after I did so, there was that peep again. This time, I saw dark blood on the sparrow’s chest and the breathing was slower.

“Cover your ears,” I yelled to Jake, who did as I requested. I leaned the Marlin against the tree and I drew the Glock. This time I did not look away. I lined up the ball-in-the-box factory sights on the the spot where the blood was trickling out, pulled the first stage of the trigger through, closed my eyes, fired the weapon.

(The Federal Hydra-Shok 230-grain Jacketed Hollow Point round in .45 caliber was recommended by Marshal and Sanow in their 1992 book Handgun Stopping Power: The Definitive Study. Although the statistical approach used by the authors has been largely discredited since then, at the time no competing .45 caliber round could match the Hydra-Shok’s impressive eighty-nine percent record of “one-shot stops”. The Hydra-Shok is noted for its unique center-post design in which a lead nipple of sorts located in the hollow point is intended to disperse high-speed fluid loads, such as what you might encounter when shooting a man or a sparrow or better yet a nice thick slab of ballistic testing gelatin, in such a fashion as to expand the hollow point faster. I do not know if this works. In my office I have three expended Hydra-Shok rounds that I fired into wet newspaper some time in 1995. They all appear to have functioned as designed. In my mid-twenties I came to prefer the Speer “flying ashtray” 200-grain wide-mouth bullet, as loaded by Cor-Bon in their “+P+” round. It shot flatter and achieved a velocity of close to 1000fps compared to the trundling 830fps of the Hydra-Shok. Decidedly supersonic from the muzzle, the Cor-Bon flying-ashtray load was superior in antipersonnel situations, or so I’m told by people who tell people about these things.)

Dirt and perhaps something else splattered my shoes. Where the bird had been there was a six-inch deep hole. I holstered the pistol and retrieved the Marlin and walked back to Jake.

“Dude, it really took three shots to kill it?” I felt a steel shutter drop over my mind at that moment, I felt temporarily laconic, transformed into a man of few words by the act of murder. For this was what it surely was. I’d shot the bird out of the sky to show that I could shoot a bird out of the sky. I thought of Matthew 10:29,

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Seventeen years later, I would sit by the sterile plastic box into which they had placed my son and I would pray, and when I thought of my sins, I thought not of the men I’d harmed or the women I’d betrayed, but of that bird. Not a sparrow falls. And my son lay there in the box, breathing rapidly, like the sparrow. Not a sparrow falls, Lord, without you. So let this child live, my sins are not his. Not a sparrow falls. But I remembered that He had permitted the bullet to fly and the bird to fall, nonetheless.

“It did. It took three shots. Hell of a bird, right?” And we walked out, as the evening fell, and the woods were silent behind us.

13 Replies to “One Of Them Shall Not Fall On The Ground Without Your Father”

  1. disinterested-observer

    I clipped a bird with the antenna of a car one morning out in the middle of nowhere in the west. My wife and I had to chase the broken thing around, and then she held it down while I cut its head off with an ice axe. It was very weird. Even thought it was an act of mercy I know what you mean about the steel shutter coming down.

  2. Domestic Hearse

    “Better find your boy, George,” Chapman said to my Dad while he fished out a pack of cigarettes from his old Air Force orange flight line jacket.

    We were standing in shin-deep snow in a clearing, my father and I, along with ten other hunters, all dads with their teenaged sons. Boys were nibbling on recently collected Halloween Snickers bars and the men were taking fresh dips of Cope or lighting up smokes, depending on their preferred nicotine delivery method. All of us were there, except for my younger brother who still hadn’t emerged from the thick woods.

    During the deer drive we’d just completed, I’d deposited my younger brother along the base of a high ridge. “Keep walking west, slow and steady. Keep the road in the valley on your right – you can see it through the trees from here. Don’t get ahead of the other drivers. You’ll see Dad blocking after you’ve gone about a half-mile. Whatever you do, don’t cross the barbed wire fence just west of the fire trail. If you get that far and don’t see anybody, just wait and I’ll come find you.”

    He nodded nervously.

    “Okay, load up,” I ordered.

    Being a novice, first year hunter, he’d just completed his hunter safety course at the local junior high. He pulled out his single 30-30 round, inserted it into the Winchester 94, and worked the lever.

    “Remember how to lower the hammer?” I asked.

    He fumbled some, and I reminded him to take off his glove so he could ease the hammer down with his thumb while he depressed the trigger. There.

    The older boys called my brother ‘Barney Fife.’ That was tradition. We all had been ‘Barney Fife’ during our first year hunting as well. In order to teach chamber discipline, our fathers issued us one round as we learned. The name Barney was a reference to the old Andy Griffeth show, where Sheriff Andy would give Deputy Barney only one bullet, lest he hurt himself or others.

    When one of us “Barneys” finished a drive, we had to eject our bullet from the gun immediately, then hold it up to one of the dads. Proof the chamber was clear and the gun was safe. Failure to do so would earn a gloved smack on the back of the head, followed by an admonishment something along the lines of, “C’mon, Barney. Get your shit together.”

    I left my brother standing in the snow amidst a stand of huge spruce. So small, at 13. He was tough, though. A wrestler, all 95 pounds of him.

    Once all the other boys were spread out for the drive and I’d crossed over the top of the ridge, where I’d attempt to flank any deer trying to escape over the top, I gave a low whistle which was relayed down the line. “Hope my brother heard that,” I whispered to myself.

    The walking was tough. At 5,000 feet elevation, the snow was deep, the terrain broken and woods thick. Pine branches seemed to reach out and tug at my coat and swipe my face. Juniper bushes tangled my boot laces. I reminded myself to slow down, stop, look, watch.

    Half-way through the drive, I heard a single shot. Due to the snow and heavy cover, it was muffled, but I was pretty sure it came from below. I waited for a second report. I’d be able to tell if it came from a 30-06 or a 30-30, I was sure. The older boys and men carried rifles chambered for the more powerful round. The youngsters were armed with the lighter rifle. Silence. So I kept walking.

    Once we reached the blockers at the fire trail, we counted noses, speculated on the shot, and filed our action reports.

    “Didn’t see shit,” the boys reported.

    “Couple does come through,” said one of the dads on the block.

    “So who shot?” asked my father.

    That’s when Chapman advised my dad to begin searching for my little brother, who still hadn’t joined us.

    “Where the hell’d you put him?” Dad asked me.

    “Right where you said, fifty yards up from the road. He couldn’t have gotten lost,” I answered.

    I started to feel a little panicked. What if he had gotten lost? What if he shot himself accidentally? I wanted to run, but I forced myself to act cool and calm. We spaced ourselves closely, from the road and along the hillside, then retraced the route. My eyes flicked from the ground, looking for my brother’s tracks, to the woods ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of his orange hunting vest.

    There! Right under the tree stand I’d built with my dad earlier that fall during bow season. A flash of orange.

    “Found him!” I yelled.

    I broke into a trot. Then my heart fluttered in horror.

    “Holy shit! Dad! Dad!” I yelled.

    The snow had been flattened and stomped in a twenty yard circle. Dirt and pine needles and branches were torn up. Blood. Lots and lots of blood everywhere.

    And there was my brother, all 95 pounds of him, hat gone, gloves missing, hands red and raw from the cold and blood. He was laying in the snow in a wrestler’s bridged position, legs spread wide for leverage and balance. Beneath him, a massive 5×5 buck. My brother had him around the neck, forcing his head back. It was pretty clear that he’d struggled violently for a long time to get the deer into this position.

    “Help!” he yelled, eyes wide, face white. The deer began pawing with its front legs and my brother bore down again with all the force he could muster.

    “Dad! Oh, fuck! Dad!” I yelled.

    Suddenly, he was there.

    “Okay, easy now, son,” he said easing up to my brother. “On the count of three, let go and get back. One…two…”

    My brother spun away, the deer lunged for freedom, again only using his front legs. Dad’s ought-six barked, and everything went quiet as my ears rang from the report.

    “Cool!” one of the boys shouted.

    “I’ll be gawd-damned!” hollered one of the men.

    My brother stood in silence staring at his trophy buck. He shivered uncontrollably from the cold, exertion and adrenaline. Men began slapping him on the back and tussling his blond, matted hair.

    “Way to go, Barney!”

    Quietly, I began sifting through the snow with my boots. I found my brother’s glove. Then the other one. Then his hat. I helped him put them on. He was shuddering so badly, he couldn’t get his hands to work.

    “My knife,” he said, looking around in the blood spattered snow. A few minutes later, we found the Buck fixed blade I’d given him the previous Christmas.

    The group had gathered around my dad, who was now cutting through the deer’s sternum with his own hunting knife.

    “Here, use mine,” one of the men offered, holding out his well-worn knife.

    “You wanna do this?” Dad asked.

    “Naw, having too much fun watching you,” came the answer. The group whooped as Dad tipped the deer on its side and the guts slid free in a neat pile.

    I found my brother’s Winchester and ejected the single, spent cartridge. My brother sat on a stump, hunched over, and held his head in his hands.

    “I only had one shot,” he said.

    He blurted out his story — he’d gotten as far as my tree stand and was wondering if he should climb up there for awhile when suddenly, he heard crashing and thumping hooves. The buck had run right up to him and stopped, not 20 yards away, looking back over his shoulder. The blockers had spooked him right back into the drive. My brother quickly raised his rifle and shot; the round striking slightly high, breaking the deer’s spine and rendering his rear legs useless.

    The deer then spun, faced my brother, and dragging his hind legs, charged. Outweighing my brother by two-and-a-half times, he swung his antlers. My brother grabbed the tines and twisted the deer down. The deer shrugged him off and charged again. Over and over, the deer charged and my brother would bounce to his feet and counter, at one point, he pulled out his knife which the deer knocked away. Weakened by the bullet injury and loss of blood, the deer faltered and my brother shot in for the take-down. He pinned the deer under his body then held him with full-Nelson cross-neck hold. That’s about the time when I showed up.

    My brother’s story now finished, I could see tears squeezing between his fingers, his head still buried in his hands. His shoulders slightly shook. I wanted desperately to grab him, hold him tight. I looked over at the group. Dad was finished, rubbing his hands clean with snow. The boys were hooting and hollering, making their way over us. No way I could give my brother a hug now.

    I punched his shoulder instead.

    “You were ahead on points,” I said. “Two escapes, four takedowns, and you had him pinned, but the deer wins.”

    “Why?” he said, wiping his face with the back of his gloves.

    “Illegal hold. Not a bad first match, Barney.”

    He managed a grin and walked shakily to his trophy. Kneeling down, my brother stroked its neck.

    “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

  3. Tre Deuce

    Blood Falling on Snow….

    As a child, I went with my Dad and his friends and acquaintances on a hunting trip, my first, a rabbit hunting trip. The men had previously made a log V-trap to herd the rabbits into. We made noise as we moved across the snow covered fields into the forest, the rabbits anxiously moving toward the trap.

    And then, Rabbits caught in the trap, frightened… the men laughing and excited. The rabbits died. Their blood dripping into the bright, pure white snow of a sunny North Central Washington Pine forest.

    My Dad took me away from the bloody scene. When we reached the road, away from the others, he threw-up. He never went hunting again.

    Twenty five years later.

    High on the Eastern side of the Southern Washington Cascades, I leave my truck at the junction of forest and logging spur roads. Miles, and far below, is Buck Creek, my wife and baby daughter are there in our home, a little cabin by the creek.

    I grab my rifle and gear and head out toward the terminus of the long spur, a log landing on a point of land born on the end of a narrow ridge, a mountain spine. It is a welcomed late Fall, early Winter hike, but I’m on business.

    A flock of sheep are out there at the end of the spur, abandoned to the ravages of the rapidly advancing Winter. Their owner has given me permission to take all I need. It has been a tough year and Fall, the recession firmly entrenched, no work and little money… we could use the meat.

    It looks like, feels like, snow, maybe heavy, the reason I left my truck at the junction, a marker for a search, and a hedge against it being snowed in on the ridge.

    The walk in, is a gleaning inspection, and wet with a slush of an earlier snow, but calm, the damp forest in transition, a mass of cold air rapidly moving in.

    When you live in forest country, your always on the lookout for something to harvest… wood, rock, clay, wild honey, mushrooms, something uniquely unusual in its natural state, a place to picnic or read. And then there is the beauty and purity of nature harvested for the soul.

    The lofty overlook from the landing, is one few can comfortably appreciate, miles of forest covered ridges and hills in the early grip of the coming Winter are below you. Fog fills the valleys like ephemeral lakes. One can easily imagine sailing a boat across their wispy surface.

    No Sheep.

    One last look at the amazing, unforgettable scene, and I’m off to a patch of forest still standing on the steepest side of the ridge, back the way I came. I figure the sheep took shelter there.

    It is a dangerous side trip, steep trending to sheer faces, and loose rock and ice-snow covered ground. And… searchers would not find me, easily, should I find trouble there away from the spur road.

    I hear them, then see them… they are in the sheltering Firs on the steep side ridge. They are in a bad way, already less then half in number from a few days ago when I first sighted them. The cats and coyotes are decimating the gentle ungulates.

    Their plight assured, no rescue possible, I watch them, knowing their final days are near. I grieve in wonder at their inescapable fate. Nature at its most unrelenting, uncaring reality. Perverse? It is what it is, you live or you die, it cares neither way.

    It is beginning to snow, time to get on with it… the business. I look for a sheep to take, how do you decide the fate of a helpless creature? Now living… then instantly dead at your hand, no longer breathing, feeling, seeing… A big male or Female?

    The small, weak, and young, already gone, victims of the easy take, natures way of finding quick, easy sustenance.

    I can’t decide.

    My fear of killing, is growing. I’m focused on the fated animal, I can’t pull the trigger. I have to.

    The snow is falling heavily now, time to get out, back to the safety of my truck and home. It is now or never… the business. I try to shame myself into action… it is of no use. Even shame won’t budge me. I can’t pull the trigger. Me… a hopelessly, insubstantial fraud

    I rationalize that I need to get back, that the burden of dragging a sheep back on a tarp or travois, would add an unnecessary, maybe fateful burden to an already increasingly arduous hike back.

    I decide to go, momentarily muffling my personal and vocal frustration with myself. What did I expect, I’m not a killer. Why did I think I could? Some misplaced machismo, unspoken pressure from my wife, a need to contribute, provide… something, to the larder?

    I can’t see more then a few dozen yards, the snow is falling heavily. Everything is iced and snowed over now and transitioning rapidly from the late, wet Fall, to an intensely cold early Winter. In what seems like moments, Winter is here. I feel real urgency now.

    So … Quiet…

    The snow falling so heavily it damps out all sound, except the creaking and snapping branches, overburdened by their snow load. I have to be careful. Widow makers, are suddenly… a reality… nature doesn’t care about me, or my waiting family.

    Yet, I’m consumed by the spectacular… elemental scene, and pause to absorb the feel and wonder of it.

    The quiet, the spectacular show of a snow laden limb, suddenly bending and unloading its heavy load of dry snow. The snow falling in cascading rush to the ground and then running rapidly over the ground in a wave of swirling white crystals, engulfing everything around for many feet. Finally dissipating in quiet rush as it almost reaches you. All that drama and beauty, and barely a whisper. Unforgettable….

    How far?

    The snow, already, nearly a foot deep, and, how far to the truck? Time for wonder over, lets get a move on. The potential situation, the threat… palpable.

    Heavy limbs are dropping like mortar shells… I feel like I’m running a deadly gauntlet. I worry about the sheep, they have no place to run… Only to die.

    Finally… the truck. My urgency and concerns, dissipate, temporarily.

    Fortunately it is all down hill from here, but the snow is beginning to pile under the little truck. The urgency returns, builds, but careful progress is required.


    I see a deer, it tries to run up the cut bank away from the road. It stops. The steep bank and heavy brush, end its flight. I stop next to it… just a few feet away.

    A chance to redeem myself.

    Inside the truck, I grab my gun and chamber a round and point it out the window…

    Too close for the scope.

    I look over the scope, sighting along it into the eyes of the frightened deer… ten feet away. Panic, my brain freezes, synapses in slow motion, time stops. The inner quiet… wrenching. My soul… afraid.

    I can’t do it… another failure.

    I stop away from the cabin, barely visible in the heavily falling snow, but its warmth and earnestness, apparent.

    I sit there… convulsed in abject, shameful resignation and indecision. What do I say? I didn’t find them… the sheep. I couldn’t pull the trigger…twice! It is painful. This sensitivity, this burdensome humanity.

    Post Script…

    A couple of years later, I quit eating meat, even as a child it offended me… the killing and eating, with out a humane thought… given. Simple… if you can’t kill it, don’t eat it.

    The awful vision of blood on snow… faded… but never forgotten.

    Today, secure in who I am. I’m proud of my humane choices in life. It is me, and nothing can change that. I won’t let it.

    Written several years ago part of a memoir and instructive for my Son.

  4. Ronnie Schreiber

    Though there are exceptions, hunting for meat or for sport isn’t allowed by Jewish law. Still, kosher slaughter is a bloody thing. Blood isn’t kosher and one reason why “shechita” is done the way it’s done is to quickly remove as much blood from the carcass as possible.

    When I was five years old, you could still go down to Detroit’s Eastern Market, buy a live chicken, have the shochet kill it for you and then have the butcher flick and clean it. My bubbie, my mom’s mother, liked her food fresh. I can remember driving down south of Monroe in my zayde’s big ’61 Olds 98, to a commercial fishery on Lake Erie so she could buy fresh carp to use in her gefilte fish. She liked her poultry fresh too. Which is how I found myself watching chickens being slaughtered with my my mom. I was cool till the chicken got up and walked away, then I went outside and puked.

    Dinner tonight was roast breast of chicken in a sweet mustard and tomato sauce over rice.

    • Kat

      My somewhat poor and non-Jewish family butchered our own chickens when I was young. I didn’t eat home-cooked chicken for a decade as a result. The headless chicken walking with blood spurting from where its head used to be is not something I enjoyed, but it was the smell of the defeathering – my responsibility in the process – that I can still (unfortunately) remember as if it were yesterday.

  5. Mark

    >> A couple of years later, I quit eating meat, even as a child it offended me… the killing and eating, with out a humane thought… given. Simple… if you can’t kill it, don’t eat it.

    Here is wisdom. Go and learn why it is that the religious say grace before a meal. What have you lost that you can’t see what eating really is, or what is required for you to live?


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