There was a fox in our New England neighbourhood. We had seen the rabies-infected animal saunter by in the middle of the day; its eyes had a yellow tinge, and he frothed at the mouth.
One afternoon, a week or so after first spotting him, I heard one of my son’s yell from the yard, “The fox. It’s right here!”
Before I knew what hit me, I grabbed my Louisville Slugger and sprinted outside, where I found myself face-to-face with the fox. We looked at one another, and suddenly I felt like Clint Eastwood in one of those spaghetti Westerns. Who would make the first move? I tried to spit through my teeth. (Hey, this move worked for Clint in “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” Why wouldn’t it work for me, too?)
I had hoped that the fox, seeing the impressive physical specimen before him, might turn and head for the woods. Perhaps he was a “Peace in our time” kind of guy?
As the animal edged closer towards me, I became conscious of the fact that my wife and kids were looking at me. I think this realization dawned on me because they were all yelling, “Get in the house, you idiot!” (I guess they are not big Clint Eastwood fans.)
As I started to backpedal, I began to appreciate the advantages of the “Live and let live” philosophy. But it was too late for this metanoia because it was then that the fox made his move.
As he sprang at me, I swung the shillelagh – more of a check swing, if you really want to know — and I thought I heard the crack of the bat, as I tumbled backwards. As I lay there, writhing in the dirt, I could feel the fox’s cruel teeth, incredibly sharp, incredibly powerful, biting into my ankles. Impulsively I swung the baseball bat repeatedly, until I realized that I was actually banging the frame of my wife’s new bike. (It was the kickstand which had been “biting” me.)
The fox had, it turned out, bolted on contact, and I had simply tumbled over my wife’s 10-speed, now freshly dented.
An hour later, when I was being interviewed by the Channel 12 “Eyewitness News” reporter (It must have been a quiet news day), I was asked what went through my mind as I swung the bat.
How often does anyone have a chance to say, “I didn’t try to pull it. I just went with the fox!”?