"It was the most memorable Thanksgiving I'd ever had," Barbara drawled, casting a stoic glance at her husband, Ollie. "And I hope to never have such a memorable one again."
Ollie looked sheepish and grinned. "Yep, it was bad, no doubt about it," he said. "Words don't do it justice. I was in trouble for a good while and, from the looks of it, might still be."
Now, before I relay the events of how one holiday went from Hallmark to horror house in a matter of minutes, let me tell you a bit about my friend, Barbara. Barbara is, in every respect, the quintessential "proper" Southern woman. She would never be caught in public without her platinum blonde hair perfectly styled and her makeup fully applied. She is beautiful, inside and out, and she carries herself with the poise, posture and elegance of a cotillion, even if she's just going to Walmart.
To top it all, she's a delightful storyteller. Her thick Louisiana accent carries a tale slowly and methodically, as though each word had been dredged in Karo syrup and left to soak overnight. In that fashion, she told the following story.
It was the night before Thanksgiving. Barbara had worked on the house all day -- dusting, polishing, mopping and Martha-Stewarting everything in sight to make sure it was perfect for the masses that would be arriving bright and early the next morning. Pies were made. Sides were prepared. The turkey was thawed and ready to pop in the oven. Ollie had taken care of the outside chores and was finishing his sweep of the front porch as Barbara was shutting things down for the night. It was nearing midnight when Ollie spotted the armadillo.
For weeks, Ollie and the phantom armadillo had been engaged in an all-out battle over the front lawn. Holes were everywhere, but the perpetrator was coy... and more nocturnal than the early-to-bed Ollie. Now, there they were, both in each other's sights.
Although Ollie had a broom in hand, he felt this wasn't enough to get the job done. This was war, and he knew he might not get another chance to end the problem. He went inside and got his .22 rifle. He took aim and fired.
The first shot ricocheted off the animal's armor, causing it to jump three feet into the air. The second shot penetrated the shell, causing the armadillo to land on the front porch, where it proceeded to run wildly down full length of the porch and back, over and over again, squirting blood from the small pressurized entrance wound, until it finally collapsed.
Barbara opened the door to find a massacre, with her porch -- the ceiling, windows, door, floor, everything -- covered in blood. She looked at Ollie.
"Got him," Ollie said.
I'm not sure whether, in the end, it was Ollie or the armadillo that truly won that war. But I know where you can get armadillo on the half-shell for Thanksgiving in Louisiana, if you care for a road trip.
Lisa Kelley-Gibbs is a Southern storyteller, lawyer and country gal living a simple urban life in downtown Bentonville. This column first appeared in 2019. Email her at [email protected]