My Brother The Murderer

In November of 2007 my brother killed a squirrel by firing an air rifle from inside the house, traveling through two rooms, through an open window, and into the flesh of the squirrel. At the time I was vegetarian and chronic diarist at the time and I wrote down my feelings immediately afterwards. I recently found my diary and have posted the diary below in its original form. 

A lot of the sentences aren’t well written, but I recall I was so angry at him, that this writing is very raw. It is also incomplete. If I recall correctly, I wrote this right after it happened as my brother and I drove to the dentist together. It isn’t much of an ending. I wanted to finish it but I never got back to it. From what I can tell, no other entries mention this event.

It’s also very interesting to me how much my writing style has changed. Now that I’m a working person, my writing is very different than the idealistic English major I was at the time.

Twelve years later, I still stand by my belief at the time, that this is the most white-trash thing I’ve ever witnessed. I wish my prose captured that better.  

November 17, 2007

The original text.

In the ongoing war of squirrels verses bird feeders, a decisive battle was won today: my brother killed a squirrel who was indulging himself with our bird feeder.

As long as we’ve lived in our house, we’ve had some sort of bird appealing device outside our kitchen window – bird baths and bird houses namely. The house is much more wooden than our previous lot. Situated outside our kitchen is a fenced nook with large paved stones. It sits between two large trees and shields our kitchen from the prying eyes of our neighbors.

My dad made a birdhouse when my brother and I were still young. Nothing of county fair prize quality, but the wood and plastic pane were enough for the birds. It wasn’t enough, however, for the squirrels. With their insatiable appetite for bird feed, the squirrels made quick work of the birdhouse. With more teeth marks than a chocolate Easter rabbit, the birdhouse quickly went to splinters.

It seems that as we were experiencing the squirrels onslaught new technology was being developed to protect bird feeders from the vermin threat. 

Labeled as a squirrel-proof bird feeder, the new feel to bird feeders had leavers that discriminated by weight who could access the bird feed. Light enough for a bird, too good for a squirrel. Or so we thought. The feeders were designed to hang from trees. We however had to mount the feeder on the fence. Attached to a large piece of wood, we thought that access to the feeder would be limited to those who have hollow bones and feathers.

The squirrels however beat us. They leapt with acrobatic precision. Their bodies were noble; their paws reached vainly to get each little granule of bird feed.

The story of the squirrel proof bird feeders wasn’t unique to us. My friend had one in his backyard. Propped paper on a pole in the middle of the yard, the squirrels scaled the pole and took residence atop the feeder. Their feet grasped at the top, their bodies stretched towards the trough of feed. It was an inverted buffet.

We started to resort to tactics: leaving food on the ground for them (they were messy eaters already) and taking the screen off the window and throwing ice cubes at them. They were scare tactics at best. None were really effective.

My brother got his first gun two years ago. However, the guns went the way of his guitar, his paintball gun, and other lavish impulse items. As a member of the Air Force ROTC, he’s had limited use of firearms, but is more proficient than me. I fired a revolved when I was twelve, and couldn’t hit the target six feet in front of me.

When I came home for Thanksgiving break, the little nook had a shepherd’s hook with a cylindrical bird feeder. Within hours of being home, I found myself amused with the high-wire leaps demonstrated by the resident squirrel in chief. Tapping the window sent him scattering. He was a chronic abuser; he’d return within half an hour of feeling.

Holiday breaks produce lots of ennui. Between the recycled madness that is television, and video games, little is accomplished. The kitchen windows can be seen from the family room. The sound of a ten-point landing by a squirrel can easily be heard in the family room.

Neils, my brother, a victim of this ennui-fest, decided that after witnessing three days of wanton bird feeder abuse, he had enough. He took the screen off the window and placed a large piece of wood behind the feeder, where it was in the corner of the fence. He then moved the chair from the kitchen into the family room. His air rifle was cocked, though nothing was in the chamber.*

*Me in 2019 – I’m not sure if was cocked and he was going to scare it with the sound or if this is just me writing poorly.

I was mindlessly playing my video game and Neils was across the house talking on the phone. I heard the sound of the feeder swinging in a pendulum motion. I called for Neils’ attention. He hung up and snuck over to observe the scene.

He placed the air rifle steady on the chair. He placed a bearing in the chamber. I was behind him cringing with excitement. It was going to be quite a payoff.

We waited for the squirrel to crawl around into full view. Neils said he baited that side of the feeder with peanut butter.

The squirrel traversed the feeder and was in full view. Neils fired and it seemed like the squirrel froze. Yet a microsecond later, he was back feasting. We didn’t know what happened, as he was confident that a shot was in the chamber. He reloaded. The squirrel turned around and fancied us with the possibility of shooting him in the ass.

Neils fired and the squirrel fell.

I ran over to the window to see the outcome. The squirrel was on the ground, moving its paws. A hole in him bled crimson. I looked away.

“It’s bleeding,” I said.

“What did you expect would happen,” snorted Neils.

I remember in sixth grade when Mrs. Houk told the story of her son shooting a squirrel with a BB gun. The squirrel dashed, but unleashed a torrent of vermin profanities.

That was a plastic BB gun. This was lead. And it was heavy on me.

Asides from insects, I’ve never seen anything die before. The squirrel’s last moments were like those in movies: feigned attempts to relive your life, the flaying of limbs to reach out for help – and for a second, I thought I could help. I hadn’t a clue what I’d do. The Seinfeld episode where George hits a squirrel ran through my mind. I wound up just walking away.

“It’s dead,” informed Neils.

After hearing me gripe about how I didn’t expect this homicide, he reminded me that “It’s a bird feeder, not a squirrel feeder.”

The animal activist in my made me feel conflicted. The squirrel did suffer in his death and his death was unnecessary. Simultaneously, I was glad that one less squirrel would be gracing our bird house with his presence.