"good morning" by mark hager
When I was a boy, I walked through two miles of woods to get to the schoolhouse. And I would take my father's twenty-two rifle with me and hide it in a hollow tree before I got to the schoolhouse and get it as I came home in the evening.
One evening, coming from school, I ran into a community uprising at Mr. Epperly's house. Mr. Epperly's cow had gone mad and was bawling lonesome bawls and twisting the young apple-trees out of the ground with her horns, and whole community was demanding that Mr. Epperly's dog, Old Ranger, be shot as Old Ranger had fought and killed the mad dog that bit the cow.
Mr. Epperly wanted to know if it wouldn't be safe to put Old Ranger in the stable or some place and keep him penned up until the danger period was over, but the neighbours said no; that Mr. Epperly's might slip and feed him through the cracks and get bit.
Mr. Epperly said he could not do it himself, abd wanted to know who would volunteer to do it, but non the men would.
Mr. Epperly came to me and said, :Joe, why can't you take him with you through the woods on your way home and do it?"
I told Mr. Epperly I did not want to shoot Old Ranger, I saw Mr. Epperly's three kids were already keeping close to the old dog.
Mr. Epperly then pulled a one-dollar bill from his pocket.
"I will give you this dollar bill if you'll do it", he said.
I considered. I had never yet had a one-dollar bill all my own and while the idea of shooting Old Ranger did not appeal to me, it did seem like a thing that was demanded by the whole community, and they all put at me to do it, trying to make me feel like a kind of hero, and pointed to the danger to Mr. Epperly's children. Then Mr. Epperly put a piece of clithes-line around Old Ranger's neck and I started with him. The Epperly kids began to cry.
As I walked through the woods by the little path, I started looking for a place suitable to shoot a dog and leave him lay. I saw a heavy clump of wild grapevines and I led him down under there and there (tied him) and then got back up in the path. Old Ranger looked at me and whiled and wagged his tail. He wanted to come to me. I recollected always seeing him wherever there was a splash of sunshine in Mr. Epperly's yard when I would pass there and Mr. Epperly's kids would join me for school.
I went down and untied Old Ranger and walked on. I came to a place where there was a hickory grove in a little flat where the underbrush was thin. I recollected how Old Ranger liked too go to the hickory groves and tree squirrels. I led Old Ranger down and tied him close to the trunk of a big hickory tree.
I started to take aim, but Old Ranger started prancing and looked up the tree. I remembered then hearing Mr. Epperly tell how Old Ranger would do that when he'd tree a squirrel and Mr. Epperly would rise the gun to shoot, and I could not fool Old Ranger like that.
Besides, there was too much light and Old Ranger could see me take aim. I decided to wait for the gloom. Soon as the sun dropped a few more feet behind the Wilson Ridge, there would be gloom, and maybe Old Ranger would not see so plainly how I pointed the gun.
While I waited for the gloom, the burning started in my pocket. I took the one-dollar bill out. I had a feeling there was something nasty about it.
While I thought of that, Old Ranger roared and barked and surged at the cord leash, and when I looked back out the path I saw Mr. Epperly's three kids, but they were running away. They had turned to run when Old Ranger barked.