The year was 1975. My family, wife and two kids, lived in a small home called a �Patio Home��.it was really a one story quadra-plex. Each of the units had a two-car carport and an adjacent patio that was about 20� by 20� surrounded by a 6� high cedar fence with a small gate that opened onto the carport. The backdoor of our �Patio Home� was, appropriately enough, a sliding glass �patio door�. We lived in Houston not too far from Greenspoint Mall, where the locals these days refer to it as Gunspoint Mall. You guessed it�not exactly the same family oriented place it was when we lived there.
One Saturday night, or rather it was really 2:00 Sunday morning; I woke up and couldn�t sleep. I don�t exactly recall why I couldn�t go back to sleep but it must have had something to do with money, since that is the thing keeps me awake most often on nights I can�t sleep.
In any case, on this particular night/morning I wandered around the house, checking on family and pets and finally went to the fridge to find something to drink.
Now, it was a known fact back then I wasn�t much of a beer drinker. When I opened the refrigerator I saw the two cans of Budweiser my neighbor had left from the domino game earlier in the evening. Based on the fact that people who drank too much often had no problem at falling asleep, I promptly grabbed one and drank it down. It was a warm night and the beer was cold and it tasted good as I stood in front of the open refrigerator with the cold air drifting past me.
I was about to kill the first beer when, standing in my Fruit of The Looms and waiting for the beer to kick in, I saw my son�s BB gun leaning against the doorjamb to the patio door. I had warned him about leaving it out. My wife often baby sat for the neighbors and the last thing I wanted was for one of the little tykes to shoot someone by accident while playing with the gun.
I walked over, picked it up and began to turn over in my mind the words I�d deliver to my son the next day on how important it was to obey his dad and also how dangerous it was to leave a gun out where kids would be playing the next day. Then, out of the edge of my peripheral view, I saw something crawling against the fence on the back of my patio. It was a tree roach�about 1 � inch long and � of an inch wide. A man�s natural inclination, to hunt, took over�I couldn�t help myself.
I slowly unlocked the door, slid the door open just enough to allow me to aim the BB gun at the tree roach without giving away my position to my prey. There was enough light coming from the streetlights to watch it move two or three inches at a time and stop. From the way it was moving there was doubt in my mind the tree roach sensed a great hunter and marksman was near and taking aim. I slowly exhaled my breath and squeezed, not pulled, the trigger and to my joy the roach splatted and fell straight down. Cool. One shot and one hit.
I stood there in my underwear with my BB gun raised and sought another target. I didn�t have to wait long. From my right, just past the big palm tree that took up room in our small yard, came another tree roach following the same deadly path taken just moments earlier by his unfortunate buddy. These guys were as dumb as chickens. I waited until this roach was in about the same position as my earlier target and then I squeezed off another shot. Bingo! Another hit. Man, was I good or what?
After knocking down 15 or so roaches, I went back to the fridge for the last beer. I opened it and grabbed a chair on my way back to the patio door. It�d be easier to shoot if I put the chair backwards in the opening and used the back of the chair as a rest for my weapon of choice.
By the time I finished half the second beer I had shot another 10 or so roaches. Now, you might ask where all these roaches were coming from. I�ll remind you I was in Houston�and let you in on a little known secret about palm trees. If you don�t keep the dead limbs pruned away from the trunk as they die and flop down, they�ll build up on each other and make the best place in the world for tree roaches to live. But back to my story.
I had pretty much decimated all the roaches that were walking down the sides of fence. There weren�t as many shots to be made as there was an hour and a half earlier, or they had somehow communicated back to their hide-out to beware of a strange looking white guy in his underwear drinking a beer and shooting fellow roaches as they wondered out in the night to find something to infest.
Being restless I moved the chair from in front of the patio door opening and slowly stuck my head out, searching the side of the house and the eaves of the roof. Sure enough�there was another crawling on the underside of the roof�s overhang. Bang�one more bit the dust.
I couldn�t see the eaves of the house very well because, well it was 3:30 a.m. in the morning and it was dark�so I went back inside, grabbed my flashlight, and taped it to the underside of the barrel so I could also hold the beer can in the other. I found 4 or 5 more targets crawling toward the carport, so I slowly made my way to the fence gate and while not taking my eyes off my targets as they inched their way towards the corner, I slowly opened the gate.
Now�I can�t really describe the look on the policeman�s face as he stood there not 3 feet from me with his gun drawn and in a combat firing stance. I can�t describe his expression because I was about to relieve myself right where I was standing�in my Fruit of the Looms�holding a beer in one hand�and a BB gun with light attached in the other.
�FREEZE!� he demanded�and I obeyed (in fact I had already froze before he yelled, but when he yelled it the way he yelled it, I guarantee you I wasn�t going to move.)
�Put your weapon down!� he commanded and I again obeyed.
�Show me your ID!� he demanded�uh oh. I looked at him and for the first time realized I was nearly butt naked�and probably in trouble.
�Uh officer�I don�t have any ID on me (hard to do without pockets), but let me explain. I live here, and, uh, I couldn�t sleep, so, uh, I saw my son�s BB gun by the back door over there, uh�and then I saw this tree roach walk across the fence and I shot the dang thing with one shot,� I added proudly. On and on I went until I saw him relax. He believed me. I�m saved.
�Boy�am I relieved,� I said implying I was glad he didn�t shoot me.
�You�re relieved? I�ve just gone off duty�do you know how much paperwork and trouble it would have been for me if I had shot you?�
I hadn�t really given any thought about his inconvenience, but I was really sorry for causing him any angst. I turned to go back inside and try and slip back into bed without waking my wife up. The last thing I needed was for her to have this little thing to hang over my head, and bring up at every opportunity at the most embarrassing moment possible�something at which she excelled.
�Where are you going?� he asked.
�Back to bed�I�m sorry for any trouble I�ve cause you sir,� I answered.
�Not until I confirm you live at this address.�
�Crud�no way out,� I thought to myself as we both headed inside. I called out my wife�s name while the policeman and I stood in the kitchen. She came around the corner rubbing the sleepy out of her eyes, which by now were growing with surprise at the sight of me in my underwear standing next to a man in blue.
�Mam�is this man your husband?�
She looked at me, looked back at him, and then back to me again�and just for a moment I thought she was going to say no. Instead she rolled her eyes, turned around without saying a word and went back to bed.
The officer looked at me and as he was turning to leave he said, �I know that look�good luck buddy.�