3:00 AM. The concrete stairs at the front entrance of my home still radiate the summer heat. I am wearing my hunting boots, a hooded sweatshirt and shorts. I had jolted from sleep and thrust my bare feet into my boots upon hearing the scream of terror pierce the night. It’s early September and a shrieking fisher-cat slowly prowls the rural highway. I sit and wait and listen. The cat screams like a frantic child or a woman under extreme duress, suddenly, repeatedly. Then silence. I cannot see the phantom.
I sit with my .22 rifle. The silence occasionally pierced by the chilling cries of the unseen fisher-cat. A sweatshirt keeps me sitting comfortably, waiting to see the wild cat emerge from the shadows of the grandfather pines. Several minutes pass. The screaming fades to a quiet breeze as the oversized feline cruises past. I eject the round from the chamber, drop the 9 round magazine and head back to bed.
“Did you see it?”
A streetlight casts a yellow glow where our driveway meets route 138—the rural highway that laces historic Newport, Portsmouth, and North Kingstown with the more rustic communities of little old Rhode Island.
In Rockville I swing a pick-axe and know for a moment a small sense of the work it took to settle this town, this region. The work this ground still requires. I lift the steel tool high above and thrust it down, pierce the hardened soil. The rocks resist my efforts. My arms are burning, and numb, and stiff. The collision with stone and steel reverberates in bone and flesh. I stop and think, rest and breathe, and begin once more to break ground.