There are a few things I need to get off my chest; Rusty, for one. He is about to drive me crazy, or should I say crazier.

When he’s out of town, one part of me misses him, and another is glad he’s out of my hair. At least when he’s gone, I can get the house clean. Rusty can walk into a perfectly clean house, and in a matter of seconds, no, nanoseconds, the place looks like it’s been hit by a cyclone.

He’s sort of like that child named Pig Pen in the Peanuts comic strip. He’s worse than a teenager. He drops clothes, bags, papers and anything else he is holding. And if I move whatever it is he dropped, and he comes looking for it, well then he tears up the rest of the house looking for it. He could not find his head, if it were not attached. When he walks out the door, it takes about 10 minutes for all the pictures on the walls to stop swinging.

Rusty is big on surprises. By this, I mean he loves to surprise, startle or scare me. It’s at the point where I’m afraid to walk around the corner, wondering if he’s going to jump out, or worse.

The other morning he woke early and went to get the paper. I was still in bed. I was not asleep, because when Rusty gets up, no matter how hard he tries to be quiet, he just can not do it. He will knock something off of his night stand, run into the footboard of the bed, trip over something he left in the floor, or walk into a wall. He just can’t help it.

As I said, he had gone to get the paper. I heard him coming back talking to his dog. He always talks to his dog. He asked him how his night went, if he found any new girlfriends or rolled in anything interesting. And what’s weird, the dog makes whining noises as if he’s answering him.

About the time I heard him open the door, I sat up in bed. Then Rusty burst into the room, and held something up in front of my face. It was still dark, so I couldn’t make out what he was holding up. I thought it might be the paper. With his other hand, he turned on the lamp on his night stand. As my eyes focused I realized that he was holding up a creature. I screamed.

“Get that away from me!”

“What,” he said. “It’s just a little ol’ rabbit. Somebody must have run over him. Feel him. He’s still warm.”

“Rusty,” I warned. “If you don’t get that thing out of my house right now….”

“OK,” he said, as he turned back toward the door. “I swear. You sure are so jumpy.”

“Hey Rebel!” he yelled to his dog. “Momma said you could have it.” I could have killed him.

I still remember the night he caught an armadillo that was digging in the flower bed. He brought it into the house as I was coming down the hall. He turned the corner and held it up in front of my face.

I screamed, which caused Rusty to holler, causing the armadillo to jerk, which then caused Rusty to loosen his grip on the thing’s tail, and it fell to the floor. For the next half hour, Rusty chased the thing through my house, until it finally ran out the front door which I had left opened on my way out. I should have kept going.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I woke to see him trying to put on some clothes in the dark. If you are not really sleepy, this is really fun to watch. Invariably, he will get one foot in his jeans, and then he’ll hop while trying to get the other in. Rusty can’t hop in one place. He’ll cover half the room and usually trip and fall. Then he’ll jump up and yell, “I’m OK.”

Well, he was hopping as I turned on the lamp. It must have startled him, because he jerked his head toward me, smiled, then crashed into the dresser. It was then I noticed that he was putting on a pair of camouflaged pants.

“Why are you putting on camo?” I asked.

“Cause them blamed coyotes kept me awake last night, and I’m gonna go out there and wipe out the species.” We have almost as bad a problem with coyotes as we do skunks.

“I didn’t hear any coyotes,” I said.

“That’s cause you were snorin’ so loud.”

“I don’t snore,” I said.

“Yeah, and boogers ain’t green, neither.”

“Your analogies have a lot to be desired,” I told him.

“Must be the ragweed,” he said. “They’ve been actin’ up all week.”

“What? No, I said analogies, not allergies you idiot … never mind.”

“I’ll be back,” he said, and he left. He had a gun in one hand, a hand full of bullets in the other and a mouth call on a lanyard around his neck.

I stayed in bed awhile longer, and then got up to take my shower. When I stepped out of the shower, there was Rusty. I screamed.

“What?” he said.

“You scared me,” I said as I hit him on the chest. It was then I noticed his hands were bloody.

“Oh my gosh!” I said. “What happened?”

Rusty then smiled. “Come see what Daddy killed,” he said. He stole this line from one of his favorite authors.

“Like this?” I asked pointing to the fact that I did not have any clothes on. He looked at me.

“They won’t notice,” he said. “They’re dead.”

“What do you mean by ‘they’re’?” I asked.

“I got two of ‘em,” he said proudly.

“Well, I’m not going to look at any dead animal.”

“You want me to cut you off a tail?”

“No, I don’t. And I don’t want to see any parts of it in this house.”

“Them,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Them,” he repeated. “You said ‘it’ and you should have said them. I got two of them, remember?”

“OK,” I sighed. “I don’t want to see any parts of them in this house.”

“How about the garage?”

“Rusty,” I warned.

“OK, OK. But you know you’re stifling my creativity, don’t you?” he said.

I looked at him. “Rusty, do you even know what that means?”

“Uh, sure,” he said.

“What?”

“Uh, well, uh … it’s too complicated to get into right now.”

“Rusty,” I said. “The only thing that’s complicated about you is your tiny little brain.”

“Thanks,” he said and he went off smiling.

Anyway, thanks for letting me have my say. I do feel better. Well at least until Rusty gets back home.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.