By DARREN HANDSCHUH
It was one of those times when I got into trouble and it wasn’t even my fault – honest.
How could I have predicted the bizarre series of events that would end in the tragic and accidental murder of a frog?
The tale of the doomed amphibian dates back to my youth. I was 18 years old and in the army militia and we were on a training exercise at a shooting range.
It was pretty much a day like any other: the sun was shining, the birds were chirping and a group of teenage boys were shooting high-powered rifles and loving every minute of it.
Now before any of you get worried, I did not accidentally shoot the frog. No, Kermit’s long-lost cousin was not killed by friendly fire.
There was no weaponry involved in the death of the webbed wonder. In fact, there was not even intent to cause the green guy any harm, but when you get 20 or so teenage boys together something stupid is bound to happen.
We spent the morning running through the woods with our rifles doing various exercises before heading to the rifle range and making our guns go bang over and over again.
Personally, I loved shooting. I always have. I have never killed anything bigger than a bird – starlings to be exact – but I was a crack shot (not a crack pot as some may claim) and I have squeezed a trigger thousands of times in my life.
As a kid growing up in a rural area, I took my pellet gun and a can of pellets every where.
It was a different time back then and no one blinked when they saw a kid walking down the street with a rifle.
I can remember waving to the neighbours with my pellet gun resting on my shoulder as I walked up the road to the nearby hills and they would wave back without so much as a second glance.
Of course everyone knew everyone else so if I did do anything stupid my parents would hear about it before I was done doing it
If a kid was spotted with a gun today, every cop for 150 kilometres would be called in to action.
Anyway, back to the tale of the hard-luck frog whose luck was about to run out.
It happened during a mid-day meal break – civilians call it lunch time, but that would just make too much sense for the army.
A good buddy of mine, whom I had gotten into trouble with in the past and likely deserved it, had found a rather large bullfrog lounging near the shore of a pond we stopped at.
He pounced on the critter and held his prize for all to see. I am not sure why, but for some reason he decided to see what would happen when he flipped the frog straight up into the air.
Now, before PETF (People for the Ethical Treatment of Frogs) gets all in a tizzy, I would just like to say that, um, er, alright, it was not a very nice thing to do to a frog.
Upon launching said amphibian, my buddy noticed Kermit’s arms and legs spread out and he looked like he was doing a jumping jack or something.
Several people found it amusing, so my buddy did it a few more times before one of the officers, a renowned frog hugger, noticed and told him to stop.
My friend did, and he flipped the frog back into the pond from whence it came.
Now this is where fate stepped in.
I was about five metres away and not having much interest in flying frogs, I was not paying too much attention to what was going on. I was however throwing softball-sized rocks into the lake. I was kind of lobbing them over my shoulder without even looking at where they were landing.
So, my buddy threw the frog into the water and this creature could have gone in any one of 360 directions and as he began to swim, I lobbed another rock.
As I released the miniature boulder I watched it arc to the water and that’s when I noticed the frog.
I watched the rock come crashing down on top of frog, making a near perfect impact on his head.
What are the odds - a frog in a big pond getting clobbered by a randomly thrown rock? I guess the odds were good enough for it to happen and the world had one less frog to accommodate.
The frog-loving officer witnessed the killing and went absolutely ballistic, claiming we had conspired to whack the frog.
It was kind of hard to defend ourselves because we were trying to look innocent without laughing out loud.
In the end, we convinced the officer it was a tragic mishap and we had no intention of deliberately hurting the critter.
But for the rest if of my time in the unit, that officer kept a close eye on the ‘frog smasher.’