This story was pretty ubiquitous this week, but I have to admit it made me smile every time I read it. Imagine if you will that you are a man called Larry McElroy, and you live in Lee County in Georgia. You look out of your window and see an armadillo making a nuisance of itself. They count as vermin, so you grab a 9mm semi-auto handgun that, this being Georgia, you’ll naturally have lying around with a round in the breech. You loose off a round, hit the critter, and it dies.

This is where things get a little more complicated. The bullet bounces off the shell of the armadillo, ricochets off a fencepost, goes through the back door of a trailer, through the back of a recliner seat inside, and hits your mother-in-law who is sitting in said recliner. Your mother-in-law gets carted off to hospital, but is not seriously hurt.

This chain of events is like one of those tedious trick shots that snooker players set up for a bit of light relief during the World Championships. Not only did it take not one but two ricochets, the bullet then had to go through a specific door, through a specific piece of furniture, and strike a specific person related to the shooter, travelling some 100 yards in the process. The chances of that happening are pretty remote, aren’t they?

There are many pleasing aspects to this story. One is that it occurred in Georgia. I’ve been there, and it’s a lovely state but as full of rednecks as you might expect. Another is that good ol’ boy Larry was attempting to plug an armadillo of all things. We don’t get them in the UK, and they’re inherently funny to Brits. Yet another is that his mother-in-law lives in a trailer, thus reinforcing just about every stereotype of residents of the region that you’ve ever heard of or seen.

One last wonderful detail. The police officer who investigated was quoted as saying, ‘Guess if you’re going to go shooting varmints you might want a shotgun.’ Varmints! Priceless. Mind you, I do hope the cop was referring to the armadillo and not to ma-in-law.

Just in case you don’t know, in some bits of the southern US, armadillo chilli is considered good eating. I’m not making that up.

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