Death of a Frog
2011 by Michael Lewis
Peer pressure can be the greatest force on earth, but at 10 years old I had no idea what peer pressure meant and even if I had it would have made no difference. School was out. The summer belonged to thousands of Scottish school children. Most important for me and my pals the greater Glasgow frog hunting season had begun.
I vaguely heard the echo of my mother’s voice as I ran to the front gate. "Don’t get your clothes dirty and make sure you are back in time for dinner."
We took the short cut and hiked into the woods behind David Dow’s house. The mud sucked at our Wellington boots as we slowly trudged through the muddy fields until we reached Dead Man’s Lake, so called because of schoolboy rumors that someone had drowned there.
The four of us began hunting in the mud and weeds trying to find the elusive frogs. Suddenly Stumpy called out "Hey, I got one."
"What’s it look like?" cried John.
"It’s a great big green bastard," came Stumpy’s reply.
Then Brian showed us why he was number one. "Let’s kill it."
"What with?" I replied.
"With this," Brian said. He pulled out a Wembly slug gun.
"Jesus," John stammered, "Where did you get that?"
"I stole it from my big brother," came the reply.
We all took turns handling the gun and waving it around trying to pluck up courage.
Then Brian pointed the gun at the frog and fired a slug into the middle of the frogs back. The frog shivered. We all laughed and giggled with the same delicious guilt.
John came next and fired the slug into the same part of the frog’s back. The frog shuddered again and a white milky substance oozed out of its anus. John handed me the gun.
I took the pistol in my now very sweaty hands. All I wanted to do at that moment was drop the gun and run home, but the greater fear of ridicule rooted me to the spot.
The frog looked up at me as though begging for mercy. There was none. I slowly pressed the trigger all the time fighting a rising nausea. The slug entered the frog’s head just below the eyes. There was a sudden croaking screech, as the frog gave one final shudder and died. I wanted to cry, but was forced to giggle with the rest of the gang at our brave manliness.
I made it back in time for dinner. "Hey mum, I killed a frog today."
"Never mind that, look at you. You’re filthy. Go upstairs and have a bath before dinner. Your dad will be home soon."
If only she had smacked me.
This all happened over 50 years ago. For some of us peer pressure can be a life-time sentence.
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