145 Shot Puts in the Yard

© 1989 John Leonard

Inspired by an Icelandic folk tale he had read (in which a horseman, seeing a man sitting on a rock, charges by the man and slices his head off with his mighty sword, later explaining that he did it “because the angle was right”), Traficant went out and procured a massive sledgehammer not unlike the kind found in amusement parks. He then proceeded to bash out all the knobs on all the doors in the house. He found it much easier to bash out the knobs on the bedroom, kitchen and playroom doors than on the doors leading out into the street. The knobs on all the other doors came off in one swing, but the knobs on the outer doors were more secure, requiring at least two blows apiece. If he had used a smaller sledgehammer, he realized, the destruction of the doors would have been messy and much less satisfying.

It was cold out, and the bitter night air gushed in through the holes where the doorknobs used to be, but at least Traficant had destroyed the doors.

Briefly, he entertained the thought about smashing all the light fixtures in the house, but decided that they would give in too easily. Neither would the resulting mess have been as visually striking.

While rummaging through a closet one day, he dislodged his sister’s shot put, which rolled off the shelf, hitting him just above the forehead. The blow knocked him cold and also sent blood forth in copious amounts. While he slept, the blood dried on the floor around his head and in his hair, causing the hair to become matted and brittle. When he awoke several hours later, the first thing Traficant notice was a deep impression in the floor next to him, with the shot put resting in the center of it. He staggered to his feet, vomited over the bloodstain, picked up the shot put and threw it hard into the same spot where he had found it. It broke clean through to the first floor, where it went straight through the seat of a rocking chair. He knew he wanted to do this until the second floor was gone, but he reasoned that it would be impractical to keep running up and down the stairs to retrieve the shot put every time it went through the floor. So Traficant went out again and bought a gross of shot puts, hauling them upstairs in sacks of six at one time.

After about a day, the last beam of the second floor finally gave way; it broke in half, ripped out of the wall and fell to the ground, taking Traficant with it.

Dazed, but still alive, Traficant went out again, rented a crane with a wrecking ball and demolished the rest of the house. Then he poured gasoline over it. He struck a match on his jeans, threw it into the rubble and walked across the street. He sat down under a great maple tree and meditated as the orange light of the blaze bathed his face. When the fire went out and the rubble was reduced to ashes, Traficant crossed the street again.

There were 145 shot puts in the yard.