animals / animals

The Skunk

 

Skunk

 

 

The town I live in has been over run by skunks.

They’re everywhere. if you own a dog? The chances are its been sprayed by one.

I was told that if you encounter one and it’s getting ready to blast you? You’ll know it because the tail raises right before it releases its stank. if you can move fast enough and pin its tail down? you just might avoid getting blasted.

I tested this theory out recently while taking care of my mother in laws dog.

I’m gonna refrain from using his name here, I’m not sure he’d like me involving him.

Upon coming across a skunk on a walk with “the dog.” I startled it.

Now a skunk moves very slowly. The don’t run away. More like waddle away.

I should mention I was as scared of it, as it was of me, I wasn’t looking for any trouble.

We were minding our own beeswax.

Try explaining that to a frightened animal with a brain the size of a pea.

I panicked dropping the dog’s leash as the rotten little stinker raised its tail.

It nailed me mid charge squarely in the chest.

Stunned me. can’t describe it. it was awful.

The skunk took off between a couple of houses.

I looked over at my mother in laws dog.

I swear it had this look, like, “What the hell were you thinking?”

I was, after all? only trying to protect him.

I ran home dog in tow, thinking….how am I going to explain this?

Why didn’t I just leave it alone?

It’s a skunk.

My wife bathed me in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. which? trust me on this, sounds a lot better than it is. The concoction is supposed to lessen the smell. it did help a little. I guess? Though not enough to be let back into the house.

I had to throw out what I was wearing, and sleep in the garage.

My mother in laws dog got an apology in the morning. me? I got nuthin.

He had to sleep in the garage with me. We didn’t say much to one another.

I’m not going to have to dog sit anymore, I’m pretty sure.

I was told by my wife and mother-in-law I can’t be trusted.

And if we do get to watch the dog?

My wife can walk him. I’ve been asked to stand down. I’m out. done.

Too bad really, Cause I love the little guy. We were friends once. maybe we can patch up our differences someday and move forward. people do it all the time.

Skunks? really? getting to be no ones safe outside after dark. take heed.

They’re out there you know? waiting. watching.

I’m just lucky none of my neighbors saw the exchange. This kind of stuff is not what I want to be known for around town. I’ve already made a few bad judgement calls since we moved in according to my wife. I’m trying to fit in here, honest I am. but we’re talking about a wild animal. and they can be unpredictable. you never know what they’re thinking.

If I could have somehow communicated with it? I would have told it, ramble on little friend, the dog and I mean you no harm. he’s just got to take a leak, and I’m only out walking him because my mother-in-law is out of town.

Alas that would not matter. no words or hopes or prayers would save me on this evening stroll. I was dealing with a force of nature. one that could not and would not be reasoned with.

If only? I had not panicked.

If only? I had not listened to my co-workers advice.

Maybe I would have avoided the ordeal? I really am not the monster I appear to be. I love animals. its true animals sense something inside of us. they have a sixth sense. this animal like other animals I have come into contact with in my life decided that enough was enough. he must pay. there is a bill that must be paid. a debt that must be settled.

I’m not going out after dark anymore. let them tangle with someone else for a change.

I’m through with the animal kingdom for a while. at least for the time being.

I cannot look back on a life of achievement anymore, or of challenges met, or competitors bested.

This obstacle was not overcome. I was.

My Pally Motts.

 

My Pally Motts

“Seventh row man! for Seger! Seventh Row!”

Motts couldn’t believe his luck.

Thinking he’d just bought tickets to see Rocker Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.

I checked. Seger wasn’t in town on that date? Wasn’t even on tour?

The night of the show. he handed it to me.

Brilliant, said it right on the ticket. “An evening with Seegar.” Pete Seegar.

The poor goof had mistakenly bought tickets to see Pete Seegar, the folk singer.

Not exactly Motts Cup O’ Tay.

We had snuck in a couple pints of Blackberry Brandy, in case we got parched.

When Seegar came onto the stage Motts leaned over and said. “Looks like Bob’s been on a diet.”

“I never knew he was that tall? What’s with the Fooking Banjo!”

It went downhill fast after that.

He opened with “Turn Turn Turn.”

His second song was  “If I had a Hammer.”

Motts spat after the applause died down. “If I had a Hammer?…I’d smash that Banjo!”

The group in front of us turned around and gave us dirty looks.

Five songs into the show, during, “On Top Of Old Smokey.”

Motts began yelling.

“Boooooo!”

Seegar being the consummate professional. kept playing.

The verbal assault intensified.

“Who The Hell Is Smokey?!?”

Pete Seegar ignored it and played on.

“This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land…From California to the…..New York Island….”

“BOOOOOOO!”

“You’re New Stuff is Shite! C’MON! Play Some Of Your Old Stuff!”

“C’MON SEGER!”

Seegar finally reached his boiling point.

Mid-song he snapped, stopping the show cold, yelling back, “I am playing my old stuff! now Sit Down and shut the hell UP!”

The crowd was beginning to close in and we were all out of brandy.

“Motts? mellow out man, That’s Not Bob Seger. wrong guy…wrong guy. mellow out man. Motts? relax man, cool it.”

He was having none of it. I’m not sure he even heard me?

“C”MON! PLAY RAMBLING GAMBLING MAN!” How about Kat-Man-Dooooo!” fist pumping the air.

“Get Outta DENVER! C’MON BOB!”

The people in front of us turned around again, this time telling us to “Knock it Off!”

Seegar pointed off stage to someone, then to where we were seated. Moments later. Two of the largest humans I’d ever seen approached us.

“Whadda we gonna do now?”

I got the words, “Guys we’re…..” out. before they grabbed us.

Down the aisle, Motts Arms kept flailing about. “Get yer….Grubby….Paws Offa Me! Hey…Hey!”

“This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land…From California to the…..New York Island…..”

Pete Seegar was in fine form. he was playing the shit out of that banjo.

“You Sold Out Seger! You Sold OUT! Gimme Back My Money!”

Seegar being the consummate professional. kept playing long after we’d left the venue.

The Tribune had a nice review about it the next day. mentioning some over served group that marred the performance just left of the stage before being ejected.

He was inconsolable. To this day he still has no idea who Pete Seegar was? He kept saying “You mean Bob?” I’d say “No Pete.”  he’d tilt his head a little like a dog does when you talk to it.

He means well. He’s not perfect. He knows it.

Truth be told. he’s harder on himself than anyone else is. making a mess of so many things. Always with the best of intentions.

One afternoon at a party, he looked at me, got really serious.

I braced myself. Here it comes, His wife is leaving him? Lost his job? Maybe he’s sick?

Motts began. “A Person’s Health is in His Feet. A Person’s Heart is in His Feet.” then he held up a finger and said. “Never Speak to The Feet while the Head is Alive.”

So I ask him, “How Come?”

He shrugged. “Dunno? Is it because a person’s feet are key to their health, keeping them active and in good physical condition? is a person’s heart in his feet, because of that inner drive to go in search of adventure? undertake the journey. follow our instincts. that if we do? we will be rewarded in the end. someone or something will be there to tell us. That we did a good job. that our lives meant something?

Is it not our heart that tells us this, or is it our mind playing tricks with our feet?”

I’ve known Motts for years. we grew up in the same neighborhood. Went to the same schools.

He’s Generous, Loyal, Big Hearted, Incredibly Temperamental, and Highly Entertaining.

He’s the guy who pulls over for the senior citizen stuck on the side of the road, helping them change a flat tire. the guy who wouldn’t accept money for any favor or help you might need. he might ask you to say a prayer for him.

He’s the guy who visits his Mom and Dad every day. a son who actually wants to spend time with his parents.  He talks with his Ma on the phone every time she calls, never making an excuse.

There’s No, “Ma can I call you back?” Game could be in the 4th quarter. score tied, time running out. if that phone rings? he’s picking it up.

“She might need something? What if she needs something?”

His relationship with his Da? is a little more complicated.

“Get in the Car Da!”

“No, I want to stay home and watch golf.”

“Get in the Car Ol Man!”

“Boyo? My Old Man never hit me once in his life, I hope to continue that trend. but so help me! You Call Me That Again? I’ll Box Yer Ears In.”

Motts Ma always tried to change the subject to keep the peace. “Didja hear the pope is coming? we’ll have to get tickets.”

“Last Chance. Ma and I are going to the movies. are you coming?”

“Go On! Go On Now You……..Scram.”

Didn’t matter. they were his family and he loved them.

Kicked out of College when he drove his car through the front window of a quick mart while in the grip of the grape. his date passed out in the front seat. rolling down his window. He looked at the frozen store clerk who thought she was being robbed. inquiring, “Are Yas Open?”

He’ll accept any challenge. especially of the financial variety. though not always financial.

On a dare, he approached a bird sanctuary dressed like a hunter. making duck calls. peering in the front windows. pounding on the glass. shouting at the birds in their enclosures.

“Come Out With Your Hands Up! I Got The Place Surrounded!”

Thankfully he was smart enough not to have a weapon on him. no felony. just a little misdemeanor. no harm, minor foul. his punishment? community service picking up trash on the side of the highway.

Motts use to love animals of all kinds. he respected, empathized and enjoyed interacting with them whenever possible.

After a Traumatic encounter. things changed.

We had hopped a fence at the local zoo to get a photograph of Motts next to an ostrich. this to win a 300 dollar bet with some guy he worked with. 700 if he got a picture of him tickling it’s foot.

You ever see an ostriches foot? it’s frightening man.

Inside the pen. quietly, we approached.

Easy, Easy, Steady Now, Steady. Steady.

He’d had a brain storm to put a bag over the birds head.

“It might keep it calm if it didn’t know it was having its picture took? I want to make this as painless as possible for the bird.” he said.

“Motts? it’s not being kidnapped for ransom? you’re not taking it hostage? its a fooking ostrich. you need a photo with it. that’s all. stop over thinking it. let’s go. I gotta work in the morning.”

At the precise moment Motts attempted to move into the birds halo? it woke. The Startled Bird staggered, falling hard in the dirt in front of us. I ran, we didn’t belong there.

As Motts and I scrambled back over the fence. big bird stumbled to his feet like a QB trying to get up after being crushed. we left in a hurry. him to reflect on what he’d just done. me so I wouldn’t get caught.

He went back the next day to apologize to the Ostrich. I did not.

His only problem was they all looked the same in the light of day.

“What if you apologized to the wrong one?” I asked him. “Maybe you should have apologized to all of them? They all deserve an apology. Don’t they?”

He agreed, they did.

The next day, man of his word. he returned to the zoo.

Yelling at the birds from just outside the enclosure. this time, he addressed them en masse.

“I’m SORRY! Alright?!? Fair Play, That’s GRAND Then. Thanks Very Much. All Of Yas. Won’t Happen Again.”

As if yelling at them? would somehow grant him absolution.

A zookeeper came out, asking Mott’s to leave immediately.

Wisely, he complied.

Today he gives all animals a wide berth.

That night in the pen with the bird? after an epiphany, Something changed in him.

He refuses to own any animal. No Way Jose. no dog, cat, monkey or marmot. telling me when the end comes. it won’t be from war, or disease, or an asteroid slamming into the earth. When the end of time comes. All animals will run amuck and turn on us.

You go fetch the stick. Kitty doesn’t want to play with that ball of yarn anymore. Polly isn’t interested in any crackers.

If I were you? I’d commence to running.

“I’m not taking any chances.” he told me. “life is too precious. it’s just not worth the risk.”

Unpredictable, Untamed, Unstable.

A Wild Animal.

Un huh. Got it.

The squirrel was laughing at me.

I was never more sure of anything in my life.

I hissed at it.

Then, I went back to my raking. filling up seven more bags of leaves.

I looked back up into the tree.

Strange, It was still there?

Only now? there were two more with it. watching me. I stared back at them. they exchanged sideways glances.

These three were up to something. No two ways about it.

“You Imposter.” I heard a voice say, “You fool no one.”

It sounded like Peter Lorre. high-pitched and nasally.

Then the other two started in on me.

“He’s holding the rake all wrong! Will ya look at this guy?”

“He’s not taking into account the wind? it’s out of the west.”

“No No it’s out of the north!”

“Hey man? get it together. rake away from the wind, geez c’mon!”

“If he’d check the weather he’d see the wind is going to pick up.”

Peter Lorre and his squirrely pals were judging me. criticizing my technique. my way of doing things.

I rubbed my eyes.

“If he waited two days? he wouldn’t have to rake em? they’re all gonna blow away!”

One of them put a finger in its mouth to dampen it, then held it aloft to test the wind.

“High pressure system is heading our way. winds definitely gonna change.” it said.

I dropped the rake and ran into the house.

That night, as I slept.

A voice, “Imposter.”

I was raking in the yard again,

I looked into the trees, they were filled with squirrels.

Every branch. Every limb was full of them. And every one of them was looking at me.

“Do yourself a favor and move back to the city, you’re out of your element.”

It was that prick Peter Lorre. I guess he was the lord high squirrel?

One of them threw a bus ticket at me. told me to “Beat it.”

An eerie silence fell.

A large herd of squirrels stared at me from the branches above.

I went into our garage, found the can of gas for the lawnmower and poured it at the base of the tree. then I lit it.

“How do you like that PETER?!? WHERE’S YOUR MOSES NOW!?!”

Flames raced up the trees trunk.

My wife came flying out of the house, grabbing our garden hose spraying the tree with water.

In the distance, sirens approached.

“Can you believe that Honey? Did you see them? Did you hear what Peter said to me? Look? they gave me this bus ticket.”

She looked at our charred tree, before turning to contemplate the love of her life.

“What is wrong with you? What Bus Ticket?”

“I Didn’t Do Anything? They Started it!”

A fire truck pulled up in front of our house. followed by the police. I was ticketed, and told in no uncertain terms not to set anymore fires.

I walked back into the house. and stared at the fireplace. confused.

The following morning, I got dressed and went out into our front yard to scan the trees.

Where’d they all go?

It began to rain. winds were gusting through the branches. I stood there an hour or so watching and listening. Until I heard the rumble of thunder. I had some chores to do before the game started.

Work, work, work.

That afternoon, I fell asleep on the couch.

I was in Hawaii. relaxing in a lounge chair at the pool. A squirrel approached me and asked me “If I’d like something to drink?” I said no thank you. Would it be possible to get something to eat? The squirrel shook his head and said, “No.” Then he hit me with his little drink tray and ran off.

Had a difficult time sleeping that night. keeping one eye on the tree outside our bedroom window. first I heard scratching. then murmuring? like an angry crowd had gathered.

It kept growing louder and louder.

I pulled the covers up to my chin and waited.

The next day at work things got a little sketchy. I had some sort of a confrontation with a parking meter.

At lunch, my co-workers saw me yelling at my sandwich in the break room. All they would say is, he seemed incredibly distraught.

They called my wife to come get me.

To be clear, if I may?

Just because she signed the papers to put me away. doesn’t mean she doesn’t care. it’s only temporary arrangement. ok?

She needed to do something I suppose?

Everyday for the past two weeks.

I would come home from work and run through the sprinkler in my suit.

Sure, I got a few strange looks. But what the hell?

Down the street, we have a guy who cuts his lawn at dawn in his pajamas while drinking a glass of wine.

Everybody’s dealing with something. you know?

Pressures either at work, issues with your kids, your spouse, maybe it’s a combination of things?

If that’s your only problem? Be Thankful. The stuff on the surface can be handled. You can work through it.

But, if you start to see things? Or hear voices? things that aren’t there? Well? You have my sympathy and my understanding Pal.

I really want to go home. I’m tired of all these restrictions.

I wasn’t talking to the squirrel. He was talking to me.

What was I suppose to do? Ignore it?

I should’ve, I could’ve, unfortunately? I didn’t, I just couldn’t.

So now?

I’m sharing a room with this guy who thinks he’s….Magilla Gorilla. Keeps calling me Ogee or Mr. Peebles.

I guess I shouldn’t complain, he’s respectful, picks up his stuff, stays on his side of the room. What more can you ask of a roommate? his goofy voice can wear on you. All this “Gee Mr. Peebles” nonsense. My Name is not Mr. Peebles. I don’t own a pet store with a Gorilla for sale.

Let it go man!

“Won’t you buy him? take him home and try him? gorilla for sale.”

C’mon? take him home and try him? That’ll never work.

I want to go home and run through the sprinkler.

My wife told me on her last visit that my friends and co-workers have been calling to inquire how I’m doing?

I’m feeling better. The dreams have subsided. I am sleeping better.

Although? I can’t be sure that they won’t come back?

I saw a squirrel outside yesterday.

Didn’t talk to me. Didn’t even look my way. Which is fine by me.

Doctor tells me I should make a full recovery. I just need some rest.

Things are a lot easier here, I have lots of friends. a nice bed to sleep in, three square meals a day.

I get visitors from time to time holding clipboards.

Everyone is always asking me how I am?

We get to talk about our problems every day. The people who work here are really friendly.

And the patients are mostly cool. Mostly.

Except for this guy named Larry who keeps asking everyone, “is it safe?”

“How the fuck should I know Larry?”

Tomorrow for grins. I might tell Larry it’s not safe, while staring at his forehead. just to see what happens.

I think I’m calmer? calmer than most people in here. I have lots of room to run and play.

As long as I promise to take my medicine and stay off the electric fence.

I can have jello for desert. And….Not the kind they put fruit in. I like my jello clean, and neat. Preferably Lime or Cherry. don’t even try to pass off that stuff you can’t see through. You know the kind I’m talking about? That pink or white shit. You never know what surprises they’re hiding in there? I like to see through my food when possible. Otherwise, I just keep picking at it until I’m sure there are no surprises. I won’t drink anything out of a can. Has to be a bottle or jug I can see through.

I use to love fast food. not anymore. Few years ago some cement head was putting severed fingers in the chili at Wendy’s after he purchased it? Then Blaming Wendy’s for it? and suing them? Wendy’s? The Guy hired a lawyer to sue Wendy’s? for, are you ready for this? mental anguish. Messed up the whole fast food thing for me. Can’t go near it anymore. Bums me out. Because I love chili.

I also love a good fish taco. extra fish. Grande Fishy Taco por favor. With a glass of water. from a bottle, no ice.

Sometimes, I hear voices.