Il Maximo, The Skunk Hunter

Things were definitely not normal at home. Dad and I were home alone. These were Bachelor days, as Mom was in the hospital, having just given birth to my sisters. I was a couple weeks shy of 7 years old. So Dad and his 7 year old son, trying to get the house cleaned up for the grand homecoming of Mommy, and twin little girls. Can you say Chaos? 

Yeah, I thought you could….

Now living out in the country has it’s own, special set of challenges. One of those is varmints. Mice, rats, possums, nutria, moles, gophers, etc, ad naseum…. This story’s varmint, is, as the title suggests, was skunks.

A little back story on the skunks. The previous occcupants of our house had kept skunks for pets, for a while. Unfortunately, they eventually “released them”, into the wild, when they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, take care of them anymore. So they were sent off to live in the wild… except this particular female, having gotten pregnant, apparently decided to return to her childhood warren, or as close as she could get. Under, our, house.

Now this wasn’t news, we had been trying to get her out for a while, well before Mom went in to have the babies. Traps, airhorns, poison, you name it, they tried. Now not only had she come back, she had a whole litter of babies down there. And Mom was coming home soon, with a litter(twins) of her own!

So Dad decided it was time. He got out the shotgun. Yep. There was a large vent opening in the Family room, which was an access to under the house. If you shined your flashlight in just right, you could see the eyes of the skunks glowing back at ya. So they were about 15 feet back, and behind a beam. Hence the shotgun. The idea wasn’t really to hit them, though he didn’t mind if he did, they were, after all skunks. The idea was to scare them enough to not come back.

I held the flashlight, being careful to keep it in their eyes, so they wouldn’t see what was coming, as Dad instructed. Dad removed the grate slowly and quietly, set it aside, and grabbed the already loaded shotgun. Leaned down, arm resting on his easy chair(yes, we are still inside the house, shooting under it)  and let go with the 20 gage. Boom!! Boom!! 

Unfortunately, The skunks, just as petrified and scared as dad had hoped….. Fired Back … POOF! poof! Poof! Poof! Poof!, etc, etc…..blowing right at us, through this vent space. Yes, a lovely mixture of 10+ skunks,and  two barrels of gunpowder, flowing through the WHOLE house!!!

Yup!! The Great Il Maximo, fabled hunter of Foundations and basements, had struck again, and this time his prey struck back!

I swear it was like a green haze, and for some reason, I felt like I could only escape, stumbling backwards, in slow motion. It was awful, but they were gone. Yup, never came back. But they did leave their calling card, all over the house. There was no amount of cleaning we could do. Vinegar, tomato juice, you named it, we tried it. 

It was so bad I was kept home from school. Of course, not until I was sent for a day, stinking like 10 scared baby skunks, to second grade. Oh yeah, torture anyone? Had an older, gramma type teacher, with one of those antique “Parfum” dispensers, with the little squeeze bag, ya know the one? She finally gave up on the dispenser, took it apart, and poured the vile, ancient liquid  on me!! Now I smell like Skunks, gunpowder and Gin soaked Flowers!!! Yay…..

I was encouraged to stay home for a few days, until the smell dissipated. They reasoned, my Dad needed my help getting ready for the twins grand arrival. It was time for me to go visit my sister for the first time too, if I was not going to school, somebody had to watch me, and that was where the whole family was.

Now Dad had been trying. We were covered in perfume, cologne, lysol, the works, and to be frank, it wasn’t  even putting a dent in the stench we were wafting behind us. but Dad had a plan. He said, as we walked thru the Hallways Of Sacred Wallet Hospital. “Just follow my lead. Watch me, do what I do, ok?’ Winking at me.

“OK Dad, I got it”, squinting my silly wink.

I took his hand, and, as we approached a gaggle of people in the hallway, he would start screwing up his face and commenting, to me and all who could hear.”What is that? Do you smell that?” Do you smell that son?” Pee-UUU!!!” 

All the while walking by, hoping to turn down a hallway before we got pointed out like something from “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”. We got all the way to the Maternity Ward too, before they stopped us. Just refused to let us pass. Had security there and everything.

Funny thing though. Security Guards, by and large, don’t really want to actually work. And keeping my Dad away from his twin baby girls, My dad the Black belt,  Armed Services Champ Boxer, as well as Deputy Sherriff was looking a whole lot like work. Having figured that out,  they relented, let Dad actually scrub up  some   more(it worked, a little), and let him pass on to the maternity ward.

I was not so lucky. Being mere weeks away from 7 years of age, the security guards reasoned they could probably take me, and as such continued to block my entrance. Not only was I not allowed in the Maternity Ward, I was sent OUTSIDE  the hospital, where a relative watched over me. From Inside Their Car!! With The Windows Up!! 

I really did stink….

Alan Madden Rose

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