Walking home from the post office this afternoon I looked up the road and saw that I was sharing the sidewalk with a skunk, heading my way.
Skunks are nocturnal.
Skunks are shy.
Shunks normally don't stagger like drunken sailors coming out of an alley where they'd just been rolled for their wallets.
This skunk was disobeying all the skunk rules.
I stopped in my tracks.
The skunk stopped in his.
I decided to cross the street.
The skunk decided to cross the street.
I undecided to cross the street.
The skunk undecided to cross the street.
Then he un-undecided to cross again.
Then he un-un-undecided, right in front of an oncoming car, which somehow managed to swerve in time to leave the skunk unflattened. The car behind that one slammed on its brakes and stopped in time to save the skunk's three-dimensionality too. The skunk was ungrateful. It turned and raised its tail and sprayed the car.
By this time I had backed a ways down the sidewalk. I turned and hurried the half-block to the police station where, as luck would have it, a visiting sheriff's deputy was just climbing into her cruiser to go back out on patrol.
She rolled down her window.
I told her about the skunk.
Skunks are nocturnal, I said. Skunks are shy. Skunks don't normally try to fight it out with SUVs and Toyota Corollas. A skunk out in the daytime, acting the very opposite of shy, and thinking it can scare off automobiles has something wrong with it. Like rabies.
The deputy looked very much like somebody who wanted to say, I'm going on my lunch break now. Why don't you go inside and tell one of the town cops?
She didn't. She asked where the skunk was. I pointed to the brake lights of the latest car to to avoid splattering the skunk all over the road. The deputy sighed and shook her head and laughed a little. "I'll take care of it," she said.
I thanked her and set off for home by the back way.
A couple minutes later I heard a ka-pow.
Half a minute later I heard a second ka-pow. The coup de gras.
Not too long after that I saw the deputy's cruiser turning the corner and heading my way. The deputy recognized me and rolled to a stop.
"Got him," she said through her open window. She didn't look proud of the fact.
I stepped up to the car to congratulate her.
I stepped back.
"I got some blown back at me," she said.
I nodded. I would have said something but I was planning not to breathe again until she drove off.
"Good thing I got a cold," she said, "I can't smell it on me too much."
"Pine-Sol," I said, trying not to inhale as I spoke.
"I heard that's the best thing," she said.
"Tomato juice's supposed to work too," I said, backing away.
She smiled an apology.
"Thanks for taking care of it," I said.
She nodded. She wore the look of someone who wanted to say, Next time you get the urge to be a good citizen and report something like this, stifle it. But she just said so long and drove off.
This reminds me of a Chris the Cop story.
Once upon a time, back in Syracuse, where our old pal Chris the Cop was doing his police sergeanting, a rabid raccoon appeared to terrorize our neighborhood. The cops were called---by me. I have a history of sicking the Law on these woodland creatures, don't I?---and a patrolman arrived with his gun drawn to dispatch the poor suffering beast, who had decided to pace out what he might have known were his final moments on earth on the edge of our next door neighbor's lawn.
The patrolman approached the raccoon cautiously. Stopped about fifteen feet away. Assumed a marksman's pose and fired.
He looked at the raccoon.
The raccoon looked back.
The patrolman shook his head in dismay. Then he moved forward a couple of feet, aimed, and fired again.
The raccoon grinned.
The patrolman took another couple of steps towards the raccoon. He fired again.
The raccoon was laughing at him now.
The cop squeezed off another round.
I swear the raccoon was standing up with his thumbs in ears, waggling his fingers at the cop, and sticking out his tongue.
The cop walked up to him and blew him to kingdom come.
Later that day, Chris stopped by, as was sometimes his habit when he was out on patrol, for a Pepsi. We told him about the raccoon and the patrolman.
"How many shots did it take?" Chris asked.
"And he was how far away?"
"About five feet when he finally got him."
"You get the officer's name?"
We hadn't. Chris looked grim. He said he'd call in and find out when he got back in his car.
"Somebody," Chris said, "Is about to begin spending a lot of extra time on the target range."