The Smell of Murder at Midnight

Word Press Daily Prompt: Pungent

Account taken from my Journal, May 16, 2013

Have you perhaps driven through a town with a pulp and paper mill spewing out sulfurous fumes? Have you ever had a bag of onions go bad in a cupboard where you perchance forgot them for several months. You know the whiff you get when you open that bag and dispose of the stinking things? Have you had a gas leak in the house and smelled the odour they put in natural gas? Or sniffed some perfume gone rancid?

Now imagine all that rolled into one and think of sleeping through it. No way. We were wandering around outside at 1am, seeking some relief.

It’s not that we didn’t know there was a skunk hereabouts. Michelle actually saw one on our step and warned us. However, we never saw it again and, in a supreme act of wishful thinking, we assumed now that spring is here he would have ambled off into the woods beside us and we could all live in relative peace.

It appears said skunk, before he ambled off, started a hole at the edge of our trailer with thoughts of burrowing under – or maybe just hunting mice? However, this past week we caught no more traces of whiffs of skunk and our cats have been using that hole to prowl under the trailer – which they sure wouldn’t have done had there been an occupying skunk. Bob put a log over the hole to discourage this, too.

It was on the To Do list to fill in the hole and put an end to this nonsense.

Thus it may well be that the skunk lived elsewhere and just happened to be passing through the yard last night on his way home. Or maybe he happened to remember his past efforts and decided to see what had become of the burrow he’d started. And he checked around under our step, too, for old times’ sake.

Some people like to portray nature as a gentle force, even speak of Mother Nature and her care of the little critters out there. They say if we could get back to nature a bit more, life would be better and we’d live longer. Nevertheless, our Creator has blessed the pokey skunk with a powerful deterrent spray just in case there are altercations.

It’s hard to imagine that ANYTHING would want to attack and kill a skunk. I’ve read that great-horned owls will because their sense of smell is very poor. But we know this was no owl.

Something frightened that skunk in his amble past – or whatever he was up to. It smells like he was near our back step when this happened, for when Bob opened the door he remarked on the aroma of skunk outside. In skunk’s apprehensive state, he remembered that old hole and chose to take refuge there. That we know. In fact it looks like he dug himself in frantically beside the log Bob had put there to keep him out.

And something went in after him. That we smell.

Just before bed one of our cats wanted in urgently. And yes, I caught the familiar acrid smell, but surely our cats would never tackle a skunk. Angus came in and began sniffing all the registers. The bathroom was taking on a very bad smell, as if a skunk were coming up through the plumbing opening beside the vanity.

My hearing isn’t the best. Even with my hearing aids I didn’t hear the squealing Bob heard, but I did hear a number of thumps just a few minutes later. Slow to catch on, I assumed our cat Pookie was bumping around on the step outside, wanting in. I opened the door and in he rushed. Both cats began sniffing around the heat registers (set in the floor) and the trailer was now full of the stench.

I put old towels over all the register openings; it didn’t help much. We lit candles, opened windows and took refuge outdoors for while. The cats came, too. Out there we could catch a faint whiff from our farmer neighbour’s pig barn, but this was infinitely preferable to the reeking air inside.

Our bedroom is in the addition, on a cement base, so the skunk odour couldn’t come from below us. Enough came in through the hallway, but with windows open and ceiling fans running, I was able to get some sleep there later in the night. Bob chose the recliner in the living room, with all windows open and ceiling fan running.

I’m afraid the smell of murder at midnight is not only a right-then overpowering stench, but will linger for some time to come, too.

Next-day note:
It has. We spent a good part of yesterday away from home.

One Broken Dream

One broken dream is not the end of dreaming,
One shattered hope is not the end of all,
Beyond the storm and tempest stars are gleaming,
Still build your castles, though your castles fall.

Though many dreams come tumbling in disaster,
And pain and heartache meet us down the years,
Still keep your faith, your dreams and hopes to master
And seek to find the lesson of your tears.

Not all is as it should be! See how littered
With sorry wreckage is life’s restless stream.
Some dreams are vain, but be you not embittered
And never cry that you have ceased to dream!

—Author Unknown

A Liminal Flicker

Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman who lived in an old mobile home right next to the woods. This old couple had reached that liminal phase of life so aptly expressed by the poet:
“Those difficult days have come and lit:
too tired to work; too poor to quit.”

One afternoon the old woman, ready for a nice nap, plopped her weary self into her recliner and closed her eyes. A few minutes later she heard a curious sound:

Scritch … Scritch … Scritch

Now this woman, in addition to being old and tired, was also hard of hearing. In this case her handicap made it difficult to judge where the sound was coming from. It seemed to filter in from some liminal place — a hard-shelled bug tapping on the window, perhaps, or a bird hopping on the roof?

SCRITCH … SCRITCH … SCRITCH

Now it could be a student shut in one of the trailer’s liminal rooms, half-heartedly pecking away on a manual typewriter. It would take him years to get an essay done at that rate.

But the old woman remembered she was hard of hearing. Was the source of the sound a lot closer than she first thought? Had some brave mouse ventured out to nibble at the cat food sitting on the dining room floor? Her eyes popped open and she looked toward the cat food dish in the dining area. No mouse.

Now all was silent, so she reclined and shut her eyes. Such a tiny sound she could ignore. Zzz…

CLANGCLANGCLANGCLANGCLANG

The old woman jumped from her chair. This sounded like a chainsaw chewing its way rapid-fire through a drain pipe. She hurried through the trailer, checking every room, but saw nothing spinning or vibrating that could produce a sound like that.

Some madman must be chainsawing his way through the trailer wall! What else could make such a racket? She rushed outside to let this fellow know he dare not mess with her. (A bit of fiction added to embellish the tale.)

She saw no one, no reason for this awful noise. The only living thing she saw was a northern flicker on the roof peering down at her curiously. He was sitting on the…

Oh.

The flicker, deciding she was a wingless, harmless creature, went back to his task of drilling a hole in the steel disc protecting their chimney.

CLANK CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG…

Word Press Daily prompt: Liminal

Happy Family Meals

I woke up early this morning and thought of our US friends, for whom the Thanksgiving holiday is over. I came across this lighthearted poem by Edgar Guess and thought I should post it for those moms who are busy cleaning up and washing tablecloths after the family feast.

Table-Cloths

Some people, when they sit to eat,
prefer to see the table neat.
They want the linen spotless white,
the glasses dazzling in the light,
the silverware in trim array.
But as for me, I often say,
“Give me glad childhood’s tablecloth
well stained with jelly, milk and broth.

Not long in peace could I abide
in houses cold with pomp and pride
or dwell where dignity commands
precision’s care from little hands.
I much prefer the happier place
illumined by a smiling face—
the dining room where soon, I know,
a glass of milk will over go.

Be mine the room with laughter filled
where no one frets o’er what is spilled.
For what are tablecloths that they
should drive all merriment away?
And why think accidents a crime,
especially at dinner-time?
They gather sorrow for their pains
who make too much of jelly stains.

I should not like to always dine
where silverware and glasses shine
and linen white outlasts the meal—
too sad and lonely should I feel.
In tablecloths I take no pride;
I want the children at my side.
My joy is in those splotches red
when jelly dances from the bread.

.
From his book Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Dirt Devils

Starts from nothing–you never know when
contrary currents may clash,
whispers whirl through tall grasses.
A curious funnel forms,
spins across an open field,
inhales dust and debris,
spitting it this way and that.

It swooshes through bushes,
rattles a dozen snakes hidden beneath,
blows birds off their perches.
Buzzes two dozen miles of phone lines.
It sweeps through cemeteries,
grunges tombstones of the long forgotten,
drills the bones of corpses long dead.

The dirt whirls into dozens of houses
Scoops correspondence off desks,
tosses words and numbers into the air,
to fall where they may. Rifles diary pages.
Now the whole world knows where Sue went
Tuesday night–and with whom;
who wasn’t there–and why.

Scoops live sparks from ashes of dead fires,
plasters them on paper, to catch and burn again.
It rolls off scores of tongues, busy
with possible paternity of the newest babe,
tugs a hundred ears, messes neat hairdos,
tosses grit in a thousand eyes
sandblasts truth and dignity.

At last it twirls away to the remote stretches
of memory, collapses in its own dust.
Houses are swept, beds remade, diaries locked,
ruffled feathers re-positioned, dignities rinsed,
white towels hung on clotheslines.

— Christine Goodnough — 4/2013

Word Press Daily Challenge: Chaotic