Robert Hitt Neill
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March 2012 GrunkSkunk


Robert Hitt Neill                                                                      March 2012


          When they got around to assigning granddaddy names over five years ago, mine evolved from Granddaddy Uncle Bob to Granduncle to grunkle to grunk.  At the time I was state chairman of the Kairos Prison Ministry, and my Board elevated the nickname to a Title: The Grunk.  Ain't but one, although I have two grandboys now, the younger of which, Crash, just turned three.  His brother, Sir, is five.

          That same birthday week, we had kept the grandboys at Brownspur for a couple of nights, building a bonfire for them one evening.  Sir's enthusiasm spilled over when he exclaimed, "Nobody can build a bonfire like me and Grunk!"

          We've done some remodeling and fixing up during the past fall and winter (we did have one, at least by the calendar!), and that type thing was the source of a lot of the bonfire fuel.  A couple of old sheets and spreads had been downgraded to dropcloths, and when we put the paint up in those stackable holey crates a few weeks ago, I drug the dropcloths out too, and dropped them by the back steps in the garage, right by the three-high stackable crates, on an old ice chest and box.

          So, three days after the bonfire, I came back from town, walked up on the steps to unlock the back door, but noticed as I did so that the dropcloth right by the steps moved.  "Dad blame cat!" I muttered, thinking it was the stray feline who has been leaving tracks on the cars at night.  Determined to either terminate it, or run if off, I stepped down, grasped the corner of the dropcloths, and jerked them slap out into the middle of the garage!

          It wasn't a cat underneath: it was a black and white skunk -- three feet away!

          Regular readers may recall that I am no stranger to skunk encounters.  I actually fought a war against their Brownspur tribe two springs ago, which had been stinking up the Brownspur neighborhood (all five houses) nightly for weeks.  In two months I permanently transferred fifteen to the Skunk Happy Hunting Grounds.  While I several times had skunks within three feet during that combat, I never (knock on wood) got sprayed.  Here was another chance to do so!

          It's amazing how an old athlete's limps and bad knees can be completely forgotten during these close encounters.  I was out of that garage before that skunk could spin around and aim its lethal end at me!  He did not spray, but sought refuge behind those doggone crates, which were holey, so I could see him behind them.

          Again forgetting to limp, I ran out to the Swimming Hole, scooped up a cup of granulated chlorine from the leftover 100-lb keg there, and hoofed  it back to the garage to show that stinker something that REALLY stinks!  Standing at the other open corner of the garage, I heaved handfuls of chlorine up into and behind those crates.  That stinker got the message, and sure started moving agitatedly back there, but perhaps he was a survivor of the Skunk Wars two springs ago and knew what the shotgun in my other hand was for, because he wouldn't come out, and one does not really want to shoot a skunk while he's in your garage.  I waited.

          Then remembered that Betsy was coming home early from The Coffee Shop and I sure didn't want her driving up into her accustomed parking place.  I stepped around the corner just long enough to speed dial her, say, "There's a skunk in the garage: park out front when you come home," and hung up to resume my watch.

          He stayed behind the crates.  Well, the water hose was right there, already charged up behind the spray nozzle, since I had just rinsed off my car in the driveway.  Water would activate the chlorine smell even worser!  I grabbed the nozzle and shot a stream into that corner where the crates were, shotgun ready in my left hand.  Man, that water got four inches deep back there, but he still wouldn't come out!  I dropped the hose and grabbed the hoe, tiptoeing up close enough to hook the bottom crate, then ran to drag it out, grabbed the gun, and wheeled to fire.

          No skunk.  The corner was bare.  He must have darted out while I called Betsy.  He'd gotten away, but I had not been sprayed, either.

          2012 Season Opening Day: Skunk 0; Grunk 0.