Sunday Vignettes

AI-generated image: Angelic skunks

After church on Sunday, we ate a late brunch at a local restaurant and our server was a man named Lionel. Lionel is French, so we pronounce his name “Lee-oh-NELL,” as if we’re cosmopolitan in a European sort of way. Lionel has waited on us enough in the past to be comfortable bantering with us, especially if the restaurant isn’t too busy, which it wasn’t on this particular day.

I’m not sure how we got onto the topic but we started talking about miscommunications and how an accent sometimes leads to humorous situations. Lionel has a heavy French accent — sometimes I think he cultivates it; I get it…I’ve done the same thing with a Texas drawl around people from other countries who seem to find it exotic (or something) — and we don’t always understand what he says the first time around, nor he, us. Anyway, he said that he once worked at a country club, and a man approached him asking where he could find Nat King Cole.

Lionel was confused, because at that time, Nat King Cole was dead. He asked the man to repeat his question. “Where can I find Nat King Cole?,” the man repeated. Lionel grew more confused, but didn’t want to upset the man by informing him that the singer was no longer among the living.

He finally asked the man to slowly repeat his question, and Lionel suddenly understood that he was not actually seeking Nat King Cole, but the 19th Hole (if you’re not a golfer, that’s the bar). Get it? Nat King Cole. Nineteenth Hole.

It’s entirely possible, even likely, that Lionel was joking. We’ve known him to repeat his jokes, so I’ll bide my time and see if this one comes up again. OTOH, it may be a real story that bears repeating. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Nat King Cole. Nineteenth Hole. If nothing else, Lionel has ruined Straighten Up And Fly Right for me forever.

As we headed to church that same Sunday morning, I got a text from Tim, a neighbor who also happens to be a fellow church member, informing me that our sick skunk was in his front yard.

OK, let me put some context around this.

On the preceding Saturday, someone in the neighborhood informed me that there was a skunk hanging out in the kiosk that houses our mailboxes. It was “acting strange,” according to the neighbor (not the same one who texted me on Sunday morning), and seemed to be trying to “nest” in the kiosk, whatever that entails. Since I’m the Communications Coordinator (not a real or formal title, but I like to capitalize it anyway to enhance my status) for our Property Owners Association, I quickly sent an email to the neighborhood informing them about the potential threat and advising them to wait to check their mail until the city’s Animal Control officer could come out and address the situation.

Of course, this being the weekend, that particular service was, shall we say, lacking. As far as we knew, either no one came out to check, or if they did, the skunk managed to evade detection. Regardless, it reappeared on Sunday morning. When I visited with Tim at church, he said that the skunk appeared near death, as it was almost motionless, with its head in the grass.

“Our” skunk in its predeceased state

So, when we returned home after brunch, I hopped in the golf cart and drove two blocks to Tim’s house. Sure enough, the skunk was still prostrate in his front yard. I carefully crept closer to ascertain if it was dead, and at first, I thought that was the case. I decided to call Animal Control to request that someone come to collect the carcass, but before doing so, I got a bit closer and saw that the animal was still alive. Its eyes were open, and it was breathing rapidly and shallowly, so much so that I could barely detect the movement. It was obviously suffering.

I dialed the number for Animal Control, and got the dispatcher for the police department, which I expected given that it was Sunday afternoon. I explained the situation, and they said they would send an officer right away. Less than five minutes later, a police cruiser pulled up and an officer got out and introduced himself. We walked over to where the skunk was resting, and he agreed with my assessment. He asked if I was OK with his — as he put it — “administering a dose of .410” (that’s Texan for shooting it in the head with a shotgun) and I replied that that’s what I’d do if it wasn’t illegal (which it is, within the city limits) and if I had a shotgun (which I don’t). I didn’t really say any of that; I just said, I think that’s the right thing to do.

He got his shotgun out of the back of the cruiser and assessed the potential for ricochet — the skunk was resting partially on the sidewalk — and asked me to move my golf cart out of the way. I did so, and then he reassessed the trajectory, and changed his mind, so I moved the cart again. It was a very scientific process, and OSHA, or whichever agency is in charge of assuring the absence of collateral damage from varmint eradication, would have approved.

He was an effective marksman. The .410 wasn’t terribly loud, although a couple of other neighbors who were walking a few blocks away later told me that they heard the shot and wondered if it was related to the skunk. The animal died instantly, so quickly that it didn’t release any scent other than what normally emanates from a skunk.

I asked him if they would send the body off for analysis, to determine if it was rabid or had distemper. He said that they wouldn’t do so, since it hadn’t bitten a person or a pet.

However, the officer didn’t have any way to bag the carcass, so I quickly drove home and returned with a black heavy duty trash bag. He bagged the dead animal, and I hosed off the small pool of blood that had collected on the sidewalk. I thanked him for his service, and he departed, but not until his cruiser had attracted the attention of other neighbors, wondering what was going on.

When I returned home, I sent out another email informing folks that the skunk threat had been eliminated, and they were once again free to move about the neighborhood.

Of course, there are still those coyotes. And that bobcat. And…

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