News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

April 20, 2009

The Off Season: Story inspired by roadkill really stinks

This story was inspired by roadkill. Last Saturday, as my wife and I headed to Terre Haute over our usual route, a humpbacked country road that’s dotted with bridges and culverts and creeks, I steered the family wagon over the corpse of a dead skunk, struck down in the prime of life, no doubt, by a speeding pickup truck.

As we drove along, waiting for the inevitable fragrance to waft into the car, I made the off-handed comment that we’d be seeing more skunks over the next few weeks; it seems as though this is the time of year we spot the little striped stinkers along the roads.

I’ve owned or lived near the woods my whole life, and I have never seen a skunk in the wild. It has always been my understanding that they are reclusive, totally unlike the image of the amorous Pepe’ Le Pew that I have snuggled in my head since my cartoon-watching days.

When I say that I have never seen a skunk in the wild, I don’t want you to believe that I have never seen a skunk. As I often have related in this space, I grew up amid a Dr. Doolittle-like menagerie of living things. My brother, John, sister, Lora, and I always had animals in and around our place as we grew up. From a mule named Rosie to Sammy, our pet raccoon, we spent a good deal of our time as kids with four-legged, feathered or scaled companions. I even had a pet crow.

Two of those childhood playmates were a pair of skunks my brother brought home. He had traded for them, perhaps for a few tropical fish — we had as many as 10 or 15 aquariums gurgling at a time in our utility room — but whatever “deal” he got for them, they were one pair of creatures my mom never really warmed up to.

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