Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
Long ago Alice and I lived in a one-story farmhouse in Petaluma, CA. Since we were out in the country, sometimes we had trouble with… critters.
Our garden was beset by gophers, as I’ve mentioned before, but also we had visitors of a more odoriferous nature.
Skunks. They’re fairly common out in the sticks. And therein lies a tale.
Our house had a slanting double door into the basement, which was merely a hollowed-out section of the crawlspace under the house where there was the furnace and a few shelves. From there you could see the bare dirt under the floorboards, stretching out into the darkness.
Someone left the doors open one night, and a skunk moved in. How could we tell? Well, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
I went down into the basement with a flashlight, and sure enough, I could see the beady eyes of a skunk reflecting the light back to me from the dark recesses of the crawlspace.
It was at this point a neighbor of mine came up with a plan. He owned a pistol, you see.
Did he present this mad plan to me for my approval, or did he just show up with a loaded firearm and saunter past me while assuring me, “I’ve got this.”
I don’t remember.
Anyway, he went down there, took careful aim, and… BLAM!
He missed. And the skunk, to the surprise of no one, sprayed in fright as he bolted to the opposite far corner of the basement.
BLAM! Another shot, again he missed, and the skunk once again registered his disapproval in unmistakable fashion, in a different spot this time, natch.
I don’t remember how many times this was repeated, but I do remember telling Wyatt Earp to go home; I would handle this my own way.
That night, I closed the doors to the basement and opened a smaller access door leading from the basement at the far end of the house. At dusk, I went out with a folding chair and a good book and waited.
Sure enough, eventually I saw the skunk go out to feed… and after he’d wandered far enough away, I closed the door.
When you live in the country, sometimes you catch a faint whiff of skunk on the breeze, and at that slight concentration it smells almost pleasant.
But with our basement liberally doused with skunk spray, it smelled like burning tires, making your eyes water.
The house was largely uninhabitable for about a week. Alice and I stayed at a hotel in town for a couple of days until the smell died down.
When we returned, our bedroom at the back of the house was still too rank, so we got out sleeping bags and slept in the living room for a few more days.