Yesterday, after Gary left for his parents, a woman with a baby rang our front doorbell. I was in my bathrobe, because noon.
She said: "I'm your neighbor next door. I know you feed the animals ... "
Oh no, here it comes, I thought. The neighbors are putting a stop to the 20 raccoons at our Wildlife Buffet.
"... and there's a dead skunk on our patio."
"Oh, no. Does it smell?"
She wrinkled her nose. "A little. I called my Mom, and she said your husband feeds the animals - "
I didn't let her finish. Clearly this was our fault. Of course, perhaps that wasn't where she was headed. Perhaps she was coming to us as the Community Skunk Doctors. Perhaps we could revive it. Perhaps we might break the news to the skunk's family.
"I'll take care of it," I said.
"My mom said 'Call conservation, because it might be RABID.'"
"I'll take care of that too. And I'll mix up some of the stuff Mythbusters says will get rid of the smell. I'll be right there."
As I was pulling on my clothes, I heard Gary in the backyard. I thought he'd left. When he came in I whirled on him and emphatically pointed at the neighbor's house five times while telling him the story.
"Which neighbors?" he asked.
I almost threw my arm out pointing. "THOSE NEIGHBORS. Go!"
Gary "didn't see them in the backyard" when he left moments later and ran like a non-dead skunk to his parents' house.
I didn't realize that, so I thought Gary would be there when I arrived next door with a bag to put the skunk in. Let's call it Bag Number One.
I met the husband, and we discussed a possible Conservation Department Skunk Autopsy because it might be RABID, and I went to their back yard to collect the skunk.
There was an unmistakable smell, but not so much it would made my eyes water. No blood. Some drool.
I checked for signs of life with a stick. I started to kick it into the bag. That was too awkward, so I grabbed the very end of its tail and dropped it into Bag Number One.
I took it home, where I put it in the garage where Gary would see it when he slinked home, the coward.
I mixed up the Mythbuster's hydrogen peroxide / baking soda / dish soap concoction. In the minutes it took to do that, the skunk stank up the garage (No!) so I put it in Bag Number Two and placed it in our back yard by the skunk den as a Warning to all skunks who might think Heavenly Paradise is better then Earthly Paradise.
I returned to spray their patio, which did make the smell go away, remarkably. After I came home I took a shower to prevent the rabies (RABIES!), then read up on how to dispose of a dead skunk (landfill) and the increasing population of RABID skunks.
I went out and popped Bags One and Two into Bag Number Three.
I called the local conservation department.
"The neighbors have a dead skunk on their patio and we're all worried it might be rab -"
"It's not rabid," she interrupted.
I paused. "Really?"
"Rabies in skunks is very rare."
"Oh. Okay. So you don't want the body or anything? I just take it to a landfill?"
"Oh, no. Just double bag it and put it out with your trash, or of you live by woods, just pitch it into the woods."
Awesome. So, after I checked the wildlife cam videos for evidence of someone smothering the skunk, I made a final report to the neighbor. Done, right? I handled the situation entirely without Gary. I wrapped it up like a double-bagged dead skunk.
I'd decided not to speak of it when he came home. The therapist advises flight, not fight. I've been trying it.
That lasted until he said, "Why did you put the skunk right next to the house? What are you thinking?"
"Put your dead skunk where you like. It's your skunk now."
When he paraded the bagged skunk through the house I noticed a definite odor. (It smelled like a dead skunk that had been decaying in three Oven Roasting Bags in the 100 degree heat.)
I said. "We can't put that thing in the trash bin two days." So where to put it? He put it in the middle of the front yard, because he didn't want to upset the backyard animals and he didn't want it by the house.
I made it until ten at night before I said, "You cannot decorate the front yard with a bag of dead skunk."
He conceded that the flower bed by the side of the garage might be a better place. Also, he added four more bags.(Hereafter known as Bags Four Through Seven.) I hatched a series of plans to dispose of the body if we couldn't make it the three days till trash day.
- Bury the skunk in its seven bag shroud in the backyard. Gary's response: "Are you insane? The other animals will dig it up."
- Put the body into a yard waste bag, fold it up, and attach that to the outside of the car by closing the car window on it, then drive past the woods at a high rate of speed and open the window, essentially dropping the skunk by the woods without being alone in the woods. Gary's response: 'You can't get the skunk anywhere near the car. Are you insane?"
- Ask the basement waterproofing people who will put a dumpster in our driveway tomorrow to take the skunk with them in their dumpster. Gary's response was silence, and then he brought this up as his own solution a few hours later. (I really wanted to say "Are you insane?")
I vaguely remember a midnight conversation about calling a skunk removal place, because from my description of the body Gary identified the victim as Mother Skunk, and that would leave Baby Flag and Baby Bernie (very messy white hair) without a Mom. Gary believes the skunk removal company would place the baby skunks for adoption in the woods, whereas I believe they would be sent to the other side where Mother Skunk would be waiting for them.
We didn't have a fight, though. Therapy for the win!