It was a homeless cat feeding day

I was driving down towards the

mostly heartless city early,

less chance of getting yelled at

or ticketed that way

I passed a skunk by the side

of the road. I figured he was

already frolicking at the Rainbow

Bridge, and I had to get to the cats

so I kept driving. After putting food

out at five locations, on my way back

I saw the skunk again and pulled over

just in case he was still with us here

on this mostly heartless Earth.

His head was upright. No blood and

he seemed intact. I cursed our maker

for doing this to the skunk and for

doing this to me again. I decided that

he needed help more than I needed to

maintain my present smell, so I pulled

work gloves and a paper shopping bag

from the back seat. I put him (or her)

in the bag. A cop pulled over and

asked me if I needed help. Then I cursed

the worthless inhuman trash that

hit the skunk and all of those that drove by.

The officer smiled and called me by name

though I never gave him my name.

He suggested I call a local wildlife center.

He even gave me the number. I explained

the skunk’s plight to the lady there, and I offered

to pay. She had to ask someone else if they

could be of help, and then she came back on

and gave me another number. Long story short,

I called number after number: wildlife rehabbers,

animal emergency clinics, etc. One voice after another

told me to call this other number. One voice told me

that it would be illegal for me to try and keep the skunk

in my county. I told him that I live in my

own country and that his county could go________.

Finally, I left a voice message to a lady

who I was assured would help. I put the

skunk in the trunk and drove to the pet store.

They didn’t have any skunk food, and after I

watched a few online videos and learned that

I should syringe feed him some honey and other

stuff, no one at the pet store would help. The

ugly young lady manager there explained that

skunks are considered “nuisance animals.”

As I fed him in the carrier in my back seat,

a bee attacked, and I cursed God once again.

The skunk ate a little honey I bought at the

supermarket and some chicken broth too.

It seemed that a back leg or both were broken

Those front legs were swinging those long claws at me

but I couldn’t blame him. I hid the carrier with him in it

under my porch. The skunk rehabber messaged back and

told me to put a blanket over him and to swirl an egg in some water.

She also said that she was going to a family function and that

she would call me back in a few hours at which time I

could head over to her place with the skunk.

I looked at the comments at her rehabbing location.

One stated that she never called the commenter back.

I didn’t have any eggs. I collapsed on the mini mattress

in my room because I was exhausted and it was getting late.

A few hours went by with no call back, so I got in the car

and headed out to her locale with the skunk. He was

starting to shake. I fed him again. His face reminded me of

the face of a dearly departed cat who passed only days before.

We drove and drove. After nearly two hours we arrived at a

semi-rural destination.

A car with windows rolled down sat in the drive. I knocked

on the screen door. The wooden door behind it was open.

A dog with a healed hole in his forehead ran along the fence

bordering the driveway. I went back to the car. Under the

garbage bag and shirt I put over him, the skunk

was shaking worse than before. I tried calling and texting

the skunk rebber lady.

Finally, I found her Facebook page and left an emergency

message. I pulled the carrier out of the car and tried feeding

the skunk again. Then the lady appeared from out of her front door.

I had envisioned her as a sweet old Aunt Bee, but she was an

ordinary-looking middle-aged lady with a crazed look on her

face. I realized that I’d been moving very slowly, so

I explained to her in my meekest voice that I wasn’t drunk

(I wasn’t), just very tired

because I’d been up since 5:00 am.

She started in on me. “THAT’S my life EVERY DAY.

I TOLD YOU THAT I WOULD CALL!” I explained

that because it was such a long drive and the skunk

was shaking, I thought I should get a head start

driving. She continued to harangue me. Then she

explained that she’d been at a family function to

celebrate the memory of her dearly departed son

who had died one year ago that day. I expressed

my regrets, but she hadn’t mentioned that on the

phone, and the skunk was shaking. And there was

literally no one else. There on her lawn, in front of

the shaking skunk in the carrier, as I stared into her grief

and anger crazed face, as she continued to dress me down

and inform me that she had already cared for 129 forlorn

skunks this year alone while she help down her job,

I realized that she was a Saint driven nearly mad because

most people were heartless and wouldn’t help skunks, so

the burdens all fell upon her. I remembered my dearly departed

cat and continued to wonder if I could have done things differently

and saved him.

I realized that I did not feel the presence of God

I started shaking and crying aloud, and no manly efforts

on my part could stop my tears. I blubbered that I was sorry

but that there was no one else. She softened when I told her

about my cat and handed me a form to fill out. There was a

blank for donation. I asked her how much. She said, “Whatever

you want” then “Don’t worry about that.” I gave her 5 twenties and

said through my tears that she deserved much more. And of

course she did. She said that was generous of me and picked

up the skunk in her blanket just like he was a baby. I thanked God

for the lady.

She said she would call me. I said that I would adopt the skunk if

he makes it. She said she would call. She never called.

–Fyodor Bukowski

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