I walked out to my car, stars twinkling above me and the crickets chirping their happy nighttime songs to whoever might me listening. I slid behind the wheel and immediately cranked the (recently fixed!) air conditioner. After selecting a good driving-home-after-a-long-day-at-work song, I drove away from my place of employment and headed for home.
I was excited. While at work, I had received a voicemail from one of my friends, Rachel, saying she wanted to hang out after I got off work. Ahh, the good ol' days, getting off work and hanging out with Rachel, drinking coffee to our hearts content, talking, laughing, and hanging out into the wee morning hours, when the rest of the city had long since said goodnight.
We hadn't done that in a long time, so needless to say, I was happy and excited to get her voicemail. But seriously, I didn't want to hang out in my scrubs. I'd been in them for nine hours already, and I was ready to get into something more comfortable. So I raced home (in the figurative sense...maybe) and changed into some capris, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. Ahh, much better.
So we were both pretty undecided on a place to hang out. First it was her house, and that didn't work out. I never suggested my house, because really, I live with like millions of people and it's not always the quietest place, even at night. Then we thought maybe a coffee shop, but they were all closed, so Rachel gets the bright idea, "hey, let's go to Holmes Lake!" Yeah, sure, why not? Little did I know...
We parked our cars by the dam and began walking towards it. Rachel wanted to go right up the side, and to be honest, so did I, but I was wearing flip-flops, and who knows WHAT is crawling around in that waist-high grass, so I made the decision that no, we're going to go around. It's not like we're on a time crunch, right? So that's what we do.
We walked across the dam once and it probably took us about fifteen or so minutes, time mostly spent trying repeatedly (and sometimes successfully) to scare each other (cause it's dark out, you know?), and talking seriously in-between the scaring bits. After a while, we turned and began making our way back.
We were a little more than halfway back when I saw it. There. Standing off to the right, not moving. I threw my arm in front of Rachel, stopping her mid-stride. My mind still hadn't registered what I was looking at, but I knew enough to be scared. "Rachel!" I pointed at the thing. My mind began to function through the haze of fear. About the size of a cat. Black.
"What is that?" Rachel whispered to me.
The thing hissed. My mind was still trying. Black. White stripes. Bushy tail. It could only be a..."SKUNK!" I shrieked. Rachel and I stood frozen and unable to move, and my mind was trying to speedily come up with everything it knew about skunks. I knew they did a handstand before they sprayed, and since it wasn't doing one of those I was slightly reassured, but the fact that it was standing there, clearly not happy, and staring at us, was beginning to freak me out.
Rachel and I began to back away, towards the edge of the dam. In hindsight, I probably should have lunged at it or something. Since it wasn't in a to position to spray me, it probably would've ran away, right? I mean, I'm no skunk expert but...
Anyway, from the moment I saw the skunk to this present time in the story, it's probably been no more than ten seconds. All I was thinking about was getting away and the fact that I was totally FREAKED OUT! And as Rachel and I began to back away, my mind brings up this ridiculous saying I've heard about a million times: "Don't worry, it's more afraid of you than you are of it." Um, whoever came up with that is STUPID because I'm pretty sure there is no "more scared" than I was right then, and I'm pretty sure that stupid skunk isn't scared at all because, what does it do? IT RUNS AT US!
When that thing came at us, I don't think I've ever been more scared of anything in my whole life. One of us screamed. And I mean really SCREAMED. Funny, I don't know who it was. For all I know we both did. And then we ran. Terrified, unashamed, down the hill, through the waist-high grass, we ran for our LIVES.
The going was slower for me because of my flip-flops. For the first three or so steps I was trying to stay alive WHILE keeping both my shoes on my feet. After that, I gave up on that, figuring that my life was worth more than a $10 pair of shoes. I made it part way down the slope through the grass before one fell off. I kept going. I couldn't imagine that the skunk was still chasing us, but then, I couldn't imagine it chasing us at all until, whoa, it's CHASING US!
Halfway down the dam, I slip. I lay there in the tall grass, my heart beating about a million times per minute, and I was trying to decide what was worse, staying where I was and hiding until the beast was gone, or making a break for freedom. I had no time to think about my erratic heartbeat or my shoe hopelessly lost in the weeds somewhere around me, though somewhere in the back of my mind, I vaguely wondered what had happened to Rachel. In all the terror and fight-or-flight reactions, I had lost sight of her.
I lifted my head, looking for her, and saw her run the last few yards to the safety of the sidewalk at the bottom of the dam. No, Rachel! Don't you ever watch movies? Bad things happen when people split up! Then it struck me, if this were a movie, I would be the expendable one. The one that tags along with the hero for most of the movie, then gets tragically mauled by a rabid skunk near the end, only to be forgotten by the closing credits. Oh well.
I'm still on my back. I can feel the dew seeping into my clothes, and I'm still wondering what to do. I move slowly into a semi-sitting position. I turn my head around...and see the dark outline of the skunk not three feet from my face. The only thing that entered my mind was a vision of it jumping on my face and clawing my eyes out.
I jumped to my feet and sprinted the rest of the way down where Rachel was waiting for me. Once reunited, we raced to our cars. I absently wondered why there weren't any people outside on their porches, peering into the darkness, wondering what was going on, why girls were screaming. Sheesh, for all they know Rachel and I had just been brutally murdered by escaped ex-cons. I'm never moving to this neighborhood, that's for sure.
By the time we got to our cars, we were laughing hysterically, sharing dialogue of the past few minutes, and every so often, looking behind us, just in case.
It's now been several weeks. Somewhere out there, there is a skunk who is fearless in every way. A skunk who is the boss of Holmes Lake, and knows it. Somewhere out there, there is a black flip-flop, laying in the weeds, covered in mud and bugs. I think I might try to find it...y'know, do a little skunk hunting in the process. If those people don't care about screaming girls, I doubt they'd come running at gunshots. If anything they'd probably hail me their hero for saving them from the Legendary Skunk Of Holmes Lake. In that case, I'd better find an expendable sidekick.
"Captains Of The Sky" --Sky Sailing