There’s not a lot for 13-year-old boys to do out here in the sticks. The closest mall is a hundred miles away. There are no skateboard parks or I-Max theaters. But there are ponds and creeks for swimming and fishing, lightning bugs, frogs, crawfish and grasshoppers to catch and cows to “tip.” A couple of my students had an adventure the other night that could only be enjoyed by country kids like them.
It was midnight on a weekday as the summer was winding down. Colton and Troy had spent most of the summer together already and had run through their usual list of activities and antics. Colton’s parents had come in late and were fixing supper when the boys heard a girl screaming. Ruling out the possibility of an axe murder in progress, the two pals dashed out the back door to see what was happening. Colton’s house backs up to our tiny school campus and that’s where the screaming was coming from. When they arrived, they found one of their classmates, Halie on the front lawn next to the highway practically in hysterics.
“What’s wrong?” they both asked at once. “There’s a skunk out here!” she replied breathlessly. Apparently, all the screaming had scared the skunk, but it had only scampered away a few feet away. Envisioning themselves as gallant knights dispatched to rescue the damsel in distress, the two boys began their earnest search for the offending creature. When they found it, they began chasing it. I’m not sure what they were going to do if they caught it, and they probably weren’t either. Boys of that age usually live by the motto, “Ready, shoot, aim!”
Colton was running alongside the skunk, keeping it headed in the direction that they wanted while Troy took up the more dangerous post at the rear. It trotted down the stairs next to the building with the boys in hot pursuit. They chased it all around the campus and onto the playground. The scared skunk tried to duck into a drainage pipe under the school, but Colton blocked his path. It spun around and took off again towards the ag building, this time letting loose a stream of potent spray.
But those boys were not deterred. The thrill of the chase and the admiration of a girl made it worthwhile. After a while, the boys and the skunk got winded and started slowing down. They took a break for a moment to catch their breath and make sure Halie was still watching their every move. Then they chased it back down the steps and it attempted to climb a rock wall. As it scrambled upwards, the skunk turned its back on the boys and lifted its tail. Colton saw what was coming and fled the impending squirt of skunk funk, but Troy did not. He squatted down next to the wall to see what it would do next. It sprayed Troy in the face at point blank range, right into his gaping mouth.
Safely away from the brunt of the onslaught, Halie and Colton dissolved into laughter. Troy yelled and cussed and spit and yelled some more, only serving to make his buddies laugh all the more. They decided they’d had enough fun for one night, and Troy sprinted back to Colton’s house in search of a tube of toothpaste. After several rounds of vigorous brushing, including his gums and tongue as well as his teeth, he downed a few glasses of water to mitigate the eye-watering stench and the overpowering taste which he likened to strong garlic.
Unfazed by the incident, the boys sat down and enjoyed their late night dinner. I’m glad that school didn’t start the next day. I don’t know that I could have stood walking onto the campus, much less sitting in my classroom with those boys all morning. ❖
Envisioning themselves as gallant knights dispatched to rescue the damsel in distress, the two boys began their earnest search for the offending creature.