True Love; Covid-19 and the Skunk Attack

Harvey Mandel was fuming. He had arranged for an appliance repair company to send a service person to fix his dryer which was not working at all. He had wet clothes hanging on all kinds of doors, closets, and stairs. The dryer had quit as soon as he hit the ‘’permanent press’’ cycle. He knew that by air drying his underwear he was asking for trouble. The underwear would get stiff and uncomfortable.

The appliance guy was supposed to arrive between ten and two and it was four thirty. No call saying he would be late or rescheduling the appointment. It was upsetting, the world was getting crazier since Covid-19 started destroying society. Nobody seemed to want to take responsibility for anything.

Harvey called ‘’The Efficient & Effective Appliance Repair Company’’ and told them that they could shove his appointment up their asses. He only dealt with credible companies. The woman on the other end of the line was silent until she wasn’t. ‘’Sir, Marco was on the way and he received a call that his Mother was rushed to the hospital. She had fallen and broken her hip. Marco would have called us to let us know he couldn’t make his appointments, but when the ambulance got to the hospital she passed. He is now in mourning. I’m sorry he had to miss his appointment, but losing your parent takes precedent over a broken dryer.’’ Harvey felt terrible and apologized profusely. He was embarrassed that he had yelled at the company, and asked that his deepest condolences be sent to Marco. There was a pause and the woman at the other end of the line started to laugh. ‘’Sir, I made that story up, it was all bullshit, but when you thought something terrible had happened to Marco you were ready to forgive and forget and schedule a new appointment. Marco is really behind schedule today, he is still at a call, do you want me to tell him to go to your house or do you want to reschedule?’’

A stunned Harvey told her not to send him over and that he would think about calling to reschedule and he hung up. He had to give the woman on the phone credit for defusing the situation, but that didn’t help with his wet clothes.

Since there was no reason to wait around the house, Harvey threw on his coat and asked his trusted and loyal Beagle, Foggy if he wanted to go for a walk. The truth was asking Foggy if he wanted to go for a walk was like asking someone if they wanted to breath, the answer was always yes right away.

As they were walking, Harvey was concerned because he was sure he saw a Coyote run across a side road and into a ravine. Coyotes always seemed to run in packs, so he’d have to stay outside with Foggy when he let him out at night. Coyotes were really nasty animals and if there was a group of them they wouldn’t hesitate to be aggressive.

After taking a hot shower, jumping into bed and putting on the Mandalorian on television, Harvey began to unwind and relax. He fell asleep two minutes after the show began. At three am, Foggy was sitting beside his bed barking as loud as he could. It was Foggy’s way of saying he needed to go out.

Harvey put on his sweatpants and escorted his dog to the backdoor. He turned on the light, attached Foggy’s line and let him out. Two seconds after he was out, Foggy started barking very loudly. He wouldn’t stop and the barks were becoming more urgent. Harvey was still three quarters asleep when he thought about Coyotes. Was it possible that they had invaded his backyard? He ran outside and turned his flashlight on. It was so cold out that Harvey could see his breath in the air. Foggy was barking at a cedar bush that served as a dividing line between his and the neighbour’s property.

There were no visible Coyotes so Harvey let out a sigh of relief. Instead a big, black animal emerged from under the hedge and started walking towards a sleep walking Harvey. He shone his flashlight on it and involuntarily screamed very loudly. It was an oversized skunk.

Screaming was the wrong move for two reasons. Firstly it scared the shit out of the skunk and secondly it made Foggy want to come over to see what was going on. When Foggy was about two feet from him, the skunk turned in his direction, raised his tail and let a stink bomb go, that was so strong that Harvey felt like throwing up. The skunk had scored a direct hit on him and Foggy. After he finished spraying them, the skunk turned and in a very leisurely fashion walked back to the hedge and disappeared underneath it.

Skunk spray is terrible, it makes the eyes water and the throat sore. The smell is so overwhelming that it stings the senses.

Harvey let Foggy into the house and closed the door. He thought about what he should do and grabbed his dog and headed for the shower. In order not to scold Foggy, Harvey made sure that the water temperature was very medium.

He used different types of body wash and shampoos and nothing seemed to get the smell out, then Harvey started thinking that he couldn’t tell if the smell had disappeared or not because his olfactory senses had been damaged. After a half hour he felt refreshed and stepped out.

Harvey changed his sheets and took his clothes to the basement and threw them in the washing machine. He hit heavy wash and went back upstairs. He looked at the clock and it was five am. He made sure to give Foggy a seriously good towel drying and he went back to sleep.

In the middle of an amazing dream about being on a rocket headed for Mars, he heard barking in his ear. He opened one eye and there was Foggy sitting on the floor beside him, staring and barking. His dog needed to go out again.

Walking like a Zombie, Harvey made it to the rear of the house and once again turned on the outside light and attached Foggy to his dog line. Foggy walked out very apprehensively.

Harvey watched his dog doing a lot of grass smelling and then much to his dismay Foggy sprinted to the cedars. The smell of the skunk’s spray was still in Harvey’s nose. He dreaded the idea of getting hit a second time so he ran out and grabbed Foggy’s line to pull him back. There was a feeling of tremendous relief when Foggy stopped, pooped, and triumphantly walked through the door back into the house.

Once he was in the house, Harvey shut off the light and headed for bed, he felt exhausted.

The next morning, Harvey got up and decided he needed a stroll, grabbed Foggy and headed off. They only made it to the street when Mike Tomlinson, his neighbour stopped him. ‘’I was going to call you this morning, your dog is some kind of hero.’’ Harvey had no clue what Mike was talking about. ‘’I guess you don’t know.’’ Harvey was still on stun from the skunk spray and wondered if it was affecting his brain. ‘’Mike, I have no clue what you’re talking about.’’ Tomlinson looked at him and shook his head. ‘’This morning at around three, Mrs. Gilchrest let her dog Tiny out in her back. You know Tiny only weighs fifteen pounds. Mrs. Gilchrest just celebrated her eightieth Birthday. Anyways, the dog was taking a crap when two Coyotes ran into the backyard. Mrs. Gilchrest panicked and fell down. They were heading for Tiny and Mrs. Gilchrest with evil intent in their eyes. Mrs. Gilchrest said you must have known she was in trouble because Foggy started barking ferociously and then you screamed an unholy scream. It caused Tiny to run to her and the Coyotes heard the barking and screaming and they ran off. Mrs. Gilchrest thinks you and Foggy saved her and Tiny from being attacked. She says it’s very possible that you and Foggy saved their lives. You are like the hero of the street. How did you know she was in trouble?’’

Instead of going into a long and detailed story about the skunk and coincidence, Harvey just shook his head. ‘’It was just one of those things.’’ He then excused himself to continue his walk.

The skunk’s spray was still in Harvey’s nose and he couldn’t escape it. He had never done drugs, but he kept thinking that the way the smell just suddenly hit him, it must have been like having an LSD flashback.

When he got home there was a message from Mrs. Gilchrest thanking him for screaming at the Coyotes and Foggy for barking at them. He and Foggy were invited over for cake and cookies.

After listening to the message, Harvey went down to the laundry room and opened the washing machine and much to his chagrin the smell of the spray on his clothes was still extremely strong.

He looked around at his clothes hanging everywhere. They were still not dry. He decided to call a repair shop and get the dryer fixed pronto pronto or the smells in the basement would turn funky in a hurry.

Harvey thought about fate. He had hated seeing the skunk, he had hated the way Foggy barked at it, and he hated that they both had been sprayed. Yet if that series of events hadn’t happened, who knows what would have happened to Tiny and Mrs. Gilchrest.

After getting back upstairs and into the kitchen, Harvey gave Foggy a special treat. He then looked out his back window and saw one big, fat skunk walking leisurely and confidently across his lawn. Harvey immediately called a Pest Control company and then an appliance repair company. He was sure there would be a lot more clothes that would require washing and drying in the very near future. He would not rest easy until the skunk was relocated far away from him and Foggy. One spray was enough to last a lifetime.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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