Which was as weather beaten as the deck it was perched upon.
I listened intently for any animal movement in the woods that surround my home.
It wasn’t uncommon to see raccoons, deer, and squirrels meandering about.
It didn’t take long to hear something, though it wasn’t what I expected.
A man, across the stretch of woods.
I do not understand why he undertook the conversation he was having outdoors.
At the end of his driveway, so far as my ears could tell.
I could not see him through the thick brush, but he was there, alright.
He was telling someone at the top of his lungs that she was a whore.
That because she was a whore, the life he was capable of giving her.
Was something she would never have.
That the trips, gifts, and her entire future was now ruined, all because she had spurned him.
He had no mercy, this strange man I’ve never lain eyes on.
It is a wonder to me.
I have not been wealthy at any point in my life; yet at that moment, in that chair, I lived in a golf course community.
I never thought I would hear such vulgar thoughts expressed aloud in such a neighborhood.
I was used to it in the lesser neighborhoods I lived in.
But, like so many people who do not have a silver spoon shoved up their bum.
I had assumed the ones who had silver spoons in one orifice or another were sophisticated far beyond my understanding.
Never uncouth, rude, or hateful.
This man was teaching me a lesson in the ways assumption can lull you into false comprehension.
At the top of his lungs he railed against this woman.
Why she stood for it, I will never know.
Eventually the hater finished with the hated.
The silence, which had prevailed in the wooded area surrounding my temporary home throughout the haters diatribe ended, as soon as his anger was spent.
Noise came again to the woods.
It is common for me to hear raccoons and deer crashing through the brush quite near me.
It is not common for it to occur very close to my position on the worn deck.
Yet on this dark night, the brush three feet behind me came quite alive.
I was startled, but not surprised.
Because I sit on the deck so often throughout the day, the animals were undoubtedly going to get used to me.
The rustling came closer and closer, and I turned my head to look, always a useless endeavor which shows how much I depend on my eyes to see.
I can never resist looking behind me, even knowing I’ll see absolutely nothing.
As a child, I used to run through a fair sized forest in my youth; all this means is that I’m aware of what to do, and what not to do when a animal is near.
I peered behind me again, using smooth, economical movements so as not to startle whatever it was.
Mostly, though, I didn’t want to be scared spitless.
A couple weeks before this night, on this same well worn deck.
A rustling about five feet behind me ended quite suddenly with a black cat pouncing forward, front paws on deck, to see what I was, or just to say hello.
It didn’t stay, just ascertained that I was harmless while making my heart skip a few beats.
Then it wandered back off into the safety of the brush.
But on this dark night, the rustling in the brush comes closer, and closer.
I assume it is a cat, and smile as I crane my head slowly and carefully to see further into the darkness.
I see nothing, as usual, but I still look.
Remembering my encounter with the black cat, I turn my head forward.
It’s a surreal enough feeling to see a cat’s face pop up out of seemingly nowhere.
I don’t want a repeat of that.
If it wishes to come greet me, whatever it is, it will.
The rustling increases alarmingly close, maybe a foot or less now.
Then it abates altogether.
I hear a slight noise to my left, and follow it with my eyes.
A hooded skunk meanders into my vision, unhurried and serene in its passage.
It disappears from my sight soon enough, but I am left breathless, heart beating fast again.
Skunks attract a bad reputation.
They don’t immediately face you and let spray if you startle, anger, or threaten them.
They stomp their feet first, or make distinctly unfriendly noises.
Then you get a face full; for they can spray up to twenty five feet…and they can aim with accuracy a sharpshooter would whistle in wonder at.
But on this night, the skunk and I were at peace with one another.
For that, I’m thankful.
The skunk waited patiently until the uproar ceased so it could hunt for it’s dinner.
No mercy was shown to the so-called whore that night; no quarter given.
The stench of anger, fear, and hatred still seeped through the woods.
The one creature who had the most to lose that night, did what the human hadn’t managed to.
The skunk treated me humanely.
Given the same opportunity?
The human would not.