In Defense of Extraordinary Measures
By Steve Carr
Flashlight in hand, knife clenched between teeth, I wriggled beneath the tiny structure. Steely eyes shone back at me from the far corner, bloodshot.
At last, I had outwitted him. He was mine, and now I would rid our innocent Idaho mountain retreat from his terrorist activities.
I hustled inside to report my success. My dear wife expressed wary pride in my ingenuity. I urged her to stay inside and keep the children close while I completed the mission.
Back on my belly in the claustrophobic crawl space, I considered the demon staring back at me. He was securely inside the “humane” trap, thirty feet or so across the dirt floor. Okay, perhaps I could have positioned the trap nearer the door. Nevertheless, I had captured him, outsmarting him after weeks of false leads and faulty intelligence.
My research in the encyclopedia described how a skunk must execute a handstand to spray; the wire cage kept him crouched. I still had the edge.
Several hours and hundreds of tosses later, I finally caught the tiny grappling hook on the edge of the cage and eased the enemy toward me and the crawl space door.
His feigned ennui didn’t fool me. I backed into the sunlight as I reeled him in. At the edge of the woods, I paused as the cage appeared at the hatch door. I half- expected the night stalker to ignite spontaneously in the daylight sun, as would any ordinary vampire.
No such luck. He shifted a bit in the cage.
My plan hadn’t covered all contingencies but, brave soldier that I am, I advanced. After all, he couldn’t execute a handstand in such tight quarters.
At fifteen feet, he tucked, rolled, raised one leg and fired.
Years later, in sweat-soaked nightmare flashbacks, I watch in slow motion as the malevolent liquid torpedo arcs through the air straight at me. Each time I dive, like I did that day, and roll. Quick, but not quick enough; the spray catches my arm and leg. I’m hit.
Inside the house, my wife and the little ones watched from the picture window as I rolled to my feet, tearing at my clothes in a series of jerks and tremors. The skunk, at the base of the cabin, was out of their view. All those innocent eyes could see was their daddy gone mad, as he danced and tore off his clothes. The R- rated scene surely scarred their innocent souls.
Over ten years of marriage, my wife had grown to expect the unexpected, and quietly covered the children’s eyes while I rolled naked in the dirt.
All humanity abandoned, I retreated inside to find the rusty (think trusty) .22 caliber rifle. Now in full combat mode, I was a special-ops sniper, and assumed the prone position on the raised deck—my lily-white backside in full view of the innocent civilians inside. The collateral damage was under motherly triage; nothing left but to finish the mission, dead or alive.
After all, he shot first.
The stars in the clear, dark Idaho night shone brightly from the deck, where I convalesced alone that night and many, many nights to follow. [/private]
Steve Carr, a recovering special-ops commando, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.