Jack and the Skunk
“ When Jack first saw the skunk she was nothing more than a foul stink, a tail disappearing behind a dumpster, a glowing white stripe rippling over black grass in the dark of night. ”
Today I’m posting the next installment of “Jack & the Skunk.” If you have any thoughts about the story, I’d love to hear them. Post a note in the comments section, or email me directly at scalise(DOT)jessica(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thanks, as always, for your feedback and for reading,
Jack and the Skunk
Two months later, Jack’s wife left him anyway. Jack watched her load a suitcase and a laundry basket full of clothes into the back of their truck. While she rattled around in the kitchen, choosing her favorite pans, Jack went out to the woods. He sat down on a stump, next to the spot where he buried Millie. The trees made a dim circle of shade around him. Jack heard the truck door slam; saw dust rise up over the trees. Jack sat for hours, doing nothing. When it grew dark, his sister came over. She went out to the woods to find him.
“Why did you shoot the skunk?” she asked, after Jack told her what happened. She was sitting on another stump in the dark, facing him. Jack’s sister was an enormous woman, with shoulders like a champion prizefighter. The stump looked like it might crumble into dust at any moment.
“I had to shoot it,” Jack said. “The skunk couldn’t of survived on its own.”
Jack shook his head sadly. “It was domesticated. I domesticated it. Domesticated animals, they forget how to find food on their own. Then they don’t survive.”
“You stupid son of a bitch,” said Jack’s sister. “Which do you think is easier to survive: finding food on your own, or getting shot in the head?”
Jack thought about it.
“Well, hell,” said Jack.
The following morning, Jack woke up without remembering that Lisa was gone. When he rolled over and looked at the flat sheet next to him, recollection hit him like cold water and forced him out of bed. Jack went out to the woods, where it was still dark. There was a storage shed behind the trailer where Jack kept odds and ends. Among them was a box of things Jack’s father had left behind when he died. Lisa was always on at Jack to sort through the box and throw things away. Now, Jack crouched on the grimy cement and opened the box. The faint scent of mildew puffed up from within. Jack lifted out stack after stack of old, damp shirts, some of which brought back faint memories, until he found what he was looking for in the bottom of the box: a set of steel traps. Jack’s father had used them to hunt rabbits. Jack took a trap out of the box, cleaned it, baited it with Millie’s favorite food, and left it behind the dumpster where he first met Millie.
(To be continued…)