The other night I’d left my elderly, portly cat Lizzie outside to fend for herself. I shouldn’t, even though the neighborhood is mostly quiet. My experience of living here is that when you least expect it—expect it! I was relaxed during the summer a few years back when the folks across the street let their pit-bull escape. When he body-slammed our screen door, barking and snarling—we realized he wanted to get inside and eat our cats. Fortunately, back then, all the fuzzy butts were hale and fast on their feet. The second time this lethal weapon got loose, his owners spent over an hour attempting to catch him, apparently because they were more afraid of him than he was of them. Anyway—that’s another story—but it should explain why I couldn’t go to sleep, knowing Lizzie was waddling around the nighttime yard. After a couple of hours, I gave up the attempt to lose consciousness and went downstairs to collect her.
Another neighbor has one of those parking lot lights blazing away in his backyard, which actually makes it harder to see because of the high contrast it creates. Behind our tall fence, under the old silver maple, we remain in a small slice of darkness. Close to my feet, out tiger Bob muttered something like “Wowie Mrrrrrrp” deep down in his throat. I had an intuition he was cautioning me about something. My eyes were slow to adjust, and, as I stood on the patio in my nightgown I heard the distinct sound of something brushing through the flowerbed about ten feet away. My gaze pried into shadow. That was when I saw of a blaze of white and then the pacing movement, a distinct side to side motion, whisking away from me, across the porch. An oily smell, traveling more slowly, was the final clue to who this intruder was, visiting my nighttime yard.
The better part of valor was to retreat, so I did, back inside to turn on the porch light. By the time I did that, nothing was visible, just my cats. Bob sat by the door. Lizzie was a little further out by a small spruce, lying there in the classic meatloaf posture, front paws neatly tucked under her chest. Clearly, neither of them was alarmed, simply keeping a respectful distance, while the skunk came to drink out of the water pots/bird baths that litter my yard. We’d moved into drought , so I wasn’t surprised some of the local outlaws were availing themselves of the detente of the nighttime suburban water hole.
Hand-me-Down Bride & Roan Rose @ Second Wind Publishing & Smashwords