Intern Andrew had introduced me to Victor’s stylish pad a couple of days prior to our stay and my initial reaction was something along the lines of, “Holy sumptuous living quarters, Batman!” or something ridonkulous of that sort. Victor’s house is the bomb, basically,** so I was hotly anticipating setting up shop and kicking it Louis XVI-style betwixt the aforementioned gatherings.*** I recall from that first visit though that Andrew offhandedly mentioned something about a baby skunk falling into a window well a couple of days before, but the brevity of the report and the lack of pathos he affected in his remark led me to conclude that surely the baby skunk had escaped from the window well and returned home to his (her?) clan by then.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday progressed without any discernible moments of either grandeur or devastation, just your typical steady state horizon of fantasticity- pretty standard fare for Morning Star interns. Thursday night, however, witnessed a gut-churning reversal to the rhapsodic flights which my heart had been soaring to thinking of the killer weekend fast approaching. I walked home from Farm and Starfleet that night with a sprightly skip to my step, gleefully soaking in a Moises Silva lecture on Galatians on my iPod, clicking my heels like a leprechaun with every stroke of exegetical brilliance he skillfully elicited from the text.**** I arrived home and victoriously slammed three glasses of water, quenching the fire of the hot July night in my throat. And then, the familiar whistle of my R2-D2 alert: a text message. A text message from Intern Andrew, no less.
But his message was not of glad tidings nor was it good news.
Remember that baby skunk with the streak of bad luck? He wasn’t back… he never left! Baby Skunk had been imprisoned in that window well for a week now, without food or water! The effulgence of my demeanor instantly dimmed. A deafening diesel roar of empathy echoed throughout the chambers of my heart whilst it simultaneously shattered for poor Baby Skunk. What measures had been taken to extricate Baby Skunk? We weren’t just sitting by while Baby Skunk languished in a holding cell of dejection, were we? Andrew informed me that he had lowered a two by four into the window well but Baby Skunk just didn’t have the requisite coordination to shimmy on up the board and back to freedom. I knew instantaneously that a means of rescue had to be devised to save Baby Skunk from an ignominious end within that window well! I would not suffer Baby Skunk even one more day in the blazing gloom of that window well- I had chosen him (her?) and would not rest until he (she?) was free at last. And so Intern Andrew and I covenanted together to accomplish and apply Operation: Elect Baby Skunk Redemption.
The following morning witnessed Kristin aiding a group of volunteers in cleaning the Hansons’ abode in preparation of their imminent departure southward while I deposited the D-Day worthy collection of survival materials that had been deemed necessary for a weekend stay at our plush Northern Illinois cache. Intern Andrew looked aghast upon the cargo shipment I was delivering for our the duration of our post but did the right thing and helped me haul the freight down to our quarters in the basement. It was there that I at long last got my first look at Elect Baby Skunk. I was eyeing the drumset Victor had set up around the corner from the room Kristin and I would be staying in when appropos of nothing I looked over my shoulder and saw a window well… and Baby Skunk, slumped in the corner.
I looked into his (her?) eyes and saw Baby Skunk’s abandonment to despair emanating from his (her?) countenance like stench from a stagnant bog. As our gazes locked with one another’s I could vividly see the resignation and the anguish of utter forsakenness reflected through Elect Baby Skunk’s visage. In that moment I knew that I would spare no measure to save Elect Baby Skunk.
Operation: Elect Baby Skunk Redemption was engaged.
To my extreme annoyance, Intern Andrew was still not particularly moved by Baby Skunk’s plight, but he agreed to aid me in my mission so as to maximize the comic potential inherent within such an endeavor. We turned Victor’s house upside down searching for recovery apparatus for Elect Baby Skunk but nothing seemed quite fit for the task.
“What about the net for this ping pong table?” Intern Andrew queried.
“I think that falls into the ‘last resort’ category,” I retorted, returning to my digging frenzy in Victor’s basement. You count on the most random things to show up in people’s basements when you’re not actually searching for them, but the moment a crucial item proves necessary it’s nowhere to be found. Kristin, Intern Andrew and I refocused our ambitions elsewhere and ravaged his garage for anything that could be lowered into a window well to retrieve my elect skunk baby.
“Doesn’t he go fishing ever? Russians like to fish, right?” I implored in a whining tone.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Intern Andrew returned, mockingly.
“Hello? A fishing net. Is that too much to ask?” I sighed, weary to get to the business of saving baby skunks.
Next I suggested I go downstairs, open up the window, grab Elect Baby Skunk from my just-barely-helpful vantage point and gently toss him (her?) up to Intern Andrew who could release him (her?) into the great outdoors. I could hear the bile rising in his throat at the solution I had offered. “One,” he intoned dramatically, “I am not catching a skunk. Ever. Under any circumstances.” He deflected my condescending eye rolling and sneer and continued on. “Two, under no circumstances are we letting skunk smell get into that basement. No way! This is not an option!” It got really quiet for a while after that.
Clearly, forces were at work even within Intern Andrew to derail Operation: Elect Baby Skunk Redemption.
Victor’s home witnessed cataclysmic upheaval as we sought out the means to implement Operation: Elect Baby Skunk Redemption. I even started calling people in search of such assorted and sundry items as butterfly nets, rakes, and pool skimmers half-crazed with my objective of liberating Elect Baby Skunk from his (her?) prison of heat death. Intern Andrew proposed waiting until evening when Valentin could procure a fishing net for the operation. Choking back tears of rage I bellowed with all of the conviction my failing heart could muster: “No Andrew! This is our time! Up there- up there it’s their time! Down here? Down here it’s our time! Down here it’s our time!”
Wait. Actually, that didn’t happen. The Goonies abruptly intruded into my consciousness and corrupted my memory momentarily.
Anywho, we scavenged the premises li
ke starving vultures, all the while the memory of Elect Baby Skunk’s look of longing etched itself into my mind’s eye. His (her?) pitiful demeanor as he (she?) wallowed in the window well burned like brimstone in my affections, becoming my own equivalent of the Macedonian in Acts 16:9. “Come over and save me!” I could hear Elect Baby Skunk squeaking plaintively. His (her?) whimpers reverberated through my inner being until finally my emotional levee broke.
“I’m going in,” I said.
“You mean the window well?” Kristin asked. “That thing’s pretty small…”
“I have to do it! When there is a lack of those qualified to go, the willing must be the ones to go in their stead,” I responded. Looks of puzzlement were exchanged between Kristin and Intern Andrew and probably even myself ultimately because that was a pretty trite thing to say. But it felt right at the time.*****
It was on. The three of us now dedicated ourselves to distinct duties in saving Elect Baby Skunk; I would empty myself and descend into the window well, Kristin would procure something for me to shield myself from Elect Baby Skunk’s odors of death, and Intern Andrew would stand a few yards away watching and providing moral support. Kristin rushed to retrieve an expendable towel from our supplies and threw it to me with the skill and flourish of a harpooner. Intern Andrew removed both the two by four Gangplank of Attempted Escape and the weird plastic shield that covered about three quarters of the way in****** to ease my entrance into the lower regions. He then scuttled away so as to ensure he was nowhere near Baby Skunk who no doubt would begin freaking out any moment at the sight of this huge thing entering his (her?) lair.
I shimmied over the lip of the well and gently hit rock bottom. In trying to steer clear of cobwebs I had aimed for the center of Elect Baby Skunk’s holding cell which brought me virtually on top of him (her?) and almost immediately a look of panic greeted me from Elect Baby Skunk. “Hey there Baby Skunk,” I cooed in an attempt to soothe the savage beast. He (she?) flipped end for end to bring his (her?) stink armament to bear against me. Sensing the imminent deployment of Elect Baby Skunk’s weaponry I unsheathed my ugly brown towel like a bull fighter and established a field to absorb any fire Elect Baby Skunk might unleash. A large stone overhang forced me to hunch down and toss my Brown Towel of Protection upon Elect Baby Skunk. I struggled to get a grip around him (her?) but his (her?) convulsions of self defense were at least effective enough to prevent me from establishing a firm enough hold. “I’m trying to help you!” I shouted. “Why won’t you let me help you?”
I finally got a clue and grabbed Elect Baby Skunk’s tail. Game over! I gripped his (her?) body within the awkward mass of Ugly Brown Towel and lifted him (her?) up above my head triumphantly. I deposited the whole kit ‘n kaboodle onto the grass, allowing Elect Baby Skunk to make his (her?) exit with dignity. He (she?) thrashed around in the Ugly Brown Towel for a couple seconds before emerging, guns drawn, surveying the territory around him (her?). “See?” I asked Elect Baby Skunk, “we just wanted to get you out of there.”
Elect Baby Skunk decided to forego your standard Western customs of showing gratitude and instead made a beeline for the stone overhang directly next to the window well. He (she?) disappeared amidst the foliage between the deck and the overhang. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” I shouted, the abject absurdity of the situation finally sinking into me. I took the two by four and inserted it below the overhang so as to form a barricade while Intern Andrew set up the plastic shield once again, this time placing it straight across the middle of the window well. When this defense had been erected, I placed the two by four alongside the shield, confident that Elect Baby Skunk wouldn’t be able to fall back in that gloomy abyss again.
It was a harrowing day, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Baby Skunk didn’t seem particularly psyched to see any of us. But that night I went to bed knowing that my elect one had made it out okay, that he (she?) was out there, doing the stuff skunks do, probably having a blast, revelling in the ontological ecstasy of skunkdom. And I in my own awkward and inefficient way helped to make that a reality. Elect Baby Skunk was back with his (her?) clan once more. That was good enough for me.
I thought that the news of the successful prosecution of Operation: Elect Baby Skunk Redemption would elicit more applause at the Young Marrieds’ Shindig that night, but cheers and accolades were muted. Jeremy and Henry burst into maniacal laughter and said, “I would’ve just killed it.”
*Cooler name pending.
**Some might go so far as to say “the bomb diggity.”
***Which might have been a bad idea because we all know what became of him…
****I know, I know: nerd.
*****Like that hasn’t gotten people in trouble before.
******Yet obviously didn’t cover enough…