The following is from a true story told to me several years ago by my uncle. I've changed the names to protect the guilty.
What's That Smell?
"Can we come?" The boys were bouncing like over-inflated basketballs.
My Uncle Casey looked at his son, Arlen, "Do we have a choice?"
Arlen glanced at his two hyperactive sons. "At this point probably not. We didn’t get away fast enough. Remember, I told you, if you want to go somewhere without them, you have to sneak out the back door."
Casey nodded. "I forgot."
"Well, let’s get it over with, then."
The four males hopped in the car. The youngest ones in the back seat.
The twenty-five minute drive to town was noisy and obnoxious, thanks to the back seat add-ons.
"Pipe down back there," said their grandpa. They did. There was complete silence. For 23 whole seconds.
Parked on the street in downtown Kernalville, the boys were threatened within an inch of their lives.
"Don’t you dare leave this car. Don’t throw anything out of the windows. Don’t throw each other out the window. Don’t talk to anyone. No bloodshed, yours or anyone who happens to be passing by."
Both boys nodded. "We’ll be good," said Harvey, the older brother.
The younger, Howey, simply nodded.
My uncle and cousin eyed each other and shrugged. They knew the boys would get into some kind of trouble.Time would tell how horrific it would turn out to be.
Forty minutes later, the two adults returned. Supplies from the hardware store and grocery were loaded into the trunk. Arlen looked around. "No blood on the sidewalk. No broken glass or body parts. Huh. Do you suppose...?"
“Is it possible nothing bad happened?"
Casey raised his eyebrows.
"Stranger things, right?"
Car doors were opened, the men got in the front seat and fastened their seat-belts. Casey started the engine. As they pulled away from the curb, Arlen wrinkled his nose. "What's that smell?"
Both men immediately swiveled their heads toward the back seat.
"What did you do?" asked Casey.
"I know you did something. You might as well spill it. Why does the inside of this car stink so bad?" He covered his nose with his right hand as he steered the car with his left. He opened his window.
Howey sighed and said, "Well, we were bored. You were gone so long, and we weren’t allowed to throw each other out the car windows, so we had to find something to do."
Harvey nodded in agreement.
"So…what did you do?" Arlen was now fully turned in his seat to better interrogate his offspring. His eyes were watering from the stench.
Casey kept driving, but kept glancing in the rear-view mirror as the boys told their tale.
Harvey continued the story. "We got out of the car, because, you know, the boredom and all. We started walking down the sidewalk. We didn’t talk to anyone, Just like you told us. So we just kept walking. We didn’t cause any bloodshed."
"Just like you told us," added Howey
"We came to an alley."
"And…" prompted their dad. He now had trouble even keeping his eyes open due to the noxious fumes. He opened the window next to him.
The boys looked at each other for reassurance to finish the tale.
"The alley was dirty and smelly, so we wanted to check it out."
Arlen sighed. "Of course you did."
"The farther we went in to it, the worse it smelled."
"So we wanted to see what smelled."
"Of course you did." Arlen shook his head.
"Don’t your boys make you proud?" asked Casey. He received a scowl from his son.
"Go on," Arlen prompted.
"Way down to the end of the alley…"
"The very end…"
"Was this possum."
"It wasn’t moving."
“Imagine that." Casey raised his eyebrows.
"So we went closer."
"I touched it first."
"No I did!"
"Boys!" Their dad coughed as it became harder to breathe.
"We touched it and it didn’t move."
"Then we kicked it a little."
"Still didn’t move."
"It was really fat."
"Fat? Like maybe it was going to have babies?" asked Casey.
"No. Just fat."
"Like a balloon."
The men could see where this was going. Being mid-July in Indiana, it was hot, sticky and humid. Road-kill often bloated in the heat and resembled, well, a balloon.
Their dad sighed. "So what did you do then?"
"Kicked it like a soccer ball."
"Threw it like a foot ball."
"Okay. Um, but why is the stench so awful?"
"I’m afraid to ask," said Casey through the fingers covering his nose and mouth.
"It might have something to do with the contest."
"What kind of contest?" asked Arlen.
"Yeah. We took turns jumping on the dead balloon-possum and squirting its smelly guts on each other." He beamed at his brother.
Ah. The picture was now complete, as they pulled into their driveway
"Dad," said Arlen, "I told you to sneak out the back door."
Casey opened his car door and took a gasp of fresh air. "You get the boys into the back yard. I’ll get the hose."
Today I'm participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We're celebrating the release of Therese Walsh's debut novel today. The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost
when they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit
http://www.theresewalsh.com/ to find out more about the author.