The Boy and The Skunk: A Short Story

May 18, 2016 at 6:40 pm (Life, Short stories, Short Story) (, , , )

The Boy and The Skunk: A Short Story

The boy walked along the banks of Rosebud Creek east of the town of Crossfield. His loyal English sheepdog Buster followed him.

Buster was named after the great comedic actor Buster Keaton- one of the boy’s favourite film stars whom he saw on those rare occasions when his mother took him to a movie show in the big city of Calgary.

Buster had an interesting background. He was the sole survivor of a brood of pups drowned on a Hutterite colony near the boy’s parents’ farm because the colony boss thought the colony couldn’t really afford to feed any more dogs.

The puppy had somehow managed to survive the mass drowning and was about to be “re-drowned” as it were when the boy called George and his father showed up on the colony to see if the Hutterites were willing to trade some potatoes for lettuce from George’s mother’s garden.

As George’s dad and the colony boss hammered out a deal, George approached the Hutterite man that the colony boss had assigned to be the pups’ executioner.

“Don’t drown the poor dog,” George addressed the man, “I’m willing to adopt him and take him home and look after him.”

The man looked at the colony boss and the colony boss looked at George’s father.

George’s father sighed.

It was amazing how his son loved animals.

And how animals seemed to love his son in return.

His son even seemed to have the gift of “horse whispering” – that unique ability by which a person was even able to calm and tame wild horses.

George’s father nodded.

The colony boss then nodded to the would-be executioner that it was all right.

The little sheepdog who would come to be called Buster had already run to the boy somehow sensing that George was his rescuer.

George picked him up in his arms and the little sheepdog licked his face.

Buster was a very intelligent dog.

George had trained him to gather firewood.

So every morning at the back door of the farm house, there was a huge supply of large sticks that Buster had gone out and gathered during the night.

One morning there was a knock at the front door of the farm house.

George’s mother answered the door.

It was an official from the local CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) station in Crossfield mentioning that survey sticks that CPR surveyors had been putting up in the area had mysteriously disappeared overnight and might she have any idea who the thief was?

George’s mother shook her head.

George who was in the kitchen having breakfast overheard the conversation.

He waited until the CPR official had driven away in his car.

Then he went rushing to the back door to see what sort of firewood Buster had gathered during the night.

Buster was there with his tongue hanging out looking as pleased as punch with himself at the night’s cache.

Large sticks with the initials CPR on them.

George immediately put them in the wood pile.

Alerting his parents to what Buster had done might have resulted in their giving Buster away.

And on this fine day, George was walking along Rosebud Creek with Buster.

George was imagining that he was walking along the River Nile with his faithful dog Buster and that he was about to discover Cleopatra’s tomb or the tomb of some mighty Pharaoh.

George often dreamed of becoming an archaeologist when he grew up.

He was the most voracious young reader of all the books in the one room schoolhouse that he attended- having read every one including all the volumes of the encyclopedia and all the geography books and all the history texts and all the science books.

As George walked along the banks of the Rosebud, his eyes carefully scanned the ground- looking for signs of Indian arrowheads for which he seemed to have a natural gift of finding.

He also kept a watch for beaver traps as he knew trappers often set traps along the banks for the creek’s beavers.

Buster did the same.

Not so much to look out for arrowheads like his young human friend but to avoid stepping in a beavertrap.

Suddenly George heard a clanging.

The sound of a beaver trap closing.

George looked in the direction of the clanging.

What poor animal was it whose foot was now caught?

George and Buster walked in the direction of the noise.

And there it was… black with white stripes… a skunk.

The poor creature looked at George.

And George looked at the poor creature.

The skunk turned and tried to walk away- no doubt not sure if George was friend or foe.

It struggled as it walked along the banks of the creek, one of its legs in pain from the trap it was in.

George followed to see if he could help the poor skunk.

A dangerous thing to do.

For it was always possible that the skunk could turn around and spray him with its awful smelling scent.

Still George followed.

The skunk stopped.

It couldn’t go on with this painful thing on its foot.

It turned around.

There was the stranger still following him.

The skunk looked at George.

Then it looked down at its foot.

The skunk thought that maybe the stranger might know how to take the thing off its foot.

So it sat and let George approach.

George came and carefully removed the trap off the skunk’s foot.

Then George waited.

Would the skunk spray him with its scent?

But no.

Instead the skunk seemed to grin at him, George thought, and then turned and went on its way- slowly to be sure- from the pain of having its leg in a trap but still it was moving.

Several weeks later, George was playing along the creek with some friends from school.

“Look, a bunch of skunks,” a boy shouted.

“Eek! They’ll spray us with their scent!” A girl shouted.

“If you don’t bother skunks, they won’t bother you,” George always spoke with a wisdom that went well beyond his young years.

“Hey look, George,” another girl pointed, “that one skunk there seems to be looking at you and it almost looks as if he’s smiling at you.”

“It does,” the other children agreed, “He seems to be smiling at you. Why is that, George?”.

“I have no idea,” George shrugged.

At that point, Buster the sheepdog made a strange noise.

It wasn’t a bark.

It wasn’t a growl.

If sheepdogs could guffaw, maybe that was the sound Buster made.

And the skunks went on their way.

And George and his friends went on their way.

And Buster followed.

Still guffawing.

-A short story written
by Christopher
Wednesday May 18th
2016.

(The above short story is based on real life events. The boy George grew up to be my father George Bursell Milner. It was 6 years ago today that my dad suddenly collapsed to the floor while shaving in the bathroom and had to be rushed to hospital by ambulance. Within less than a month my dad would be dead from cancer. I wrote this story for I think it illustrates to my readers what sort of person my father was. The writer G.K. Chesterton once wrote that “The boy is the father of the man.” Meaning that what people are like in their childhoods is often indicative of what they become in their adult lives)

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16 Comments

  1. doesitevenmatter3 said,

    The anniversaries of the deaths of those we love are difficult. 😦
    I agree with Chesterton. And your dad sounds like he was a wonderful boy and then man. I’m sorry for your great loss, Chris. My Dad died of cancer, too.
    I love this story…it made me laugh, but I, also, got a little teary-eyed. What a great story in tribute to your dad.
    (((HUGS)))

  2. ѕнєяяιє ∂є ναℓєяια said,

    A reminder of last memories of your love one … Your father is a great man, Chris. Just as my father is or was … Both men who has a heart bigger than themselves … A lovely tribute for your father …

    Always be with you in thoughts, prayers & heart, Christopher!
    ʕ•̫͡•ʔ❤ʕ•̫͡•ʔ

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      Thank you so much, Sherrie. ❤

      Yes, both our fathers played such an important part in shaping who we both are.

  3. ѕнєяяιє ∂є ναℓєяια said,

  4. Hyperion said,

    A great story Chris and a wonderful tribute to your father. I’m reminded of Winnie and Pooh. Only Buster wasn’t a stuffed bear.

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      No, that’s right, Buster wasn’t a stuffed bear.

      Just a hairy looking English sheepdog.

      LOL!

      I remember a sketch my dad did of Buster with oil pastel crayons that hung in a picture frame in the basement.

      You could barely see his eyes and nose- just his tongue sticking out.

      He was a long haired hippy before there were hippies. 😀

      • Hyperion said,

        LOL! I can imagine the adventures the two had growing up. Dogs are such willing partners in outdoor activities. 😀

      • Dracul Van Helsing said,

        Indeed they are. 😀

      • Hyperion said,

        😃

      • Dracul Van Helsing said,

        😀

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