Regular foldedspace readers are aware that we’ve been harboring a skunk under the office for the past two months. The odor was fairly strong at the end of October, but faded for several weeks until erupting in a perfect storm of stench earlier this month.
Today, I’d had enough. I made it my crusade to eliminate this odor from our lives. Here’s the story of J.D. vs. the skunk.
This is the old trailer house in which our offices are housed.
My office is on the left-most end of the trailer. It is from here that the odor emanated. It was strong. It was nauseating. It was unbearable. We evacuated my office, moving all necessary paperwork and computers to other offices. When the smell would not go away, we called in a company called the Critter Gitters. They set a trap in order to lure the skunk from under the house.
We left the trap outside for about a week, but to no avail. No skunk. Last night, it dawned on me: a whole host of factors seemed to indicate that the skunk might not be alive to take the bait; it was likely that the skunk was dead. This seemed so probable, in fact, that I prepared to crawl under the trailer to retrieve the corpse without taking any pre-cautions in case I might encounter a live animal (or worse, more than one).
I bought a box of Vicks VapoRub. (I was just going to buy Vaseline, but Kris noted that Vaseline doesn’t really have much of an odor.) Would this stuff work?
It certainly had a strong odor of its own! I applied liberal gobs of it to my moustache and to my nose (including inside my nostrils).
Ouch! Ouch! Vicks VapoRub burns when applied in large doses. And it smells awful.
It smells no worse than skunk, though. Fully armed with two flashlights, the digital camera, a garbage bag, a dustpan, some eye protection, and a pair of gloves, I set off to find my skunk.
There’s no easy way to maneuver under the trailer house. The crawlspace is small, especially toward my office. I simply sucked it up and dove in…
The ground under the trailer is basically solid earth. Or, at this time of the year, a cold, hard mud made damp from weeks of rain. Much of the trailer’s underlayment has been torn away, and insulation hangs in wads. I’m almost certain this damage was caused by the three ornery boys who grew up here.
It took some time to determine the best path. Eventually, I opted to skirt the edge of the house, crawling around the wheelbase.
My second obstacle was the sewer pipe. I thought about crawling under it, but elected to go around again.
Soon after, though, I found myself stuck, wedged between a metal joist and the sloping ground. I had to crawl backward to get out from under the house. I removed my jacket and my sweatshirt, leaving only a turtleneck. Minimal protection, but my body was much thinner now. This time, I made it through the tight place. Almost immediately, I found the dead villain.
It took several more minutes of maneuvering to reach the body. It was a tight fit, as I’ve said. And the whole time, the skunk’s scowling face stared at me. His little black beady eyes were knowing and evil. They gave me the heebie-jeebies. Oh, and let’s not forget the stench. Even though I was making every effort not to breathe through my nose, it took enormous discipline to keep from wretching. It would not have been fun to crawl through my own vomit. By breathing through my mouth, I avoided most of the stench, though my throat did begin to burn.
I wrestled the skunk into the garbage bag, and then dragged it outside.
I felt triumphant! I also felt sick. Though the Vicks VapoRub did a fine job of suppressing the smell, I could taste the musky foulness.
What then to do with the skunk? “Throw it in the trash!” suggested Jeff. This seemed like an awful thing to do, simply shifting the odor to somebody else. “Burn it!” he said, but I was worried about the stench of burning flesh. Eventually, we hit upon an imperfect solution: we buried the thing on the furthest corner of the property, near the road.
Now we’re waiting for the trailer to de-odorize. Most of the rooms already smell fine. My office, however, stinks, probably because the skunk died just below it. Perhaps, too, it stinks because Nick dowsed all of the draperies in vinegar. sigh