Monday, April 5, 2010

Living in a rural community, I understand sharing space with wild animals. We’ve had raccoons rummaging through trash cans, possums in the dog food, and squirrels stealing from the bird feeders. After trying everything but a stick of dynamite to get rid of squirrels, we finally gave in and bought them their very own feeder so they would leave everything else alone.

One spring Jill flew in from Los Angeles to the Northwest Arkansas airport for a week-long visit. The route to pick her up was not just through rural, but remote sections of south Missouri and north Arkansas. It’s beautiful but so winding it can even make the driver carsick.

It was late so we picked up some dinner and a coffee to go. About halfway home both of us needed a bathroom break. We were so busy chatting we didn’t consider the consequences of a Grande Starbucks and a two hour backwoods drive. Just about to agree on chancing a skunk wandering up if we stopped for a woodsy toilet, we saw a light in the distance. Up over the next hill was a gas station/convenience store. We could buy something to justify use of the bathroom.

After seeing the ladies room, the outdoor facilities might not have been such a bad idea. Drying our hands on disintegrating toilet paper, we tried to find a packaged snack that had a viable expiration date and wasn’t totally covered in dust. We settled on a couple of bottled Dr. Peppers from the rusty cooler. It was dark and late and we were the only ones around, most likely, for miles. So when the man at the register asked, “You ladies traveling tonight?” it was a bit unsettling.

“Yes sir,” Jill answered with her big city confidence.

“I figured so,” he said as he exhaled the smoke from his Camel cigarette and squinted his left eye. You don’t look like you’re from around here.”

“No sir. Thank you,” Jill took her change and we turned to walk out quickly without being too obvious.

“Just a minute,” he said abruptly. I had already eyed some cans of beer at the front door I thought might work like hand grenades if he took one step toward us.

“Yes sir?” Jill turned back to the register. I was inching toward the beer cans.

“You ladies be real careful driving through these parts now. We got deer, lots of ‘um. Them deer ... them’s Kamikaze deer. They’ll run right in to you. My sister, last week, one of them deer run right in to her like it had a death wish. Her rig was plum tore up. So you two be on the lookout”

“Wow! Thanks so much for the warning. We will be careful. Good night,” I said as I opened the door.

We got in the car, locked to doors and laughed until we couldn’t breathe. Jill said as we pulled out onto the Kamikaze infested road, “I experience a lot of things in Los Angeles, but what just happened, would not be one of them.”

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