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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Eek! (02/25/10)

TITLE: What's That Smell?
By Marie Fink


“Come on! I’ll give you twenty bucks to crawl under there to see if you can find what’s causing the horrible smell,” bargained the harried mother. She was desperate to get rid of the stench coming from beneath the trailer. Her savvy twelve year old wasn’t too keen on the idea, but he was saving up for a bb-gun. “Sure! I’ll crawl under there,” he said as he ran to get into his battle dress uniform that every military ‘brat’ had handy in his closet at a moment’s notice. He donned his camouflage hat too. “Here’s a flash light,” said his mom with some relief in her voice already.

The strong odor that wafted through the trailer was just one of the many strange discomforts of first time country living in a very old, nearly condemned mobile home. Military families learn to live in a variety of circumstances, but the problems usually didn’t have much to do with squirrels chewing through wires causing the vehicle to be towed, twice in two months. Neither did they require shoveling snow from a thirty foot unpaved pathway to drive anywhere. And even though all of the literature stated that if there was a sulphur odor coming from the propane furnace to ‘get out’, whenever this gutsy lady tried to let folks know about it, she was laughed at and told it wasn’t a problem. She had many sleepless moments over this issue and was extra careful to snooze with cracked windows even though it got very cold at night.

Clad in green camo, the youngster gave his mom pause as she watched him come running outside for the task at hand. He was growing up and going through lots of changes, all while his dad, his buddy, was away. Moving into the trailer was an unusual turn of events for this daring family. They had never lived in the middle of nowhere without a neighborhood filled with people, connected yards, and lots of other kids. Dad was gone for a year and they had an opportunity to live closer to the grandparents while he was away. It wasn’t the ideal situation, but it would do for cheap rent, free storage, and mostly: grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

As the mom’s head cleared from the short daydream, she realized aloud, “We have to remove the metal ‘skirting’ first to make an opening for you to get in.” He slipped through the hole in an instant and became calm and still. Looking around slowly, he didn’t really want to encounter the sites he could possibly find. He thought, “Hmmm, I wonder if I’ll see a snake passing through? I better not be scared if a little field mouse or even a cat comes scampering by.” The flash light flickered and cast shadows across the dank expanse under the portable house. “What was that?” he asked himself as his heart raced faster. He focused the light upon the large dark spot.

He could barely squeak out, “Eek! A dead, a dead, a d-e-a-d RACCOON?!” “Uh, Mom? he spoke a little louder.”

“Yes, son, did you say something?” she quivered back.

“Uhmm, there are a couple of mice skeletons and a… You’re not gonna believe this. I think the smell is coming from a raccoon! He must have crawled in here to die?!”

“Don’t touch it! Move away from it, now!” With the flashlight and a mouse carcass in tow, the brave boy backed out quickly. A few cobwebs to dust off his hat, and twenty dollars richer, he solved the mystery of the horrible odor coming from under the trailer. His mom headed toward the phone to call animal control to help rid them of the poor decaying creature. When she hung up she was sure this escapade wasn’t the last in their temporary countryside home.

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This article has been read 323 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Mull 03/04/10
This was an enjoyable story. Quite an adventure for city people!
Jan Ackerson 03/04/10
Ewww, I shudder just thinking about it!

My suggestion would be to paragraph more carfeully. For example, your first paragraph should be three--start with the mother, then the son gets his own paragraph, then back to the mother.

I'd love to see more of these characters--I bet they have more stories to tell!
Gregory Kane03/05/10
I liked the characterisation of the son
Brenda Shipman 03/07/10
Great job describing this little mother/son exchange and the "joys" of rugged country life. It's one of those situations where you really need to know the source of the smell, but really DON'T want to know. I agree with Jan's comment re: the paragraph spacing. I'm sure all the great memories you made with your extended family during that time made suffering through these types of challenges worth it. Plus, the challenges themselves probably have made for some great stories - like this one!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/08/10
Having lived out in the middle of nowhere for most of my life, I couldn't help but empathize with the poor mother as I chuckled to myself.