Pinto Poindexter waited in the deep shade of the backyard hedgerow. When his dad’s truck turned into the driveway, Pinto burst forth startling three squawking Blue Jays into flight. He raced across the manicured lawn as fast as his twelve year old long legs would carry him. Reaching the pick-up he yanked the driver’s door open before the vehicle stopped.
“Dad! Dad! You’ve got to do something. That wife of yours --- I can’t take it anymore.”
“Are you talking about your mother?”
“She can’t be my mother. I must be adopted. You gotta help, Dad.”
Big P reached for his lunch pail and thermos, and shut the door. “Carry that sack of dog food. I’ll get the other stuff. We’ll take it to the shed and you can tell me what’s going on.” He pointed to the bags in the back of the pick-up, and then tousled Pinto’s curly red hair before putting an arm around him and giving him a hug.
“Dad, do you remember last year when Mamma blamed me for that smell in the living room? I left my tennis shoes on the porch for a week straight and she still stayed on my case. It wasn’t me, remember?”
His dad chuckled. “Yeah. That dead mouse under the sofa was a real surprise.”
“Well, she’s after me again. She said it’s my shoes for sure; nothing’s under the sofa. I have to sleep outside in a tent.”
“Really. Dad, I don’t want to do it. There might be rabid skunks. Larry’s dog caught distemper from something – I don’t want to be out there. It’s not my fault. The smell is coming from the ceiling but she doesn’t believe me.”
“I’ll tell you what. You disappear for a while and I’ll figure something out. If you have to spend a night in the tent, it won’t kill you. Man, up. You can put Buster and Dolly in there with you for protection” his dad said, laughing.
“No way, Dad. I’m not sleeping with those tooting bird-dogs.”
“Hmmmmm. You got a point. I remember the time I took ‘em in the station wagon to go quail hunting. After that trip, your mother insisted I either sell the dogs or buy a dog trailer.” Pinto’s dad was quite for a minute. “Maybe you can find a friend to camp with you tonight. See if you can. I’ll grill some cheeseburgers and we’ll eat on the patio.” Big P looked at his watch. “Be back in an hour.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next evening Pinto was sitting in a lawn chair in the shade of the red oak overhanging the driveway. He was sucking on a frozen fruit-pop when his dad came home. He waved and stood to greet his father.
“Dad, the pest control man came and checked things out.”
“After he crawled up in the attic he told Mama, ‘I have good news and bad news.’
“’What’s the good news? Mama asked’
“’There’s a dead squirrel under the eaves above your bedroom. The bad news is, there’s no way to get it out. You’ll have to wait for worms and maggots to putrefy him. In this heat it takes about two weeks before the smell is gone.’
“He handed Mama a $40 service-call bill and she lit in to him like she was talking to me.
“’$40 and you didn’t even remove it? Are you crazy?’
“’You see that sweat dripping off my nose?’ he asked. ‘That’s what you’re paying for. If you don’t want a squirrel graveyard up there, you better make that skinny-legged boy or your husband find out where that varmint got in.’”
“Wow. I’ll bet that excited your Mother. He said two weeks before the smell is gone?”
“Uh huh. Mama’s gone to Aunt Sue’s. You can camp in the tent with me, I guess. And, she said, if your dad doesn’t have a ladder, tell him to buy one.”
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