Midnight Tale

Thump Bump! 

“Aww, crap.” I said aloud. My car had just struck something in the road sure as God made little green apples. It was the middle of the night and I was driving down a twisty back road that was so dark my headlights were consumed a mere fifty feet in front of the car. I’d been traveling a sedate twenty-five miles an hour, not exactly channeling Parnelli Jones.  I stepped on the brakes and  pulled to the side and stopped. I grabbed a flashlight out of the glove box and stepped into the gloom to see what I’d run over.

Fifty feet behind the car a marmot lay in the street, it’s limbs splayed but for a front paw that was being held to the animals forehead. It reminded me of my mother when I told her I’d joined the army and volunteered to go to Vietnam. She was horrified. “How ever will I explain this at the club?” she wailed. “My son a service person!” she said, pronouncing the words as if she’d said ‘diarrhea’ or ‘syphilis.’

I felt immediately awful for the marmot, which opened its eyes, glanced at me and then shut them again and started making the same cough that my militant non-smoking sister makes when I light a cigarette within fifty feet of her –even downwind in a gale. “Uh huh, huh, huh, arrrg.” it said. The little faker opened an eye a slit and peeked at me before coughing again, except louder.

“Cut it out.” I said. “That’s got to be the most fraudulent hack I’ve ever heard. I swept the beam of my flashlight around and noted a chunk of wood laying aside the road.  ”I get it. You have me run over the piece of wood and as I’m stopping, you throw it off to the side and lay down and try to convince innocent drivers that they’ve just mortally wounded you. What’s the scam? A comfy box and free food and water for a week, or have you got some other member of the animal kingdom licensed as an attorney that threatens a lawsuit –but could probably convince you not to sue for a few bucks up front? I know it’s something like that.”

The marmot sat up and looked dejected. “Not working, huh? Man, I used to be really good at this. The years go by, the body slows. It’s gets harder and harder to get by. He lay his paw against his forehead again and said “Oh, woe is me.”

“Oh. My. God! Did you really just say woe? You said woe. I can’t believe you actually said woe. Dude, you’re not old, you’re lame.”

“Perhaps. At least I’m not standing in the street at 2 am speaking with marmots.”  Okay. He had me there. “Now, the least you could do is be civil enough to invite me out of the cold and desolute night into the warmth of your kitchen and take pity on my starvation.”

“No offense, but you’re awfully roly-poly looking to be talking about starvation.” I said.

“I’m big boned, and besides, my coat makes me look larger.”

“Hrmmm. You sound like my sister. Fine, fine. Come on and get in the car. I’ll take you to a place that serves a great marmot specialty.” The marmot hopped to his feet and standing on his rear legs, dusted himself off before trotting to the car. He hopped in through the still open drivers door and took a seat on the passenger’s side. I had to help him with the seatbelt.

I drove a few blocks up the road, made a right and cruised up another rural road. “So, what do you suppose will be on the menu?” asked the marmot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Well, first, why don’t you tell me your name.” I said. “We haven’t been introduced.”

“Oh! Quite right. Quite right.” he replied. “Palmer deCosta at your service!” he said, sketching a salute.

“Nice to meet you Palmer. I’m Bob.”

“So, as I asked. What do you suppose they’ll have to eat?” queried Palmer.

“Well, they specialize in animals of all stripe, I suppose they’ll have just the ticket for your tastes.” The marmot looked pleased. I turned off onto a driveway and headed towards a building backed by caged runs. Palmer was looking out the window and noted a sign.

“The Humane Society? You’re taking me to a dog pound?” he yelped. Palmer began to frantically chew the seat belt holding him in place.

“Not all stories have fairy tale endings.” I said.