This morning’s early morning run was my usual slower Sunday speed. Squirrels were frolicking along the riverbank, some keeping pace, others racing ahead. As the cloud shrouded, rising sun’s weakened rays streamed through falling snowflakes, I was meditating and reflecting and relaxing, simply basking in the brisk air. Then, just after passing the first half-mile, it became silent. The gray animals ahead turned and went past me, in the opposite direction. A quiet that was only broken by barren tree branches shaking in the wind crept across the street.
I lifted my head from the path before me and looked further down the road. Across the Avenue, a black mass, proportionate in girth to me ten short months ago, silently undulated along the pavement.
At first, uncertain of what I was seeing, I slowed my pace, but kept moving forward. It was then that the mass turned slightly, and the tell-tale, split white dorsal streak of fur forewarned me of just what I was witnessing.
It was the Facebook famous Susquehanna Avenue Skunk! As the large producer of rancid perfume continued on a direction toward the river, I thought by the time we would meet, she, or he, would be passed.
Alas, I thought wrong.
As I neared, my pace slowed even more. The celebrity animal must have sensed my approach, quickly he, or she, turned – thankfully facing me. Our eyes, both blacker than the night, locked with one another. Within the confines of my head, my brain calmly said, “Recalculating.”
Undeterred, I continued onward, Pepé was going to continue to the river, I was certain.
Echoing inside my skull, louder and louder, more and more desperate, “Recalculating!”
Our eyes remained locked, the front quarters of the furry roadblock spread a little further, head tilted slightly – daring me to carry on.
Being a creature of habit, I had to get my run completed, and I was determined to do so on my usual course.
I slowed a bit more. Raised my head. Expanded my chest.
In front of me, as The Susquehanna Avenue Skunk leaned to the left, I observed the now joined white streak of the tail lift high into the air, as she, or he, was preparing to pivot.
“TAKE THE NEXT LEFT– NOW – ASSHOLE!” Shouted my internal Alexa.
I obeyed the command, and not a moment too soon – about halfway down the side street, I could detect, along the air blowing in from The River, more than a hint of a foul, fetid, fragrance.