Mark Hunter (ozma914) wrote,
Mark Hunter

next week's column: When Animals Attack ... My Car.


There’s this movie that came out a few months ago, which is apparently about how nature got sick of humans and decided to make us all kill ourselves, or something along those lines. (From what I’ve heard, it’s the movie that makes people want to kill themselves, not nature.) I find that ironic this time of year, when so many animals – especially deer – decide they just can’t take another Indiana winter, and run out in front of moving cars.

But maybe there’s something to the whole thing. I present, for your consideration, a Sheriff’s Deputy who shall remain nameless. We’ll call him … Deputy Nameless. I don’t usually involve police officers in my stories, because they’re generally good guys. Who have guns.

It’s not uncommon for deputies and state troopers to hit animals, because they drive a lot of miles over rural roads. Usually it’s deer, and that peaks in the fall because the deer remember last winter, and just can’t take it anymore. I’ve looked longingly at oncoming semis myself, now and then.

Deputy Nameless was hurrying to a call late one night when, sure enough, he felt the tell-tale thump that told him he could add another little deer sticker to the side of his car. But when he got out to check, he discovered it wasn’t a deer at all – it was a coyote.

Hitting a deer is common; coyotes, not so much. I once almost hit a wolf, but seeing one wolf in an entire life of aimlessly driving around tells you how uncommon more exotic types of animals are around here. Maybe, if there were more coyotes and wolves, they’d take care of some of those deer.

Damage was minimal, and it gave Deputy Nameless a story to tell, as if people in this business didn’t have enough stories to tell. But it was only a couple of weeks later when he walked into the dispatch center and showed me his latest “catch”: Deputy Nameless had hit an owl.

When that kind of thing happens more than once, you start getting a reputation.

A bit of research revealed the animal to be a screech owl, of the sort not terribly uncommon around here. It would have been sad if Deputy Nameless had wiped out the last female of a species, but instead he had yet another story to tell. That’ll do him until he encounters, say, a lion, or a kangaroo jumps onto his hood.


The owl looked completely undamaged, except for the whole being dead thing; if this had been my story, it would have come back to life inside my moving car.

It’s all a fun story, and I didn’t connect it to my next story until I realized I was working dispatch during both of those incidents. Suppose the animals are getting mad at us for all those run down road kills? Suppose they want revenge? Suppose they had a scanner, maybe powered by squirrels on little treadmills, and they recognized my voice on the radio?

Okay, I confess that last is a bit of a stretch.

All I know is that my daughter drove my car to school – on a day when she’d forgotten her cell phone – and didn’t make it all the way back. Jillian was driving back home, on a section of state road that had just been completely resurfaced, when one of the car’s tires went flat.

The tires are the only thing on that entire car that are anywhere near new. They were in as close to pristine condition as you can get after a few thousand miles.

The story has a happy ending, in that one of the guys on my fire department, Bob
Brownell, happened along as Jillian was walking to the nearest house, and helped her get the tire changed. Another officer, who I will call Deputy Somebody, also showed up, and assisted while Bob discovered my tire jack was missing and that my spare – which I call the Toy Tire – barely had enough air to get Jillian home. All of that is my fault, of course. But I blame the animals.

You see, I told Jillian to bring the tire home, and we’d decide then whether it could be repaired, or would have to be replaced. What I discovered was a huge slash along a third of the tire, as if the thing had just shredded itself as she drove along – or had been shredded.

Really, how hard could it be? There are lots of animals out there with long, sharp claws. It would be an easy matter to post a lookout along that rural stretch of highway, where my car is frequently seen.

“There he comes! There’s the rat who dispatches those cops who kill our – oh, sorry, rat, it was just an expression.”

Okay, it’s still a bit of a stretch. But so is a fairly new tire that suddenly splits right down its length on a nice, smooth road, and while I may be at fault for not keeping the cute little toy tire inflated, who the heck took my jack out of the trunk? Could it be a four legged someone, trying to strand me along the road to allow an attack by vicious owls and

No, probably not. But I’ve heard weirder conspiracy theories.
Tags: column, new era, slightly off the mark

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