In May 30 IssueRussell County NewsBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
Saturday morning, I’m in the middle of my usual, weekend housework when the phone rings.
I’m pleased to hear the voice of “Everybody’s Favorite Mailman,” Billy Flatt.
At first, I’m thinking, “Dang...I’ve got so many overdrafts they won’t fit in my mailbox,” or “That bag of dog food I bought on-line for 99 cents-but cost $40 to ship-has arrived and needs to be picked up.”
Mr. Flatt and I talk a little music (because we can’t have a conversation without mentioning a guitar, wanting a certain guitar, needing a certain guitar, etc.) then he “drops the bomb” on me.
“You got your camera handy?” he asks.
“Yeah, sure,” I said.
(LIE. I hardly ever know where it is, but I do have general idea it’s in that area over there, near the couch...no, wait, over THERE, near the computer, maybe...I think.)
“Well,” he said, “I just saw a dead armadillo in the road near the intersection of (KY) 92 and Adam’s (Bait & Tackle).
“I’m pretty sure that’s what it was,” he said, “because I even went back and looked.”
“What’s an armadillo doing in Kentucky?” I asked him.
“That’s what’s kind of odd about it,” he said. “Maybe it rode in here on something. I don’t know. I’d thought you’d be interested, though.”
I got off the phone, and realizing my wife was gone, quickly rounded up the kids.
“OK, everybody...let’s get ready...we’re going to go take a picture real quick,” I told Drake, Kate, and Izzy.
“CHEESE!” Kate shouted, and began posing.
“No, honey,” I told my three-year-old daughter. “I’m not going to take a picture of you. We’re going to go take a picture of an animal.”
“What kind of animal?” my five-year-old son, Drake asked. “Are we going to the zoo. YEA! I love the zoo!”
“No, not quite,” I said. “Just get ready, and I’ll show you.”
(Not really, I was thinking to myself.)
Finally found the camera, but had to get the toddler, Izzy ready.
I picked her up, then sat her back down...quickly.
She had this...”smell” about her.
About the time I noticed the seepage around Izzy’s diaper, Kate began screaming.
“PWETTY DWESS! PWETTY DWESS!” she shrieked-just inches from my ear.
“WHAT, KATE?” I shrieked back.
“I NOT GO!” she shouted. “NO PWETTY DWESS!”
I assured her it was perfectly acceptable to go out with just a t-shirt and panties on because she wasn’t even going to get out of the car.
“PWETTY DWESS!” she repeated. “WANT PWETTY DWESS!”
“Why?!” I asked incredulously.
She stopped screaming, smiled, and pointed at her feet.
On her tiny, little feet, was a pair of her mother’s (very) high-heeled, fancy dress shoes.
(It didn’t matter they were on the wrong feet.)
“Oh,” I said. “OK, OK, we’ll find you a pretty dress to go with your shoes.”
But first, I had to not only change the baby, but fumigate the house (I briefly considered calling in a Haz-Mat unit.).
I was in such a hurry that I scooped the baby up, put Kate’s “pwetty dwess” on backwards, and ran out the door with kids in tow.
Arriving on the scene, Drake was the first to spot the armadillo on the road.
“WOW!” he said. “Can we take it home?”
“Uh, no,” I told him, “they don’t like to be inside.”
I parked right up on the sidewalk and got out to take pictures.
The moment I lifted my camera up to my face, a car stopped right next to me.
“That’s the biggest possum I’ve ever seen,” the driver of the vehicle said.
“It’s actually an armadillo,” I said.
“No, buddy, that’s a possum,” the driver said.
“Well, I’m pretty sure it’s an armadillo,” I responded-pointing to the shell, and long, scaly tail.
“Is that what you call them around here?” he asked.
It was then that I determined this person was a tourist because: (a) He used that “around here” phrase, (b) He was brave enough to stop his vehicle in the middle of U.S. 127-no “local” would do that unless there was blue lights behind them, (c), He was pulling a large boat which had an Ohio registration on the side.
(See, I’m a pretty smart fellow.)
As soon as Mr. Inquisitive/Animal Non-expert pulled away, I heard someone summoning me from across the road.
“Is that a possum?” a woman shouted over the traffic. “No,” I shouted back. “It’s an armadillo.”
I couldn’t hear the next few words, but I did hear “over here” when she pointed to her nearby house, and I think she said “back yard.”
I started once again to take a picture when I noticed a horrible smell.
It was impossible to determine how long the poss...uh, ARMADILLO had been dead, but the stench was unbearable.
I took a couple of pictures, and the smell nearly gagged me.
“Gosh!” I said to no one in particular. “It smells almost like baby poo...”
It was then I noticed a dark green “goo” under my fingernails, and caked between my fingers.
I threw my camera down and started waving my hand like I was trying to shake off my fingers...when another vehicle pulled up.
“You OK?” the driver said. “I saw you jumping around. Did that thing bite you? You’re waving your hand around like it did.”
“No, no,” I said with a bewildered look. “Just had a little accident.”
It seemed futile to explain how I got “baby stuff” on my hand, why I was “jumping around,” and why I was standing in the middle of a busy road taking pictures of a dead animal in the first place.
“You didn’t touch that thing, did you?” he asked. “It’s liable to have all kinds of diseases. I don’t know if possums carry rabies or not, but I’d be careful.”
“It’s not a possum,” I said, with my hand behind my back. (I was trying to rub the offending material off my hand and onto the seat of my pants.)
“What is it?” he asked.
“Armadillo.” I said.
“No, really,” he said, “what is it, just a possum that’s flatted out?”
“No, man, it’s an armadillo,” I said.
“I thought they only had those in Texas,” he said. “Somebody needs to get a picture of that.”
He sped away.
By that time, Drake had Houdini-ed his way out of his seatbelt and was leaning out of the car.
“Is that a dinosaur?” he asked.
“No, not a dinosaur,” I said.
“Can we take it home?” he asked.
“No,” I said.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Because it’s dead!” I said-before thinking.
“Why you kill dinosaur, daddy?” he screeched. “I didn’t, I didn’t!” I frantically responded. “I’ll try to help it!”
I took my foot and kinda gave it a little kick.
“Oh, look Drake,” I said, “I think it’s waking up. We better get out of here before it eats us!”
“Yeah!” he shouted-apparently forgetting how “distraught” he was. “Hurry, daddy!”
We sped away.
At church the next day, I heard at least three, different people say they had heard something about an “armadillo in the road” in Jamestown.
“An armadillo in Kentucky...you ever heard anything that crazy?” someone asked me. I merely shrugged my shoulders...and hid my hand behind my back.