This is the tale of the Midnight Rider, a delightful ditty of me doing the midnight run delivering last week’s Gonzales Inquirer.
A hot summer day had metamorphosized into a spectacular summer night and the night atmosphere was taking a breather. As I headed south out of Luling toward Belmont and Diamond A Goss Bar-B-Q, I saw a brilliant apparition of a moon rise, a glorious full moon rising majestically out of the eastern sky. The view was so spectacular that it took my breath away. It made me think of the quote by Hanako Ishii:
Tell me the story
About how the sun loved the moon so much
That she died every night
Just to let him breathe
It was a mesmerizing sight to the see the brilliant golden orb rise out of the mist and claim its throne in the celestial heaven. As I was driving the company van, I found it difficult to pay attention to the road in front of me as I kept staring at the glowing golden lunar visage. It put me in a contemplative mood, and I enjoyed the ride on 80 all the way to Nixon to the drops at our vendors and post office there.
As I turned to head to Smiley, I noticed that Mother Nature was clearing her throat to the north. Dark clouds illuminated by brilliant flashes of lightning was the harbinger of more unsettled things to come on this magical midnight mystery tour. Yet to the east, the full moon was shining and shimmering in its radiance.
“The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand” was the quote by Frederic Lawrence Knowles that permeated my thinking process. As I started to pay more attention to the lightning that was flashing all over the northern horizon, I swear I saw a flash of lightning that reminded me of Sauron’s eye in the Lord of the Rings. Then a finger of clouds began to inch toward the full moon, covering it like the scene in The Ten Commandments when the Lord sends the final plague to kill all the first-born sons of Egypt.
“What the heck is going on in the atmosphere?” I mused to myself. Yet the spectacular light show of lightning contrasting with the full moon was electrifying.
I drove to Smiley, dropped the papers off at the post office, and then turned left on 108 to head back to Gonzales. I was in a delicious frame of mind and was thinking of all kinds of different songs and poetry that fit the fireworks of the night sky.
That’s when it hit—the smell that has become so familiar to my midnight rides from Smiley back to Gonzales. About three miles outside of town, the aromatic aroma of Pepé Le Pew filled the night air. Skunks!
They were everywhere in the area. Dead ones on the side of the road, live ones darting across the road, and a plethora of them filling the air with their foul fragrance of fetid stench.
I swear they knew I was coming. They just wait there for me to show up, and when I do, it’s skunk heaven on 108. I think they have scouts posted on Wednesday nights to see who is driving the Inquirer van as it leaves Smiley. I think they radio back to the main mob of stinkers and say, “Naw, it’s not him tonight. Keep your tails down and save it for another night.”
But when they see me coming, it’s a cacophony of glee in Skunkville.
“It’s him—the man himself driving tonight!” goes the report. “Grab the old ladies and pack up the babies we’re going to Stink Out!’’ is their rallying cry.
For over five miles, all I could smell was skunk aroma and watch them moving around the highway. I even imagined them as my own Biblical plague from The Ten Commandments. God didn’t send frogs and locusts my way, he sent skunks. I started to hope that Charlton Heston as Moses would order Joshua to paint skunk blood on the side of my van to ward off the gnarly smelling critters.
That’s when I got to Wrightsboro.
The good news about getting to Wrightsboro is that the skunks were left behind. Like in the movie The Ten Commandments, as the legions of skunks was chasing me north, I asked Moses to collapse the Red Sea on them. I assume he did, because the smell was finally gone.
But then there is Wrightsboro. Why do they call it Wrightsboro? With all the twisting curves in that section of 108 they could have named the town Wrightsboro or Leftsboro and no one would have known the difference. Right-Left, Right-Left, Left-Right: I felt like I was at Camp Pendleton going through short-order drill with a Senior Drill Instructor. First skunks, then short-order drill with the company van at midnight—what was next!
Alas, 97 appeared before me, and I was able to make the delicious right-hand turn toward home. The traffic was light, and the evening sky was aflame with fireworks. All in all, it was a good night until I got home to go to bed.
All I could think about was skunks. The nightmare continues.