“It’s a ferret,” Terry said.
“Looked more like a ground hog to me.”
“If that’s a ground hog, he’d better see a doctor.” Terry was bent double over the hole behind the birch stump. He poked at the hole with a stick.
“Alls I know is there’s ground hogs ’round here and more porcupines than you can count, but I’ve never seen ferret,” Stan said. He turned his back on Terry and pulled a beer from the cooler.
Terry shrugged and took a seat on an upturned log. “Thing reeked. I smelled it when it tried to crawl up my leg. Face like a rat.”
Stan ignored him.
Terry said, “You ever see a ground hog run up someone’s leg?”
Stan said nothing.
“I’ve eaten ground hog,” Terry said. “Makes a pretty good stew, if you got carrots, maybe a little turnip.”
Stan nodded. “My Aunt Marty made a good hog stew. Best one around.”
Terry stuck his chin out, jerked his nose up and said, “You seen it, that brown bugger. Think that little runt would fill a pot?”
Stan breathed deeply and went to take his own look at the hole. He got down on his knees and looked at it, tilting his head from one side to the other, trying to catch the light.
“Take a sniff,” Terry said. “Your Aunt Marty’s stew smell like that?” He picked up Stan’s beer where the other man had left it beside his stool, took a swig, and put it back down. “Her stew smell like month-old laundry?”
Stan had his face right close to the hole, sniffing. “Sure does stink,” he said. “Maybe you’re right. This here ground hog needs to see a doctor.”
Terry stood and put his boot on Stan’s ass, stuck up in the air as he studied the hole. He gave it one good shove and Stan went face first into the den’s entrance. He threw his arms out to either side and pushed himself back up. Then he screamed.
It was the loudest girly-girl scream Terry had ever heard come out of a grown man. Stan lunged to his feet, arms flailing at his face, fingers grasping at the writhing mess of fur that had attached itself firmly to the end of his nose. The more he clawed and pulled, the harder the ferret fought to maintain its hold. It bucked and flipped and contorted itself faster than Stan could react.
Terry pointed, waved, and hooted. He slapped his thigh, gasping.
When Stan finally got hold of the ferret’s hind leg, the beast bent itself in half, scurried down the man’s arm so its leg popped out of his grasp, ran back up to his shoulder and wrapped itself around the crown of his head. It sat there staring at Terry with eyes that said, “Bring it.”
Stan’s nose was a shredded mass of skin and blood, white bone exposed between his eyes wide as golf balls. He panted, breaths shallow, in time with the foot-long animal on his head. “Where is it? Where is the freakin’ prick?” he said.
Terry sniffed and pointed at Stan’s head, his whole body shaking with laughter. He held his arm there, finger extended, grinning ear to ear and said, “You’ve got a fur hat.”
Stan squinted, struggling to understand.
The ferret, seeing his escape route, dove from Stan’s head to Terry’s arm. It scratched its way up to his neck and dove under his shirt, it’s tail wagging in Terry’s face as the man started to dance and scream and rip at his buttons.
Stan shrugged. “It’s a ferret,” he said, and turned to get himself another beer.
"Ferret" was my response to a 40-minute writing challenge on Ksenia Anske's blog.
Always fun when words flow after midnight.