No one had seen so many porcupine quills on a snout since the old plumber’s own dog had howled down the road after coming face to arse with one. How the plumber got his nose stuck a hundred times was more of an arse to face incident. He was down in an old basement of a summer cabin and had just finished fixing a broken water pipe when he sensed that something had stirred. A porcupine had scrambled to the top of some shelves which fell back at him with the weaponized furball on top. To the old man who could barely see, smell, or hear, this came as quite a surprise when turned his face upwards. When the prickly critter hit him, all of his senses seemed to be in full bloom again. He hadn’t felt so alive in a while. He wished he was dead.
“Mrs. Cross, your husband is at the vet,” the policeman told the plumber’s wife over the phone.
“Our dog is here with me though,” replied Mrs. Cross, who was hard enough to talk to in person.
“Ma’am, the vet is removing quills from his nose,” he said in a impatiently raised voice.
“That was last month, Chief Black. Are you sure you are feeling alright? I can assure you that our canine companion is here, safe and sound by our woodstove. Farewell,” she said and hung up the phone.
When the old man finally appeared in the kitchen doorway that evening, his wife started to say, “Bud! Where have you b---” when her eyes opened wide and she cried out, “Your nose looks like a giant strawberry, what happened to you?”
“Didn’t the police call you? I got attacked by a wild animal!” Bud exclaimed.
“What? Did a pirahna clamp onto your no-- wait! Chief Black was talking about your nose? And here I was, worrying about his state of mental health all afternoon. Oh dear, I thought porcupines were defensive creatures,” she said as she reached for some calendula to put on his nose.
“They are clumsy creatures. And so am I apparently,” he replied with a cringe as his wife applied the ointment to his sore honker. This was not his first unfortunate encounter with a mammal sercurity system. When a skunk had sprayed him, it was quite a surprise too. Especially since the skunk had been dead for at least a week before that. That is another story though.
That night, Bud wrote a bill with a note to the owner of the house. It read:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Uva - I will be unable to perform any more plumbing work in your basement until the porcupine issue is resolved. Thanks, Bud
“Mary, will you please drop this in the mail this morning?” Bud asked his wife the next day at breakfast.
Later that week the Uva’s sent a check with a note that said:
The porcupine issue has been resolved.
In the fall, when the plumber returned to close the Uva residence for the winter, he stopped in the doorway of the basement. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The smell of porcupine lingered. As he stepped onto the dirt floor, he slowly looked around the basement but hesitated to look up for the drain valves.