Flame skunks. They is a problem to most home owners, be all they don't know it though. Pesky little fellers, git in your basement and start feedin off the lint of most furnace filters. You can tell 'em by their plumpish skunk bodies, but they's head's just like a gas broiler with the flames all lit and lickin up the sides like whispy blue whiskery cheeks. Natural fire hazards. Burnt up a whole family in their beds up past Stubsville. Most folk don't want em. But to tell the truth, some flame skunks don't live long enough to burn no house down. Some night when you just layin in bed you might hear a horrible squeakin like someone has blowed up a balloon and is playin jazzy Wally by stretchin the balloon hole and makin it sing, and that's when you all know your basic flame skunk has just got its head chopped off by
THE GHOST OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Now the 16th president of the Youknighted States often lives in folks basements, and most folk know nothin about it, but some do. I knowed I stood all skeleton askitter afore the tomb of the great Lincoln in Springfield Illanoise back when I was in grade school. My bones knew his bones was in there, and I screamed just like the okeydokey yodelayleewho and runned out of that place and tried to hide in the station wagon. But wouldn't you know the ghost of ol' Abe thinks this is so funny he floats outta his grave and slides like a flying carpet shadow right to the undercarriage of our Rambler and rides clinging screamin cherahoochee all the ways back to our house. So naturally he likes living in the closest thing to that tomb of his, which is naturally our down stairs. All cobwebs and spider. Down he is there with his ax and tall hat and he is just waitin for the next flame skunk to walk by so he can chop its head off and make it scream. Scarin half the neighborhood, naturally. And even some nights he'll clunk up the steps with his big dead man shoes and stand at the kitchen door while my knife rattles in the apple butter jar. My little sister, in her popcorn flannel jammies, pattycakes the carpet and sings, "What y'all been a-thinkin' Mr. Abra-ham-ah Lincoln?" and I just git all saucer-eyed. Oh, he'll stay. And like I says, he lives in a lot of folks basements, ol' Abe. Maybe those poor dead people in Stubsville was out of luck, but Abe was a great man, and he can multiply his ghost like five dollar bills fresh outta the mint. Lot's of folk is lucky. You've prolly got an Abe in your basement right now. Which is a good thing considering how dangerous a flame skunk can be. Plus it's also and again a known fact that Abraham Lincoln is the gate keeper to
THE SUBTERRANEAN TUNNELS TO ENDLESS PARADISE
which also, as it turns out, start in your basement and end up god who knows where. I had a friend from school whose tunnel led past a string of 24-hour free pizza parlors straight up a gas lit avenue of rain glazed cobble stones to Al Capone's secret pool hall and mob-girl beauty saloon. My friend's Abe Lincoln would sometimes shoot pool with Al Capone, purty girls all about, and just eternal pizza gooey and stringy. Sometimes even the flame skunks would go unmolested in the endless tunnels of paradise, because down there they can eat and frolic and burn up things to their
little hearts' content, and ol' Abe will just smile and give em a nod because they ain't harmin anybody's furnace lint. But getting past Abe to your own personal tunnel of paradise is the hard thing. He'll stand there at the mouth of the tunnel, ax in hand, with a grim smile. But it's all for show, really. Once you get brave enough to go down the basement and start hanging out with headless flame skunks, Abe will let you through. And after that it's just as my daddy used to say: eyeball to eyeball, Katie bar the hatch till kingdom come. My personal endless tunnel has root-beer fountains and mountain snows of French vanilla. Just think about it?
WELL, THAT'S ALL
I just wanted to get a few things straight about flame skunks, Abraham Lincoln and the endless tunnels of paradise. We all knew they was there, deep down I mean, didn't we?