|Dangerspouse Rides Again|
Garage - Track
May. 08, 2004 - 6:24 p.m.
Carry On, Carrion
Hey, what do you think of my new look? Spiffy, huh?
Waddaya mean "What new look"?
C'mon, the new look!
Over there on the left - go ahead, check it out. See the word "NOTES"?
That wasn't there before!
Back in 1975 when I started this Diary, technology hadn't progressed to the point where the "Notes" section could be directly accessed by readers. If you wanted to post a comment you snail mailed it to the diary owner, who would then transcribed it onto punch cards, drive to the nearest university and enter it into a Hewlett Packard HP3000-C reader. Two weeks later it magically appeared in your Usenet BBS.
When I moved to Diaryland last year I saw no reason to change my ways and learn HTML. The default purple-on-purple template was plenty good enough for me, thank you.
Others around here apparently did not agree. In fact, one of them - radiogurl - took it upon herself to design and code this very template you see before you when she learned I was incapable of doing it myself.
At one point in our e-mail exchange she asked, "Would you like to have a button on your page that takes readers directly to the notes section?" "Nah" I said. "Who is ever gonna leave me notes?"
Zip ahead to last month, when trinity63 IM'd me with, "Yo, Dangershit, why don't you have a link to 'Notes' on your front page? Are you some kind of idiot?"
I explained that I was, but despite that I saw no need to impose on Radiogurl for what I considered a minor alteration. Trin kindly corrected me.
"You're a jerkoff. If it weren't for that picture I wouldn't even bother, but give me your password and I'll do it for you."
And she did.
Which illustrates a valuable Man lesson: if you're either obviously helpless or exceedingly cute, there are women out there who are mothering enough or desperate enough to do anything you ask of them. Without even asking. Take it from a guy who has both qualities in spades, with a generous helping of ingratiating modesty for good measure. I've managed to get by without knowing anything for years by utilizing this method.
So guess where I've been the past two-plus weeks?
I was in Room 1307 ("semi-private"), Mountainside Hospital, Montclair New Jersey.
"The deuce!" you say. "Not you!"
I was attacked by vultures.
No, I'm not kidding here. Big, brooding, Gothic carrion feeders with bright naked red heads and six foot wingspans.
Dammit, NewWifey(tm) is the one who smells like rotting meat. Why couldn't they attack her?!
You're probably wondering how it was that I came to be attacked by vultures, no?
Well, it was easier than you might think.
Simply put, it was the dog's fault. Again.
Two Sunday's ago we set out on our usual pre-dawn jaunt through the woods, and as usual within 15 seconds he'd disappeared after some irresistable scent. Mostly it's the odd chipmunk, deer or bear cub that flips the little Insanity Switch in his brain, overriding Obedience Training v1.3. I just plod along the trail until he tires of wearing his pads down to his shoulders and rejoins me.
On this particular Sunday however, when Casey bolted he didn't bolt far. There is a large, rubbly pile of grey rocks near the mouth of the woods, rising about 50 feet. It was still too dark to discern any more than the general outline of the slabs even from that short distance, but the Corgi made a beeline anyway, yapping at the top of his lungs. As he approached the base I heard a somewhat muffled "Whoooosh....thwup...thwup...thwup" and could just make out two large, inky forms rising from the lower level shelves. They were very hard to see against the only slightly less inky rock face, but after they flapped three, four times and were perched on the top ledge, their silhouette against the now purplish sky was unmistakable.
New Jersey vultures are particularly robust examples of the species, seeing as how many dead things there are in the state for them to fatten up on. The two above us were prime archetypes, probably nine feet from talon to beak and, I dunno, 170 pounds or so. That's what it looked like, anyway. When you're that close to something that routinely tears hocks off elk and snatches small children from Third World ghettos, they seem magnified somehow.
I wasn't particularly worried though. Turkey Vultures are actually quite shy of humans, and will even sometimes play dead if cornered. The worst I'd ever heard happen was from a neighbor down the street who'd suprised one in his garage. The bird was so startled it vomitted up a half digested possum at his feet before flapping off. The smell still lingers despite numerous scrubbings and even once lighting a pool of kerosene over the stain.
What suprised me about these two was that they didn't fly off in the face of a 200 dB Corgi and a 200 pound sweaty Italian bearing down on them. They stayed crouched 20 feet above us, glowering while the dog clambered frantically upwards over boulders and scree. I don't clamber myself, so I just waddled to the base of the pile and watched his progress.
About halfway up the pile the Corgi jolted to a stop and swung his head 120 degrees to the right. His nose twitched, his ears stiffened forward, and he stood frozen like that for a good five seconds. Then, just as suddenly, he sprang towards a narrow slit between two boulders - the source of whatever wrenched his attention from the feathered sentinals above.
The slit was only wide enough to accomodate his head, although not so narrow as to keep him from barking wildly at this newfound object of his hunting instinct. His yelps grew increasingly frantic as he became more and more frustrated, his back legs quivvering from the effort of trying to push a 12 inch wide body through a 7 inch slot. I knew he wouldn't give up until he'd either abraded himself down to muscle tissue and opened a vein, or starved to death first. I decided I'd better pry him out of there and fireman carry him back to the Dangerhouse if I wanted to be home in time for dinner.
It probably took me 15 minutes to reach the shelf Casey had scrambled onto in under 30 seconds. No doubt that had something to do with dogs not needing 4 Sierra Nevada Pale Ales every night after work to unwind. Nonetheless, get there I eventually did, and after another 15 minutes letting my heart rate dip back under triple digits I knelt down to grab the back of a nearly apoplectic Welsh Corgi. It took a bit of effort, tugging with a fist around each leg wheelbarrow style, but he was actually uncorked more quickly than I expected. He must have finally started to tire, and could only muster so much resistance. Curious now that he was free, I blocked him out while I peered into the cleft to see what had caused all the commotion.
The sun had just crested the horizon and was shooting rays horizontally along the ground towards us, but my fat bulk kept any of it from progressing beyond me. All I saw was two pinpricks of dull red light at the back of what looked to be a 10 foot long tunnel. But by holding one of my chins to the side with my left hand, the scene gradually brightened to increasingly lighter shades of grey until I could make out a definite form, and then details.
It was a chick!
A cute, fluffy-downy mottled white and grey Turkey Vulture chick, with glowing red eyes and the cutest yellow, hooked beak.
I inched backwards so I could leash the Corgi and leave the harried family in peace, and that's when the sky fell on me.
Without any sound, without any premonition, a 400 pound hammer slammed into my back, knocking me breathless and flat. The next full minute was a kaleidoscope of whirling dark feathers, dust, and pain. Ma and Pa Raptor up there had finally decided that having their progeny ravished by heathens needed to be addressed. And so they plummeted straight down onto the largest target, the one obviously most threatening to their child. Me.
Talons extended, beaks snapping, their arsenal of steak knives tore through my Foghat commemorative t-shirt and into my back muscles like they were Kleenex. I struggled and twisted, but up there on that narrow ledge there was no escaping the torrent of feathered fury ripping into my flesh.
Interesting thing about what happens when your skin is deeply, quickly sliced open. There's no sensation of pain, per se, at first. At first all you feel is a quick jolt of cold - those deep temperature receptors must take neural precidence in the brain briefly - which gradually lessens after a few seconds. To be replaced by waves of searing pain that convulse the affected limb.
(I can see now why so many teenage girls are into cutting. Whoo-eee, that's good Squishy! Seriously, if only they knew, they'd stop wasting time with their pathetic little x-acto knives and cuticle trimmers and go out and buy vultures.)
And where was my faithful Corgi during all this? Mans' Best Friend, the one who's bowl I fill twice a day with premium brand Kibbles, the dog I even let hump my leg by way of greeting?
Ever the furry opportunist, Casey took advantage of the fact that I was no longer blocking the mouth of the cave to go back to harrassing the chick.
Ten feet away his master was embroiled in the fight of his life with two avian assasins, and losing. I couldn't roll over off my stomach as that would send me pitching down a 10 foot drop onto jagged rocks, and I couldn't stretch my arms back far enough to fend them off. I had to keep one arm folded defensively over my neck and head anyway, but I was getting weaker from the constant pounding and tearing open of veins. I had no choice. I knew I couldn't stay conscious much longer.
I rolled over.
A ten foot drop onto jagged rocks probably sounds more painful than it actually is. I wouldn't know, since the impact knocked me out before any other sensation could aggrieve my already tortured body. I just remember seeing one jutting rock quickly come into focus as it accelerated towards my forehead, and then...nothing.
When I next opened my eyes, it was to see to see the trail moving under me while I lay suspended three feet above it. Two large men in EMS uniforms had me strapped face down on a stretcher and were carting me back up to civilization, and a waiting ambulance. It was sunny and warm out, obviously midday. (I learned later that they would have hauled me off sooner, but the first pair the hospital sent did not have biceps sufficient to haul the Dangerfat down the mountain. I've gotta give Atkins a shot when this is all over.)
Turns out that Casey DID end up fighting off the Vultures, but only after they attacked him. Once the Big Intruder had been sucessfully vanquished, the breeding pair went after the small noisey one. Corgis are tougher than Italians however, and have sharper teeth. He managed to drive them both off without suffering a scratch, then returned to trying to force himself through the eye of that stone needle.
He only lasted an hour or two longer before giving up. Not because he finally realized his efforts were insufficient to acheive his goal, mind you. Rather, it was lunch time and he knew he needed to get to our kitchen pronto if he wanted to eat. So he clambered back down the ledges (having to step on me in order to continue at one point) and ran back home, ducking it through his doggie-door just in time to see NewWifey(tm) scooping his ration into the bowl. Pretty smart dog, huh?
To her credit, NewWifey(tm) immediately suspected something was amiss. The dog never returns without me, since I'm usually just as eager to grab lunch as he is. So she poured herself another cup of tea, called an old friend to catch up on the latest news in her life, and watched an episode of "Cops". Then she sprang into action. Hooking Casey onto the spare leash she set off down the trail to look for me. She didn't have to go far. The corgi tugged her immediately in the direction of the boulder mound, intending to resume his attempts at getting to the chick. But before they reached the base of the pile NewWifey(tm) spotted my twisted, bleeding form lying ten feet up the mound.
After checking to see if I was still breathing (she never mentioned if she was relieved to find I was, it just dawned on me) she dragged the unwilling dog back home and called for backup. The ambulance arrived in just under an hour, having gotten lost and stopping at our backwater gas station to ask for directions. So all in all, by the time help finally arrived it was probably seven hours from when I first tasted feathers. When I got to the hospital I needed 4 pints of blood just to stabilize.
Anyway, I've dragged this on long enough. I had a lot of fun adventures in the hospital that I'll detail later (involving room-mate sex, and the staff's attempts to kill me TWICE!) but now I've gotta go take some more antibiotics and watch the porn DVD that NewWifey(tm) got me as a Welcome Home present.
I have the best wife in the world.
And the worst dog.
Later, kids. Don't ruffle any feathers......