Chapter 15

 Vinegar And Moth Balls

"Uh, Ben," Frank said as Ben walked into the store, "did you run into a skunk on the way here?"

Ben had waited a whole week before returning to the establishment hoping that the smell would wear off. He
thought it had, but apparently it had  not. He had noticed people staring at him as he passed by the boat dock, but
he just assumed they had recognized him from the news.

About that time Kate came in through the back door. “Hey, Frank, where’d you put the … Lord, have mercy! Did
somebody bring a skunk in here? Oh! Hey Ben, when did you come in? Honey is that you reeking. Son, I’ll tell you
… I think you were safer with the fillet knife. What happened?”

Ben dared not tell them the truth. He made up some story about running through the woods and stumbling onto a
skunk unawares. If they knew what he had done he would never live it down.

“Honey, we need to get you some moth balls.”

“Will that get rid of the smell?” Ben hoped.

“No, but it will keep the skunks away from your place. Maybe we ought to hang some around your neck, too.”
“Yeah, that should be a good combination!” Ben quipped sarcastically and rolled his eyes.

Kate took charge. "Ben, we've got to get you fumigated. Frank, give me a bottle of vinegar. Otis, I want you to take
Ben over to the house and show him to the bathroom. Ben, I want you take a good hot shower. Pour this whole
bottle of vinegar on your head and scrub your whole body with it. Uh ... how long ago was it when the skunk
sprayed you?"

"A week ago." Ben answered.

"Hmm! Better take two bottles of vinegar. And Ben, stay in the shower until you don't smell any more skunk odor.
And when you get dried off, get some of Frank's cologne out of the medicine cabinet and dab a little on yourself.
Not too much, now. We don't want to go too far in the other direction. And Otis, find an old ratty towel for him to
use and see if there are some jeans and a shirt in Frankie's closet that will fit Ben ... and some underwear. We'll
have to throw out Ben’s clothes and the towel after he has cleaned up."  

"Who's Frankie?" Ben asked.

"Oh, Frankie is our son. He just left last month for Clemson University," Kate answered.

Ben dutifully followed Otis over to the house.

Kate looked at Frank and shook her head slightly. "That boy's going to be a handful."

Frank grinned back at her. "What do you mean 'going to be'? He's a handful already."

They shared a laugh.

Kate said seriously, "It's going to take a lot of prayer."

"Yeah," Frank agreed. "But Isaiah saw something in this guy. He was a good judge of character. I can't help but
think our efforts will be rewarded"

"I sure hope you're right," Kate breathed a sigh.  

When Ben returned to the store, Kate checked his wounded hand. It looked good. Ben had taken good care of it.
She removed the stitches and applied ointment just for good measure.

Ben gave Frank a list of supplies he would need and asked if he could use the phone to call Georgetown.

Ben's mother answered the phone. "Oh Ben," she gushed, "It is so good to hear from you. Are you allright?"

Ben spared her the tales of his misadventures. He told her he was fine and that things were going well. She could
sense that the going had not been as smooth as he let on, but she honored his privacy and did not press the
issue. They talked for a few minutes. Then he asked to speak to his father.

"Okay, Ben. I'll get him. But son, when will we see you?" she asked.

"Soon I hope. That's what I need to talk to daddy about."

Fred Wilson came to the phone.  "Ben, how are you son?"

"Good, daddy. Listen, I need to ask you a favor."

"Sure! Anything son. What do you need?"

Ben replied, “Can you get me a small canoe or a rubber raft and a bow and some arrows? Bring it to the boat ramp
on Enterprise Road. Do you know where that is?”

“No problem, son. Your mother got me one of those GPS thingies for my birthday.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, daddy. I missed your birthday.”

"Oh, that's okay, son. You've kinda had a lot on your mind lately. When do you want these things?"

"How about Sunday afternoon?"

"No problem, son. We'll head up there right after church."

"Okay, daddy. I'll be here."

As he hung up the phone, he turned to Frank and said, "I've been considering your invitation to church. If you're
sure it's okay, I'll come this Sunday."

"Great," Kate responded from nearby. You can join us for dinner after church while you wait for your parents to get
here." She blushed. "I'm sorry. I couldn't help but overhear your phone conversation."

"Oh, don't worry about it. It wasn't really private. Thanks for the invitation. That would be nice. My own cooking is
not so good for my health."

They all laughed, but none nearly heartily as Ben. Only he knew how accurate that statement was.