Friday, June 22, 2012

That There is a Hinker, My Friend

My sister and I discovered another one of Doc Maxwell's many skills quite unexpectedly one day as we were strolling through the Sandgate woods with him, not far from his hunting cabin.

While we were shuffling along the logging/hunting trail,Doc suddenly pointed to a birch tree where a black, cat-like creature stood stock-still on a horizontal branch, its tail straight up in the air behind it like a radio antenna.

"It's a hinker," Doc whispered.

My sister and I looked at him quizzically -- then at each other conspiratorially -- as if we were suddenly being let in on some huge secret, privy to the existence of some rare heretofore uncataloged species -- then back up at the hinker with a sense of child-like wonderment.

"What's a hinker?" One of us asked (I don't recall which one of us finally spoke.).

The frozen hinker, whatever it was about to be,  just stared back at us, with its wide, unblinking eyes and, its ferocious mouth agape mid-hiss.

Sue and I watched as Doc crept slowly around the base of the birch tree until he was positioned directly behind the mysterious hell cat, and we did the same when he beckoned us to follow.

Once we were all congregated aft of the beast, which despite the commotion, hadn't moved so much as a muscle, Doc pointed at its back end, to a bright white dot about the size of a dime right at the base of the hinker's antenna tail.

"A hinker," Doc said matter-factly (to two kids who couldn't have been more than 9 and 11 years old if that), "is a black bobcat with a white touchhole." He punctuated this odd zoology lesson by unleashing an explosive noise somewhere between "whoop whoop" war cry and blood-curdling scream. It was so loud and unexpected, it sent Sue and I scrambling for the bushes.

It didn't seem to faze the treed critter a whit.

That's how we came to find out that Doc had a skill - or a friend with a skill - for taxidermy. The hinker had been some other unfortunate woodland animal before he was stuffed and mounted along the trail, with the ultimate posthumous indignity of having its asshole daubed with white paint to create the illusion of some bizarre chimera.

[Note: In consulting the aformentioned sister about the event, she seems to think the hinker wasn't taxidermied at all, but that the poor bastard was merely nailed to the tree in a state of rigor mortis. I don't know if that makes it better or worse. Either way it's a weird growing-up experience.]

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