Skunks against chipmonks.
"I think those damn McChips done got our sow, Sally," Clem Stinkfield hollered at his Pappy, Ance. "I see'd her this mornin' o'er by the pond, an she ain't there no more, nohow."
"'Mebbe the sow wandered off, Clem?" Ance answered, chewing off a plug of tobacco. "You knows how those sows is?"
"An Bubba done smelled him some pork cookin' on'na way home, over by the Chipmunk house. I know they ain't got no hogs ta butcher."
"So? They bought some downtown. No matter." Ance was a stern patriarch, making most decisions for his family.
His own great-granddaddy had moved into that corner of Kentucky, way back before the country had been formed. Jonah Stinkfield’s friend and sometimes rival, Dada McChip, moved in at the same time, only across the creek in what was later to be Virginia. Both clans were farmers and moonshiners, not having much to do with the government. They prided themselves on taking care of their own troubles.
Later that night, Clem came back to Ance's shack.
"I done toll' ya, Pappy." He showed Ance a large metal pig-toe ring. "See? This here’s Sally's ring. I found it in the creek next ta a pile'a hog 'innerds. Poor Sally's kids done recognizes it."
Later, Ance went over to the McChip land to see for himself. Smelling pork, the skunk patriarch went to the chipmunk house and braced up his rival.
"No, sir, Ance. I ain't see'd yer pig," Daniel McChip told him.
"Then hows come I smell pork?"
"Ain't non'a your business what I puts on'a my dinner table. Now get'ta hell off my property," Daniel warned him.
Hearing several guns cocking, Ance left.
That was all it took to start another Stinkfield and McChip feud.
Sitting alone on a ceiling rafter, a smiling face giggled at the interchange while chewing on a pork chop.
Well, tempers flared high over the unexpected demise of poor Sally the sow. Every pig in the valley soon had an armed guard. Both sides took shots at the other across the dividing stream called "Hogwaller Creek."
The first fatality was Grandma Stinkfield, who was caught with her pantaloons down and bending over to relieve herself. Poor Grandma caught a musket slug right between the cheeks.
Rightfully incensed, little eight-year-old Polly Stinkfield snuck across the Hogwaller that night, carrying a .22 cal pistol, and shot up both of the chipmunk's mules. The sweet tyke killed one and they had to put the other in a psychiatric hospital in Covington.
Perhaps the worse casualty was to a budding love affair between Manny Stinkfield and Julie McChip. A few nights after the feud started, Manny made his way across the creek to meet Julie behind an outside toilet at the rear of her home. Since it was a very old crapper -- the hole overflowing at the rear -- no guards were thought to be required in the swamp behind that particular shack.
"Manny, baby," Julie cried, hugging her boyfriend. "I don't know what to do. It's so confusing."
Indeed, it was very confounding for pretty Julie, especially since her daddy, Randy, had promised her a brand new store-boughten dress if she shot Manny. Julie was caught between love and style. It was a difficult choice for a woman -- but love won out.
"Sweety Pie," he whispered, kissing her while standing in offal and holding his tail above the stinking morass, "I does wish we had us some place ta sit down an talk a bit." Manny only had one thing on his mind, that being under a certain chipmunk tail.
"I don't know, really don't know, what happened to that poor sow," Julie sobbed, removing his groping hand, "We din't eat her. I'd never eat your Sally."
"Don't go a talkin' politics, honey," he replied, then asked, "An I done thought you called that thing 'Little Manny', not 'Sally'?"
"Maybe we can sneak away up by the old sawmill tomorrow night?" She grinned, tangling whiskers with him. "We can have privacy there. The menfolk are afraid of the place. You know, it being haunted and all?"
So, after the two agreed to meet at the sawmill, both frustrated lovers plodded through chipmunk droppings, leaving in opposite directions.
At the old sawmill, a group of foreigners from the north -- new to the valley -- sat on the third-floor while keeping a lookout for locals. They had finished eating poor Sally Sow, and were engaged in picking their teeth with her finger bones.
"Burp," one said, seconded by several others and causing them all to giggle.
It being harvest time for corn crops, matters were quiet for several days. Feuds were one thing but corn was another, and there couldn't be no corn-liqueur without corn.
Junior McChip happened to be out in the cornfield, walking behind a mule. The beast pulled a wheeled platform -- knocking cornstalks down -- while Junior and a couple other chipmunks reached down to pick the ears from flattened stalks. They were helped by forks underneath the platform, combing the corn loose. Cause’a needing both paws for the job, Junior had leaned his musket against a tree.
Since the breeze was coming from the creek and they knew they could smell their enemies coming, they weren't worried too much about skunk interference. Ezekiel McChip dozed in the bushes, his turn to stand guard.
None of them noticed when a paw reached over, pulling Junior's musket into the brush. Nor did they hear a giggling foreigner run away with the gun.
A few hours later, Mary Stinkfield, who was shucking corn for the skunk still, was shot down by a musket ball. The poor girl fell into soft corn shucks and bled her life away. The unknown assassin then fired a half-dozen more rounds, those made up of nails and stones. Like a more modern shotgun would have, the fired debris tore the Stinkfield still apart, coils blasted from perforated wooden barrels.
Afterward, another intruder ran in to steal a couple of jugs of homemade whiskey before vanishing into the woods -- giggles fading behind him.
"It was at air' Junior McChip," Clem exclaimed, digging a silver-coated ball out of a wall of the shack. It was the one that had killed his sister.
"how'a hell ya know that?" Ance asked while inspecting his broken still.
"Junior McChip. He's a one at’s scared'a vampires. He puts at silver on alla his balls," Clem called out, tears in his eyes over the loss of the still. He had plenty of sisters, but only one still.
It was easier and cheaper to make a new sister. Since they didn't trust outsiders, most of the production of Stinkfields was kept within the family.
"All his balls?" Ten-year-old Jingle laughed. He was called that because something was loose in his punkin' head, making it jingle when he moved it.
"Yep. 'Alla 'um," Clem assured his little brother.
As a consequence, more guards were put on the creek, meaning fewer to work on the corn crop.
Clem did make a quick trip across the water, which was hard for him -- his being afraid to get wet and all. He took along a couple sticks of dynamite and blew up the chipmunk's toilet. The loss of the shit-shack wasn't much of a deterrent, since there were trees and bushes around. What hurt the chipmunks was the rain of formerly swampy ground covering the house and yard with a layer of old and new crap.
Grandma McChip had asthma and the smell put her to bed, gasping. She was given a pistol and stationed down by the creek where the air was better. Grandma was very anxious to shoot a Stinkfield -- or any skunk, Stinkfield or not.
She was too sick, by far, to notice a giggling stranger up in a tree.
Manny arrived at the sawmill first. He lugged a jug of moon with him, along with a blanket-roll. The skunk was anticipating a pleasant evening with his girl.
Going inside the unstable structure, he brushed dust off a platform formerly used as a saw table and -- whistling a love song -- spread blankets on old boards. Sitting down, musket at his side, he uncapped the jug and waited for his love to arrive.
As the sun went down, Manny dozed off in the darkened and dusty room, unaware of activity on the third-floor of the structure. Hungover from stolen whiskey, the foreigners were stirring awake. They had another provoking foray planned for that night.
Meanwhile, Julie -- finally finished shucking corn for the day -- put on her best dress and snuck out of the house. Of course she took a pistol with her. She was lovesick, not stupid.
Manny, sitting in a corner, heard noises upstairs. The sounds of a foreign language interspersed with half-suppressed giggling met sensitive ears. Reaching for his weapon, he braced himself. His heart beat ever faster as the sounds became ever louder. Manny fully expected a crowd of armed chipmunks to come clomping down the stairs at him. Paws shaking, he braced the single-shot musket’s barrel on a nearby railing and waited.
He was surprised when he saw a half-dozen large rats emerging below the second floor. He saw only one musket -- recognizing it as Junior's by the silver-plated barrel. Seeing the weapon, he drew in a struggling breath and squeezed his trigger -- blasting the musket bearer apart. Junior's musket clattered down the steps. With frightened squeals, the rats disappeared back onto an upper floor. Manny could hear them running around up there, squeaking in fear.
Hearing musket fire, Julie hurried while holding her dress up with one paw and the pistol in the other. She realized the sound had come from the sawmill.
The female chipmunk wasn't the only one to notice. Both Stinkfield and McChip guards had heard the sound. Each side thinking they were under attack, they all came running.
The decrepit sawmill sat astride Hogwaller Creek. It had been formerly run by both families, before it threatened to fall apart on them. Everyone converged on the sound of the shot.
Being closest, Julie ran into the building, skirts flapping and gun waving. She feared someone had shot her lover. The girl chipmunk found Manny shaking in fear and holding his unloaded musket by its barrel. In his amorous mood, he had forgotten to bring spare gunpowder with him.
"Oh! Thank God. You're all right," Julie exclaimed, hugging Manny tightly, pistol forgotten. About that time, a couple of rats, watching through loose slats in the floor above, started down with clubs in their hands.
Julie, still consoling Manny, casually raised her pistol and fired two balls at the rats, hitting one in the side and causing the other to scurry back to shelter. The wounded rodent lay on the floor, whimpering in fear as the room filled with angry chipmunks and skunks.
The families made short work of the remaining vermin, the one on the floor being trampled to death as they stormed up the stairs to capture six more of the creatures.
"You done be a hero, Manny." Old Randy McChip patted the skunk on the back and ignored Julie -- who was content to let her boyfriend get the credit. It wouldn't be ladylike for her to admit shooting an unarmed rat.
"You sure is a hero, my boy," Ance Stinkfield shook his son's paw. "Now we's can end this here stupid feudin'."
They questioned the rats as to what they were doing.
"We came from Cincinnati, Ahia," one of the rodents told them. "The cops were after us and we figured to drive you people out and take over your crops and land," he said, "by getting you to kill each other."
"Yeah? Din't do ya much good, did it?" Ance asked, then added, looking at old Randy McChip, "Now what we gonna do with these 'bastads?"
"I tells ya what, Ance. Both my mules either done died on me or gone nuts. I can sure use those ‘bastads."
The rats were soon pulling plows and other farm equipment, taking the place of mules. They were chained up at night and fed leftovers.
Nobody at all resisted Manny and Julie's marriage, it being the largest party the valley had seen in many a year. Course, though, Junior McChip got into a fight with Bubba Stinkfield and accidentally killed him, causing another feud.
But that's another story. And see? I CAN have the rats lose in a story. Not all rats are as handsome, heroic, and modest as I am.
by Oscar Rat. The famous and modest rat writer.