Driving through driving rain out of Mansfield towards Jamieson on Saturday afternoon, I was forced to veer out of the way of some sort of slow moving animal life form nonchalantly crossing the road. Realising it was a member of the usually fairly innocuous turtle family, I swung the car around and pulled over next to it, in order to help it avoid an untimely and messy demise at the hands and tyres of a speeding fool in a pick-up.
I hurried over to the turtle - an Eastern Snake-Necked Turtle as it turns out - as it quietly removed its head, legs and tail from view by, as you might've guessed, withdrawing into its shell. I picked it up, peered inside (noticing it had closed its eyes in a clever attempt to overcome the perceived danger), and placed it in long grass as far from the road as I could without scaling the fence of the adjacent farm. As I began walking back to where I'd parked, somewhat satisfied with the outcome, I became increasingly aware of a terrible smell, which seemed to gain intensity as I approached the car.
"What the fuck is that smell?" asked the Missus as I seated myself in the car.
"I don't know," I confessed, wondering where it was coming from.
"Oh Jesus Christ, that's disgusting!"
"What is that smell?" asked the kid, screwing up his nose in the back seat. "That's disgusting!"
"I know! I don't know what it is!" I protested, bringing my hands to my nose in order to sniff them, on the increasing suspicion that the smell was somehow related to the turtle.
"Oh Jesus Christ!" I screamed, aghast. "It's all over my hands! It was the fucking turtle!"
"Oh, that little fucker! He must've crawled through sewerage or something."
"Well you can't stay in the car like that!"
I jumped out of the car and wiped my hands on the long wet grass by the side of the road. Predictably, it achieved nothing. So I was politely asked to ride in the car with my hands protruding from the front window which made it pretty difficult to drive. Once we reached our destination it took several hours of scrubbing with various soaps, detergents and antiseptics to rid myself of that diabolical odour.
Once I was satisfied I no longer smelled like a bucket of shit, piss and vomit that had been left in the sun for 6 months and had been infested with filthy blowfly maggots and trillions of maladorous bacteria, I did some quick research into the turtle. Here's an extract from Wikipedia:
When it feels threatened, this turtle (the Eastern or Common Snake-Necked Turtle) will emit an offensive smelling fluid from its musk glands. This trait gives the turtle one of its other common names, "stinker."
Here's Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck with Heaven Can Wait: