Monday, August 12, 2013

Kate Miller 36: The Raccoon Episode

Invaders in the night! Thieves! Scurrilous Scalawags! 

36. The Raccoon Episode (June 2013)
            Black masks entered the yard from all sides. It was dark, very dark. But that made no difference to them. They could see. They could smell. And the thick covering of night would hide their misdeeds.
            One of them snickered, “Hey Mac. What is this? A lily?” He knocked the pot over and dug the plant out.
            “Amaryllis. And, Dude! Enough with the flowers already.”
            “But I like flowers.” He munched on the leaves.
            “Do something useful for once and check out the trash.”
            Another mask piped up from a different part of the yard. “Hey Mac! Come check this out! What do you think it is?”
            Mac was the oldest of six siblings and took his responsibilities seriously. He ambled over the deck and found his brother holding a dilapidated black flip flop. “Mmm. That’s very nice, Sparky. It’s a shoe.” He grabbed it with his delicate hands and felt it, turned it over, and tasted it. “Not very tasty, but nice and squishy. Pack it up!”
            Soon, the light was beginning to dawn in the East, casting a hazy glow over the Miller’s backyard. “Roscoe! Brutus! Pack it up everybody, we’ve got to split.”
            “Awww, c’mon, Mac. We like it here.” But Roscoe and Brutus obediently gathered to their leader and carefully cleaned their paws and noses after digging in the dirt.
            “All right, all right. We’ll come back. But we’ve got to go now!”
            When Kate came downstairs, she yawned groggily and poured herself a cup of coffee. Then, as was her custom, she leaned over the edge of the cool granite countertop and gazed sleepily out at her backyard. Something was different…what was it?
            With a shock, she took in the devastation confronting her. She ran outside. Plants were dug up and dumped out of their pots. Huge holes were scattered all over her garden beds. Suspicious, muddy tracks decorated the porch. And…wait, where was her other flipflop? She couldn’t believe it! The little beggars had stolen her flip flop! Still in her pajamas, she set down her coffee on the patio table, grateful that that, at least, was too heavy and large to be carried away. She huffed and puffed and muttered and grumbled to herself as she hurriedly tried to replant and repot whatever she could salvage. Bending over was getting awkward. Her back was stiff and her legs were sore. “I’m getting too old for this sort of thing,” she complained to Mister.
            He grinned. “Don’t worry, dear. In another couple months, you’ll be young again.”
            That same night, Kate and Mister returned late and walked up the stairs to the kitchen without turning on the light. Mister saw a shadow, and whispered, “Kate, come here! It’s a raccoon!” Kate ran over to the sliding door. “Aww. It’s a baby raccoon! Well, maybe a teenager…oh my goodness!” she exclaimed, “There’s two, no three of them!”
            “There’s another!” Mister pointed over to the left fence.
            “And look, two more over there!” Kate pointed to the right. “Gosh they’re really cute.”
            Mister grinned and nodded. They looked down at the raccoons, several of which were scrunched up next to the door.
            “Hey Mac! It’s people!”
            “Don’t worry, they won’t get us. There’s a door in the way.”
            “Tzs-tzs-tzs” one of them chortled, “Look at that fat lady! She’s going to have baby coons! How many do you think she’ll have, Mac?”
            The raccoon looked Kate up and down. She held his gaze for a moment, and then he started to move off, herding his group toward a gap in the fence boards.
            “Well, there’s six of us,” Mac speculated. “I bet she’ll have a dozen at least!”
            The next morning, Mister found Kate outside, surveying the wide space between the fence boards that led from underneath their neighbor’s deck and into their yard. She shook her head. “We’d better put one of those paving bricks in front of it,” she suggested. Mister did as she asked, but looked sorrowful. “Do you think they’ll be trapped under there? What if they die?”
            Kate regarded him coolly. “They won’t be trapped,” she said with supreme confidence. She looked at him, wide-eyed, “You like them!” she said accusingly, but then changed her tone. “Well, I guess I like them too. But they do a lot of damage.”
            Mister sighed. “Yeah. But I like seeing the animals more than I care about your plants.”
            Kate gave him ‘the look’. “They stole my flip flop!"
            And that was the end of the matter. But deep down, (way deep down) Kate hoped that she would see the young raccoons again. 

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