The Beastie

You know there's something just a tad on the odd side when you get home from teaching a late class at the law school, walk in the back door, and all of a sudden find trash all over the kitchen floor, the water dish overturned onto the floor and the male cat with his fur frizzed up to about three times his size.

You REALLY know there's something just a tad on the odd side when you walk into the living room, and stuff that had been in boxes or on tables is now all over the floor.

You really REALLY know there's something just a tad on the odd side when you catch a movement out of the corner of your eye, and it is quite clear that whatever is moving is NOT a small white cat.

All I could see at first was that it was larger than the cats and dark in color. My first thought was that no matter how many mice there might be in the house, there is no mouse that's THAT big. My second thought was that if a skunk was inside the house, I was simply going to move. I walked slowly over to the front door and flipped on the light.

And there, on the stairs to the second floor, with one of the cats' toys in his jaws, he sat. Big and bold as brass and not even one little bitty bit afraid of me. Thick brown coat. Striped tail. And the bandit mask.

Yep. I'd been invaded by a raccoon.

Now it's 11 o'clock at night. I've been on the go for 14-15 hours. I'm tired. I haven't eaten. The cats need to be fed. I do not need this. I'll bet the little beastie isn't going to pay rent or anything.

I head towards the stairs. He backs up the stairs. I start up the stairs. He retreats into the computer room. I calmly back him up a few more steps, flip on the light (don't want him crashing around in the dark), and close the door.

Downstairs. Call the cops: "Do we have an animal control officer here in town?" When the dispatcher stops laughing at the idea of a raccoon in my computer room, she promises to have somebody call me.

A few minutes later the phone rings. "Uh, I'm not the regular animal control officer for your town," he says. "And if I come over there, I'll have to charge you."

Yeah. Right. Like I'm going to spend the night with a raccoon in my computer room. "How did he get in?" he asks. How should I know? I wasn't there, and there aren't any doors or windows or...

Uh oh. There's that old window air conditioner in the computer room where the side panels are out and I basically just taped some plastic over it and...

"Just a minute." I put the animal control guy on hold.

I gently open the door. The beastie is sitting there on top of the radiator cover. He's still not afraid of me. And, sure enough, one edge of the plastic I taped over the window opening has been pried up.

"Well, I figured out how he got in," I tell the guy. "But he doesn't seem inclined to go out that way."

"Make some noise," he says.

I make some noise.

The raccoon yawns.

"Throw something at him," the guy says.

I throw a book at the raccoon. I miss. He hisses at me. I throw another book. I connect. The raccoon hisses again and moves, oh, about a half inch. At this rate, I'll run out of books and the raccoon might move to the far end of the radiator cover.

"How about a broom?"

A broom! I probably don't OWN a broom. But I have a dust mop. I advance on the computer room, dust mop in hand. I approach the beastie with the dust mop. The beastie doesn't move. I start nudging the beastie with the dust mop. The beastie doesn't move. I nudge harder. The beastie pops his head through the hole in the plastic. I nudge harder. The beastie moves his butt through the hole in the plastic. I pull the dust mop back. The beastie starts back into the house through the hole in the plastic. I plug the hole with the dust mop.

"He's out," I tell the animal control guy. "I'll figure out how to keep him out."

I spend the next half hour taking the air conditioner out of the window and closing it tightly, then cleaning up after the raccoon. Have you got any idea how much damage a raccoon can do? Can you imagine cleaning up a bathroom after a raccoon has washed the bathroom trash in the toilet bowl? Or a kitchen after all the kitchen trash has been washed in the cats' water bowl?

I think I'll go to bed now. That is, if I don't need to change the sheets after the raccoon...

And tomorrow the township will probably send me a bill for animal control.

-- September 29, 1999, 11:44 p.m.

curve bar curve