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Thursday, March 1, 2012
The Raccoon - Satan's Little Minion
I am of the firm and unshakable belief that when the man approached the cage with murderous intent, he was quickly disarmed by the wily critter and shot twice for his efforts - a kind of Raccoon-Ninja surprise attack that undoubtedly took the would-be assassin by surprise. The article did not say so, but I am guessing the little masked bandit rifled through the gunman's pockets, found keys to the cage and set himself free. He probably urinated on the man on his way out.
We have all seen the Disney footage of the cute, cuddly raccoons diligently washing their food in the gentle flowing stream, using their little raccoon-hands almost like little doggish, furry people. Well, I am here to tell you as a living human witness that these documentaries are balderdash. Perhaps back in the old days, before human settlers got lazy and slovenly, but the image of the raccoon as a cute little forager with nimble fingers is certainly no more than idle bunkum now.
Because somewhere along the line, the raccoon has become a cute little nimble-fingered minion of Satan.
Being a child of the desert, I had never had much occasion to deal with the raccoon. That changed dramatically when I moved to a suburb north of Chicago, near the railroad tracks, next to a forest preserve. We would see bands of the masked marauders emerging from the forest at the evening's gloaming, looking and moving like four-legged zombies, making their way toward neighborhood garbage cans set out for collection, with little or no fear of human repercussion. They had learned where the easy food was to be gotten.
"What the???" I asked my brother in law, Kelly. We were sitting on the second-story back porch of my apartment enjoying a cold beverage the first evening I witnessed the invasion of the Procyon. "Coons," Kelly said. "They're like the vulture of the animal kingdom..." He took a sip from his beer. "Or the carp - scumbag bottom-feeders... And mean..." I watched, mouth agape, as the animals surrounded a garbage can and began working the bungee cords that held the lid on with their little dexterous fingers.
"It's a good thing we tie the lids down," I observed. "I wondered why we did that..." "It won't stop them," Kelly said. "It will only slow them down..."
Soon, we had purchased pellet guns to defend our frontier from the furry scavengers. We would sit on the porch and peck away at them and watch them jump. "Their fur is so thick that it's like me shooting a rubber band at you... Especially in that coat..." He pointed at my lavender parka. Apparently, what I thought was dashing ski-wear was actually a ladies' coat that had been on the wrong rack at the T.J. MAX. "They barely feel it," he finished, shaking his head at the coat for the 9000th time. I frowned. "Then why are we bothering to shoot at them?" I asked. Kelly shrugged and sighted in a large coon trying to tip over my garbage can. "You got something better to do?" PLINK! The coon shrugged and backed away from the can, somehow associating the sting of the pellet to the action of tipping the can.
We soon became disenchanted with shooting at the invaders with BB guns - it was like "Night of the Living Dead" - they just kept coming and coming, in thick-skinned, ring-tailed waves - had we been under attack instead of our garbage, I am nearly certain we would have been devoured in our first days of inhabitation. We gave up shooting at the coons at dusk in favor of picking up the torn and ravaged garbage littering the alley at dawn. It was like a Filthy, Stinky Circle of Life.
One night that winter, after a snowfall, I made my way up the back stairs to the porch after work and was surprised by the sight of one of the sneaky critters staring at me from the corner of my porch, next to the garbage can I had set out in order to take down to the alley the next day, before collection. I shrieked and the thing stood on its hind legs, hissing at me, the agile little hands raised high, claws bared for attack. I dropped my keys into the knee-high snow that had gathered on my porch during the evening and glanced quickly at the raccoon, who was beginning to advance toward me.
I shrieked again and plunged my hand into the snow, blindly searching for the keys that I had dropped. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sudden movement as I fished the keyring out of the drift. The beast, which was the size of a small Labrador, brushed my leg as it rushed past me and trundled down the stairs, making its high, hissing sound as it loped away. I thought I heard it say "I'll be back for you, fat-boy - and I will pluck your eyes out with my spooky little fingers as I eat your face off...." Everyone know that the eyes are a special treat...
I made it in the house safely. The front of my pants were wet - I blamed it on digging in the snow for my keys. I never went up the stairs at night without a three-iron in my hands after that - I would be damned if any beast of the night was going to pluck my eyeballs out with its little raccoon-hands without a proper beating with a three-iron first. The rest of my time in Morton Grove was without incident - the coons still came to feed and my neighbors and I left our garbage for them and cleaned up afterward as our own kind of sacrifice to the furry nocturnal scavengers. It was an uneasy treaty, and both sides trod lightly.
When I read the story of the man who came to shoot the caged raccoon, I could certainly understand his rage against the animal - at the same time, I could only shake my head at his naivety in approaching the sneaky beast in such a brazen manner. The cage had given the gunman a false sense of security and he had grown careless. I have seen such a thing in movies hundreds of times and it was his downfall. And now there is one more little minion of Satan back on the loose. God help us all...