WARNING: May contain naughty language.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bold Possums

I've got a pretty big backyard with a single, enormous tree towering overhead. Its a beautiful silver maple at least eighty years old. The price I pay each year for that tree is picking up the tons of leaves it drops every Fall. On a good day I can get it done in about 90 minutes, knowing full well I'll be back at it again the following weekend.

I was putting the last bag of leaves into my ramshackle tool shed in the back corner of the yard when I heard a loud hissing sound underfoot. Well, I jumped at least three feet in the air and looked around for whatever snake I'd almost stepped on.


I heard it again. The sound was coming from under the shed. I dropped down and peered underneath the tiny building. It was dark and shadowy but there was definitely something in there.

I grabbed a flashlight from the shed and looked once more, waving the beam around. A single yellow-pink eye glared at me. I could just make out the hairless pink tail and matted greyish white fur of my unwanted guest.
WAY better looking than the one under my shed.

Great. Possums. This happened last year, too. I guess the bottom of my tool shed makes a great hideout.

No wonder our dog, Juno, was going crazy every time we let her out in the backyard for the past couple of days. Not that she'd know what to do if she ever caught one.

The hissing continued with greater volume and I'm not going to lie. I was a little creeped out.

Last year the animal had just moved on and I figured there wasn't any need to mess with it. Just warn the kids about it and keep a close eye on the dog.

The shape started moving towards me, a slow ungainly swagger like a drunken sailor.  It was absolutely silent. Possums are nocturnal so I guessed there wasn't much of a chance it would come into the light.

I was wrong. Man, that thing was NASTY looking!

Not the most attractive of animals on their best days, this specimen had apparently picked a fight with something a lot bigger and meaner than itself. Pus and crusted yellow scabs covered its face and I swear one eye was completely gone, just an empty socket. The thing was literally pulling itself forward on two broken limbs and it looked like half its tail had been gnawed off.

I screamed (yes, screamed like a six-year old girl) and dashed back to the safety of my patio. Thank God that the beast retreated back into the darkness under the shed.

"Problems, Chris?" came a voice from over the fence. To add further insult, my neighbor, Mr. MacGregor had seen the whole thing. He was an okay guy for a neighbor. About seventy or so with tufts of white hair sticking everywhere. His face was lined with wrinkles and he had a perpetual tan from spending every spare minute working on his yard in his pajama pants and slippers. He was a former Marine and proud to let everybody know it. I always got the sense he rolled his eyes or snorted with disgust when he watched my amateur efforts at lawn care.

"Oh. Hi, Joe. Just a possum under the shed again."

He nodded and gave me that look of faint disdain with a touch of amusement.

"You know, Chris, they might have rabies or something. Not safe for the kids. Wanna borrow my .22 and take em down? Got some rat poison, too."

"Naw. Thanks, though. He'll probably just move along when he feels like it.

He nodded once more and turned his attention back to pruning his flowers.

Sometimes I really HATE being in the suburbs!

(Look for Part 2 on Friday, October 5th!)

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