Gosh Dammit To Hell!  The contents of three overturned garbage cans were strewn from hell to breakfast, all over the driveway.  I couldn’t even get my car past the mess.  A half can of stewed tomatoes, moldy bread and cheese, syrup leaking across the cement. Plus twenty different other items mixed into a foul smelling brew.

    This was the last straw.  My three month war was going to close out with a resounding victory over the band I had dubbed, “The Rabid Raccoons from The Black Lagoon.”

    When my wife began looking for a new home, the realtor said she had an area that was ideal. We would feel we were in a forest with endless greenery – Giant Eucalyptus trees, Ficus spreading their branches, Mock Orange, Night Blooming Jasmine, Boston Ivy, Catalina Wild Cherries, on and on.  And there were various animal forms – hawks, owls, coyotes, peacocks, possums, and raccoons.  She forgot to mention ants, rattlesnakes, gophers, scorpions, centipedes, and spiders the size of a tire iron.  “How sweet,” my wife said, “All this flora and fauna surrounding us –it’s like The Garden Of Eden – I think I just saw a Morning Dove.  It’s a wonderland.”  “Oh yes, I agree,” I said turning away, “Since I married you I’ve learned to love all of God’s creatures.”  She punched me in the upper arm with all her might and said, “You’re such a terrible liar, good you’re not an attorney.”

    “Wonderland, wonderland, my grandmother’s rolling pin.”  It was the depths of beastly hell out there.  Got bitten by a black widow the first week.  Lost a cat (no big loss) to the coyotes the second, and watched a hawk make an attempt to carry off our dog Sam. Worse, I saw a rattlesnake the size of my forearm coiled in a corner of the property where I dared not go. I ordered “Snake Defender”, a nasty substance that smelled like mothballs – only available over the Internet.  Not wanting to get too close I threw it from fifty feet, toward the last spot where I had seen the viper.  Over the fence I could see the small pond everyone in the neighborhood called the “Black Lagoon.”

    And yes, there they were, those cute, furry, black masked, inquisitive, adorable rascals that everyone wanted as a pet.  But these were mutant raccoons with inch long teeth and inch and a half claws.  “Don’t worry about getting slashed,” said my neighbor,  “Worry about the thirty percent of raccoons that carry the rabies virus.”   There is even a special unit at the hospital to take care of people stupid enough to get bitten.

    Still they were so adorable, it was hard for my wife not to be attracted to them.  Our first encounter was the remains of one who had bitten the dust while crossing a road – sad, and oh so terrible, according to my wife.  “Part of the risk of being a night dweller,” I thought, chuckling to myself.

    My first raccoon encounter was a month later when I got up about 1:00 AM to see what the noise was.  There were three raccoons, one the size of a midget sumo wrestler – another mutant.  They were sitting on a table where the kitty kibbles resided.  As they turned and looked at me, I assumed that they would flee immediately.  Nope, didn’t happen.  They just kept dipping the cat food in the water dish, with an expression that said, “Come over and join us.”  “Scat,” I yelled.  No response, just a look of disdain and then back to the trough.  Armed with a broom handle, I advance slowed, brandishing it high in the air.  Eventually, the three got off the table and moseyed back to the dog door, looking once over their backs to see if I still meant business.  I could see the eyes of the big fat one and what he was thinking, “Hey stupid, if you are dumb enough to leave kibbles with an open dog door, what did you expect?”

    “Okay,” I thought, “I’ll just block the dog door with a board.”  Uh huh, board tossed away by those extremely dexterous paws, and it was on to the feast.  No problem, I’ll put a chair up against the opening, that will stop them.  Uh huh, two of them just reached through the dog door and pushed the chair away led by Jabba the Raccoon King.

    That was it; the dog would just have to hold it through the night.  I put a steel plate over the dog door and was very gratified to see just a few scratch marks around the frame where they tried forced entry.  “Now who’s stupid,” I thought.  Of course it did take me an extra fifteen minutes to unbolt the dog door in the morning.


    Their next assault was down our chimney, but the narrow flue stopped them.  I heard the racket, so I stoked up a blast furnace-sized fire with the intent to turn the whole tribe into cinders, but lickety-split they scrambled up and away.  I bolted a heavy metal screen over the chimney top just to make sure none of the bandits were tempted again.

    After a varmint war council of what to do next, they opted for the garbage cans, but I had outfoxed them this time.  The cans were of heavy plastic.  The lids turned in a half circle that tightened the more you turned. It would take a pipe wrench to pry them open.  The raccoons had no pipe wrenches but apparently they teamed up and torqued off the lids with mutant strength, tossing whatever they didn’t consume onto the driveway.  When I stated to yell at them, they just gave me a look of pity that said,  “Hey lunkhead, you’re not too smart, are you?”

    Okay, I’ll show the critters,” I thought, “I’ll tightened down the lids, then drill holes into the lids and sides of the cans and put spikes through the holes.”  Took them a week to figure it out, tipping the cans over, rolling them around, and finally pulling the spikes. Then they watched the breeze merrily scatter the non-eatable refuse all over the front yard.  To add insult to injury they carried off the spikes and even the can lids.

    Next effort was a pound and a half of Exlax tossed in the garbage.  They ate it down like candy, and then pooped piles, streaks, fans, and other designs on my front porch and driveway.  Despite scrubbing with bleach, muriatic acid and Ajax, the stains remained, deepening in color each day.

    What to do, what to do?  I ask relatives, friends, and even my spiritual leader.  I was sure the coons were a common irritation in our neighborhood.  Someone suggested putting bricks on the lids of the cans.  What a joke, the nocturnal nightmares just tossed them off.  I moved up to a cinder block with the same result.  Finally, staggering, I carried a ninety-pound bag of cement to our main can, chancing a second hernia – sure this would work.  Nope, those claws ripped open the paper cover of the bag; now I had cement all over the drive to deal with. This time, their look seemed to say, “Hey fool, once a loser, always a loser.”

    There was a chemical call “Raccoon Begone, that was guaranteed to rid the pests.  I put it out by the cans.  Not only did they “Not Begone”, but carried off the balls of chemicals, probably to eliminate other raccoons not in their tribe.

    I finally decided to poison the buggers, but couldn’t find any arsenic or cyanide poison on the Internet.  My wife also reminded me there was a $500 fine for killing a coon, and that she would turn me into the cops if I tried.  She also said I would “sleep with the fishes” if one raccoon died”.

    At my insistence “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed” contacted a Raccoon Relocation expert who said for $650 per varmint he would relocate our coons to a safe habitat somewhere in the wilderness.  My neighbor said that claim was total nonsense.  The guy would catch the raccoons and then wait a month or so before turning some of them loose at the same location, then waited for the call again.  Even my wife balked at the $650 per bandit.

    A neighbor also told me that four years ago he had gone down to the lagoon, emptied five gallons of gasoline and waited until it spread over the water.  He then tossed in a match, but managed to set his left leg on fire – and ended up rolling around in the mud to put himself out.  Next day his wife made him an appointment with a psychiatrist, claiming she knew he was bi-polar. Apparently at the first sign of fire the raccoons all went underwater and held their breath until the flames died down.

    Occasionally She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was gone in the evening to a writers group.  She was writing (along with ten million other women) a children’s book called,  “Betsy and the Magic Butterflies”.  Not being a fan of kids books, there were, however, a couple I would like to write – “Chomper the Cannibal Boy,” or maybe, “The Murder of Chucky Cheeze.”

    I decided that this was the night I would strike – if I could track the gang down.  I could always chuck the bodies on the road and cry out “there is a poor little raccoon that has been run over.”  It was time for world’s to collide, for my tectonic plate to override theirs, clash of the titans, Godzilla versus Megalon, mano a mano, serious gunfire – no more Mr. Nice Guy.

    I bought, at considerable cost, a pair of night vision binoculars.  “She” was at a late night religious meeting and now was my time to pounce. My old double-barreled Mossberg shotgun was the answer.  Went down and bought a box of twelve Gage double-aught buckshot.  Took a practice shot at a two inch branch in my own yard – cut through it nicely.  I got my night scope adjusted, looking through the surrounding trees.  I could see the crew – five masked critters high in the pepper trees on the edge of our lot, getting ready for the night’s skulduggery.  I sighted down on the biggest, but just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger – didn’t have it in me.  But I fired two shots, one high, one low, to try and scare hell out of them.  About the only damage I did was to sever a Catalina Cherry branch and blow a pretty good hole thru a shrub on my neighbor’s front lawn.

    Twenty minutes later I heard sirens down on the main road.  No big deal, anytime someone came up with a hangnail, they sent two police cars, a hook and ladder truck, and an ambulance, plus a social worker, gender protection councilor, psychiatrist, a captain from animal control, and an examiner from the County Coroner – remember, this is California.  But then the wailing got near; maybe they were all coming for me.  The left-wingers who live in my neighborhood had already turned me in for trying to catch gophers with a bear trap

    I turned off all the outside lights, put the shotgun in the garage and hoped for the best.  The best was a firm knock on the door with a nightstick.  I opened the door and met two grim faced officers of the law – didn’t look like they were here for jelly donuts.  “We’ve had reports from two of your neighbors that someone fired a weapon.”  “What could they possibly be shooting at, it’s a moonless night, can’t hardly see anything?” I said.  (I never lie but the truth is not for everyone.)  “Were you shooting at something?” said the tall cop.  “Why would I want to shoot at anything?” I said, practicing my devious brother-in-law/attorney’s advice of always answering a question with a question.

    “Do you have weapons on your property?”  “Wait a minute,” I said, “I’ve answered your questions, I’ve opened the door to my home, but as a member of the NRA (I’m not, but occasionally I’ve claimed to be one of the brotherhood) this is the point where I ask if you have a warrant.”  “We don’t, but we can get one,” said the smaller cop. “Then that is exactly what you should do; goodnight officers.”   Nothing ever came of our encounter, but I figured another blast could end me up in custody, plus a lifetime banishment to the couch by She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

    The coons were still running amok – attacking the garbage cans about every third night.  I could put the cans in the garage, but the odor seemed to creep into our cars and the buggers tried to scratch their way under the door, ruining the finish – and yes, occasionally I forgot to shut the garage door.

    While picking up the debris from the driveway after a full-on midnight raid, it came to me.  That night I put a small pile of kitty kibbles by the garbage cans and then a trail to my unlikable next-door neighbor’s cans – shaking a bunch inside.  Sure enough, no can offense the next night.  I found that if I put about two cups of kibbles next to my tree hugger neighbor’s garbage cans every third night, I was left alone.  Once in a while I left donuts and marshmallows just to be on good terms with my masked friends.   Besides, his wife really loved the little razor-fanged bandits, and I assumed my neighbor was current on his rabies vaccinations.


    Joseph Ollivier

    May, 2017

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