Big Len's Raccoon

Big Len, our rotund neighbor to the west, found a raccoon nestled in his garbage bin yesterday morning. As he looked down at it, it looked up at him. (In fairness, it is possible that, as Big Len approached, said raccoon was already looking up at the inside of the bin’s lid. I couldn’t say for certain; I wasn’t there. You’d have to ask the raccoon—presuming it would offer a honest answer, that is; and presuming you could hire a competent translator of Raccoon-nese or Raccoon-ish; that is, presuming you aren’t such a translator yourself.) Big Len tossed his bulging Hefty bag into the bin anyways and slammed the lid down. He fixed the lid with a heavy shovel to thwart the raccoon’s escape. 

Then, yesterday afternoon, whilst strolling to and from the train station, Big Len told Pops that the raccoon was “too stuffed to move.” Sure, Big Len could’ve called up the animal control folks, but he figured they’d be off for the holiday. Fair enough. 

Why Big Len had to “secure” the raccoon within the bin in the first place, I didn’t ask. 

So anyways last night Pops gives me a holler from downstairs. He tells me Big Len wants my help to set the raccoon free. “Because they’re nocturnal,” says Pops. Never mind I’m already in my PJs and settled in. Never mind that, if they’re nocturnal, wouldn’t it be safer to set it free in the morning? Or maybe tomorrow afternoon? Pops tells me Big Len wants it out of his trash bin right now, this minute. I grumble and throw on a t-shirt and pair of jeans. Walking out the door, I say, “I want a million dollars if I get bit by a raccoon.” Pops shakes his newspaper flat. He says, “I got nothing to do with it.” 

I find Big Len in his brightly lit backyard holding the business end of a metal shovel over the unlidded trash bin. He doesn’t hear me walk up his driveway. This means I startle him when I say, “What’s up?” Since I’m a little quicker on my feet, I tell him to let me take care of it. He hands me the shovel and goes back into his house. He doesn’t say why or mention whether he’s coming back. 

Minutes later, he returns with a large, ragged sweater and a flashlight. I tell him it’s a bad idea. But his mind is set. He briefly shines the flashlight down into the trash bin. The raccoon is still in there, but Big Len figures it for dead. He wants me to take a look. No thanks. I know what raccoons look like. Has Big Len thought this through? Nope. But he’s gonna manage it anyways. In fairness, it’s his garbage can, his backyard, his “captive.” So, yeah, his problem. So: Plan A? Run. Ok but see if Big Len could run, he’d be Thin Len. Right? So, Plan B? Well. Say the racoon lunges at him. Big Len’ll catch and wrap it up in his old sweater. Maybe think of Big Len as some low-rent bullfighter. 

He hands me the flashlight and grabs one side of the garbage bin. I tell him roll it out to the far corner of his backyard. But no, Big Len dumps it right there, at the end of his patio. The tied end of the Hefty flops out. Big Len takes the flashlight and beams it into the bottom of the bin. As far as he can tell, the raccoon is buried in the rest of the trash at the bottom. Big Len figures if it isn’t dead, it’s dying. (If so, how thoughtful of the racoon. Right?) Big Len yanks the bin back up onto its wheels and rolls it down to the street-end of his driveway. After he “secures” the shovel to the lid again, he tells me he’ll leave a note on it for the trash collectors. 

Ok, so, what was I there for? Bait? 

Early this morning, when I plod out to grab Pops’s newspaper, I look across the lawn, over to the street-end of Big Len’s driveway. His garbage bin is knocked over onto its side, with trash spilled out of it. I’m guessing the raccoon was playing dead for us, but I don’t get close enough to investigate. I walk over and grab Big Len’s newspaper and drop it on his front stoop. I do this every day. I didn’t want to feel the need to clean up the mess. I wanted to pretend that I didn’t see it. 

Yeah, so, anyways, that’s how Pops got to keep his million. 

25 November 2006

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