Today I am finding someone with a shotgun. That shouldn't be too hard here. Today we're going coon hunting. My dog---by the way, the son of hunt champions who once upon a time was hunt trained (albeit for geese, not coons)---is in.
I'm heading to the military surplus store for cammo and ammo and anything I need to succeed, because after last night...Romeo Raccoon Must Die!
In case you missed our raccoon history:
Part 1---Rocky Raccoon Horror Picture Show
Part 2---Over the Hedge- A Declaration of War
Set: Our house, 11 p.m. or so, most of the house is dark, shut down for the night. Jon and I are working at the computers in the office. Kids are upstairs sleeping. Dog is lying asleep on the rug beside my desk chair.
Enter: Two cats, meowily complaining.
Julie: Hey did you feed the cats their dinner?
Jon: Not yet. It's on the list.
Cats escalate, jumping onto desk and swatting at typing fingers. Dog gets agitated, starts rustling about.
Julie: Okay I think the time is now.
Dog suddenly flies---all 110 lbs of him---into the air, accompanied by the cats. All are making tremendous noise, all have their fur standing on end.
Julie: HOLY MOTHER MA....
Jon: QUIET! Everyone QUIET!
The animals, still mid-air are making cartoon running motions with their paws, when they gain ground they shoot out of the office to the kitchen and through it to the utility room.
Jon: DAMN RACCOON!
We don't even ask a question anymore. All ills are blamed on the raccoon. A tree falls? Must be Romeo's fault. Dog barks? Romeo's fault.
The dog is making his growly-barky bark a la, "I will eat you for dinner, spit you out and eat you again for breakfast you ring tailed rodent!"
This means it is not a hypothetical raccoon but that, in fact, our perimeter has been breached.
Julie: You locked the cat door, right?
Jon: NOT YET! It's ON THE LIST.
Julie: You realize what this means.
Jon: The raccoon got in, but it's quieting down so clearly he values his hide and got right back out again.
Julie: Probably. For now.
We brace for the fall out. Sure enough, one second later Persistence is at the top of the stairs pant sobbing in panic.
Persistence: Doggie BAWK! Wake-a me UP! Scared-a me!
(I liken this to when the phone rings in the middle of the night and gives me a heart attack and adrenaline rush that takes an hour to calm down.)
In some order that I no longer recall we settle Patience, do a house check, lock the cat door and all go to bed. Persistence, after some exhausting negotiation, has assumed the guest couch sleeping position in our room.
Beyond tired, our eyelids droop and we pass out...
Only to awaken a half an hour later to deranged dog madly barking frenetically as he races down the stairs.
Julie: Please tell me you locked the cat door.
Jon: I did! he must just be trying to get in again. Maybe he's starving after all the rain.
Julie: That's unlikely. He's emptied our trash out twice every week the last month. Oh yeah and lots of critters have drowned or surfaced creating a rampant food supply.
(This is my theory of the plethora of diverse wildlife that has visited our yard. Either that or they have been looking for an ark. Haven't we all down here lately.)
Jon: Let's just go to sleep.
Off and on every half hour to hour the same scene is re-enacted. At 3:30 a.m. Jon shuts our bedroom door. At 4:00 a.m. the dog---having witnessed my door breaking down scene of last week---is hurtling his entire body as hard as he can at our door to Get Out Now!
Persistence is panicked crying, there is cat cacophony outside the door, Jon and I are discussing what to do in this matter like completely rational people with no sleep who are under attack by a raccoon all night (aka yelling, disorganized, slightly panicked).
Jon flings open the door...
and this is where it gets really interesting...
I'm right behind him...
and staring at us, practically eyeball level...
is ROMEO RACCOON!
His fur is puffed, his eyes narrowed, and he is clinging on top of the stair railing for dear life, literally.
He stares at us. Our appearance is the final insult in his battle with our pets to gain control of our home for his own personal use. So, with one paw, he reaches out and swipes at my husband while hissing and lunging in all directions at once.
Jon slams door.
Jon: Holy shit.
Julie: Holy shit.
Persistence: 'Oly thit. What HAPPENED?
Jon: Oh my God, there's a raccoon UPSTAIRS outside our bedroom door!
Julie: Oh my God for real. I thought this was some sleep-deprived hallucination. I hoped it was anyway.
Jon: I have to be at a construction site to oversee building a school in three hours. There cannot be a raccoon outside this door.
Julie: Where's the phone...I need to phone. We need experts. This raccoon must die.
Jon: I'm not calling for help. I can deal with this myself.
Jon exits stage left, to his closet. I grab the phone and begin frantically calling agency after agency who all dumbly say, "Umm whaaaa? A raccoon? That's like...not our problem." I---recent near-jail experience fresh in mind---refrain from telling the police all the interesting ways they can go...errr...perform unnatural sex acts and...ummm...a few suggestions of location for aforementioned unnatural sex acts.
Just as I give up, Jon re-enters. He is wearing multiple layers of clothing, cleats, and carrying two laundry baskets and a broom.
He stands at the door and salutes me with the broom. He only lacks his hard-hat, as it is downstairs, and his work boots (also downstairs; read---inaccessible due to perimeter invasion by raccoon) to complete the picture of construction worker gone crazy.
Jon begins to open the door, apparently unaware the dog has taken this brief time to formulate his own attack plan. The dog rushes the door, barking. The raccoon lunges, hissing.
Jon: Can SOMEONE hold this dog back?!?
Julie: Yes SOMEONE can!
I grab the dog's collar, and attempt to out-strength him. With two hands and all my might, I try to keep him back from the door. He is so far past verbal commands it is not even funny.
Jon begins to open the door, and the dog drags me to the doorway. I use my knee to push his bum sideways while pulling as forcefully as I can to get him back. I accidentally step on his foot.
The dog leaps back, trampling my right foot. I yelp and hop, with this tiny bit of slack he lunges again for the door, Jon jumps back, trampling my left foot with twice the force of the dog and cleats.
Patience yells from behind her closed door across the house.
The dog freezes and Jon slams the door shut.
Jon: OH MY GOD, I'm sorry was that your foot!?!
Julie: AH! AH! AH! AH!
Jon: Was it, was it your foot?
Julie: Yes, past-tense appropriate after being crushed by a ton of cleat force!
The dog resumes his attempts to Get Romeo through the door.
Jon, cautiously this time, opens the door.
The raccoon is still at the top of the stairs, on the railing.
Jon leaps like a long jumper out the door, which he slams behind him. As it closes, I see the raccoon lunge. I hear a yell, then a curt command to Patience to keep her door closed and stay in her room, then hear Jon slam the rest of the upstairs doors closed.
Trapped in the room, I can only hear the growling, hissing, spitting, banging, yelling, thudding, and slamming. The rustle and thud of the broom on the stair side wall combined with the thumps of Jon hopping, accompanied by a swell of cat hissing and raccoon hiss-growling goes on and on for about twenty minutes.
I clutch Persistence. Persistence clutches me. Every other second she asks: What happened? Where's Dad? What happened?
Every other second I say: I don't know, shhhhhh.
I worry about Patience and struggle to hear something from her side through the din of the raccoon battle.
Suddenly, with one final bang of the front door, all goes silent.
Five minutes later, Jon returns to the room. Six eyes stare at him impatiently. He drops the two laundry baskets and broom.
Jon: It's done.
Julie: He's gone?!?
Jon: Yes, finally, out the front door.
Julie: Oh I thought you were going to say dead. I thought by gone you meant gone gone.
Jon: You wish!
Julie: Actually? Yes, I do.
Jon: Well it wasn't easy just to get him plain gone. Stupid thing fought like a gladiator. Can't he tell we're mightier?
Julie: He can't even tell we're rightier.
Jon (ignoring wit): I had the front door wide open and what does that obnoxious rodent do? Run out? No! He stays on the stairs and fights!
Julie: So how'd you get him out?
Jon: With the broom. My foot. And the laundry baskets.
Julie: (trying not to mentally picture this)
Jon: Then I finally get it downstairs and does he take the golden chance of escaping through the door? NO! He climbs the gate into the dining room, so then I had to fight him out of there.
Julie: That's it. He wants the house. Period. He's not ever going to give up. He must die.
Jon: Well, we won. He's out. Everything is locked up
Julie: For now! You know he'll be back. He just keeps getting more aggressive. Romeo must die!
Jon: How's your foot?
Julie: I'm not sure, it's swelling and bruising but not broken I think.
Jon: Did you put anything on it?
Julie: Like what? How? I'm trapped in here with an hysterical toddler and a deranged lab while World War Three: Man v Beast is going on on the stairs!
Jon: Oh, well he's gone. I can get some arnica and ice if you want.
Julie: Yeah, thanks.
So, at 5 a.m. my husband got ready and left for work, the kids snuggled in my bed to watch BooBah (WTF? Did kids' TV producers have some LSD trip?) and I tried really hard not to think of the day ahead with no sleep...
My energy sustaining tool is not coffee. It's revenge.
Romeo Raccoon must DIE!
copyright 2007 Julie Pippert