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Deep in the Raccon Barrio (Groundhog day Reprint)

Very busy right now, so for those of you who weren't around here this time last year, my groundhog day entry from 2003.

Smiles everyone!


The groundhog didn't see his shadow.

Someone needs to buy that furry little rodent a pair of glasses, or better yet, spring for lazac-surgery fur cryin' out loud. I mean c'mon! If we all chipped in it couldn't come to more than . . . well, HMO's being the way they are . . . five hundred a piece or so.

I'm just so tired of winter already that my mind is wandering toward spring and sun and camping! Yes! Camping!

You know, that reminds me of a story:

So my wife--my lovely Princess--and I like to camp. We normally spend at least a few weekends every year out camping, either with the S.C.A. or on our own, but it's nice to get out and enjoy, you know? So a couple of years back we decided to splurge and get ourselves a new tent, a really big mother, and so, new tent in trunk, we trapsed off into the wilderness of Bellingham to break it in, so-to-speak.

Well, we're camping in a state park campground--you know the drill: indoor toilets, concession stand, concierge . . .you know, roughing it--and we're grilling up a few Johnsonville's Brats (tm) (and thank you to the Johnsonville's people for their donation for that tiny little ad placement) and enjoying a night out under the stars . . .

Ah . . .(Smug grins of satisfaction, deep breaths of the night air, that sort'a thing.)

When allofasudden, my Princess freezes, her eyes wide in terror. Well, being the big strong man, I immediately jump behind her.

No. Not really.

I turned around to see what could possibly terrify my lovely wife so, and lo and behold, eight little sets of red, glowing, beady, malevolent, purposeful, nasty eyes greeted my wordy, redundant self.

Once I ruled out gremlins, I calmed down. I stepped closer, closer until I could make out the owners of those narrowed slits of hellfire.

Raccoons. Eight of 'em. Staring right at me.

Now just wait a friggin' moment there, okay? I know raccoons are all cute and cuddly-looking and the little scroungers of the animal kingdom and all that jazz, but folks, that's when they're on television and not staring at you from five feet away.

From five feet away, they're furry little death machines. Their beady eyes glare at you from behind Hamburgler (tm) (that was a freebie) masks and they've got dirty hypodermic needles for claws and shit, they're MEAN lookin'.

"So," the one in charge says. I assume he was the one in charge, anyway. You never can tell with raccoon gangs. "You gonna hook us up with some a'dem brats, man?"

I backed away slowly. Catherine clutched to the back of my shirt.

"C'mon man. What ch'you need all 'dem brats for? Ain'tch you fat enough already?"

Well, I can handle evil raccoons. I can handle evil, hungry raccoons. I can even handle evil, hungry, TALKING raccoons. But I can not stand rude animals of any kind.

"Hey," I said, "nobody calls me fat and gets away with it!"

I think they chuckled. It was hard to tell. I wasn't that familiar with Raccoon.

"Yeah, right. What'choo gonna do about it?" The leader asked.

"Well . . .well . . .well . . ." I said bravely. I just stood there, deflated, lost, unsure just what I was going to do.

Then my Princess saved me. "Grab a stick from the fire and scare them off with it!"

Yeah! What a great idea! Visions of Indiana Jones waving off an army of vipers leapt into my head. John Williams' score swelled from the woods around me. I snatched a piece of wood from the fire and thrust it toward the invading raccoons.

A sliver of flame danced at the tip of the stick, then, pffft.

I'm pretty sure the Raccons laughed again.

"Ooooh. Mighty fuckin' hunter," the leader said. "Now knock it off and gimme some meat."

But I wouldn't be deterred. I stomped my foot and yelled. I reached out to my sides, making myself as big as possible and yelled again. I waved the smoldering stick at them some more.

"Would ch'you getta load of this guy?" The leader said. "Okay, fine. You keep your stinkin' brats, you crazy fucking human."

And with that, they stumbled off, into the night.

In a way, I still feel guilty. What other poor innocent victims did that rabid gang of raccons terrorize that evening? Had I stopped them, I might have saved someone else the traumatic victimization of the feral raccoon gang.

But then again, the brats were mighty tasty.

You know what? Leave the groundhog's eyesight alone. Six more weeks of winter doesn't sound too bad after all.

Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.

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