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The Law of Nature

Late last night found me in my car, driving home tired and bleary-eyed. The familiar glow of the Burger King sign beckoned to me from the interstate, promising soda that would push off sleep for a few miles more. The exit was an inky black stillness, unbroken by street lamps or headlights. An inebriated woman attempted nonchalance while stumbling through the parking lot as I eased into the drive through lane.

The voice was gently tired as it took my simple order. I found myself speaking in hushed tones as if a normal voice would break the peace of the evening. I moved slowly around the corner and stopped at the window, frosted from the war between the frigid air inside and the sticky humidity of the night air. Waiting to complete our transaction, I heard a noise and looked through my open window to the parking lot on my right. On its haunches, right paw raised in the air, a high five left hanging, sat a raccoon, surrounded by six of its brothers and sisters. The bandits chittered amongst themselves almost silently, moving slowly in some predetermined maneuver.

As if she were retracing her steps before misplacing her car, the intoxicated woman walked around the corner of the drive-through lane, stopping at the first closed window. In her late forties, wearing a short white skirt and a tight white leather jacket, her blond hair glowing in the fluorescent light, she was at sea, wobbling side to side as her own private yacht pitched from port to starboard.

Confused by her own reflection, she stared into the window, oblivious to my eyes on her through my rear view mirror. Oblivious to the 14 sparkling eyes observing her from the darkness. Timidly at first, gaining temerity with every step, the largest raccoon approached the woman. The others followed suit, looking side to side as they planned their assault. Even with her senses fogged and dulled, the woman felt them approach. She turned and stared quietly, while I watched her eyes shift back into focus at the ringed creatures before her.

Mere steps away, the leader sat and looked at her. It showed no fear or aggression, merely curiosity. A subtle nod of its head encouraged more of its brethren to join it. The woman looked around nervously, still unsure if her eyes were telling her the truth. Deciding to hope for the best and plan for the worst, she accepted her situation at face value. This was no fevered dream or hallucination.

“Gidoutaheah” her slurred words were clumsy and heavy, breaking the silence instantly. Like a bear, she raised her arms and kicked her feet, acting as Frankenstein in the sixth grade play. The bandits laughed at her and danced out of reach, their teeth baring as they sparred with her shadows.

The hissing and growling gave her pause. Maybe she wasn’t able to defend herself from these creatures, if they even existed. Sensing her confusion and concern, they created a half circle around her and inched closer. For a single second, she and I made eye contact and I envisioned her imminent attack. Raccoons snarling and biting as they bit into her flesh while she stumbled and fell to the concrete. I put my hand on the door handle when she gave in. Belying the amount of alcohol coursing through her veins, the woman sprinted around the corner, obscenities spraying out of her mouth like spittle.

The raccoons slinked backwards, becoming part of the inky backdrop, betrayed only by their shiny eyes, glinting with the tiniest hint of triumph.

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55 Replies to “The Law of Nature”

  1. Nenette

    I’m sick and a lot on the cranky side, but I too was hoping the skank would get bitten. So, I declare it not wrong.

    Great story. I was totally in the moment. I wonder if I could get the same feel telling the story of my husband yelling “Raccoons!!!” out of our tent in the middle of the night to scare them out of our campsite.
    No, I don’t think so.

  2. B.E. Earl

    Raccoons do creepy human things with their hands/paws/claws.

    No way in Hell I’m getting out of the car to help someone being attacked by a pack of them.

    Although I have held young raccoons in my hand and fed them from a bottle. They are kinda sweet when they are young. And I knew a guy who kept one as a pet. It lived on his boat and it would follow him all over the marina. His boat smelled like raccoon shit, though. And the little fella got into everything. It’s the creepy human-like hands/paws/claws, ya see.

  3. Haley-O (Cheaty)

    That was some awesome writing. I knew you had it in you. I mean, the “acting as Frankenstein in the sixth grade play” metaphore? Brillers.

    From the sounds of it, I, however, would sooner let a raccoon in my car than that the woman – or at least her white leather jacket?! But, I love raccoons…. they’re cewt.

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