Yes…I forgot about that.
You know you’re in Southern California when a racoon as big as a five-year old child awaits you in the bushes next to the short wall in front of your gate at one in the morning.
At first I was so petrified, I just didn’t know what that animal was. Big, grey, it was staring at me with its little eye-glass rimmed eyes, shiny with the thought of confrontation. I decided to stand my own ground, and swung my coiled Ethernet cable at him (yeah…I was walking home with a coiled Ethernet cable) thinking it would scare it off. It didn’t. The racoon simply inched its head forward and jerked up on its hind legs to look at me straight in the eyes, standing upright. It looked kind of like a boxer about to swing me one. I’m sure if it had an Ethernet cable it would have given me a taste of my own medicine.
Well, I just couldn’t walk next to the animal in those circumstances. I called up my brother, who’d just dropped me off, and I think my voice was sufficiently panicked for him not to want to question my idiocy. He came to my rescue with a mini baseball bat in his right hand and his digital camera in the left hand, so he could either swing the sucker or immortalize him. We ran through the gate, along the loooooong grey wooden palissade which borders the left of the thin concrete path that led to my apartment building, predictably the last one in that entire hugely long row.
I bid Nic goodnight and went in. I got a phone call one minute later from him, saying the racoon had jumped on top of the palissade and had run above his head while Nic was walking out. Jerk.
So every night when I come home, and I pass the little clearing beyond the short wall on my left, I look in the empty space between the shrubs where the racoon had stood, and always find it empty. Once I unlock the gate, I look at the long concrete path, and see the stairs leading up to our apartment at the very very end of that dark narrow path, I can always count on the porch light being off, as if I wasn’t nervous enough.
Then I pick up speed and run, half crouched, hoping the racoon isn’t going to show up above me, only to stop dead in my tracks because two possums, UGLY looking animals, are coming out of the plants that are to the right of the path towards me. So I stomp to scare them away, and they run, afraid, in the SAME direction as me! Slowing as they duck under each of the nine sets of stairs, and brushing past all the plants.
Sometimes, if the stars are aligned, the racoon will move above my head along the palissade through the bamboo plants, and I just think I’m the luckiest girl alive, as i run crouched, making a panicked beeline as far away from the racoon and the possums as I can on my little concrete path until I fumble with my keys in the pitch-black darkness.