It was a perfect night - still, cool, with a huge moon rising over the back ridge. After a crazy day, the serenity stung, stealing my breath away for a moment, making me stop my nonstop frenzy of minutiae and chatter to pause and admire.
We walked out to bask in the sweet stillness. Actually, I walked and the two dogs zigzagged after a rabbit, trumping my calm with calamity and ruining what was supposed to be a tepid, mushy bask of a blog post. Just once I'd like to skip the chaos and wallow in the mellow. Grrr.
Suddenly the dogs froze. At last, I thought, they get it. No need to run helter-skelter after bunnies. Relax, dammit.
Then something in the bushes moved. Something big. The bushes were just over my fenceline. Bushes were not allowed in my yard. Only their pricey cousins, the hedges, were permitted within my borders.
Josie the dog growled. Jake the dog hightailed it back into the house. (I will refrain from making the obvious analogy of male/female fight vs. flight tendencies.) Moving slowly, the fur standing up straight on her back, Josie approached the fenceline.
Suddenly an ungodly scream pierced the air. If you were to hit a Sasquatch with your car, perhaps in the process running over a sore bunion on his toe as your bumper caught him in the ribcage, that's what it would sound like. Horrific, high, and hideous. Even the fat, full moon scurried behind a cloud.
I had caught teenagers down there before, skipping school. This was no teenager. Not even a preening teenage prom queen could manage such a shriekfest.
Two glowing eyes peered out from the ragged wild of the bushes, the moonlight reflecting off them in a demonic glow. The thing shook the bushes, then screamed again. Louder, even, than the neighbor child who had rattled windows marketing his lemonade stand by screaming "LEMONADE!!!!" at seven o'clock on a sleepy Saturday morning. May he rest in peace. (No, he's not gone from this world, I just wish he'd sleep in a bit.)
From the doorway, Jake was whining. "Get in here," he seemed to say. "You're making me look bad!"
"Josie," I called, "Get inside. Now!" We ran for the safety of the house, sprinting from the patio that had suddenly turned into the devil's playground.
The screams continued behind us, bouncing off the far hills and stars. I spotted another set of eyes glinting in the sallow moonlight. So there were two of them. That I knew of. And, like many couples, they weren't happy.
I slammed and locked the patio door. Badly shaken, the three of us watched from behind the glass as the monsters screamed at each other. Safe in the house, Jake barked bravely. Josie and I rolled our eyes.
A third monster appeared, much bigger than the first two. It jumped from a tree, chasing the others, shrieking the entire time. All we could see were the eyes - fierce, angry, glowing.
After being married to a German, I do not scare easily. But these...things...were rattling my heartstrings. I couldn't stand it anymore. I grabbed a flashlight and went outside to investigate.
Yes, you're thinking - this is exactly what not to do, exactly what the soon-to-be-dead do in horror flicks. But I couldn't stand it any longer - I had to get a good look at the beasts.
My flashlight frightened them. They scuttled further back into the undergrowth. Furry, they waddled, wearing masks. Raccoons! I had never heard such an outcry. Perhaps, like mine, Madoff had made off with their 401k.
Coons are fierce, bad-ass animals. As a kid, I remember them tearing up our cornfields, in blatant disregard of my dad and his shotgun. To them, beating up dogs was child's play. In the animal 'hood, they were the equivalent of the Rollin' 60 Crips.
However, once I knew what I was dealing with, I could plan my defensive maneuver. Grabbing my boombox and my ex-husband's Barry Manilow album, I stepped outside...and handled the situation.
And we lived happily, quietly, ever after.