In the first part of this story (found here) we left Heath and Tristan sleeping peacefully at night. This is where we resume our story.
RJ and his “family” were hiding out in the ravine going over last minute plans. RJ was an old school bandit, wearing a black mask to hide his features. The family was not a biological family as you guessed from the quotes surrounding the word. They were a motley group of acquaintances brought together by a common goal.
The ravine was a wide, deep valley of overgrown vegetation that housed many animals like a special reserve between two neighborhoods. It was the perfect meeting place.
Among the croaking frogs and screeching cranes, RJ and his family put the final touches on their preliminary plan. Then RJ stealthily climbed the fence.
“Jackpot!” RJ said in a voice so similar to Bruce Willis it was uncanny.
He recognized the yard immediately and memories swept over him like the tide coming in. Nostalgia tugged at RJ to explore his old home, the place he was born in. Across the grass, warm, yellow lights illuminated the yard. RJ’s mind went back to the last night his real family was together. He could almost see his mother leading her babies across the porch. Her muddy footprints left stains on the porch for weeks.
As the unthinkable moment in his past was about to play in his mind, RJ desperately clawed at an apple. “Mother!” he thought. RJ resurfaced to reality as a swimmer inevitably bobs back up to the top of the water. RJ was aware of the new heavy silence and he froze. A moment later the TV resumed its natural noise.
Another pregnant pause followed. In hushed tones he heard voices. A woman’s voice sounded concerned. A man’s voice followed. Seconds later the TV was back on. “What was that?” RJ wondered. Were they listening?
RJ quickly polished off his second apple before grabbing armfuls for his new family. Tonight was not the night to waste on Memory Lane.
The next morning Heath went outside to do some investigating.
Half eaten apple cores littered the ground. Heath knew it was a raccoon. But that was all he knew of the events from the night before.
Each succeeding night RJ’s crew waited in the ravine. RJ never brought back as much food as that first night. But he appeased his new family with fresh strawberries from the garden and anything else he could scrounge up. His family kept trying to convince him to move on but RJ couldn’t let go of his birthplace, the last place he saw his mother alive.
As Heath and Tristan spent each night in ignorant slumber, RJ took their apparent apathy as an invitation. The night he was brave enough to walk right up to the house was when he saw something blocking his way to his original home. It was big and rubbery and strangely soft. RJ ran his curious hands around the springy sides all the way to the porch.
Ah, the porch. Then something caught his attention. There was a dark hole with something inside. The moonlight shone on the smooth plastic just enough to divert RJ’s attention from his mother to the glistening shininess before him. He fiddled around with whatever it was for a minute or two. He pulled on it and jerked his head back involuntarily as warm wind poofed in his face. Startled half out of his wits, RJ ran back to the ravine.
The next morning Tristan was opening the kitchen windows to take advantage of the cloudy and cool air. The pool looked strange out of the corner of her eye. She walked outside to investigate.
The second time RJ kept his heart rate under control. With the air out he was able to get a closer look. What was with all the giant Cheetos in the opening? Before he could answer his own question he heard Stella fighting with a cat.
“Where’s your big Saint Bernard friend now?” Stella’s voice, that coincidentally sounded a lot like Wanda Sykes, came over the fence.
“Don’t spray! Don’t spray!” the cat begged.
RJ hopped the fence tossing a strawberry at Stella. She left with RJ but not before giving the cat a dirty look and a Wanda Sykes quality sarcastic threat. The cat skulked off into the next door neighbor’s yard pitifully mewing for Rose, the huge Saint Bernard that had moved a couple months earlier.
RJ wanted to give his crew a thorough talking to in the ravine the next night. But a crane kept flying noisily by. It was the ugliest, most awful, guttural scream any of them had ever heard. RJ climbed the fence before his traditional “Be careful” got out of control.
This time the moon sparkled across an oasis. “There’s water in this thing?” RJ wondered. It’s a proven fact that raccoons can’t resist standing water and RJ was no exception. He washed his hands and face. He walked all over the pool just washing and washing unable to stop himself.
The sun was shining invitingly over the perfectly still water that reminded Tristan of growing up water skiing.
The muddy footprints marred the whole beautiful picture.
I cleaned off raccoon footprints for the nth time. What seemed like such a fun story in my head, was rapidly starting to get under my skin. It is one thing to steal a few apples from an overburdened tree and open a valve on an inflatable pool, but it is quite another to bathe in the water every single night!
In the movie, Over the Hedge, the humans fought back. Of course in the movie the animals won to drive home the political point that animals have rights and we shouldn’t build up subdivisions behind a hedge while they are hibernating. But most of the talking animals in that predictable yet funny movie don’t actually hibernate! And in my defense, I wasn’t the one who wanted the neighborhood built here over 20 years ago!
Well, I write my own ending to this story. The animals will not win. Not this time. I’m all for animal rights until their rights start infringing on my space. Spiders do not belong inside my house nor do they deserve the right to send the biggest black widow looking one crawling up to my baby in the sandbox, causing all three of my kids to scream bloody murder. Animals of any kind are not welcome in my yard unless I decide to purchase one from the Humane Society.
RJ will be surprised to find hot cayenne pepper sprinkled all over the garden and the edge of the grass. (This is the most humane way Heath found to get rid of raccoons.) There will be no more bathing, no more strawberry stealing, and no more trying to get back in the crawl space underneath my house!
RJ will just have to get over whatever horrible thing happened to his mother. I don’t know. I wasn’t there but it made for an interesting back story right? RJ will have to find another house to target. Mine is not the only one over the hedge.
Bring on the cayenne pepper!