The following is a tale of a great war. It was an epic war. The following is an epic tale of an epic war that was totally and utterly epic and, as such, cannot be relayed within the confines of a single column. Indeed, this week's column isn't even about the war; rather, it is about the events that preceded it. I will do my best to refrain from embellishing.
About two months before the beginning of the Great Apartment Remodel Project of 2005, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a cat eating dry cat food. Now, being a co-owner of two cats, the sound of cat-food consumption isn't normally the sort of thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night. But something was different about the way this cat food was being eaten. I couldn't put a finger on it at first. But then, as I lay in bed listening to the crunch, crunch, crunch resonating through the house, it occurred to me-it's not how the cat was eating the cat food that was peculiar, but for how long. I mean, that thing was going for 20 minutes now. And the incessant crunch, crunch, crunching was so obnoxious, I finally flung off my bed covers and headed toward the kitchen to stomp its little cat-head. However, upon arrival, when I flicked on the light switch, I looked down to see a great beast that was quite clearly not a cat looking up at me from the cat-food dish.
It was a possum-an enormous, wretched, arrogant, disease-carrying, pink-eyed monster of a prehensile marsupial just looking up at me from the cat-food dish as if to say, Yeah, I'm all up in your shit. Wot you gonna do about it?*
She reminded me of another possum I met a long time ago, back in upstate New York. I was driving down Cromwell Hill Road with my girlfriend Jill. It was late at night and we were nearing the bottom of the hill when we heard a loud thump-thumpa-thump noise thumpeting beneath the car. I pulled over to the side of the road to investigate and there in the middle of the road, on its back legs, was a big fat fucking possum pissed off and screeching like Queen Latifa at white-girl pajama party.
It was a dreadful thing to behold, the creature writhing in agony and Jill shouting, “Do something, do something! You gotta do something!”
“Do something?” I asked incredulously. “Whaddya want me to do, nurse it back to health?”
“No, Doctor Doolittle,* I want you to put it out of its misery,” she said, as if putting it out of its misery was just another task, like doing the dishes or sweeping the stoop, as if putting it out of its misery wasn't interfering with the Supreme Being's master plan for the possum.
“I'm not putting it out of its misery,” I snapped back. “You put it out of its misery!”
“No, you!” “No, you!” “No, you!” we shouted, not noticing that another car was cruising down the hill until it struck the marsupial with a resounding thump-thumpet-thud-thudda and shut us both the frick up.
The driver stopped and exited the vehicle. He glanced at us, then at the possum, which, unbelievably, was still alive hissing and spitting even more than before. The stranger approached us at the side of the road, and we discussed our dilemma.
“No problem,” he said, as he picked up a stick about the size of a baseball bat, walked up to the animal and matter-of-factly clubbed the possum across the head with a full-on homerun swing.
The possum's head just snapped below its shoulder and instantly snapped back into place. Then it wailed to the possum-high-heavens. It was a terrible sound of a creature in unthinkable pain but, still, not yet dead. So the stranger clubbed it again-only to make the beast howl even louder, angrier, Queen-Latif-ier-then again, and again, and again, and it seemed the more the possum got clubbed the less dead it became.
At that point, Jill was going ape-shit. She was screaming at the stranger to stop and even lurched toward him. I grabbed her by the back of her shirt and shoveled her into the car kicking and screaming. As we drove away I saw the man in the rear view mirror still clubbing the thrashing possum.
Man, those things won't die, I thought.
And here now, some 20 years later, looking at this possum looking up at me from the cat-food bowl, I'm thinking that she looks like the same possum we encountered on Cromwell Hill Road. I'm thinking maybe it is her and she's looking for revenge. I know that sounds crazy, but, see, she's looking up at me from the cat-food bowl like this is her Kill Bill moment and I'm the Bill that needs killing.*
I've been waiting for you, Decker, she's saying with her teeth bared, talons extended and those eyes, those eyes, those eyes all pink and dripping-a carrier's eyes-and I say, “Screw this! I'm not messing around with her furry ass. Those things won't die. So I turned off the light and went back to bed thinking I'd call animal control in the morning.
The next morning I awoke to find five or six possum pellets and a quarter-cup-sized puddle of urine where a possum used to be. I counted my blessings that she was gone and hoped that would be the end of it.
It was not the end of it.
* Embellishment zone. Possible embellishment occurring here. Write to ed@edwindeck er.com and editor@SDcitybeat.com.