Are you sick of this story yet? Fed up? Annoyed? Then you can imagine how sick I was of this interminable war with the super-possum from Hell.
I mean, after all those hours of lost sleep, after cleaning up all that possum shit and piss, after all the days of living in a house that smelled like the county simian morgue, after that epic, brutal Battle of Front Door Front, when I finally caught the goddamn object of my insanity-after all that, this Critter Catcher Dave person just goes ahead and opens the lid and let's the possum out?
I could not believe my eyes. When the possum escaped, I actually fell to my knees in despair. True story. I've never done that before-never really ever had anything to fall to my knees in despair about. Not that possum-catching is a worthy reason, but I did it unconsciously. And it happened so fast. When the possum jumped out of the box, my knees got all rubbery until I collapsed, muttering, “No, no, no, no,” in disbelief.
Because I knew he'd be back that night. He'd come back like he always came back, and the crunching, and the defecating, and the no-sleep-getting would begin all over again.
Critter Catcher Dave, for his part, felt awful. He just stood there shocked, like Bill Buckner looking up after finding no baseball in his mitt.
“You,” I said, getting up from my knees and pointing at him. “You did this to me.”
Dave delivered his apologies. In his hand he held one of his critter-catching instruments-a slim metal rod with a cable that ran up the shaft and became a loop at the end to make a noose for hooking around the animal's neck. It looked menacing.
“Give me that,” I said, pointing at the noose-hooking-cable thingy.
“This is my only one,” he responded. “I'm really not supposed to lend it out.”
“Give. Noose. Hooking. Thingy. Now. Dave.”
“I guess I owe you,” he said.
Oh, you owe, all right.
As I write this, it occurs to me that my trials quite mirror a movie I saw some 20 years ago called Of Unknown Origin. It's a peculiar little horror flick about a man named Bart Hughes, played by Peter Weller, who encounters a rat while remodeling his home.
In the film, Hughes tries the usual methods to dispatch the beast, but the rat is some sort of super rodent that cannot be outwitted. Destroying the rat soon becomes a compulsion that eventually destroys Hughes' family and career.
There is one memorable scene in which Hughes decides to stop being a victim and procures himself a shotgun. In the scene that marks the beginning of the movie's climax, he cocks his shotgun, mutters an unmemorable catchphrase, and begins chasing the rat around the house in a maniacal rage, blowing holes in the walls and furniture and cackling to himself the whole time-and this, my friends, is where I'm at right now with this frickin' possum. I'm at my wits' end, people, ready to go mano a ratto in a final showdown, and now that I've got the wondrous cable-noose-hooking device, all I need now is a cool catchphrase.
Night 6: Battle at Little Big Bathroom-the final showdown
W. and I are watching TV. Possum is pacing around the apartment like a bored third roommate. He opens the refrigerator door in search of a nighttime snack. He takes a slug from the gallon milk bottle, pulls out some sandwich fixings, makes a sandwich, leaves the mess, dials a long distance phone call, and then heads toward the bathroom, I assume, to stink up the place.
The bathroom? He's going inside the bathroom!
As quietly as possible, I grab the noose-hooker apparatus, skulk toward the bathroom, then step inside and shut the door behind me. Holding the device in the air like a cocked shotgun, I mutter the only catchphrase that comes to my war-torn mind-No sleep till hookin'-and go after the possum. The beast darts into the bathroom closet, and I get on my hands and knees and start feverishly digging through the clutter at bottom of the closet-shoes and shoeboxes mostly, some garbage, knickknacks-until I see the possum in the back right corner of the closet.
He's hissing and spitting but holding his ground. I slowly position the noose in front of his head, then, in one swift motion, loop it around his neck and snap it tight. “I got you now, fucker,” I say as I pull him out of the closet. Oh, he's pissed now, clawing and snapping at anything in reach. And just before I pull him all the way out, he closes his jaws on one of W's revered dress shoes and clenches down hard.
Must save shoe, I think, and grab it by the heel and start pulling. But he just clenches harder and as we tug-o-war it out, I can see his teeth marks dragging across the leather. Realizing all hope for the shoe is lost, I yank the possum out of the closet and into the air. Now he's dangling by the neck and thrashing violently. Shit and piss is flying everywhere. Foamy drool drips down the shoe still in its mouth. I make a dash for the outside patio and slam the creature into a box and close the lid.
And just like that, war is over. Neighbors all come out of their houses to witness the victory celebration. Hugs and cheers then. Handshakes. Champagne and cigars. Confetti. Smiles. A soldier kisses a nurse.
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