The Money Pit. Part 5. Attack of the Raccoons.
With Miguel on my shit list and the flooring guys on hold until the stairs were fixed, we finally had the house to ourselves for a while. It was nice. With the sound of silence and no workers coming over early in the morning my daughter decided to do something very nice and let me sleep in. I was off the hook but the hubby still had to go to work. He got up and did his usual thing, kissed me goodbye and left for work. I heard the familiar chime of the alarm system when someone enters or exits the house and heard the key turn in the door. He was gone for the day.
Two seconds later I heard the key in the door and the familiar chime and my husband came back into the bedroom. “Stacy, you’ve got to see these raccoons. They are HUGE! I’m not going near my car until they leave.” Now, I grew up in the mountains and have seen plenty of raccoons in my life. I was pretty sure Poptart was being overly dramatic. But I dutifully got out of bed and walked outside in my bare feet. That’s when I saw something that I’m pretty sure resembled raccoons but looked more like small bears. One of them was directly in front of the driver’s side door of his car and the other one was towards the front of the car. They just stood there and stared at us, and I’m almost certain the larger of the two mouthed, “I’m going to kill you.” Poptart and I held up both our hands to show them we weren’t carrying any weapons and slowly backed inside the house.
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed to Poptart. “Those things are huge!”
“I told you!” he said. We had heard a rustling sound in our chimney a couple of weeks earlier and I had begged Poptart to let me open the flue to let me catch what ever was in there. I was serious and confident that what ever was in there would be small and sweet and probably only in there because it wanted to sing songs and bring me flowers. But he wasn’t going for it and told me it was probably a raccoon. What he didn’t tell me was that it was probably a giant, mutant, chemically enhanced, steroid taking raccoon. Thank God for Poptart, or I would surely be dead with the mutant raccoons standing over my dead body laughing and drawing a mustache and fuzzy eyebrows on my face with permanent marker.
When we were pretty confident they had moved on, Poptart ran to his car faster than I think I’ve ever seen him move in the 11 years I’ve known him. I kept cover on him with a large straw and poison-dipped spitballs. He was safe in his car and off to work.
It stayed quiet for a while, but one morning at 5:30 some rustling in the fireplace woke me. Poptart was out of town on business and I’m not a morning person. What ever was in that chimney had pissed me off and it was time for them, or it to go. I made a call to animal control.
“Animal Control, this is Jerry.”
“Hey Jerry, my name is Stacy and I have some kind of animals in my chimney. One of them has a really bad smokers cough,” I told him, being totally serious. The damn thing was coughing.
“It has a cough?” he asked me. “Well I don’t know any animal that coughs,” he said.
Well fuck, I don’t know. Maybe there’s a midget with a carton of Camels stuck in my chimney. What the hell do you want me to say here, Jerry?
“I don’t know what to tell you but it sounds like this: “Huu, Huuuuu,” I told him. My coughing imitation sounded like a cross between a half cough and half vomit. Jerry was starting to make me feel like an ass. Now I was beginning to think maybe he had me on speaker phone so all the other animal control guys could get a good laugh.
“Do you have a one story house or two story house?” he asked me.”
“Yeah, I don’t do two story homes. I don’t have a ladder. I’ll call someone else for you.” Are you kidding me? What kind of animal control company doesn’t have a ladder? And why didn’t he ask me if it was a one story house or a two story house before I coughed for him? Jerry was SO not getting a Christmas card. So I gave him my number and he told me someone else would get back to be. I didn’t hold my breath.
About 20 minutes later my phone rang and my knight in shinning armor was on the other end. “Hi, I’m Andre, I hear you’ve got an animal problem,” came the deep voice with the South African accent on the other side. I told him the same thing I had told Jerry and included the cough. “You’ve got Raccoons,” he told me.
“They cough?” I asked him.
“They make a sound that is a lot like a cough,” he said, and he then made the exact same sound over the phone. That’s when I knew Andre was my guy. I was just so thankful I had never opened the flue. Andre let me know it was going to cost me $85.00 per animal he caught, that the animals would not be harmed, and they would be relocated. I was good with those terms and was ready for Andre to come on over. He told me could be at my house the same day.
A couple hours later Andre and Dirk showed up at my house. Andre stepped out of his truck and looked like something from a movie. He had a shaved head, blue eyes, a blond mustache and one missing tooth. Probably the result of a fight with a mountain lion or something. He was also very tan, very muscular, and was wearing a khaki shirt and shorts. He wore lace up boots. Most likely Timberlands. Dirk was much thinner but also very Nordic looking. He was also tan and sporting a shaved head. He wore khaki shorts and a white t-shirt with the company’s logo on it. These guys were straight out of central casting.
After they introduced themselves, Andre asked where my fireplaces were. I told him I had not heard any noise today and that I didn’t think the raccoons were in there. He went to the fireplace in the bedroom first, stuck his head inside the fireplace, opened the flue a little and shined a flashlight up into the chimney.
“You’ve got three raccoons in there,” he told me.
“Three?” I said.
“Yeah, I see two tails and another set of eyes. We’re going to climb on your roof and try and flush them out.”
“Okay…” I said. After all, he was the expert, right?
So Andre and Dirk checked out both fireplaces from the roof and from inside the house. After an hour of this, Andre informed me that the raccoons had bent back the screens on our chimneys and were currently living above both fireplaces. Andre and Dirk replaced the screens to make sure the raccoons couldn’t get back in and set some traps to catch them. One trap was on the side of the roof next to the back fence. This is where we were pretty sure they were climbing up. The other one was up near the chimneys. Andre baited both of the traps with open cans of sardines. Andre told me that raccoons are nocturnal animals, and that I should have a catch by the morning. He and Dirk had other things to catch that day, so they told me to call them and keep them updated on the traps.
The next morning came and I was as excited as Christmas morning. I jumped out of bed and ran outside the house to find that we had caught…nothing. How was I going to break the news to Andre? He was going to be devastated. I called him and let him know we didn’t catch a thing.
“Nothing?” he asked.
“Nada. Zero. Zilch,” I told him.
“Let’s give it another day,” he said.
The next day came and went and still nothing. Andre was not a happy man. He and Dirk came back and put fresh sardines in the traps. He told me we were going to give it another day or two and if we still didn’t catch anything he would take the traps down. The next morning I was sleeping with my oldest cat Sassy curled up next to me. Sassy is a very interesting cat. She’s more dog than cat. She’s hisses sometimes like a cat but if something is outside she will growl. That morning she growled, so I knew we had caught something. I ran outside in my pajamas and looked the culprit dead in the eyes. Weird…this raccoon looked a lot like a possum. The poor thing was just sitting there in the cage looking at me as if to say, “You’ve got the wrong guy.” I felt so bad for the little guy. I called Andre to tell him about our catch before taking Mini-Me to school. On the way out of the driveway, she pointed to the possum on the roof and said, “Look, mommy! Kitty!”
Andre and Dirk came by later that day and collected the possum. Even though it wasn’t what they were looking for, they were still going to relocate him. Which meant I still had to pay the $85.00 relocation fee. On top of $100.00 to fix the screens on the chimneys to keep the raccoons out. I considered it money well spent, but Poptart was irritated. “You mean to tell me we paid $85.00 to trap and remove an animal that wasn’t bugging us in the first place? Hell, I could’ve “relocated” the damned thing for the price of a shotgun shell.” Texans…
Don’t feel too bad for the possum though. He has been relocated into the witness protection program. He has since changed his name to “Pierre” and is currently pursuing his lifelong dream of being a performance artist. He is very happy and is living much better now then he was in my neighborhood. Best wishes to you Pierre, and just so you know my daughter still asks about the kitty.
If you want to check out Andre for yourself, here is his website: http://www.wildernessanimalcontrol.com
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