birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


He was lumbering across our front lawn. I say "he" because he was big. But I'm not a good judge of raccoon gender. He could have been a she.

At least a hundred pounds of skank wrapped in a thick fur coat stopped when he saw me standing on the sidewalk 20 feet away from him. He took my measure. I took his. I yelled "Scat!" and he didn't flinch, continuing to stare me down.

I don't understand how anyone can think raccoons are cute. Their pointy noses, sharp teeth and creepy little claws with opposable thumbs terrify me. And they are fearless. They have no natural predators in our urban landscape.

This guy kept staring at me, unmoved, a gigantic rodent with a bottle brush tail. I raised my arms and screamed "Get out," taking a step towards him, expecting my manufactured ferocity would finally move him out of my path.

At first, he didn't respond. Then suddenly he reared up on his hind legs, raises his arms, his little claws fully extended and lets out a heart-stopping hiss. I froze, certain he was going to attack me.

Then I ran at him. I don't know what possessed me, but I was pissed. This damn animal wasn't going to win this face-off, goddammit. I only got a couple of steps when the raccoon dropped to all fours and loped across the yard and through the neighbors gate before he stopped and stared back at me.

I charged again, and he slowly waddled away, somehow knowing that he was safe from me.


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