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Hanging Out

Staying cool

By Mindy ReedPublished about a year ago 5 min read
Hanging Out painted by Rebecca Byrd Arthur

By noon it was already one hundred degrees. It was expected to reach 112o in the next couple of hours. Racine needed to do something for her children. Ever since she was a kit, she’d been aware of the human encroachment. The homes and concrete only contributed to the oppressive heat. Water was scarce. The food in the garbage cans and compost bins used to be plentiful until locks were placed on them, making access to their contents impossible.

Racine peered through a hole in the fence. She had seen the woman in the backyard before. Few humans ventured out of their homes, except for children now and then. No other yard had the contraption the woman approached with a basket under her arm. A rope was pulled not quite taut between two wooden poles. The woman placed the basket down on the dry, yellow lawn; she began hanging pieces of clothing onto the line. Suddenly, Racine heard a whoosh. A cat had thrust itself through a small window at the bottom of the backdoor. The gray tabby with the striped face and dark round spots along its fur, waved its body through the woman’s leg. She finished hanging up a pair of blue jeans and bent over and rubbed behind the cat’s left ear.

“Let’s go inside, Pepper. It’s getting hot out here.”

Pepper hopped into the basket, the woman picked it up, and carried Pepper through the backdoor.

The hole in the fence was eye-level with the window Pepper had exited. Racine stared at it for several moments. A rare breeze swept across the yard and the blue jean legs rocked on the line. Racine had an idea.

There was a large rut under the fence next to her, dug by an armadillo no doubt. Racine moved into the backyard. She scurried up the thin pole, lost her footing, and landed into the pair of jeans drying on the line. The fabric was soft, and the dampness cooled her body. She decided to hang out in the jeans and do some reconnaissance. Pepper came through the cat door a couple of times to relieve herself. She chased a butterfly for a moment, but at the sound of the can opener, she turned and shot back through the door.

Racine saw the door was no more than a flap that yielded when Pepper placed her head against it. The mama racoon was not much bigger than Pepper and could easily pass through it.

Once the blue jeans were dry and the heat had ticked up a couple of degrees, Racine jumped out of the pants and went to collect her children.

The crescent moon hung in the hazy sky when Racine and her children returned to the backyard around midnight. The house appeared dark, and was silent. She pushed her three kits through the flap and followed them into the kitchen. She heard voices coming from another part of the house and hurried her kits through a partially open door. A bedspread hung over the bed and touched the floor. As she heard footsteps approach, she pushed her family under the bed. It was difficult to keep the young kits from being restless.

A woman came into the room. Racine heard water running and other unfamiliar sounds coming from a side room. She was about to have them make a run for it, when the woman padded back into the room, pulled back the bedspread, and got into the bed. The mattress sagged, causing one of the kits to let out a squeak.

“Imogene, come and get Pepper out of my room please,” the woman called.

“Pepper is in here with me,” Imogene replied.

The bedroom door opened and Imogene stepped inside the room. “I assure you, Lydia, Pepper is sleeping in my room. I just left him sleeping on the foot of my bed.”

“I swear I heard a cat,” Lydia replied. “Listen can’t you hear it scratching?”

Imogene squatted down and careful lifted the edge of the bedspread. “Oh my stars!” she screamed as she jumped up and pulled Lydia from the bed.

“What is the matter?” Lydia asked as Imogene as her friend dragged her through the door and into the kitchen.

“Rack…racoons…a family of them under the bed.”

“What? How can that be?”

“They must have come in through the cat door,” Imogene reasoned.

“What should be do? What can we do at this time of night? Lydia wondered out loud.

Imogene got the phone and dialed 911. She was instructed to call Animal Control.

Imogene and Lydia sat side by side, waiting for the Animal Control responder. Finally, at 1:45 p.m. there was a knock on the front door and they announced themselves. Imogene let them in and told them about the family under the bed in the guest room.

Three men, each carrying a pole in one hand and a cage in the other, followed Imogene to the guest room door. When she opened it, Racine and her three kits were sitting in the middle of the bed. The men entered the room and slammed the door shut.

Disturbed by the sounds from the guest room, the two women moved into Imogene’s bedroom where Pepper had moved from the foot of the bed to Imogene’s pillow. After about twenty minutes, one of the men called out, “We got them!”

The women came out and joined the men and their cargo in the hallway.

“What is going to happen to them?” Imogene asked.

“These are humane traps,” the tallest man said. “We’re going to release them in the country.”

As he was explaining the procedure, Pepper ran out of the bedroom and shot through the cat door.

“I would close up that cat door,” the man said, “especially at night, these critters are persistent, once they make up their minds.

“Yes sir,” Imogene said, and showed the men to the front door.

Imogene rose after a few hours of sleep. She sat on the edge of her bed and began putting on her air-dried jeans. Something scratched her left leg. She pulled her out and looked down the pant leg. A tuff of hair, the color of the large racoon from the night before was attached near the knee.

Pepper padded into the room, demanding his breakfast.

Imogene looked at the tabby and said, “From now on, you’re using a litter box.”

The End

The above story is based upon actual events.


About the Creator

Mindy Reed

Mindy is an, editor, narrator, writer, librarian, and educator. The founder of The Authors Assistant published Women of a Certain Age: Stories of the Twentieth Century in 2018 and This is the Dawning: a Woodstock Love Story in June 2019.

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Comments (1)

  • HandsomelouiiThePoet (Lonzo ward)about a year ago

    Great job 📝😁❤️❗

Mindy ReedWritten by Mindy Reed

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