The Opossum and the Poodle
By Shawn R. Jones
I had on knee-high rain boots. That would not have been so strange had it been raining, but there was no rain in sight and the night was humid and full of mosquitos. I asked my son to get my black leather gloves and red sweat jacket with the hood. I put on a small baseball cap and then pulled the hoodie over it. Maybe I should get those goggles from the basement, I thought, just in case it comes for my eyes. Standing at my screened door, I looked up at the backdoor light. Moths and mosquitos were nothing compared to the creature I was about to face. I glared into the yard. I heard hissing and growling in the bushes on the side of our garage. `My son ran and got a flashlight. He had on his amour, too. He went out first. He shined the flashlight in the bushes and said something like, “Man, that thing looks angry.” At that point I got a broom, wishing it were a gun. I stood next to him, broom in hand.
“Well, what is it?” I asked him.
“I don’t know. I think it’s a opossum.”
I pictured its fuzzy white face and long rubbery tail. My tongue felt strange in my mouth and goose bumps ran across my skin like racecars.
“Mom, come on. We have to get Angel.”
Angel was my white poodle who was in the bushes with the opossum, barking and growling like she was a Rottweiler. I’m afraid of opossums, so I really had to take a moment to think how much our poodle meant to me. Had it been my son or daughter, I would have jumped in the bushes thoughtless and unarmed. I looked back at my daughter, the future vegan and animal activist, who was standing on the back step. I wanted to call out to her, “Look, I’m your mother. You’ve known me all your life, but we’ve only had this poodle a short while, and it was a stray! Had our thoughtful neighbor not brought it to us when she found it on her front lawn in the pouring down rain, something would have eventually eaten it anyway…” But, I didn’t say any of that.
I gave my son the broom. He was much braver than I. I never even saw the thing, but I had a clear enough picture in my mind to feel faint. My son started poking at the opossum with the broom, hoping it would run off, since my poodle was not backing down. She looked at my son and back at the opossum and barked even louder. Now, she had an ally. The opossum grew angrier and started biting viciously at the end of the broom stick.
My daughter was yelling, “Don’t kill it!” Angel was still barking. The opossum was hissing. I was sweating in my armor while trying to coax Angel out of the bushes. The commotion seemed to go on for hours. I don’t remember how we convinced Angel to come out, but she did eventually. We may have given her a treat. The opossum, however, spent the night in the bush. Once I got my crazy poodle settled in the house, my son and I went back outside with the flashlight. The opossum was curled up, exhausted from the fight. The next morning it was gone.
Months went by. No opossum. Then one evening, I was coming home from dance class. I parked my car in the driveway. I walked up to my front door and as soon as I pulled my house key out of my pocket, a huge opossum ran from behind the bushes, onto my step and across my white canvas sneakers. I screamed as I felt the weight of its body on my feet.
By Shawn R. Jones
Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames http://t.co/BxiNwWRG
and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain,