Years ago, my friend Tom lived across the street. One day he constructed a plywood vault in his garage and sound-proofed the walls and ceiling with thick carpet, protecting the neighbors from the loud music we used to torture out of an array of musical instruments. Our circle of friends got along well with Tom’s mom, and we were allowed to hang out in the garage even when Tom wasn’t home.
Returning from an escapade late one evening, Tom and I approached the vault and found a note impaled to the door by a plastic dart, a desperate message scrawled by one of our friends:
“Good gravy! There’s a freaking possum or something inside. Watch out!”
The note puzzled us. It had to be a joke. Did a wild animal truly lurk beyond the threshold, waiting to descend upon us, savage our flesh, and infect us with vile pestilence?
We gathered weapons for protection. Tom produced a rifle that might have been unearthed from a World War I battlefield, and probably would have exploded if he fired it. I seized a hatchet with a handle wrapped in electrical tape.
Kicking open the door, we entered the vault and explored the dank interior, covering all attack vectors with our weapons. Shadows loomed around us, distorted and threatening. I looked in the corner behind my guitar amplifier.
Hungry eyes glittered in the darkness.
Tom and I moved the amplifier to one side, exposing the possum. Its face twisted into a fanged and angry devil-mask.
“HisssSSSsSsSsSSSSssSSSSsSSSSssss!” Devil-Possum hissed.
“Mother of All Things That Have Mothers!” We nearly dropped the amplifier in our haste to return it to its original location, sheltering the creature once more.
A battle of wits began. Tom and I simply wanted Devil-Possum to leave. Devil-Possum wanted to stay. Perhaps it wanted to kill us.
For our opening salvo, we deployed a tempting trail of sandwich meat leading from the vault, through the garage, and to the freedom of the outer world. We hid around the corner and settled down to wait, confident in our superior human intellects.
When Bob arrived and saw the trail of sandwich meat on the garage floor, with Tom and I huddled alongside the vault, cackling in mad glee, his brow furrowed. “Uh…what are you guys doing?”
After we told him, he agreed to an alliance with us.
Then we waited.
And while we waited, the fiendish Devil-Possum devoured every slice of sandwich meat except for the last, then returned to the vault, spurning the freedom of the outer world.
The discovery dismayed us, but it only hardened our resolve.
We decided to use more sandwich meat to lure the creature into a plastic garbage can. After trapping it inside, we would carry it into the forest and release it.
We laid the garbage can on its side next to the shelter where Devil-Possum mocked us. Tom and Bob took up a position on either side, one of them armed with the garbage can lid. I hung back, ready to step in should the creature catapult itself into a berserk rage and decapitate one of them in a crimson spray.
We dropped sandwich meat into the garbage can.
Claws skittered across green plastic. Brave men struggled and shouted. A garbage can lid slammed into place. Tom and Bob started carrying the captured creature toward the forest, congratulating themselves on our victory.
Lingering in the vault for a moment, I looked behind the amplifier again.
Hungry eyes still glittered in the darkness.
I intercepted Tom and Bob before they reached the street.
“Are you guys sure you have the possum in there?” I asked.
They shook the garbage can, gently so as to avoid harming the creature inside. “Oh, yeah, dude. I can feel him moving around.”
“Then he must have had a friend, because there’s another possum behind the amp,” I said.
When they opened the garbage can—no creature, no sandwich meat, nothing—just the emptiness of another thwarted plan.
With our final hope in ruins, we called it a night, leaving the vault door open in case Devil-Possum deigned to return to its infernal realm. We never saw it again.
But on restless nights, when I shiver and clutch at tatters of elusive sleep, hungry eyes still glitter in the darkness…
* * *
Has a creature of the wild ever infiltrated your picnic basket? Has a beloved pet perpetrated a scheme to plunder food from your counter-top?
Share your triumph.
Share your defeat.
Great first blog post! I loved the picture in my mind of you guys headed with your weapons into the darkness to route the beast! Oh, I just thought of my furry nemesis! My husband and I used to bicycle together. One time we were out on the road and from out of no where came this dog, growling and snarling on my back tire. It was fast! It almost caught me! It only had…three legs? To this day, three legged dogs send fear trickling down my back! And I earned my title of Biker Turtle that day. Thanks for letting me know about your blog. I am all subscribed through RSS feed. And, by the way, I love your picture at the top. 🙂
Hi, Lara…thanks for dropping by! It looks like your original post went through okay. Would you like me to approve the other ones?
That dog incident sounds pretty scary. I much prefer the dogs that are just looking for ear scritches.
I’m glad you like the picture. I took it on a trip to Norway last year.
Nice looking blog, Mike. You tell a wicked story. Did you ever try to drive the creature(s) out by playing music for it or them?
Critter invading. We live on the edge of a small wooded area. An armadillo used to live in a hole in our front yard, and there used to be voles and moles in the back yard, and a giant raccoon used to eat the cat’s food. Now we feed the cat inside the garage (still have to watch out for creatures wandering in there to munch) and since we got the catahoula and the rat terrier, no more moles and voles, and have not seen the armadillo in a year or two.
I’m telling ya. Get a dog. 🙂
So what did you guys do with your music?
Thanks, Texanne. It’s nice to see you over here 🙂 No, we never tried assaulting Devil-Possum with our music. Such was his power, the outcome probably would’ve been the same.
Ah, the armadillo. I grew up in Texas and remember them well. It’s amazing how effective dogs are at repelling other creatures 😉
We never did much with our music. We played a few local clubs, which was fun
but not much else. I haven’t played a guitar in many years and probably don’t know how anymore.
“Mother of All Things That Have Mothers!” LOL! I am dying. This is a great post, Mike! As always, you are nothing if not truly entertaining.
I don’t know that it was after food, but a bat got into my first ever apartment a long time ago when I was in college. I was awoken at 3 AM by my cat, and the damn bat was flying around like mad. I ran into the bathroom, with the cat under one arm and a phone under the other…and then…I had no idea who to call! lol…I finally called the local animal control guy, who wanted to kill the bat with my shoe. But that is a story for another time…
You’re too kind, Laird. Thanks 🙂
What a frightening way to wake up at 3am. I’ve always heard that bats aren’t to be trifled with.
That reminds me, I have a bat story too. But for another time, perhaps…
I’m not sure which was scarier – the bat, or having to deal with Billy the Exterminator at 3AM…but it was an interesting evening. Warning to all bats: I WILL have you forcibly removed from the premises.
I’d love to hear your bat story. Did the bat befriend the possum? Did they go on a tri-state crime spree?
Apparently WordPress won’t let me reply directly to your reply, Laird. What an unfortunate plot complication. But I suppose it’s okay, since it simply stacks my comment under yours.
The bat and the Devil-Possum incidents happened in different states and are separated by a span of years, so I doubt they’ve ever met unless they united in Devil-Possum’s infernal realm in an attempt to destroy humanity. I might post about it sometime. I already know what the title would be…
“Dark Wings of Mr. Flappy”
HA! that’s an awesome title. Please do post about it someday.
Under wordpress>>settings>>discussion, there should be a box you can tick to “allow nested comments” and specify how many levels of nesting you’d like to allow… which SHOULD let you respond to responses. Or responses to responses.
I’m certain I will post it one day, and maybe soon. Now that I have the title, the content is already shaping itself in my mind.
And hey! There is a box such as you describe. I cranked it all the way up. Too bad it doesn’t go to 11, that would be so Spinal Tap.
That is one of my all time favorite movie lines. In fact, I use it frequently to describe my son. “This one goes to 11.”
and now I kind of want to know how many responses can be responded to, in a nested fashion…
It’s like being digitally trapped in one of these:
Nice! *beats on walls* let me out! let me out!
There is still room in here. Maybe this goes to 11 after all?
Maybe 10 might be too many. This last size is way too thin.
Great story, Mike! This reminds me of the time when my family discovered a ferret had somehow got itself into our backyard shed. We didn’t have the time to make it leave, so we called the animal shelter. We left, the animal shelter came and picked it up. When we got home we discovered the ferret had chewed holes into some plastic bags full of raked leaves my Dad had temporarily stored in the shed. We still don’t know how the ferret got in there.
Thanks, Kristy…and thanks for dropping by.
I imagine the animal shelter helped that ferret find a good home. I’ve always been fascinated by animals that come in the shape of a tube sock 🙂
Good first post, Mike!
I owned an amazing miniature dachshund that would get miffed when left at home alone. He had very short legs, so we’re still trying to figure how he was able to open doors. Like doors to all the bedroom closets. He carted every shoe in each closet to the family room, placed them in a pile, and then proudly sat atop waiting for us to come home. Or opened kitchen cabinet doors and strung contents (including the trash can) in a path through the house. Drove me crazy, but he was the coolest dog ever.
As for the Devil-Possum, you guys were more brave than I would have been. Come to think of it, he out-smarted you coz he got dinner out of the deal. 🙂
Wow, that dog sounds awesome. I wonder how he got those doors open?
Yeah, Devil-Possum ate very well that night.
Thanks for coming by and commenting!
Great first post! Keep up the good work. When I lived in Yellowstone, I awoke one night to a lot of banging and thumping on the outside of the house by the back door. I wasn’t sure what might be trying to get in, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I finally went to see since it was obvious sleep wasn’t going to be an option until I did. Got to the back door and turned on the porch light, expecting to see Godzilla, or at least a good sized black bear trying to knock the house down. What I got was an annoyed coyote, blinking in the light, front paws on my garbage while he banged it against the side of the house to get the lid off.
I’m glad it was just a coyote and not a bear. Were bears much of a problem there?
We did have bear problems – they were something you learned to live with. One woman left her kitchen window above the sink open one night, heard a huge crash and came out to find a bear cub sitting in the sink eating the hamburger she’d left out to thaw. At Old Faithful one summer, you could almost set your clock by one brown bear who came through every evening. He’d start at one end of the apartment complex, sticking his nose against the screen door until someone inside yelled at him and then move on to the next apartment. Lots of stories like that with a few grizzlies mixed in.
On the one hand, it sounds neat to be able to see bears up close like that because I like watching them on Animal Planet and stuff, but on the other hand, I’m grateful to not have to worry about any close encounters with them. That incident with the thawing hamburger sounds like an awkward moment.
You got used to double checking before you ever went outside – natives on your doorstep could range from a moose (who liked the flowers in my window box) to elk scratching their antlers on the side of the house. And a buffalo asleep in the driveway was a legitimate excuse for being late for work. It was interesting, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about them any more.
Yeah, I think I’ll stick with the chipmunks and rabbits I see around here 🙂
Great post, Mike. My wild animal story involves an entire family of racoons. My husband and I have always had cats that we allow to go in and out of the house through a cat door. One evening we had returned home to find a HUGE mother racoon and 4 baby racoons inside the house, presumably going after the bowls of cat food. Seeing us, the mother scurried to the cat door and scampered out with her little ones. One little fella couldn’t quite make it through the door and when the mother realized she was one baby short, she literally reached a hand in, grabbed it and pulled it through the door.
Thanks for dropping by, Tami.
I love the image of the raccoon hand reaching in through the door to withdraw her baby. That must’ve been really strange to see a raccoon in your house. They can get pretty huge.
Great first post, Mike! I laughed all the way through this. We have a porch possum I call Opie who loves Meow Mix and visits every night to eat with the cats. He must weigh close to 25 lbs; he’s so round he waddles. If the food bowl’s empty when he arrives, he’ll sometimes sit at the front door, peering through the glass, to see if we’ve noticed he’s waiting. The cats act like he’s family and seem more than happy to share with him. They’re quite comical looking together.
Thanks very much, Elaine!
Your possum friend sounds awesome. I bet I’m not the only one who’d love to see a picture of all your creatures eating together, if that was ever something you wanted to orchestrate.
I’m still trying to make that happen but Opie is proving too camera shy. I’ll post if I’m able to get one.
That would be great 🙂
Very entertaining. Great first post. I could picture you guys throughout.
My wild animal story is not particularly scary and the animals aren’t exactly wild, but here goes. Every year, we catch several mice in our garage or our basement. It isn’t exactly a pleasant situation but it’s the way we live. The morning of my daughter’s 5th birthday party, which we were holding at our home, we caught a mouse in our garage. My husband thought it might have been recently pregnant (don’t know why but he said so) and told me to keep my eyes open for baby mice. The party was to be held mid-afternoon. Parents and children were invited. From the time we caught the mouse until party time, I saw at least three different baby mice zip through my living room or kitchen. Now, baby mice are cute, but you don’t want them to come out during a birthday party. The party guests arrived. The party went along very well. An hour passed. The singing lady sang with the kids. Everybody sang happy birthday and ate cake. Only a half hour or so more until the guests would leave. Then a father, whom I didn’t particularly care for, came over to me, tapped me on the shoulder and then walked away, motioning for me to follow him. I did and then he pointed to the floor where he had captured a baby mouse with an upside down clear plastic cup. Everybody gathered round. We slipped a piece of paper under the cup and took the baby mouse outside and let him run free. Everybody acted like this was totally normally but the guests disappeared pretty quickly after they saw the mouse. I’m not sure I will ever live that down.
We never caught the other babies. Hopefully, they found their way out of our neighborhood and into some wood somewhere where they could live happily ever after.
Thanks, Sara. I like telling that particular story. It pretty much writes itself, really.
There are certainly worse things that show up in human houses than mice, so I would hope your party guests understood that sometimes a baby mouse gets where he doesn’t belong. I bet the other babies did get out and do whatever it is mice do–fight crime, probably.
Echoing the others, Mike…
Beautiful banner selection and well-written humorous story. You had me right there with you twerps trying to outwit that raccoon. FUN read!
The only animal story I have might fall under the future reference category. The technique I used when I was a kid to train my dog might be another option, should you run out of lunch-meat bites. I was a eight or nine, and had my first dog (Bitsy). She was a Beagle mix and Dad kept grumbling about her barking. I knew I had to make her “good for something” in his mind. So. decided to train her to track scents. For what? I don’t know.
I spent many after-school hours with Bitsy locked in the basement while I pulled a hotdog tied to a string “leash”, and took circuitous routes through our yard to the designated hiding spot for that training session. I would then put her on-the-scent with a small bite of hotdog and monitor her ability to track down the hotdog. She always found it.
I’m sure my shouting encouragement (and “No! Here! Here!” when she went off course) had little to do with her stellar success.
Congratulations on your first Words of Perilous Wonder, Mike. Keep ’em coming.
Hi, Gloria. Thanks for dropping by and for the kind words.
Finding hidden hot dogs is a valuable survival skill, so it was time well spent. Sounds like a fun way to bond with a pet 🙂
Awesome first post, Mike! 🙂 My worst animal encounter came not long after I moved to Florida when I was 20. I was doing an internship, and was leaving my first-floor apartment to go to work. Luckily, I was paying attention (for once), so I saw the alligator laying across the doorway rather than just falling over it. Needless to say, I slammed the door and called work to tell them I would be late. Luckily, the apartment complex moved quickly to get someone out there to take care of it (catch and release). From that point forward, I always looked before stepping out the door, and, when I decided to stay down there fro a few years, I made sure I found a third-floor apartment. 🙂
Hi S. M., thanks for visiting.
Wow, an alligator. I’m glad I don’t have to watch out for those.
Score one for devil-possum! But you get to have the last laugh (and so do we) by your retelling!
I must admit it’s probably my favorite story to tell. I’m glad people seem to enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by, Jeanne!
I once had an orange she-devil cat who stalked me when I didn’t get her kibbies out fast enough to suit her. This kitty was affectionately named “Rotten” because of its malevolent behavior. Alas, alas, this kitty did not live with me very long.
Loved you blog. Your photo is exceptional!
Thanks for the nice words, Janice. I’m sorry things didn’t work out better with that particular cat, but I suppose that’s how things work out sometimes.
All these responses make me marvel at how I ended up in a suburb where both the pets and the wildlife are so well-behaved. What have they done with them all?
Hmm…there’s a story in there somewhere.
Now I think I’ll scroll back up and stare at that lovely header picture of yours some more. Beautiful blog you’ve got here. 🙂
Thanks, Kirsten. I appreciate the compliments.
Yeah, I suppose the header photo turned out pretty well. I’m glad people seem to like it 🙂
Great post! Loved it 🙂
Great header picture too – where is it? I want to go!
Animals – I woke up one night and heard a burgler in the garden. Husband wouldn’t go look. Half-asleep I was braver than when awake. Armed self with a broom. Cornered burgler at the bottom of the garden then all hell broke loose: heavy breathing, scuffling, banging on the fence.
Husband appeared with torch. The burgler was a badger.
We backed off but too late. It broke a large hole in the bottom of the fence which sounded frightful at 2 in the morning! Lights turned on, windows opened, people appeared. The badger disappeared through the fence. We disappeared back to bed.
Don’t mess with badgers. They have powerful paws with claws!
Hi, Prue! Thanks for dropping by. It’s great to see you over here.
The header picture is a photo I took last year on a trip to Norway. It’s a stretch of the Nærøyfjord that you can see by taking a boat ride from Flåm to Gudvangen, most often as part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour. It’s amazing there.
Yeah, I’ve never actually seen a badger in person, which sounds like a good thing. I’ve heard they can be pretty nasty.
Thanks Mike! 🙂
Lucky you getting to Norway. It’s on my list of places to visit.
Badgers are wonderful. That’s the second time I’ve seen one in person. Coming face to face with wild animals (at least, the English sort) is something I find awesome, and I love it.
I definitely recommend going to Norway if you get the chance. Unfortunately it’s a rather expensive country, but it’s amazing there.
Yeah, I enjoy the occasional wild encounter myself–even the one with Devil-Possum, because the whole incident was so improbable and funny 🙂
“Mother of All Things That Have Mothers!” I don’t know where I’ve been, but that is stinkin’ hilarious!
Great first post Mike! I really enjoyed it! I know that I was relieved when I finally got my first post up and I bet you are too. Thank you so much for tweeting in #WANA1011 and letting us know about it. I think it’s important that even though we might have been in a different class, we all need to support each other with the WANA spirit. That’s what it’s all about.
Now about a wacky animal story. Hmm. Well once we had a skunk enter our garage and my silly husband decided to help the skunk by scooting it along towards the opening with a broom. Oh yes, he smelled wonderful. He got sprayed and had to strip down and take a bath in tomato juice and we threw out his clothes. They were ruined. We took off not long after that in our jeep and had parked it alongside the curb. We stood at a distance watching and everyone who walked by made a horrible face and quickly moved around the jeep as fast as they could. You see the jeep’s tire had also been sprayed by the skunk. Maybe you had to be there, but it was so funny.
Thanks Mike and best wishes to you! 🙂
Hi, Karen. Thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you liked that particular expression. What was actually said was more traditional and crude, but I took some liberties with the dialogue. The possum really freaked us out when it hissed like that. I thought they were supposed to play dead?
Yeah, I was a little nervous when it came time to put up my blog and make my first post, knowing that after the first post the posts need to keep coming forever. But everyone’s been awesome and supportive, and I hope to keep reciprocating 🙂
Wow, a skunk. I’ve never had any close encounters myself, but your husband’s sounds as bad as everything I’ve heard.
Thanks again. Best wishes to you too 🙂
Entertaining indeed! Having lived close to a big city most of my life I don’t have many stories about wild animals. I have one, but I have no clue if it is true because I was so little.
If it was true, it was more than ten years back that one of our cats fought a badger in our yard and won…I’m not sure it is true, but it would have been cool. That cat was my favorite. 🙂
Hi, Felicia! Thanks for dropping by 🙂
I’m not familiar with a badger’s combat capabilities, but I don’t see how that couldn’t be a true story. Cats are pretty good fighters when they need to be, and they can make some really intimidating sounds during times of conflict.
So glad to see the possum story immortalized on the inter-webs. We’ve had a possum sniffing around our bird feeders recently, so I went digging for appropriate ways to deal with them. Apparently they play dead if you grab ’em by the tail. That reminded me of Clem’s story with his grandpa pulling a possum from a hole and swinging it by the tail into a tree or something. In the end, I just opened the window and hissed at it until it hobbled off into the woods. Haven’t seen it since.
Hey, Ryan…thanks for dropping by 🙂
Yeah, I always thought possums were supposed to play dead when they were threatened, but that one just hissed at us. I guess he was ultimately unimpressed with us.
I think I heard that story you’re talking about. Somehow I don’t think I’d ever attempt to drag a possum by its tail out of a hole.
Hopefully your possum visitor doesn’t come back. I have no idea if they’d try to get birds or not, but he was probably up to something sneaky.
I’m not sure how I missed this post before, but I just read it and loved it! Good grief, where I live my animal stories range from skunks to deer to snakes to one bad-ass Rooster. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say I’m more afraid of the Rooster than any of the others…
I’m glad you liked it 🙂 Yeah, this was my very first post. In retrospect, I wish I’d given it a different title and added a couple of photos to break up the text. I might do that sometime in the future.
The Rooster sounds terrifying. I’ve heard they can sometimes be pretty mean.
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