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?