When a dead raccoon showed up in our yard a couple of weeks ago, I pondered a way to tell the tale that would take it from revolting to slightly less revolting. I decided to go with the style of hardboiled detective fiction for this true (though slightly embellished) story I call …
the Dead Raccoon’I was in my office, looking forward to that bottle of hooch that waited at the end of the day for a down-and-out PI That’s when she burst through the door.
She was tall, with gams that wouldn’t quit and a look in her eye that said she had been there, done that and won the pony. She was the kind of dame a gumshoe like me wouldn’t mind getting to know a little better.
“Say, what is the meaning of this?” I said, glaring from under the brim of my fedora.
“Why are you talking like that?” she shot back.
People are also reading…
“Like you’ve been watching ’30s gangster movies on Turner Classic all day instead of writing a column.”
“Hey, I ask the questions around here. Now, what is it I can do for you, lady?”
“There is a dead raccoon in our yard.”
“I’ll take the case. I get a hundred a day plus expenses.”
“You’ll get your %$# out there and get that dead raccoon out of our yard.”
Yeah, she was a feisty one alright. Cross her and a man could end up dead. Dead like a… raccoon.
The body was in a ditch at the end of the yard, stuck halfway in the opening of a culvert partially covered by chicken wire some hapless homeowner had put up in a futile attempt to keep groundhogs out of his garden.
“Somebody sure had it in for you, buddy,” I said.
He was long past answering back.
For now, he would go down as a John Doe, which I found confusing since he was a raccoon and not a female deer with a masculine first name. I decided to call him Gerry RaCooney, as a tribute to former heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney, who wore a similar dazed expression when Michael Spinks knocked him out in June of 1987.
“Don’t worry, Gerry,” I said as I used posthole diggers to load the body into a cardboard box for disposal. “I’m on the case.”
Suspects weren’t hard to come by on this side of town. There was Ma Groundhog and her boys, a produce theft ring most active from May to September, stealing from the rubes who were dumb enough to plant a garden and think they could get away with it. Did Gerry run afoul of her brood and pay the ultimate price?
Then there was the Feral Street Cats, a gang of neighborhood toughs led by Mr. Orange.
Had Mr. Orange ordered a hit on Gerry, a whack carried out by the vicious Earl Gray Jr. and Whiskers Billy?
And just how did that poor bastard Gerry die in the yard? I guess that was for the raccoroner to figure out.
In the end, I did the job I was hired to do. I removed Gerry, poor, dead Gerry from the yard. I wasn’t hired to crack the case. I was hired to clean up the mess.
“Is the dead raccoon gone?” she asked when I went back inside.
I looked into those eyes, those eyes that could drive a man to do the unthinkable.
“Yeah, the dead raccoon is gone,” I said. “I did your dirty work, lady. But he was not just a dead raccoon to me. He was Gerry. Gerry! And don’t you ever forget it.”
I closed the door to my office and took the bottle of hooch down off the shelf.
“Here’s to you, Gerry,” I said, “the best dead raccoon a private dick like me could ever dispose of. May you rest in peace.”
Hollifield is editor of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and a humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.