Coon Country
Jeffry Yoo-Hess

The raccoon only needed a mask to communicate he was the grim reaper. Three feet high, standing like a man, his gaze told Jack the reckoning had come.

Everything had been fine when he was playing country music at his house with the old fellas Sunday afternoons.  The problem started when he invited his heavy metal band to start practicing there on Friday nights.  His garbage can was ravaged and dumped over daily in spite of the animal-proof locks on them.  He’d left his boom box and several CD’s laying out on the porch table one night and found most of them on the ground, scratched beyond use, the next day.  The only ones unscathed were by Johnny Cash and George Jones.  The noise of animals running around on the roof at night made it impossible to sleep.  At first he thought it was feral cats, but when he looked out the window he would see gray bodies and bushy striped tails disappearing around corners and up trees.  The only respite came when the group took a break for a week.  When the amplifiers blasted again, the terrorism resumed.  They targeted his car.  He found his tires flattened every morning with the caps missing.  Paw prints and droppings marked the hood, roof, and trunk.  His band mates thought he was crazy.  He offered his evidence, but Dale the drummer said, “Man, you live in the woods, what do you expect?”

One night the commotion on the roof pushed him over the edge.  He opened a window and shouted, “Do your worst, vermin!  I’m gonna rock forever!”  The noise stopped.  He took a deep breath and smiled.  An hour later, he remembered he left his phone in the car.  He opened the front porch door and saw the fuzzy executioner.  Others climbed onto the porch and gathered behind the leader.  Jack slammed the door.  Tiny claws ripped out the screen window to his right and the creatures began pouring through.  Jack sprinted to the practice room.  Posters of his heroes hung on the walls and one caught his eye.  It seemed to glow in the darkness.  The furry tide sped toward him.  He grabbed the picture of a thin man in a white cowboy hat, thrust it outward and yelled, “In the name of Hank, leave me alone!”

Silence.  The animals vanished.  He walked to a window and saw the tall raccoon standing in the moonlight.  After a minute it turned, defecated its final warning, and slunk into the night.

“I guess we’ll have to start practicing at Dale’s,” Jack said.

First published: November 2017
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