My View from the River Bank

By Quinton Bagley

Mamma, There’s A Possum In the House

For the majority of my life I never really had a pet. There was always the stray cat or dog that would show up and stay awhile and then, like a hobo, up and leave.

That all changed a little over 10 years ago when I married my wife, Jamie. She had a little dog named Abbie. She didn’t like me at first but she warmed up to me eventually but we never really ‘hung out.’

Unfortunately, Abbie crossed the Rainbow Bridge a few years back. It was one of the hardest things I have ever dealt with. It tore me up to see the grief my wife and daughter was experiencing but God had an answer – a little orange ball of fur we named Panther. Not too long after Panther came to our house to live, we welcomed a pup that my daughter named Scrapper. Back in May of last year, we rescued another cat that we named Nyla then in October we adopted our most recent addition – another dog that we named Mollie. Needless to say we now have a house – and bed – full of pets. They bring us a lot of joy and the occasional headache.

One such annoyance is them bringing Mom and Dad presents. We have had to catch baby rabbits, squirrels, birds, bats and even the occasional crawdad. It is an adventure with dogs barking, wildlife scurrying, daughter screaming, “Don’t kill it, don’t kill it,” and the wife stalking around with the broom like Elmer Fudd in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

This all takes me back to when I was younger and growing up in Nashville. We lived out in the country about eight miles west of Nashville toward Lockesburg. Country life was great. You could sit outside at night and listen to the coyotes howling and the cricket’s chirping. There was also the occasional bawl of a cow or the sound of the frogs from the pond across the road. Being around and hearing the different animals was not uncommon and somewhat soothing. When they decided to invade was a whole different story.

Unbeknownst to us, was the fact that a family of opossums had made their home in the attic of the house where we lived. We were never sure how long they had been there but once we discovered them they were soon evicted.

Now when I say discovered, it was not like someone was up in the attic and happened to spot them. NO! It was a little more dramatic than that!

One night after going to bed I remembered there was part of a bologna and cheese sandwich that I had not finished on the cabinet in the kitchen. While I was supposed to be going to sleep, mom was in the shower so I knew that I could sneak in the kitchen, eat the rest of the sandwich and be back in bed before she got done. That was a big fat NO! As I walked into the kitchen and flipped on the light I saw the biggest opossum I have ever seen sitting on the counter eating my bologna and cheese sandwich. He turned and looked at me like, “What do you want? You ain’t getting this sandwich!” He was big and mean looking. He bowed his back and snarled at me. This is where my fight or flight defense mechanism kicked in. Did I fight the menacing marsupial? Did I seek shelter from this nocturnal intruder? No! I ran in place and screamed, “Mamma, there’s a possum in the house!”

From the bathroom came my knight in shining armor to save me from this heinous fiend. She was dressed in her tacky green bathrobe, flip-flop house shoes and shampoo still in her hair. She bolted in the kitchen just in time to see the creature from hell escape to the living room. She yelled, “Grab the broom!” Apparently brooms are the weapon of choice when dealing with invading wildlife.

After retrieving the broom, I followed her into the living room. The opossum was sitting in the middle of the room trying to determine his next move. Mamma said, “Here, you hold the broom and I am going to try to get around him and get the front door open. Don’t let him go back in the kitchen.”

Here I must depart from my story for a second to describe our living room for you. It was a long rectangular room. On one wall was the couch, an end table and a chair. On the end by the kitchen, where I was stationed, was a cabinet, another chair and a stereo system. On the far wall at the other end was the front door, the TV and a base CB system. On the other wall, opposite the couch was where the heater sat. Behind the heater was a nook where a fireplace had been once but had since been tiled over with this little nook remaining behind the heater. Now that you have that in mind, we shall get back to our adventure.

As mom walked around the opossum sitting in the middle of our living room like he owned the place, he either decided he was scared and wanted to get away or he needed another bite of that bologna and cheese sandwich. Either way, I and my trusty weapon – the broom – was all that stood between him and his destination.

As he headed my way I became concerned which grew to fear the closer he came. I decided that I needed to protect myself so I took a firm grip on the broom handle and swung. It was a shot that would have made NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky proud. I hit that varmint with the broom and sent him sailing between the heater and the wall right into the tiled nook where the fireplace had once been. With the threat to bodily injury averted I relaxed just in time to here mom say, “Why did you do that? Now give me the broom so I can get him out. You go stand by the door and hold it open so he can get outside.” Yes m’am!

As mom worked to free the dazed animal from behind the heater, I stood my post by the door. Once she had him freed she was going to shoo him toward the door which I was to open like a doorman at that Waldorf Astoria and let him out into the night. Wrong again! After mom got the animal from behind the stove and shooed toward the door I again was overcome with fear but this time I didn’t have a weapon so I used my leg. As the opossum came running toward me, staggering from the previous slap shot, I kicked. It was not supposed to happen, just a natural reflex out of fear. The kick made contact and for the second time in less than a minute the poor animal was again flying through the air, between the heater and the wall right into the tiled nook where the fireplace had once been. Mom was not happy! She used the broom to roll the opossum’s stunned body back out into the middle of the living room and then scooted it across the floor and out the door all the time mumbling just low enough I couldn’t understand while giving me the evil eye.

The opossum just laid there in the yard. We weren’t sure if it was dead or just playing… possum.

I knew mom was upset with me so I tried to make a joke about the situation saying, “I wonder if he has a headache?” Mom, with dried shampoo in her hair, in her tacky green robe and flip-flop house shoes glared at me and very sarcastically said, “Well see if he needs an aspirin!”

As you can tell, I did survive the ordeal and mom and I are able to laugh about it now but it took years of therapy to get us to that point. Sometime I will have to tell you about the time the skunk got under the house.

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