Paloma has been awakening in the 1 am hour every night since we returned from vacation. I, being the tired mama, just haul her into bed with us. This one behavior is the last remaining trace of our family vacation, when this little one became used to sleeping curled next to a warm body in a big bed.
So as she does every morning, Paloma will holler out, "Daddy! (pause) Daddy! Juice!" Of course, Cliff will jump to that task in a heartbeat, hence my nickname for him, "Juiceboy." But alas, this is Man Day, Daddy isn't home, so Mommy takes the role by default.
As I stand up from bed, through my sheer bedroom drapes, I see something moving about the backyard.
Cliff's been gone well over an hour by this point. Surely, if Ernie had been left outside all this time, in the cold, I would have heard his loud, continual barks of protest.
Putting on my glasses, I pull back the drapes for a better look.
The opossum is back. A big, fat, roly poly opossum. So big I question whether it could possible be the same creature who gave me so much distress earlier in the year. This opossum is as big, if not bigger, than our quite overweight beagle. This isn't just a opossum.
This is a mutant opossum.
In horror, I watch the mutant waddle through my lawn, along the perimeter of my garden fence, back to our yard fence. He waddled along the fenceline towards the far southeast corner of our yard. Where we have the large plastic kid's toys stored. Where my bedroom window vantage point fails.
I race down the hallway, fly into Paloma's vacant room and throw open the roller shade. I anxiously scan that corner of the yard, but see nothing due to the large fir tree and huge obnoxious soccer nets blocking my view.
Trying to shake off my heebie jeebies, I take our staircase in a single bound (or ten, but in a time of crisis, who's counting?). I soar into the family room and find Ernie. Asleep on the couch.
"Opossum, Ernie! Opossum, boy!" I holler. "Go get it! Kill! Go get him, boy" I whoop.
After a moment, he opens his eyes to see what the commotion is about.
A slow three minutes later, I get my tired, achy 3-legged dog off the couch and onto the deck. He sniffs the air. Surely he'll pick up the scent and go crazy.
He doesn't. He hobbles over to the deck's side, hops off, does his business and is right back at the patio door. He stares at me, staring at him incredulously. Gives a little bark, letting me know to get it in gear, open the door and let him in.
My dog failed me. My faithful, opossum chasing beagle has lost his edge. I'm immediately reminded of Garfield, lying lazily in his bed while his little mouse friend walks by him, all right in front of Jon.
My dog made a deal with the devil, and that devil's name is Mutant Opossum. They're in cohorts together.
Sadly, I let in the traitorous beast, back to his warm, comfy spot on the couch. I kick myself for choosing to go to Y yesterday afternoon over the Humane Society. Just yesterday my friend had called to rave about her new dog, and urged me to go and see all the wonderful dogs there, fresh from an overfull Kentucky shelter.
No, no, I thought. I was feeling flabby and tired and couldn't handle the thought of picking up a second dog's doodoo. Ernie, for a beagle, doodoos enough for 2 dogs.
But today I'm going back. I'm gonna find me an opossum chasing dog. What's a little extra poop? Surely if they're from Kentucky, they must be experienced opossum chasers, right?
So I'm stuck in my family room, constantly looking into the backyard for a glimpse of the mutant opossum. So big that I cannot fathom how he can fit under our deck, because Ernie is certainly too big to squeeze under it.
I'm maturing in my opossum journey. No longer am I calling Cliff in hysterics. Oh no. No longer will my hysterical rants be fodder for whatever establishment he is in at the time. I shall conduct myself with graceful dignity, saving my hysterics for the privacy of our own four walls.
Our anniversary is next week, and this year Cliff just might get that one thing that he's always wanted but that I swore we would never need in our house. That's right. An extra, extra large live humane animal trap. (Shame on you if you thought I was going to say the g-word!).